Situated in western Rajasthan 32 kilometers from Bikaner, the Gajner wildlife sanctuary is one of the smallest wildlife sanctuaries in India and boasts of its own hotel and lake in an oasis in the Thar desert. It is home to the endangered Black Buck and a few other species of herbivores and birds.
We were on a long driving trip in the Rajasthan desert and the segment from Jaisalmer to Bikaner had turned out to be especially desolate. It was late afternoon as we were approaching Bikaner where we had a hotel already booked for us for the night. We spotted a road sign of the Gajner Palace Hotel and decided to take a detour. As we got off the highway onto an unpaved track, we came across this old hunting palace of the Maharaja which has been now converted into a hotel. We were so impressed by this dramatic change of scenery that we decided to check in for a day abandoning our pre planned schedule.
The Gajner Palace hotel is well preserved and will pleasantly surprise even the most discerning traveler. While the architecture is impressive and reminds us of the good old days of the Maharajas of India, it is also of a relatively recent era when western influences had already started influencing tastes in India. As a hotel it is very well run, the staff is very caring and the food delicious whether you wish to be treated in the formal restaurant or prefer to be pampered with room service. The lakeside gardens are especially relaxing and offer excellent views of the surrounding scenery. The lawns are quite expansive and ideal for leisurely walks with a camera or if you just wish to listen to the wildlife, you may settle down on any of the benches by the lakeside.
The wildlife sanctuary is more of an experiment in the study of desert flora and fauna and is a welcome distraction to the traveler on a long desert road trip. The hotel offers safari trips in open 4x4 vehicles with knowledgeable guides for company.
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