On our way to Udaipur from Jaipur we stopped in the town of Bundi overnight. We arrived around 3 or 4, enough time to check in to our hotel and explore Bundi Palace and the Star Fort or Taragarh. Bundi felt like a sleepy gem that has yet to be invaded by tourism. The streets are small and people seem very curious when they see you as oppose to Agra or Jaipur where tourists are part of the everyday.
We stayed at the Haveli Braj Bhushanjee which was great. Like all or most havelis it is family run by 2 brothers who live in a private area of the building. It was the most personal stay of our trip but one of the most pleasant. We were asked if we would be dining in the haveli that evening, Yes! Okay would you like to eat at 6 or 8 pm? 8 pm. They showed us a menu and we wondered if we needed to tell them in advance what we’d like, No, just one menu, all vegetarian! Um, okay, great! It was one of the best meals we had. We were the only ones in the dining room and the food was plentiful and delicious.
So after we made our dinner arrangements, saw our room and our monkey stick (No joke. A stick just outside our room to scare the monkeys away) we walked to Bundi Palace. No crowds to fight or guides offering tours in whatever language you speak, just us exploring. There was a man inside who was happy to tell us the history of the palace and the stories associated with the paintings inside but it was clear that no one seemed too concerned about the place. Good and bad I think. Good because tourism hasn’t overrun it and bad because some of the palace could use some TLC.
The entrance to the palace, the Elephant Gate, was built in 1607 with the rest of the mahals (palaces) done thereafter. Bundi Palace is a series of smaller palaces all connected. Bundi is known for its painting tradition evident in the palace and in souvenirs you can take home (more later). The greater area where Bundi is located is known as Mewar. The ruling family was the Sisodia Rajput clan whose symbol was a sun usually with a smiling moustached face. You see it in various places in the palace.
After the Palace we went to the Taragarh. This fort was built in 1354 and the vegetation took over sometime in the last 20-30 years. And the monkeys. It is an uphill climb to reach the fort so disabled and wheelchair bound will probably not be able to make it. We were even out of breath walking up and up and up. You do get a marvelous view of Bundi and in our case the setting sun.
This was the extent of our exploration of Bundi. We headed back to the haveli for dinner. In the morning we had time to purchase a few paintings from the excellent selection in the hotel and set off to Udaipur. The paintings they had are not made for tourists. Compared to what we saw in other cities being marketed as “Bundi style” paintings these were glorious. Mine is below.