A captivating town perched up on a hilltop that is surrounded by lakes, medieval forts and ruins and has a thriving colorful market with its friendly people. That’s Bundi, a typical yet a unique little town of Rajasthan.
Bundi is a lesser known city of Rajasthan that has a forgotten but glorious past of kings and magnificent Havelis. Today it offers you a serene calm environment with an impressive Palace perched up on a hillside.
With a landscape endowed with lakes, heritage buildings and temples, Bundi is an ideal getaway for those craving for some peaceful time yet wanting to explore a bit of history.
Bundi Palace, The Taragarh Fort
Originally constructed during the reign of Rao Raja Ratan Ji (who ruled: 1607–31), there were later additions made by his successors.
Things to look out for, inside the Palace Area: The Taragarh palace, as described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the work of goblins rather than of men’ really seems unbelievable at the first look. The whole Palace seems to be hanging out and it seems to grow out of a rocky hill. It has a stunning view of the town below and has few small palaces within its walls, most of which are now closed for public or have unfortunately been invaded by bats!
Most of the mural work and frescoes included in the architecture uses the royal colors, turquoise and gold, which makes the whole place look more splendid.
Ratan Daulat is a grand monument constructed by the Bundi Royals to symbolize the chivalry and achievements of its Rajput rulers over the centuries.
It is also called the Diwan-e-Aam that was once a public hall and has a white marble coronation throne. It is a beautiful complex with carved sculptures and torans (carved wooden/stone brackets usually put on the entrance doors) and has a splendid looking horse stable too.
Then you would cross by the Chhatra Mahal, constructed during the rule of Rao Raja Chhatra Shabji (1644). It has some fine murals. The stair would then lead you to the Phool Mahal (1607) which has murals depicting a royal procession.
The last few steps take you to the famous Badal Mahal (1607) also called the Cloud Palace which has stunning murals including a wonderful Chinese-inspired ceiling that is divided into delicate petal shapes and has beautifully made peacocks and idols of Lord Krishna.
The Palace has distinct places for bastions, the biggest being Bhim Burj that once held a cannon known as ‘Garbh Gurjam’ meaning – Thunder from the womb!
And it is during the night that the Bundi Palace seems to glow in its golden light, that makes it appealing to all those who come over to spend some laid back times, even if its only for a while.
Chitrasala: Chitrasala complex lies within the Bundi Palace and was made by Rao Unmed Singh in the 18th Century.
This place is located uphill near the Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate) and has several rooms showcasing detailed paintings as well as a beautiful Sheesh Mahal (room made of mirrors).
Is an important attraction of Bundi. It is an artificial lake that has a temple dedicated to the Aryan God of water- Lord Varuna. The lake looks stunning as the waters reflect the nearby forts and palaces making the whole experience surreal.
West of Nawal Sagar Lake lies Bundi’s oldest Shiva Temple, the Abyanath Temple. it has a 16th-century water tank known as Bhoraji Ka Kund and the place attracts lots of migratory as well as monsoon birds.
Is a fairly huge lake spread over 1.5 kilometres and is located amidst hills making it an ideal picnic spot for relaxation. There’s even a Sukh Mahal, which was once a summer palace and has beautiful terraced gardens. This is the place where Rudyard Kipling stayed for a while and wrote a piece of his famous novel ‘Kim’.
Another interesting place nearby to the Jait Sagar is Kota Kesar bagh (located in Kota Town vicinity), which features 66 cenotaphs of Bundi & Kota Royal Rulers and Queens. It has intricate carvings, especially of elephants and horses.
Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri
Is an interesting structure that has 84 pillars supporting one entire 2 storied monument. Build by Rao Anirudh Singh in the late 17th Century, this marvel was constructed as a tribute to his wet nurses, who took special care and loved the princes and princesses of the ruling king.
A wet nurse known as ‘Deva’ was someone special as she treated the king lovingly and he loved her as his own mother. The building is her memorial and also has a sacred Shiva Linga within its premises.
Inside the monument, there are intricate carvings and patterns of different architectural styles. The place is getting destroyed with the time, so it is important to see it before it becomes a ruin like other heritage buildings.
Baoris/Stepwells of Bundi
While most of the 60+ Baori’s or step wells which date back to 1699, are in a state of ruin due to many years of neglect, there are many still that surround the city area and capture your interest. With beautiful architecture, these Baori’s were constructed for ground water storage and now offer visitors a glimpse of the glorious past. Most impressive ones include:
- Rani-ji-ki-Baori (Queen’s Step-Well): decorated with amazing carvings the step well is located in a small park. The Baori features a carved idol of Lord Vishnu. Check on its grand entrance which has curved pillars and other interesting architecture that makes it really interesting to visit.
Rani Ji Ki Baori was built by Rani Nathawati, wife of Rao Raja Anirudh Singh in the year 1699 and is one of the most beautiful and largest Baoli’s of India. She seems to have commissioned the constructed of over 21 Baoli’s.
- Dhabhai-ka-Kund: was constructed during the 19th century and is quite an interesting place to see. The stepwell is really deep and has interesting geometry steps like the one we see at Chand Baori, near Abhaneri, Rajasthan.Dhai Bhai Ji Ki Baori
- Nagar Sagar Kund: has a pair of matching step wells and is located outside of the old City’s Chogan Gate.
Cave Paintings Tour of Bundi
There are some 75 pre-historic rock paintings in the surrounding hills of Bundi and regular bushwalks are held for you to view them. Came across to hear about a person named ‘Kukki’ aka Om Prakash Sharma who takes these tours. Please enquire about him from the locals and you’ll find him.
Festivals of Bundi
Every year the Rajasthan tourism organises the Bundi Utsav (Nov-Dec) that has an array of traditional art & crafts exhibitions along with folk dances, sports activities etc. bringing life to the usually calm city.
Another noted festival of Bundi is Kajli Teej when a traditional fair is held attracting people from far off villages as well.
Eating Out in Bundi
For food lovers, Bundi offers a range of cuisines. While ‘Out of Blue’ also known as Morgan’s Place serves good Italian spread, there’s a ‘Rainbow Café’ with lovely Bohemian ambience that offers delicious and addictive Bhang (a blend of buttermilk with a derivative of marijuana!).
Do check out with the locals and try out local dishes like Panchkoota, Laapsi, Ghoogri, Dhungari Chhaachh, Bail-Gatte, Chaavadi, Nukhti along with the other Rajasthani delicacies of Laal Maas etc.
Shopping at Bundi
There are plenty of shops to buy Rajasthani Paintings that feature detailed and miniature work of art. Check out small art stores that are kind of mini-museums, where you can get a variety of souvenirs for a good deal. You can also buy cotton carpets, Kota Doria Sarees, lac bangles, colourful Bandhani sarees or dupattas and handmade wooden toys.
Interesting Things to Know about Bundi: The miniature paintings of Bundi has distinctive eyes, body curves and impressive expressions, that make them different from the other Rajasthani style paintings. Being close to Kota, which is revered for its Kota Stone, Bundi too incorporates the stone in most of its architecture. Another thing which is gaining global exposure is the high quality Basmati Rice, that is grown in this region.
Stay Options at Bundi
Bundi Vilas: Located just above the Jait Sagar, this was a 300-year-old Haveli, that has been renovated into a heritage hotel.
Bundi Vilas offers a charming stay and is just a few minutes walk from the main palace. The grand entrance is stunning and the hotel offers 7 tastefully decorated rooms having their distinct character and royal charm. Tariffs: 2500 INR Onwards
Hadoti Palace: Owned and run by the Royal Family of Badnore, which were among the 16 Umraos (Nobles) of Mewar. This Palace has opulence and rich heritage, where the ancestors trace back to Meera Bai, a princess, a saint, a philosopher, a poet and a sage who has immortalised her name in the love and devotion to Lord Krishna.
Located near the famous Ranjit Talkies, this Palace has its own Badnore Fort, Jal Mahal and also has a vintage and clasic car museum! Offering 28 rooms to choose from, this is definitely a place to feel and live like a king. Tariffs: 3750 INR onwards
Bundi Inn: is a bed & breakfast Heritage Haveli that is located just 200 metres from the Palace. It offers comfortable rooms with aesthetically designed architecture. Tariffs: 1600 INR Onwards
Some more prominent stay options are offered at Kasera Heritage View, Haveli Braj Bhushanjee, Dev Niwas, Nawal Sagar Palace and so many more. For budget travellers, there are plenty of other good budget guesthouses or hotels with tariffs starting from 500 INR to 1500 INR.
Places to See Around Bundi/Excursions
Bijolia and Menal: Bijolia (54 Kms) and Menal (70 Kms) are temple towns and have few fort ruins as well. Menal was once the mountain retreat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan of Delhi.
The small town of Menal has notable temples dating back to 9th & 12th Century, among which Hajaresvara Mahadeva Temple, Baijnath, Undeswar Mahadeva and the Mahanaleshwar (Mahanal) temple are most famous. Most temples have intricate carvings that stand out beautifully with their grand carved arches at their entrances with few having the idol of Lord Ganesh symbolizing as a guardian and protector to the Bijolia tribe.Most temples have intricate carvings that stand out beautifully with their grand carved arches at their entrances with few having the idol of Lord Ganesh symbolizing as a guardian and protector to the Bijolia tribe.
Most temples have intricate carvings that stand out beautifully with their grand carved arches at their entrances with few having the idol of Lord Ganesh symbolizing as a guardian and protector to the Bijolia tribe.
Talwas: is located 53 Kms and has a magnificent fort built by the ruler Ajit Singh. A picturesque waterfall and the Ratna Sagar lake makes the place look more enchanting, especially during monsoons.
Kota: is just 38 kms from Bundi and lies on the eastern bank of River Chambal. Kota is a unique mix of ancient palaces along with temples and the ever growing well-reputed coaching centre’s. Read the Kota Travel Guide.
Jhalawar: is a region that is known for its rich natural beauty and historical forts (Gagron Fort) and the globally popular Gangaur Festival. It is located at a distance of 120 km from Bundi and 87 Kms from Kota.
Jhalawar is also called the city of bells for its numerous temples including the Sitalesvara Mahadeva, the Varaha Avatara, and the Kalikadevi temple.
Tip for Road Diving from New Delhi/Gurgaon: Start as early as 5:00 AM from Delhi to reach Jaipur, well before Lunch time and then stay overnight. Next morning, take the NH 12 that connects Jaipur to Kota. Bundi is about 38 kms short of Kota and would ideally take you approx. 4.5 hours to cover a distance of 220 kms thanks to a 4 lane highway. For pit stops, it is recommended to stop at a place called Chaksu, that has some decent restaurants. Once in Bundi, do spend at least 2 days to enjoy this magical little city before you head back to the maddening crowds of Delhi.
Best Time to Visit: August-March
Directions to Reach Bundi
Nearest Airport: Jaipur is the nearest airport from Bundi at 220 Kms. Another way is to reach Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and then drive or take a train to Bundi/Kota, Rajasthan
Railways: Bundi is well connected to important cities like Kota, Agra, Chittorgarh, Benaras, Jaipur and many others. Kota is well connected with New Delhi and Mumbai and takes only 6.5 hours travel time. From Kota, Bundi is just 38 Kms. Station Code is KOTA JN – KOTA So check more at www.irctc.co.in
Kota to Bundi: 38 Kms
Jaipur to Bundi: 220 Kms
Bundi to Chittorgarh: 153 Kms
Ajmer to Bundi: 175 Kms
Bundi to Udaipur: 265 Kms
New Delhi to Bundi: 480 Kms
Images Copyright: Most of the images have been procured from Flickr and have been clicked by Claudio Schlossmacher.