Rao Bika of Bikaner

Rao Bika, was the founder of the city and principality of Bikaner in present-day Rajasthan. He was a scion of the Rathore clan of Rajputs. He was a son of Rao Jodha, founder of the city and principality of Jodhpur.


About 1465, provoked by a stray comment by his father, Rao Bika left Marwar (Jodhpur) to create his own kingdom. Rao Jodha supported Bika in his endeavours in return for which he made Bika promise never to try to take the throne of Mewar. Some valuable family heirlooms which would legitimize his right to found a kingdom were promised to Bika. He left Marwar accompanied by his uncle, Rawat Kandhal, who provided politico-strategic advice and a small contingent of Rathore warriors (500 soldiers and 100 cavalrymen).

During his travels Bika stopped at Deshnoke where he consulted the mystic Karni Mata. She gave him her blessings and prophesied that he would be successful. Encouraged by her support Bika took advantage of the internal rivalries of the Jat clans to carve out his own territory in the "Jangladesh" region of Rajasthan and by 1485 build a small fort called Rati Ghati at the site of the city which today bears his name.

In 1488 he began the building of the city itself. In the beginning the neighbouring Bhati chiefs were suspicious of the new growing power in their vicinity. Karni Mata, who had become the kuladevi of Rao Bika, brought the rivalry between the Rathore and Bhatis to an end by inspiring Rao Shekha, the powerful Bhati chief of Pugal, to give the hand of his daughter in marriage to Rao Bika.

Upon Rao Jodha's death in 1488 Rao Bika attempted to claim the heirlooms promised him, only for his brothers to refuse his request. In a surprise attack he stormed Mehrangarh Fort but left his brothers unharmed and departed with only the promised heirlooms (among which were a sandalwood ’Pugal’ throne, a royal umbrella, a sword and a horse of "divine origin").

Bika’s grandfather Rao Ranmal through palace intrigues had been drugged with opium and tied to his bed with his own turban and murdered. Remembering this Rao Bika had a special short lightweight bed made so his feet hung over the edge. The idea was that if the same thing happened to him he would still be able to stand up and fight with it on his back. This bed is today on display in the Phul Mahal in Junagarh Fort in Bikaner.

Rao Bika died in 1504.

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