A tiny yet lively town in sun-drenched sand, Barmer is a miniature Rajasthan with all its colour, warmth and tradition, according to history, the 13th century founder of the district, Bhahada Rao
(Popularly known as Bar Rao) gave the town its name - Barmer, i.e. the hill fort of Bar, once called Mallani (12th century A.D.). The Present Barmer district, formed in 1949 upon the merger of Jodhpur
state in the United States of Great Rajasthan, is a cluster of ancient paraganas - Mallani Shiv, Pachpadra, Siwana and the Chohatan area. Although a barren land with harsh climate and rough terrain,
Barmer is known for its rich crafts, dances and music. Once on the ancient camel trade route, the town is now centre for wood carving, pottery, carpets, intricate embroidery work, block printed fabrics
and multi-hued traditional costumes. Especially famous are the geometric ajrak prints in dark shades of red and blue, ideal for protection against the sun. The most interesting part of a trip to Barmer
is the journey through rural Rajasthan. The small villages with mud-walled housed decorated with delicate folk motifs and colourfully attired people on the way offer a fascinating sight. Every year in
March, the desert town is at its colourful best during the exuberant Barmer Festival. The festival is the best time to plan a visit to Barmer.
PLACES OF INTEREST ARE:
Barmer: Perched on a rocky hill, the town has ruins of an old fort. Of interest are a temple dedicated to Balark (the Sun) and the ancient ruins of Juna Barmer. The three Jain temples, an
inscription of 1295 AD and a massive pillar in the hall of the largest temple of Maharaja Kula Sri Samanta Sinha Deva, a ruler of Bahadmera (Barmer) are also worth a visit.
Kiradu: Situated on the foot of a hill near village Hathma in Barmer Tehsil is Kiradu. The inscription dating back to 1161 AD reveals that the place was called Kiratkoop and had once been the
capital of Punwars. The ruins of five ancient temples - once dedicated to Lord Vishnu and other four dedicated to Lord Shiva - are of interest to archaeologists and art lovers, alike. The biggest of
these temples is the Someshwar Temple.
Khed: Rao Siha, the founder of the Rathore clan alongwith his son (Asthanji) conquered Khed from the Guhil Rajputs and planted the standard of the Rathores. An old Vishnu temple of Ranchhrji is
surrounded by a crumbling wall and an image of Garuda (the eagle) at the gate guards the complex. Other temples nearby include temples of Brahma, Bhairav, Mahadev and a Jain temple of Lard Mahaveer.
Meva Nagar: Once called Viranipur, this 12th century village lies on the slope of a hill called Nagar-ki-Bhakarian, 9 km away from Balotra. The village has three Jain temples. The biggest of
these is one dedicated to Nakoda Parsvanath. A Vishnu temple is also worth visiting.
Balotra & Kanana: Close to Kanana, the venue for the Sheetal Saptmi Mela, lies the small town of Balotra. It is an important centre of printing and dying.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Tilwara Cattle Fair (March - April): A major cattle fair lasting a fortnight, held in village Tilwara.
Nakoda Parasvanath (December - January): The festival held in Mevanagar village commemorating the birth anniversary of Parasvanath.
Veeratara Mela: Held at Veertara (12 km from village Chohatan), the fair venerated goddess Vakaldevi and is held thrice a year in the month of Chaitra, Bhadrapada & Magha.
Khed Fair (August - September): A big religious fair held on Purnima (full moon) in village Khed.
Mallinath Fair, Tilwara: Mallinath Fair is one of the biggest cattle fairs of Rajasthan held annually near Tilwara, a village in Barmer District from Chaitra Budi Ekadashi to Chaitra Sudi Ekadashi
(March - April). It lasts for a fortnight wherein the highly popular breeds of cows, camels, sheep, goats and horses attract people not only form Rajasthan but also Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. People
of all castes and creeds participate freely in the fair.
The fair is believed to have originated from transactions which took place among admires of Rawal Mallinath, a local hero, who used to travel to Tilwara on well-bred animals to meet him. A shrine
dedicated to Mallinathji is located here and people make offerings of batashas and laddoos. When their wishes are fulfilled, they offer miniature horses at the shrine. Traders from Mathura, Agra and
Aligarh bring horses made of wood, brass and bronze to sell at the fair. On the opening day of the fair, the flag of Rawal Mallinathji is hoisted to the accompaniment of songs extolling his greatness.
Bullock, camel and horse races are organized at the fair and thoroughbred animals compete against each other on the dry river bed. The prize-winning animals sport white badges on theirs heads
and command high prices at the fair. Apart from shops selling normal utility items and agricultural implements, there is a separate market for fodder at the fair.
A veritable shopper's paradise, Barmer is treasure trove of vibrantly coloured embroidery with excellent mirror work. Also famous are beautifully embroidered fabrics and pouches often patterned with
tiny mirrors. Traditional rugs, blankets, shawls, carpets, "Pattius" Dari in typical Barmer colours and weave are speciality of the district. The shopping spots include the tiny shops along
the narrow lanes of the colourful and lively Sadar Bazar.