Bundi in Rajasthan is a keyhole to a glorious past. Hidden between Aravalli’s and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, this oasis of yesteryear’s architectural glory is a must visit for any traveller.
Bundi by itself is a destination which would require not less than two days to explore. However, should you wish to do a quick detour on your way to Udaipur from Jaipur, here is a list of few must visit monuments:
A historical masterpiece of the Hadoti kingdom, Garh palace is a place not to be missed. Its a reminiscence of Rajputana’s architectural excellence and miniature art works.
Inside Garh Palace, one could see the following things:
– Chhatra Mahal
The major attraction of Chhatra Mahal is made of stones from the stone quarries of Bundi itself. The murals inside the mahal has representational paintings from the lives of the Hadoti Rajputs along with stories from mythology.
– Hathi Pole
The entrance gate of Garh Palace is known as ‘Hathi Pole’ because of the two huge elephant statues. As per my guide, one elephant is in a defensive stance while it’s counterpart is in on offensive. The positioning of the statues conveys the valour of the Rajputs and their invincible stance against invaders.
Chitrashala inside Garh Palace has some of the most beautiful miniature murals in India. They tell stories from mythology, share the opulent life of kings and queens, the struggle against the Britishers and more; depicted on the walls & ceilings of Chitrashala.
This series is one of my favourite:
- In this picture you can see Lord Krishna lifting a mountain to save his native place from incessant rains. An unhappy Krishna lift’s the mountain to teach the arrogant Lord Indra a lesson on humility. Seeing Krishna’s anger, Indra and his elephant ‘Airavat’ came down to earth & apologised.
2. A naughty Lord Krishna, hiding the clothes of his beloved gopis. He teases them with melodious tunes from his flute, while they beg him to return their clothes.
3. Krishna dancing [‘Raas Leela’] with all his beloved ‘Gopis’. Even though he is with Radha, still he makes sure that his gopis get undivided attention from him. Every single gopi gets to dance with a Krishna while it is actually a reflection of Krishna who was dancing with Radha.
– Badal Mahal
A narrow staircase takes you to a small courtyard that opens to a vibrant & colourful palace. Badal mahal known as ‘Palace of clouds’, was painted by three artists who came from Chunar. Historians suggest that these painters were a gift from Akbar to the King of Bundi.
Located on the edge of Jait Sagar Lake, Sukh Mahal was built during the reign of Umed Singh. The major attraction at Sukh Mahal is it’s white marble cenotaph and the room where Rudyard Kipling wrote ‘Kim’. ‘Sukh’ means happiness.
It is believed that the kings and princes used this place for recreation. Locals say that there is a tunnel connecting Sukh Mahal to the old palace.
Raniji Ki Baori
Built by Rani Nathawat ji, wife of Rao Raja Anirudh Singh in 1699 during the reign of her son Raja Budh Singh. This exquisite step-well is adorned with sculptures of gods and goddesses. The western side of the step well has a cenotaph with twelve ornate pillars, built in Rajputana style.
This multi-storeyed baori is 40 ft wide and 200 ft deep with a place of worship on each of the three floors. The second floor of this baori has ten representation of temples – five on each side. The intricate elephant cravings on the pillars is the most beautiful part of this step well.
Travel Hack: Buy a pass for Rs.75 for 3 monuments – Raniji Ki baori, Sukh Mahal and 84 Pillared Cenotaph.
Imagine an upside down pyramid! Thats what you see when you enter Dabhai Kund. It gives you a trippy feeling as you go down the steep steps leading to the bottom of the Baori.
There is no water in this step well now and the place is in a dilapidated condition. People throw flower garlands and idols of gods in this stepwell.
In Indian culture, it is believed that you don’t throw away things used in a religious ceremony. You either keep it under a tree or immerse them in a water body.
84 Pillared Cenotaph
(Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri)
As a tribute to his foster brother Deva, Rao Raja Anirudh Singh ji constructed Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri. This multi-storeyed temple like structure is devoted to Lord Shiva. Restored (beautifully) & maintained by Archaeology and Museums Department of Rajasthan, this monument has evidently survived numerous assaults of nature & vandals – the later being more destructive.
Set amidst lush surroundings, Shikar Bhuj was the royal hunting lodge of the Kings of Bundi. It is believed Rao Raja Anirudh Singh ji spend his last years at this lodge.
Taragarh Fort was built in 1345 but it stands abandoned now. A kilometre from Garh Palace, the steep hike to this fort tested my physique. The fort is massive and hides many architectural gems including four stepwells, palace of the Queen and a bastion which could hold many canons. One could also get an aerial view of the Vindhayachal mountain range, overlooking Jait Sagar Lake from the later.
Travel Hack: Make sure you don’t venture out alone to the Fort. The whole place can give chills to the strongest heart. I felt like I was in a horror movie and anytime soon zombies will come chasing me. Also, beware of Monkeys!
Ganga Sagar & Yamuna Sagar
There are two identical stepwells right outside the walled city of Bundi. The twin baoris – Ganga Sagar and Yamuna Sagar are now known as Nagar Sagar Kund. Queen Chandrabhanu Kumari constructed them in 1871 during a famine to provide water for the town. There are some very beautiful sculptures around these step wells.
The stepwells are now surrounded by a market near Chauhan gate. Sadly, like most step wells in India, they are now giant trash bins.
You might also want to read:
- Water Storage System at Amber Fort by Heritage Water Walks
- Fading Frescoes of Mandawa, Rajasthan
- Kuldhara: Story of an abandoned village in Rajasthan
How to reach Bundi?
By train: There are two trains from Delhi to Bundi – Mewar Express and Dehradun Express. If you don’t get a direct train, then search for trains to Kota or Jaipur and take a connecting train or bus from there.
By flight: The nearest airport is at Jaipur which is 220 kms away.
By bus: There are many options for local transport from Delhi, Kota, Ajmer, Chittorgarh and Jaipur for Bundi. I took a local bus from Jaipur to Bundi and it took around 4 hours to reach.
Travel Hack: There is a discount for women in Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation buses. You can save about 25% on standard fares 🙂
What is the best Time to Visit Bundi?
The best time to visit is from October to March. Rajasthan is extremely hot during summers. It is a good idea to explore the state during winter.
Bundi also receives rainfall during monsoon season, which should be pleasant. Monsoons typically happen in the months of July-August.
Where to stay in Bundi?
There are many options available in Bundi for accommodation, ranging from budget to luxury. I stayed at Hadoti Palace which was one of best stay option available in Bundi. Had a pleasant stay in their spacious rooms with clean bathrooms, agood breakfast buffet, swimming pool; served by a team of courteous staff.
Other options for stay in Bundi:
- Hotel Bundi Haveli
- Kasera Paradise
- Ummaid Bagh Resort
- Haveli Taragarh Palace
- Amour Casa Homestay
Should I hire a guide in Bundi?
YES! You should most definitely hire a guide in Bundi. There are so many historical sites in and around Bundi that one must hire a reliable and knowledgeable person to guide them.
I was fortunate enough to get hold of Mr. Om Prakash Sharma aka Mr. Kukki, a renowned guide and history enthusiast. His knowledge about the area and love for art & culture is inspiring. With more than 4 decades of experience, he is an Indian Indiana Jones having discovered about 75 rock cave paintings around Bundi, coins of various dynasties, stone tools, scraps of pottery and terracotta utensils from various historical spots around Bundi.
Travel Hack: Make an appointment in advance if you want Kukki ji to guide you because he is booked most days of the year.