Bundi India Tour
- History of Bundi
- Climate of Bundi
- Tourist Attractions
- Eating in Bundi
- Shopping in Bundi
- Hotels in Bundi
One of the few unexplored cities with a rich historical wealth, Bundi is a small picturesque town located some 36 km from Kota. Surrounded by the Aravalli hills on three sides and circumscribed by a massive wall with four gateways, Bundi with its medieval forts, palaces, havelis, baolis (Step wells) temples with beautiful stone idols and chattris with carved pillars is a tourist delight, waiting to be explored.
Named after a former Meena tribal chieftain called Bunda Meena, Bundi after all these centuries still retains a medieval flavor. It has a lot of interesting monuments and historic sites. The Taragarh Fort and Garh Palace, lavishly decorated with the finest murals dominate the landscape of Bundi while the Chitrashala has scenes from the 'Ragamala' and 'Raaslila' - the Radha-Krishna story depicted on its walls. The Raniji ki Baori with its exquisite toran archway and beautiful carving was an important source of water as was the Phool Sagar, Jait Sagar and Nawal Sagar. The Haveli Braj Bhushanji and Ishwari Niwas with their life-size frescoes; the Sukh Mahal, Phool Mahal and the 84 pillared Cenotaphs are the other attractions.
Easily accessible from all parts of the country, one can visit Bundi during the winter months of October- February when the weather is cool and pleasant or in the month of July-August when the annual Kajli-teej festival is held. Being a small town, Bundi is free from the overflowing of tourists that characteriterized most of the holiday destinations. Here one can enjoy sight seeing as well as shopping with utmost peace and tranquility.
A part of the Hadoti region, Bundi has always been a strong bastion of the Hara Rajputs. An offshoot of the Chauhan clan of Ajmer and Delhi, the Hara Rajputs established their hold in the region somewhere around the 12th century by overpowering the Meena and Bhil tribals. They conquered Bundi in 1241 followed by Kota in 1264 and established their kingdom of Hadoti or Hadavati on the banks of the River Chambal. They gradually increased their sphere of influence and at one time, the kingdom of Bundi came ot encompass the present-day districts of Baran, Bundi, Kota, and Jhalawar.
However, the importance of Bundi as a princely state gradually got diminished over the years, beginning with the separation of Kota in 1624 which was bestowed on the 14 year old Madho Singh by the Emperor Shah Jahan. Then in 1838, Bundi was forced to part with its land in the east when Zalim Singh, with a little help from the British, hewed another state out of Bundi - that of Jhalawar. With the separation of these two states and the emergence of Kota as a stronghold of Hara Rajputs,Bundi gradually got reduced to being just a titular state. But, it still retained its independent status, albeit nominally under the British till its final incorporation in the state of Rajasthan in 1947.
Located an at altitude of 515 meters above sea level, the district of Bundi, Rajasthan, India has hot summers and cold chilly winters. The temperatures range from 43.0 degree C in summers to 5.0 degree C in winter. The monsoon season is from July to Mid September with an average rainfall of 75 cms.
- Population : 09 Millions
- Altitude : 515 meters
- Languages : Rajasthani, Hindi and English
- Best time to visit : Oct to March
- STD code : 0747
How to reach Bundi :
- By Air : The nearest airport is the Sanganer Airport of Jaipur at a distance of 206 km. The Sanganer Airport connects Jaipur to all the major destinations of India.
- By Rail : Bundi is well connected by rail to all the major cities of India. Bundi has a small railway station but Kota, at a distance of 38 km is a more convenient railhead which is connected to both Delhi and Mumbai by August Kranti, Mumbai and Trivandrum Rajdhani. It is connected to Jaipur by Jaipur Kota Fast Passenger and Jaipur Bombay Central Super fast Train.
- By Road : Bundi is connected to other destinations in Rajasthan by Express Buses and Private buses and taxis Located on the National Highway 12 , one can easily reach Bundi from Ajmer within five hours, Kota (50 minutes), Sawai Madhopur (4 1/2 hours), Udaipur (8 1/2 hours) and Jaipur (five hours).
Sukh Mahal : Located on the edge of the Jait Sagar is a white edifice known as Sukh Mahal (Palace of Bliss). Built in 1773 during Umed Singh’s reign, it is a magnificent summer palace set amidst lush surroundings of a beautiful garden which evokes the memories of Rudyard Kipling who not only stayed here but also found inspiration for his famous work "Kim". An underground tunnel is believed to run from the Sukh Mahal to the old Garh palace. The tunnels are now lost despite attempts to find them.
Sar Bagh : Sar Bagh is famous for their intricate carved cenotaph (chattris). The Bagh has 66 royal cenotaphs. Step wells (Bawari) are another prominent highlights of Bundi, these served as water reservoirs in the months of summers, there were over 50 wells but many of them had to suffer the ravages of the time.
Phool Mahal : Located on the banks of the artificially created Phool Sagar is Phool Mahal (Flower Palace). A fairly modern construction, the palace was built on the orders of Maharaja Bahadur Singh in 1945. However, it was never finished, and it still lies in its incomplete state.Visiting is not allowed and prior permission has to be taken before dropping by to take a look inside.
Phool Sagar : The artificial lake Phool Sagar so named because of the palace on its embankments is a good place for bird watching, especially from November to February.
Taragarh Fort : The massive Taragarh fort, also known as Star Fort was built in 1354 by Ajay Pala Chauhana, the founder of Ajmer. With its 4.5 m (15ft thick) walls further fortified with strong bastions and mounted with large cannon called Garbh Gunjam, or 'Thunder from the Womb- the second largest cannon in India after Jaivan, the fort was as formidable like the other forts of Rajasthan. One of the most impressive of the city's structures, the Taragarh Fort set within the horse-shoe shaped fold of the hills, and with the lakes and water reservoirs below offers a spectacular view of the countryside. The view is even magical during the sunset when the fort appears to be shining as a bright star. The fort is reached by a steep road leading up the hill side to its enormous gateway, topped by rampant elephants. Inside are huge reservoirs carved out of solid rock. Though the climb to the fort takes almost an hour, it is worthwhile for the fantastic view of the city below.
A unique feature of the Taragarh fort is the fact that unlike most of the forts which have their palaces, temples etc inside the fort that of Taragarh is located outside the actual fort but encircled by a fortified wall. Another wall encompasses the fort, making it doubly strengthened. The fort is also said to have a lots of tunnels which provided an escape route to the royal family of Bundi whenever their fort was attacked. However, as most of the underground passages are now lost and no maps are available, we are not sure which routes they followed to safety.
Though the fort has three main gateways -Lakshmi Pol ,Phuta arwaza (Broken gate) and Gagudi ki Phatak, most of them are now in ruins and are a grim reminder of lost glory of the Ajay Meru Durg as the Taragarh fort was earlier known as. The Rani Mahal or the Zenana mahal is the only edifice that remains as a reminder of the glory of the Taragarh Fort. It is well renowned for its spectacular murals and stained glass windows.
Bundi Palace : Located on a hillside adjacent to the Taragarh Fort, the Bundi Palace is notable for its lavish display of traditional murals and frescoes. Described by Kipling as a "work of goblins rather than of men.", the palace most famous room is the Chitrashala, which has beautiful paintings on the walls depicting scenes from the 'Raga mala' i.e., the 'Raslila' of Radha-Krishna. Other palaces where one can also see the murals are the Chattar Mahal and Badal Mahal within the palace complex. Of special interest in the palace is the Hazari Pol or Gate of the thousand, the Naubat Khana, the Hathi Pol with its old water clock and the Diwann-e- Aam. Flash photography is officially prohibited. The palace looks beautiful, from a distance and when illuminated at night.
Chitra Mahal/Chitrasala : Like the Shekhawati region, Bundi too was a beehive of miniature painting during the 18th century. Following the decline of the Mughlas,most of the artisans made their way to Bundi, where they were patronized by the Bundi rulers. Today, the results are there for all to see. Bundi has now known as an important center for miniature painting and the Chitra Mahal also known as the Chitrasala is renowned for its beautiful wall murals. A spectacular garden palace with fountains and little pools with exotic fish, most of the murals and miniature painting deal with images of Krishna and Radha in a distinctive style in blue, green and maroon. From battle scenes to gods and goddesses, , elephants, lovers and theGarh palace itself, these paintings say it all . The innermost chamber of the Chitra Mahal, the Chitrashala, made under orders from Umed Singh, is still untouched by sunlight and moisture, and here the paintings seem to glow with the originality of their painters.
Chatar Mahal : The Chatar Mahal is perhaps one of the most of beautiful Mahals of Bundi. Adorned with beautiful wall paintings of the famous Bundi School, the Chatar Mahal was builtin 1660 under the directions of Chatar Sal. A unique feature of the Chatar Mahal is that unlike most of the palaces and monuments of Rajasthan which show a distinct Mughal influence in its architecture and style, the Chatar Mahal does not. The Mahal is not bulit of red sandstone and is true Rajasthani style completes with elephant motifs, pavilions, curved roofs and small chattris.
Hathi Shala : The Hathi Shala located on the west side of Chatar Mahal consists of a number of columns and is so named because of the elephants on each of these pillars. The Hathi Shala leads into smaller chambers where Chatar Sal lived. The long chamber too has elephant motifs on its walls and pillars while two smaller rooms at the back are richly decorated with murals depicting Bundi life in the 17th century.
Garh palace : Built on terraces on a small hill, Garh Palace whose construction was started by begun by Rao Balwant Singh in 1580 has a number of small palaces that were built around the main royal residence by various rulers over the centuries. Now in ruins, it still retains some of its majestic splendour. Two huge gates form the entrance to the Garh palace. The Hazari Pol (Gate of One Thousand) is the first towering gate. The Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate), built by Rao Ratan Singh (1607-31)is the second gate, it has two trumpeting elephants form an arch. Originally cast in brass, the elephants were later replaced by concrete ones painted in bright colours. The Hathi Pol leads into a courtyard beyond which is an arched façade for stables. There is an interesting story associated with the Garh Palace. According to the story Hada Rani was a newly wed Rajput hose husband was going to battle. But as the husband didn't want to leave her alone, he came back from the outskirts of the battlefield. When she heard of his return, she was filled with disgust, for a true Rajput never leaves the scene of a battle until victory or death is his. Hada Rani chopped off her head, and it was sent to her husband as he entered the gates of the palace.
Rani Ji-Ki-Baoli : Once an important source of water for the town, Bundi has over 50 step-wells of which only a handful have now survived. With the introduction of the piped water system,may of them have been either abandoned or fell into disrepair. The only surving Baoli right now is the Rani-ji-ki-Baoli. Situated outside the old walls of the original town of Bundi, the Raniji ki Baoli was built in 1699 by Rani Nathavati. The largest of Bundi's baoris or stepwells, the 46m deep Rani-ji-ki-Baori has some beautiful carvings. Stone elephants facing each other stand in small nichés in the pillars at the top.The entrance to the Baori are through a narrow gateway of four pillars, joined at the top by slender arches just under the roof.Beyond the entrance are broad steps leading down into the well.
Chaurasi Khambon ki Chatri : The Chaurasi Khambhon-ki-Chatri or the 84 pillared cenotaphs was built in 1683 by Rao Anirudh Singh to commemorate the services of Deva, his wet nurse. Standing on a high plinth in the midst of well maintained gardens, the two storied structure has a cenotaph as well as a temple which houses a Shiva linga. The second storey has a flat roof with a large bulbous dome in the middle which is complemented by four smaller domes on each corner of the roof. Each of these domes is crowned with narrow spires, while a few smaller domes lie around these main cupolas. The ceilings of the pavilions have colorful paintings of battle scenes, Rajput fish symbols, horses and traditional images as also the pillars, which are engraved with beautiful images of contemporary Rajput lifestyle during the 17th century
Shikar Burj : Located at a short distance from Sukh Mahal and south of the Phool Sagar is Shikar Burj, a favorite hunting lodge of the rulers of Bundi. Surrounded by lush greenery, Shikar Burj offers an ideal getaway from the daily drudgery of the city life. A great picnic site, the best time to visit Shikar Burj is during the Kajli-Teej festival held in between July-Aug.
Kesar Bagh : The beautiful Kesar Bagh located on the opposite side of the Sukh Sagar houses over 66 cenotaphs of Bundi’s rulers, their queens and princes. Built entirely of white marble, most of the chattris’s ceilings, pillars and sides are delicately carved with motifs of elephants, horses, gods and everyday life. The main chatri is topped with a Shiva linga, a feature commonly seen in most Rajput architecture.
Jait Sagar Lake : Jait Sagar is a picturesque lake flanked by hills and strewn with pretty lotus flowers during the monsoon and winter months. Nawal Sagar : The Nawal Sagar is a large square-shaped artificial lake containing many small islets. A small Varuna temple stands half-submerged in the middle of the lake.
Menal : 48 km from Bundi, is Menal which has some old Shiva temples dating back to the Gupta period. A gushing waterfall is also a big attraction.
Rameshwaram : An idyllic picnic spot, Rameshwaram has a cave temple of Lord Shiva surrounded by the Aravalli ranges.
Nearby Areas :
Jhalrapatan Famous Bell Temples : Located 6 Km from Jhalawar, Jhalrapatan, home to numerous temples and their bells is famous as the 'City of Bells'. The Surya tempe, Chandrabhaga temple & Shantinath Jain temple are some of the temples that are located within the Jhalrapatan complex. The 11th century Surya Temple is one of the finest temples in the area and is similar to the Sun temple of Konarak in Orissa. It is crowned with a finely carved shikhara (spire).The shikhara is built in layers and the size of the pillars decreases as height increases, following a seven storey pillar format. The temple once housed a dazzling gold statue of the Sun god Surya but currently no idol is worshipped there. The Shantinath Jain temple, adjacent to the Surya temple has painted murals depicting punishments showered upon wrongdoers.
Shergarh Fort : Named after Sher Shah Sur, the Sultan of Delhi in mid 16th century, Shergarh fort was built much earlier in the 10th century but the place gradually lost its importance and became important learning centre learning for Jains and Hindus till its subsequent capture by n Sher Shah in the 16th century. A formidable fort surrounded by a moat, the Shergarh Fort’s walls are decorated with carved images and statues of Hindu gods and Jain motifs.
Gagron Fort : Located 10 Km from Jhalawar, Gagron is famous for its 8th century fort. Surrounded by the waters of the Ahu and Kali Sindh rivers on three sides,the fort is one of the finest examples of jala durg (protected by water). An impregnable fortress, the fort has been a mute witness to 14 battles and three jauhars (sati). Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, waged a battle for 11 years to capture it only to meet with defeat. Its barracks, magazine, palace and stables are all still there albeit in a state of decay. The shrine of the Sufi saint Mitheshah lies just outside the fort and is a popular venue for celebrations during the muslim festival of Moharram. Gagron was one of the favorite retreats of Zalim Singh, and he was here where the Maharao of Bundi, Umed Singh, breathed his last in 1819.
Maharao Madho Singh Museum : Situated in the old palace, the Maharao Madho Singh Museum has a superb collection of Rajput miniature paintings of the Kota school, exquisite sculptures, frescoes and armory. The museum also has a rich repository of artistic items used by the Kota rulers.
Government Museum : Housed in the Brijvilas Palace near the Kishore Sagar, the Government Museum showcases a rich collection of rare coins, manuscripts and a representative selection of Hadoti sculpture. Besides the painting gallery which displays several miniature paintings of Bundi, Kota, Nathdwara and Jaipur schools, the archaeological section of the museum consists of various sculptures, some dating back to the Gupta period(4th century). Sculptures worth mentioning are Shesh Sayi Vishnu from Badoli (Chittaurgarh), the Jain image of Vardhaman from Baran and a dancing pair from Ramgarh. The Yupa pillars from Badwa are other very important specimens of 3rd century A. D.Coins of different dynasties can also be seen in this section as also the various Sanskrit manuscripts. The Gita and the Bhagawata written in the minutest letters on paper scroll are worth mentioning from the calligraphic point of view. Old Vedic, Astronomical and Astrological works as well as rare Hindi manuscripts are also preserved. Also on display are arms, several kinds of handicrafts, costumes, etc.
The temples of Baroli : A quaint sleepy village, Baroli has some of Rajasthan's oldest temples. Built between the 9th and 12th centuries, these temples have been left largely untouched by the maurding Afghan invaders.Built entirely from stone; all these temples have detailed carvings in pillars, ceilings and roofs. The Ghateshwara Temple, Mahishasuramardini & Trimurti Temples are the important temples worth visiting.
Kansuan Temples : 10km from Kota is an ancient Kansuan temple which bears an inscription dating back to 738AD. Enclosed by a wall, the complex consisting of a main Shiva temple and a few smaller shrines is now in a state of disrepair.
Though a small place, there are a lot of things that one can buy at Bundi especially souvenirs and momentos. From Cotton carpets to lac bangles, from stone statues and wooden toys to Kota paintings and Kota doria sarees, from murals and jewellery to metal wares or simply a colourful odhni - tourists can pick up any of these items as per their choice. Most of the the bazaars of Bundi dating back to as far as the 17th century still exude a medieval charm which is hard to ignore. Sadar bazaar and Chaumaukh bazaar are the main shopping areas where one can get products at a reasonable price. Bundi Café Crafts Shop at the Haveli Braj Bhushanjee has a good selection of handicrafts, jewelry and miniature paintings.
Being a small place, Bundi has a few good eating joints where one can try out authentic Rajasthani cuisine to one's heart desire. The Haveli Braj Bhushanjee besides providing accommodation also provides wholesome Rajasthani vegetarian fare. Though a bit expensive the food is excellent so are the murals and the rooftop terrace. The Royal Retreat is yet another reasonably priced hotel offering vegetarian fare. The Gulab Mahal restaurant serves fine Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisine, while Phulwari, another unique open air dining restaurant in the Mughal gardens serves Indian and Continental delicacies.