The town of Baoris (stepwells) Bundi: Fort, Palaces and Kipling connection

Located some 200 km from Jaipur and 30 km from Kota, this hamlet almost has a dreamy touch to it. Lying in a beautiful narrow valley, with a fort on a hill overlooking the city, Bundi’s charm is in its simplicity. Bundi was the capital of the Hadoti kingdom of Hada Chauhan Rajputs’ clan, legendary Prithviraj Chauhan being one of them. Just like Jodhpur, Bundi’s constructions also have a noticeable blue colour to them – to keep houses cool during summer. The place saw a period of spectacular prosperity in the 19th century under the rule of Zalim Singh and then decline post his death. The place has, however, preserved the art and culture from the glorious past, even though with a clear struggle, which is clearly evident as you walk through the lanes.

Taragarh Fort:  Built in 1345, atop a steep hill overlooking the city, it almost has a guardian-like presence over Bundi. With time having stolen its charm and grandeur, Taragarh is still a worthy shadow of its past. It stands in a sombre contrast to the land below – fields, rivers and lakes, surrounded by fruit orchards, flanked by Aravallis and looking postcard perfect. Apart from the tanks built with now-lost technique so they never dry up, the fort is also a tribute to Rajputana architecture with its curved roofs, temple columns, and elephant and lotus motifs.
Bundi Palace: Rudyard Kipling called this palace ‘such a palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams – the work of goblins rather than of men.’ Located on the downhills of Taragarh Fort, Bundi Palace's mansions are a treat to watch with their murals and frescos. The palace is actually a collection of many palaces inside one, built over three centuries. The Ummed Mahal in the eastern part is also famously called Chitrashala (picture gallery) and it boasts of some of the best paintings from the late 16th century depicting love stories, court proceedings, stories from God Krishna's life events, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and more.

Raniji ki Baori: If Bundi is known as the city of stepwells with over 50 stepwells, Raniji ki Baori, as the name suggests, is truly the queen among all the baoris. Sitting pretty in the middle of the city, it is also counted among the best stepwells in Asia. Built by queen Nathavati in 1699, wife of famous king of Bundi, Anirudh Singh, the stepwell is a three-storied construction with a grand high-arched entry gate, intricate carvings, and marble elephants. If the look from the top amazed you, the view after a 100-step odd decent will make you fall in love.

At walking distance from Raniji Ki Baori is Nagar Sagar kund, twin ornate stepwells. Hidden inside the densely crowded market, these 2 Baories are another visual spectacle noted for their symmetry. 

Chaurasi (84) khambon ki chhatri: Many of the royal children were raised by nannies and as a result, the to-be kings and queens had great respect for those women and treated their children like their own brothers and sisters. This 84-pillared cenotaph is a temple-type structure with a marble Shiva lingam in the middle, and was built by the king, Anirudh Singh, to honour his foster brother, Deva. The double-storied cenotaph is decorated with carvings of animals and nymphs. The legend is that no one can count the pillars correctly unless the locals share the trick to do so.

Sukh Mahal and Lake Jait Sagar: Located close to the Taragarh Fort, near the north gate of the city, this picturesque lake and cream-coloured palace on its bank, is said to have played the muse for none other than Noble prize-winning Kipling. He is believed to have authored a part of his famous novel, Kim, while staying here. Built on a lake and surrounded by mountains on three sides, the palace was the royalty’s escape from harsh summer. The lake is covered with pretty naturally grown lotus flowers that bloom during winter and monsoon.

Tickets are required for Raniji ki Baori, 84 khambon ki chhatri and Sukh Mahal. Better to purchase composite ticket with validity of 24 hours covering all 3 spots. The Bundi festival, held in the month of Kartik (November) is a wonderful stage to showcase Bundi’s traditional art, culture and craftsmanship. Make your plans accordingly. 
Tour operators generally advise people about 1- or 2-days itinerary for Bundi. However, if you are game to explore the unexplored ones, there are so many nearby attractions that one can easily spend 3-4 days in Bundi. Itinerary as follows -

Day 1: Raniji ki Baori, Sukh Mahal

Day 2: Better to hire a local Taxi -
·      Cave Paintings - Dating back to pre-historic times. 
·     Bijoliya Group of Temples - Flawless carvings, flying pigeons and a picturesque kund. A must visit spot, 
     even if you are 100 km. around this. 
·      Bhimlat Mahadev and Garadiya Mahadev.

Day 3: 
·      Chaurasi (84) Khambon ki Chhatri
·      Garh Palace, Badal Mahal (Hiring a local Auto will be better to reach till the gate)
·      Nagar Sagar Kund - the ornate twin stepwells. 
·      Local markets and Shopping. 

Day 4: Start by 9AM from Bundi to Sawai Madhopur -
·      Kshaar Bagh - Resting place of erstwhile royal family.
·      Kedareshwar Ban Ganga - Scenic temple dedicated to God Shiv.
·      Chauth Mata Temple - Hill top temple located near to Ban Ganga
·  Rameshwar Mahadev Temple - Picturesque cave temple dedicated to God Shiv, alongside a panoramic waterfall. 
·      Hathi Bhata - A gigantic monolith Elephant, which looks like a LIVE walking Elephant from a distance. 
·      Arrival at Sawai Madhopur by evening. 

Keep exploring Folks…

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.

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