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Tourist Places To Visit In Bundi
The 13th century kingdom of Bundi has had its inhabitants from many thousands of years before it got its name. This was because of the unique geography of the place. Unlike the rest of Rajasthan, the rocky surroundings here helped retain water from the scanty rainfall, forming lakes. The inhabitants of Bundi were able to use this to their advantage and create step wells that helped them get through dry and arid times. This left its mark in history and is visible even today from the many structures they left behind. A tour of Bundi can be described as a historic tour and the best tourist places to visit in Bundi are almost all historic landmarks. From Bundi Palace to Jait Sagar, Raniji ki Baori to Dabhai Kund, each of these structures made life possible in this desert town at some point of time.
This palace is the majestic building you see, overlooking the entire city of Bundi. The strategic location of the palace and its fort combined with its brilliant architecture is enough to impress anyone. Yet the palace holds more surprises. For one, it has some of the most beautiful murals painted on its walls and secondly, when you hike up to the palace the view that awaits you is like nothing you could have imagined. From here you truly understand why Bundi is often referred to as the blue city. It is important, though, to know that the fort is home to a lot of bats and is frequented by bands of monkeys and it is best to be prepared. One of the most impressive rooms in the palace is the Chitrasala, translating to the ‘abode of pictures’. The room is home to some very beautiful paintings, all painted in blue and golden and portraying scenes from Hindu mythology.
The fort is also part of the Palace complex, however, you will have to pay an extra fee for a tour of this fort as well. A steep climb from the palace will take you to the fort, which is mostly in ruins. Yet what remains is stunning. The three gates with elephants carved onto them lead into the massive fort which has some very interesting things, like a tunnel system that allowed nobility alternate passage during times of war and rooms for the ladies of the court filled with elaborate art work. There are tour guides available for the fort but they do cost extra, however, they are well worth it as they can provide insight into the history and purpose of the fort and its numerous structures.
Raniji ki Baori
The city of Bundi is what it is today, because of the reservoirs that stored water for its people. These wells are often very deep and during the summer when all the water is gone, it is quite a sight. However, the wells have fallen into disuse and most of them are a pitiful sight. Luckily, this is not the case for ‘Raniji ki Baori’. This step well has a name that translates to the 'Queen’s Step Well' and it lives up to its name. The well is housed within a massive structure and has almost 200 steps leading all the way to the bottom of the well. Exploring the well could be one of the most unique things to do in Rajasthan.
One of the most beautiful structures in Bundi, it is built overlooking the lake Jait Sagar. The Sukh Mahal, translating to ‘House of Pleasure’ was just that. The building has a very impressive architecture and is also home to many beautiful murals and paintings. The viewing point on the top of the building is one of the major attractions here. From this ‘chhatri’ you can catch a great view of the lake and the mountains on either side of the building. One tale everyone loves to tell is of the time when Rudyard Kipling came to stay here, he found the place so magical that it inspired him to write his book Kim.
The 84-Pillared Cenotaph
The cenotaph was built by the 17th century king to honour his foster brother or so goes the legend. His affection for the brother can be gauged by the magnificence of the umbrella structure. The marble domes are supported, as the name suggests, by 84 pillars and they guard a ‘Shiva Linga’ at the centre. The walls are adorned with carvings of elephants, horses, bulls and other animals. There are some paintings on the walls and the ceiling to add to the beauty of the cenotaph.
One of the most scenic lakes in the Hadoti, Jait Sagar is unsurprisingly one of the main attractions in Bundi. The longish lake is surrounded by hills on all sides and with the Sukh Mahal gleaming at it, the setting is almost magical. The lake is about 2 km away from the main town of Bundi but it is no hassle getting here. It is a great place for a little picnic or for a light trek. Sometimes if the season is right you can even catch some lotuses floating about in the lake.
This is the largest step well in Bundi and is also quite a stunning sight to behold. Built in 1658, this well was apparently constructed to honour the then king’s mother, which is probably why it was constructed with such breathtaking beauty. The rectangular well has its walls practically draped in fleets of stairs and is said to be a historic symbol of Bundi’s prosperity.
A gallery of sorts, Chitrashala is a beautiful complex inside the Bundi Palace, listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site order. It houses some of the most gorgeous and decadent paintings which are a cross between Mewari, Deccan and Mughal. Most of these paintings are depicting the lilas of Krishna or Shrinathji, be it raas lila or holi lila. They are sensually charged, some even evocative, telling you of a time when religion and art went hand in hand in India, and people truly appreciated both for their open thinking.
Hathi Pol is the entrance of the famous Garh Palace, named for the two giant elephant statues at its opening. These statues form an arc at the helm of the gate, creating a grand usher for the visitors who come up the steep ramp made of stone. This pol of entrance is studded with carvings and pillars, with balconies jutting out above in the true Mewari and Rajputana way.
Shikar Bhuj is an ancient hunting lodge some miles away from Bundi, located in the midst of thick jungles. Maharao Raja Umed Singhji made this hunting lodge his home, giving it the grandeur of a mansion house when he chose to spend his retired years here. The Char Bagh, a vegetable garden in its premises is all forms of grandiose with a pond and temple, where tigers venture to get a drink sometimes. Imagine the kind of magnificent lifestyle they must have had at the time. Visit if you are a history buff.
Nawal Sagar Lake
A lake in the centre of Bundi, Naval Sagar is a famous touristy haunt. The lake is said to be so big that it reflects the whole town in its waters. Photographers, picnickers, families, tourists, locals — all flock here at the hour of dusk. The half-in-half-out temple in the lake revering Lord Varun is also popular among tourists, as are the step wells around the lake.
Moti Mahal is a palace, as the name suggests. But it is not made of pearls. It is, however beautiful and one-of-its-kind, sitting in the lap of Aravali mountains like pearl in its shell. The palace/fort was built in mid-1600s by Maharao Raja Bhao Singh, to make a stronghold of defence for Bundi. The kings that came later added other structures to the palace, namely gardens, step wells, marble and gold inlays, opulent mirror work in the interiors and so on.
Sukh Mahal, another palace, this one near Jait Sagar, was built by Umaid Singh. The structure derives its richness from the pearly white marble umbrella on its roof, along with its soft feminine style that suited its usage by the princesses of that time. They partied and used Sukh Mahal as their summer house. You can now also visit the museum here, along with the lotus-filled lake and the place where Rudyard Kipling lived during the time he was writing Kim, one of his famous novels.
Shopping in Bundi has one destination — Sadar Bazar. From marble wares to paintings, murals to handicrafts, cotton carpets to kota and doriya sarees, all can be found here. Do also look for home decor items like metal and wooden vases, wares, toys and statues. Silver jewellery shops are also a dime a dozen, and each selling intricate stuff. The odhanis done in rich leheriyas and colourful prints are best picked up in bulk to add as souvenirs!