Bikaner was a barren wilderness prior to 15th century and was known as “Jangladesh”. In 1488 Rao Bika of the Rathore clan established the city of Bikaner and it derived its name from the founder. Though it was in the Thar Desert, Bikaner was in a strategic location on the trade routes and was considered as an oasis. This enabled Rao Bika to accumulate great wealth and the city flourished. Later, the kingdom then came under the rule of the Mughals until the British took hold of it, in the 18th century. General Maharaja Ganga Singh, who ruled from 1887 to 1943, was a favourite of the British Viceroys and also very well-known and a visionary among the kings of Rajasthan. He brought economic prosperity to the city and built a number of palaces, modernized the army and even built a canal. Bikaner was the first kingdom in Rajasthan to introduce electricity, in the year 1886. The royal family still lives in the Lalgarh palace in the city, most of which has been converted into a heritage hotel.
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History hangs in the air, priceless artworks on the walls—kings and queens might now be relegated to history books, but the life of the royals is still available to the common man.
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