Ten Things You Didn't Know About The Rise Of Rao Bika

About 1465 Rao Bika, a Rathore Rajput, and an elder son of Rao Jodha, king of Marwar, provoked by a stray comment by his father, left Marwar (Jodhpur) with a small contingent of Rathore warriors (500 soldier and 100 cavalrymen) to create his own kingdom.

He was accompanied by his uncle, Rawat Kandhal and his brother Rao Bida, who provided politico-strategic advice. Encouraged by the mystic Karni Mata, whom he had met early in his travels, he took advantage of the internal rivalries of the Jat clans so that by 1485 he was able to establish his own territory and build a small fort called Rati Ghati at the city which still bears his name. In 1488 he began the building of the city itself. In the beginning, the neighboring 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 & 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. This consolidated Rao Bika's power in the region and proved to be a milestone in the history of the state.

Upon Rao Jodha's death in 1488 Rao Bika stormed Mehrangarh Fort, an event that was to lead to 200 years of intermittent wars between Marwar and Bikaner.

Remains of the original small fortress Rao Bika built can still be seen around the walled city, near Lakshminath ji temple. The royal family of Bikaner lived there, till Raja Rai Singh Ji built a new fort called "Chintamani" (now Junagarh) between 1589 and 1593 AD.

According to legend Bika Lunkaran consulted a holy man called Jas Nathji, who foretold that Bika's line would reign for 450 years. While Bika was pleased with this prediction, his brother Gharsiji when he heard of the prediction thought a longer period of power should have been prophesied.

He confronted the holy man while he was in a deep trance and roused him by thrusting burning incense under his nose.

Jas Nathji told him 'All right take 50 years more or less but of trial and tribulation'. Rao Bika died in 1504.

His successors benefited from the weak rule of Suraj Mal of Marwar and the disruption caused by Babur's invasion of India to consolidate and extend their possessions until by the 17th century all the Jat clans (including the powerful Godara clan) had accepted the suzerainty of the rulers of Bikaner.

One of the most successful earlier rulers was Jait Singh (1526–39) until he was killed by the forces of Rao Maldev of Marwar.

He was succeeded by his son Kalyan Mal (1539–71) who under pressure from the Marwar forces retreated to the Punjab where he joined with Sher Shah Suri who expelled the Mughal ruler Humayun in 1540.

With Sher Shah Suri's support, Kalyan Mal was able by 1545 to recover his lost territories from Rao Maldev.