As part of our whistlestop tour of Rajasthan we decided to stop off in Bundi on our way up to Udaipur.
It would have been simpler to go via Kota as only three trains stop at Bundi a day – two in the morning and one in the evening – but Bundi sounded more appealing and we’re getting pretty good at negotiating the bus. Also no one seems to book ahead for buses unlike the trains which can be waitlisted weeks in advance. And they’re cheap: 25Rs each for the hour journey from Kota to Bundi.
From Bundi bus stand it was just a short walk into town, passing through the local bazaars and dodging the usual maniacal motorcyclists to get to our hotel Haveli Katkoun. And then the next morning we set out to see how Bundi’s fort and palaces measured up to the rest of Rajasthan’s.
The murals at both Bundi Palace and Chitrasala were pretty impressive, despite their damaged state- lots of battles, elephant fights and depictions of the king fondling women’s boobs. Many of the rooms at Bundi Palace have been left to hoards of smelly bats and others were closed off completely, though at one point a guide opened a locked door and invited us in, explaining that he’d had to wait for the Indian tourists to leave as they weren’t allowed to see inside…?!! Very odd. It was a very elaborately decorated room with fairly intact murals of battle scenes.
The fort itself was a little walk up the hill, unsurprisingly for a fort, and was a big ramshackle old place with trees growing inside the decaying buildings, staircases leading to nowhere and doorways and passages that led out to otherwise hidden wings of the building. Despite the complete state of disrepair you can still really get the idea of what it must have been like in it’s heyday.
We liked Bundi and it was definitely worth the flying visit. The people were really friendly, with no overeager attempts to get our business and no overpriced rickshaw quotes or drivers following us down the street.
We only fell into one tourist trap and it was a cheap one…
Before we’d set off in the morning we read that monkeys up at the fort could get pretty aggressive so it was a good idea to take a stick. Lo and behold at the entrance there was a man selling big bamboo sticks for 10Rs which Rob availed himself of (as did every other Lonely Planet reader it seemed). We saw three monkeys the whole time we were up there, none of whom were remotely interested in us. And of course when we came back down the man politely requested the stick back. Rob’s attempt to get 5Rs back for his ‘stick rental’ failed but at least the gaggle of locals nearby found it amusing!