Bikaner, India Tuk Tuk Drivers

Bikaner, India in Images

One of my favorite things to do in a new town is to grab my camera and set off on foot with no plan and no idea where I’m going. My camera is my third eye. Honestly, I don’t think I would know how to travel without it.

For me, traveling and photography go hand in hand, and not being able to capture the people and scenes I encounter for probably the first and last time would be detrimental, for that would mean I have to rely on my memory. Anybody who knows me knows that my memory is not a good thing to rely on.

Without my camera, wandering aimlessly through the narrow alleys of Varanasi or down on the railroad tracks of Haridwar would have been an entirely different experience. I’ve met others who believe that taking pictures ruins the moment, and perhaps that’s true. But for me, especially in India, it often creates them, and my photos are a crucial component to helping me write when it comes time to sit down and transform my experience into words.

So on my first morning in Bikaner, India, I walked. The dirt roads let me through neighborhoods, past cows grazing on trash, working camels and donkeys pulling heavy loads.

Streets of Bikaner, Rajasthan

Bikaner dirt roads IndiaWorking camel in Bikaner RajasthanDonkey in Bikaner Rajasthan


Eventually I found myself at the famed Junagarh Fort. Built between 1588 and 1593, it’s one of the most impressive forts in Rajasthan, with detailed lace carvings, dome roofs, and delicate archways, it’s a beauty standing tall amidst the sandy surroundings.

Bikaner Junagarh FortBikaner Junagarh FortPigeons in Junagarh Fort

Bikaner, like most small towns, is full of friendly locals. A boy about my age met me upon my exit at Junagarh Fort and asked if he could walk with me. He wanted to practice his English, he said, and he’d be honored to give me a tour of Old Town. I obliged. He took me through the congested, narrow streets that make up the livelihood of this otherwise sleepy, desert town, past spice and flower vendors, chai wallahs and fried food stands.

Spice seller in Bikaner, India

We weaved in and out until we arrived at the old havelis, or houses, that used to be where the majority of the population live. Now, empty and condemned, they stand delicate and beautiful in the center of Bikaner’s Old Town.

Bikaner HavelisBikaner Haveli Old Town

When we parted ways, I continued to wander, and I came across some subjects that couldn’t have been any more willing, nor any more perfect, to stand in front of my lens: the locals of Bikaner, with their welcome smiles and proud ways.

Bikaner India Boy and Goat

A boy and his pet goat.

Bikaner Rajasthan Grandpa and ChildBikaner India Boy posing


Do you have to have a camera when you travel? Why or why not?

Bikaner, India in Images


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  1. Suze says:

    Me and my cam: we are attached at the hand! (at the hip would be difficult, thought it might give some interesting angles ;))

    I was asked just yesterday, while taking pictures, ‘Do you even look at them when you are back home?’ Of course! That’s when the fun begins! I like going over the photos and remember those special moments of the trip. When I’m bored, sad or just need a good time, I look at my old photos, even from trips of years ago, and say to myself: oh yeah, I was there, wasn’t this or that funny/inspiring/beautiful?

    Photo’s are a way to solidify the memories, the experiences ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jessicajhill says:

      That’s a great way to put it: photos solidify memories. So true. One of my writing teachers used to tell me that the best part of writing was that we get to relive the experience, and I think it’s the same for photographers. I guess I get to live every experience at least three times!
      If you ever start posting photos taken from the hip, I’ll definitely check them out ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Laura McLoughlin says:

    Incredible photos as always Jessica! You’re adding fuel to my burning desire to visit India!

    I completely and utterly agree with your mindset, for me travelling and photography always go hand in hand. For similar reasons too, I often forget things I’ve experienced or fail to revisualise the things I’ve seen, and photos are a lovely everlasting reminder. Allowing you to go back and relive the moment! I also agree with your poignant statement, that photos can often ‘create a moment’ – I think your photos above really exaggerate that point! Particularly with the older man affectionately watching the younger boy, it’s so lovely and perhaps the taking of the photo actually created rather than simply captured that moment. And they’re such an awesome way to share the wonderful things you’ve experienced with others!

    So yes, I am definitely pro-camera too!


    • jessicajhill says:

      Thanks for the compliments, Laura! I think it’s people like us who really would feel lost in a new place without our cameras.

      I was just looking through some old photos of my Grandparents’ childhood, and even though technology has come a long way, it’s proof that those are memories they wouldn’t be able to share with me in a way I could understand without the visual proof of a 1950’s car and riding horseback to get to school. It’s a way to bottle up time and keep it tangible, in a way.

      Do you keep a blog with your travel photos, or how do you share them?

  3. Bikaner looks incredibleโ€”I love how colorful it is! It always seems to me like it is impossible to be sad when you’re in a place where the buildings are so many different colors of the rainbow.

    My husband & I would be pretty bereft without our cameras! We’ve actually had a recent succession of terrible luck that resulted in two of our cameras being broken (one irredeemably so), and even though our travel fund took a walloping, we had to go ahead and get one fixed and simply replace the other one. Traveling without a camera simply isn’t an option for us as pictures are pretty much the only souvenirs we are collecting as we make our way through Asia & Europe. Not to mention the great joy and satisfaction we take from capturing the world through our lenses… Wandering around towns and just snapping pictures of day-to-day life in an attempt to capture the magical sense of a place is one of our favorite things to do too!

    • jessicajhill says:

      I agree, Steph! It would be crucial for me to get my camera fixed if it were to break. Photographs of people and places are the best souvenirs, the best memories, a traveler can have, in my opinion. And they’re timeless! Thanks so much for the comment. Have you been to India yet?

  4. Bhuwan says:

    Always, and now that we have decent camera’s in phone’s itself it is even more convenient. I passed through Bikaner recently, but it was an overnight journey and there was no time to for stoppage, we had to reach our next destination early next morning ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess there will always be a next time. I am planning a road trip across Rajasthan soon.

    • jessicajhill says:

      I’m envious of your road trip across Rajasthan – that will be amazing. I’d go back there in a heartbeat, and it would be awesome to have a car instead of relying on the trains and buses. I can’t wait to see your pictures!

  5. Nitin says:

    Finally comes the Bikaner post ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for sharingใ€‚ the roads of hawelli you visited, that’s where my parental house is. Bikaner and jodhapur are two cities having large hearted welcoming people. I hope you liked the city.


    • jessicajhill says:

      Hi, Nitin. I meant to send you a message about the post, and then I forgot! Thanks for checking in again and signing up for emails.

      I absolutely loved Bikaner. It was a very warm welcome and a quaint little town. How luck you are! Do you go back to visit often?

  6. Nitin says:

    ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for remembering me while posting this post. I have not got a chance since 10 years to be there, but have plan to visit Bikaner this year. I will be visiting India this year end and Bikaner is certainly the highlight of my itenaray.

    I wonder how did you miss the “Rat Temple”. You can Wiki “Desh Nok Temple”.

    I will show you more colors of this lovely small town once I be there.

    Good talking to you.
    Keep blogging

    • jessicajhill says:

      Hi, Nitin. Of course I didn’t forget you ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I did go to the rat temple – of course! It was creepy and weird, but it deserves a post all its own! Stay tuned.


  7. Shilpi Bishnoi says:

    I am from Bikaner. and even i haven't seen some of these parts of my own town!!!
    Beautiful. Thanks:)

  8. Nice Pics, Nosatalgic

  9. Hi thanks for sharing this wonderful valuable post with us or the content you have shared are going to rock keep on posting

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