It is one of the few major forts of Rajasthan that does not command a hilltop position. Its foundation was laid in 1589 by Raja Rai Singh. a General in the army of Emperor Akbar. Several palaces made in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, corridors, balconies and windows and a few temples illustrate the art of living of the Rathore Rajputs of Bikaner‘ The architecture blends the local aesthetic traditions with opulence borrowed from the Mughal.
The fort is approached through the yellow sandstone Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) with twin statues of the rajput warriors Jaimal and Patta of Chittorgarh guarding the entrance.
Beyond this lies a complex of palaces built by the successive Maharajas. The Karen Mahal has walls of gilded arayish plaster work usually mistaken for marble, inlaid with semi precious stones. Beyond this
palace is The Durga Niwas with a marble pool. The nearby La] Niwas dates back to 1595 with its walls painted with floral motifs in red and gold. Upstairs is the Gaj Mandir and the Chhattar N iwas with its pitched roof and it has English field sport plates decorating the walls. The Gaj Mandir, the private chamber of Maharaja Gaj Singh has wood ceiling and the doors are inlaid with ivory. The Maharani Chamber is elaborately decorated with inlaid mirror work and gold paintings. The magnificent Anup Mahal has walls richly inlaid with gold leaf. The other style features plaster with a green background depicting floral motifs. In the Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace), frescoes of rain clouds decorate the walls, a reminder of the monsoon that often failed this part. It is said that an artist was specially commissioned to paint the blue cloud motifs so that when it really poured the children of the royal house of Bikaner were not frightened by the sight.
The 18 century Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) has inlaid mirror work over the walls and the ceiling, scenes of polo and hunting cover the walls. The gold painted ceilings of the Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas are enlargements of the Persian miniatures. The silver throne of the Maharaja can still be seen here. The nearby Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) has a bedroom with stained glass windows and beautifully painted wooden doors. The Hawa Mahul (Summer Palace) has ceiling featuring floral motifs and scenes of Krishna dancing.