Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner - Luxury with humility

1448 was a tumultuous year in the history of the Kingdom of Jodhpur. That year the young and ambitious second son of the Maharaja of of Jodhpur, gave up his claim to the throne in exchange of  to take the family heirlooms. The young man decided to move to an uncontested barren piece of land, 'Jungladesh', and decided to his own royal lineage. This young man was Rao Bikaji and the kingdom he founded came to be known as Bikaner.

Exactly five hundred years later when India was at the cusp of independence, the last reigning Maharaja of Bikaner, His Highness Narendra Singhji, was born and with his deeds left yet another lasting legacy, embracing the spirit of young, independent and democratic India. His residence in Bikaner is now converted into a luxurious five star hotel appropriately called Narendra Bhawan.

The front facade of Narendra Bhawan
Plush interiors at Narendra Bhawan

Design of Narendra Bhawan

However, it's not like any other hotel that you will come across in Rajasthan. The hotel is an delicious mix of the past and the present, the young and the old, the classy and the kitsch.

While the overall architectural style is reminiscent of the typical Rajasthani style, the interiors will certainly delightfully surprise you. Wherever you look, there is a story - on the walls, on the floor, on the table next to you, in a book on the drawer. In fact one can easily spend a day exploring the art work at the hotel and still not be done with it. In fact I would suggest having your morning coffee on the porch with Karan, the visionary behind the property, because he will tell you stories that no one else will even know. Well, you need to get up a bit early for this privilege though as he likes to start his day at 5am :)

Here are some of my favorite things to look out for - Wall of silk, the Red Baby Grand Piano called 'Edith', painting of the gown, among others.

You can keep gazing at these...
Those are the silk patterns on the wall...
There is comfortable seating just about everywhere :)

This theme of design carries forward to the room as well. The large central courtyard is a typical Rajasthani feature, but inside the room you witness the mix once again. Needless to mention, there are stories in your room as well, you only need to look :)

My room at Narendra Bhawan

Food at Narendra Bhawan

You might think that as designer, the design of the hotel might have been the highlight of the trip. However, as it turns out, that wasn't the case. The highlight of my trip, unequivocally, was the food that I ate here. In fact I didn't just eat the food, I devoured it (and I am a vegetarian). True to the typical Rajasthani tradition, almost all the time I spent at the hotel was primarily used for eating food, or thinking about it.

Typical Bikaneri thali

Mad hatter - the Bake House
Mad hatter is not just a typical confectionary, but typical of the hotel, it's a mix of tastes and flavors. While the baked goods will entice you with the nostalgia they evoke, do mix the cuisine with some local Rajasthani food as well. Trust me on this, it will make you feel like a Bikaneri Royal with a panache for international flavors.

Mad Hatter!

P&C (Pearls and Chiffon)
P&C is ideal for banqueting guests to an exquisite royal experience. With a selection of some of the best wines, table-side preparation and tiffin lunches, P&C will leave anyone impressed! 

Diwali Chowk
Diwali Chowk is the central courtyard and is in many ways the heart of the property. It's ideal for morning and evening chai or coffee, alone or in company of friends, as well as for trying out the Marwari cuisine.

Diwali Chowk

The Pool
Located on the top floor, the pool will cool you down during the day, and also makes for a great companion for dinner at the night. In fact we had our most memorable last supper here and I remember well the chill of air adding another layer to varied tastes of the foods served. Great company, great wine and fabulous views made the meal even more memorable.

Bikaner beyond Narendra Bhawan

Bikaner is not all about Narendra Bhawan, and if you plan a visit there, I would strongly recommend spending a lot of time in the city as well. There are two ways of doing it and this is exactly how I would recommend to you as well.

Narendra Bhawan has curated two phenomenal explorations, Merchant Exploration and Royal Exploration - a legacy of kings, for it's guests and none of these are to be missed. These explorations are perhaps the best introduction to the city and it's legacy.

Merchant Exploration

Royal Exploration

After you are done with the explorations do what I did - explore the places on your own. Spend time walking alone early in the morning in the streets of Bikaner, talk to the locals, and eat some local food in the small street shops. If I digress a little bit, you mist try out the epic Kachoris of Bikaner and one of the best places to do this would be at the shops neat BK School  in old city.

Explorations outside Bikaner

While Bikaner is an enchantress and you can spend days here, especially if you are even remotely like me, I would also recommend some experiences outside the city as well. Here are the ones that I tried explored :)

Karni Mata Temple
This temple is unlike any other that you might have been to so far! It's the rat temple which means there are thousands of rats in the temple and a visit to the temple makes for an interesting visit.

Pugal Fort
I heard about the Pugal fort in one ot long chats with Karan and was immediately drawn to it. So one early morning I took off to see the sunset there. Unfortunately the fort is in shambles, but my visit was nevertheless memorable.

Gajner Palace
Built on the edge of a lake, this palace is now a heritage hotel but you are welcome to visit and enjoy your meals by the lake. You can also take a boat-ride later on.

Sand dunes of Marwar
The dunes in this part of Rajasthan are different from the ones near Jaisalmer and I was lucky to climb a few and catch sunrise from there. These are often huge, have some vegetation and don't shift.

Sundowner at the pastures
If you want to watch the sun go down in the desert with a glass of wine in hand, this is an experience made just for you. The best part is that the hotel organizes this for you, so all you need to do in lie down and enjoy :)

Morning at Ratadi Talai
On my first morning itself, we took off on a foggy road to explore this pond which was a favorite hunting ground for the royals. Now it's a great place for birding and shooting some wildlife.

When to visit Bikaner

Just like everywhere else in Rajasthan, winter months are the best time for a visit here. Anytime October and March are great, though December and January are perhaps the best months of the year here.

Goodbyes are never easy...

How to reach Bikaner

By air
There are two airports nearby, Jodhpur and Jaipur, and a cab ride will take 4-6 hours to reach Bikaner.

By train
Bikaner is well connected to major cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Allahabad by train, and surprisingly enough it's not very difficult to find tickets. It's both affordable as well as comfortable.

By road
A visit to Bikaner makes for a great road-trip, especially if you are coming from Delhi. The city is also well-connected by buses to all major cities in Rajasthan and Delhi.


  1. Great to read about Narendra Bhawan. Amazing.
    Awesome pics. Thanks for the informative pots.

  2. Amazing narration. Simple yet beautiful. And the pictures transported me to Bikaner.

    1. Thanks Deepika! Bikaner is such a fascinating place...I do hope to visit again :)

  3. You are very humble sir, sharing all the great moments of yours with world.

  4. As usual amazing article .... really fantastic .... Thanks for sharing this!! :) :)

  5. awesome pics...more luxurious than any starred hotel..

  6. What beautiful opulence on offer; as you say it's a beguiling mix of the traditional and modern here, with a great fusion of the classic Rajasthan architecture with other influences. Loving the Mad Hatter bake house, which brings to mind traditional English afternoon tea! Great looking excursions too :-)

    1. You have put it really nicely Joe! I had a few afternoon teas at Mad Hatter, and of course lots of coffee and pastries :)

  7. I've never heard of this hotel or city, but both look like they have lots to offer a traveler. Dining near the pool at night, yes please!

    1. Frankly I also knew very little about the city, but fell in love with it almost instantaneously! The hotel added to the experience :)

  8. All fond memories of this place revived. I loved the class they maintain and also how lovingly we were served food.

  9. I have visited Bikaner a few years ago but I staid in a different hotel, after spending a night in the desert. Narenda Bhawan looks amazing, I love how each room is different. And all the details that the designers have thought to add, like those pots or the piano. Truly beautiful

  10. I could keep watching these pictures over and over again! Such beautiful frames, doing much justice to the beauty of the place and the legacy that it carries.


  11. Initially I didn't know so much about Bikaner and always thought of skipping it on my trip to Rajasthan. But through posts like yours I came to know more and more about it, so much so that I know it's a destination not to be missed. Narendra Bhavan definitely is one of the major attractions. Thanks for the virtual tour

  12. I was thinking Gajner is the best but Narendra Bhawan is looking awesome

  13. Bikaner's on my radar for a trip through Rajasthan that I've got planned. Narendra Bhavan looks like a fabulous place to stay - I love those decorative arches and the courtyard looks perfect for breakfast. I think I'd go to the rat temple too; my kids would definitely remember that one!

  14. We have been to Rajasthan twice but Bikaner is yet to be done. We are fascinated by those hotels in Rajasthan which are a wonderful blend of traditional and modern. The food looks scrumptious and there is definitely so much to do and see in the city. Karni Mata temple sounds interesting and the sundowner at the pastures is an awesome idea.

  15. Whoa. I knew about this hotel but not the rich history behind it. I am sure you found your stay here as meaningful.

  16. I love how ornate the architecture is! Such stunning designs. I enjoyed learning the history behind the hotel too.

  17. A terrific setting for a resort. Visited Jaisalmer but yet to go to Bikaner side. It s already too late for this winter as I am now on the opposite end of the country. Lets see if monsoon works.

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  19. Thank you, Siddhartha for your valuable information on Narendra Bhawan such beautiful place to visit.This seems to helpful for every visitor who are planning to explore Rajasthan .It have also help me to plan my summer vacation.

  20. Narendra Bhawan would not have come into fruition were it not for the ambition of Rao Bikaji and the vision of the last reigning Maharaja. Interesting bits of history there. Now we're enjoying the grandeur and outstanding architecture of this residence turned luxury hotel. Thanks for this feature!

  21. What a beautiful property! It's just so unique and colorful. Great post and beautiful photos, thanks for sharing :)

  22. Every corner oozes luxury for sure. We had to miss the invite as we were travelling. Hope to visit this luxurious property someday for sure.

  23. Thank you for sharing valuable information
    The Park Paradise Hotel is among the best Luxury Hotels in Bikaner that will provide you the unique luxury experience in Bikaner, India . If you are fond of living luxurious life than “The Park Paradise Hotel” is the best place for you.

  24. That is a very classy property my friend. Narendra Bhawan Palace sounds so royal like a King. Definitely looking forward to visit this place in my next Vacation. It looks like one of the best places to stay in Bikaner or maybe its just your photography.

  25. Narendra Bhawan Bikaner is one of the best heritage hotels in Bikaner. It has no words to explain, how beautiful the place is. Their services are like ornaments to the palace like property. Every corner is elegantly done and well thought that depicts the royalness and the legacy of Bikaner.

  26. Hey Sid,
    Warm Regards from Hotel Narendra Bhawan. First of all, thank you so much for such a detailed post about Narendra Bhawan Palace. The pictures you got here are really breathtaking and clearly suggest that you had a beautiful experience with us. I hope you will visit us again in future and give us another chance to host you.

  27. Hey Siddhartha,

    Beautiful write-up. I too am planning to book Narendra Bhawan. Please let me know if there are additional charges for explorations and arrangements for dinner in dunes.


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