Bundi Things to Do

  • Raniji ki Baori
    Raniji ki Baori "Queen's stepwell" of...
    by vinod-bhojak
  • Raniji ki Baori
    Raniji ki Baori "Queen's stepwell" of...
    by vinod-bhojak
  • Raniji ki Baori
    Raniji ki Baori "Queen's stepwell" of...
    by vinod-bhojak

Most Recent Things to Do in Bundi

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    Bundi Palace: Hathi Pol

    by toonsarah Written Jan 20, 2016

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    Also known as Garh Palace, Bundi Palace was home to the rulers of Bundi for centuries, although the present king Ranjeet Singh lives in Delhi. Our guide told us that current ownership of the palace is disputed between two family members (the Michelin guide says the maharaja and his sister) following disagreements about inheritances. It was shut up completely between 1948 and 2000, and although now open to the public for visits, it has never been properly restored after those years of neglect, because neither family member will take responsibility for this until certain that they are spending money on property they own. Many bemoan this air of neglect, and certainly it is sad to see that many of the beautiful wall paintings here have suffered damage (some deliberate, some the result of time and weathering). But on the whole I found it was this very dilapidation that gave Bundi Palace a special atmosphere and made it stand out from other such places we had visited in Rajasthan.

    Construction of the palace was started under Raja Rao Ratan Singh who ruled 1607-1631, and added to in piecemeal fashion by his successors. You approach it via a steep cobbled path (be careful, as the stones are worn and quite slippery) which leads from a small parking area. Halfway up the path turns back on itself and you soon find yourself passing beneath the Elephant Gate or Hathi Pol. This is probably the most dramatic of several such gates we had seen on our travels, with two massive elephant statues high above it, reaching towards each other, their trunks entwined. As you pass through look up to see the marvellous ceiling painting (photo four) and note the huge spikes on the wooden doors designed to deter charging elephants (photo five).

    Next tip: the Ratan Daulat.

    Path to the gate Hathi Pol Hathi Pol Ceiling of the gate Iron spikes
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    Bundi Palace: Public Audience Hall, Ratan Daulat

    by toonsarah Updated Jan 20, 2016

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    Once through the great gate you arrive in a large courtyard, the Ratan Daulat. This was built by Raja Rao Ratan Singh and had stabling for nine horses.

    Above this and looking down on it from the opposite side to the gate is the Hall of Public Audience or Diwan-i-Am. To reach this you must climb the first of what will be several flights of steps. It is an open-sided pillared hall with a white marble throne overlooking the courtyard below. Here the maharaja would hear supplications from his people or address them on state occasions. Another throne, on a higher level, is ornately carved with elephants (something of a decorative motif here) but the rest of the courtyard and the hall are fairly plain apart from some wall paintings at each end of the latter.

    Next tip: the private apartments.

    Ratan Daulat Ratan Daulat Ratan Daulat Hall of Public Audience Hall of Public Audience
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    Bundi Palace: private quarters

    by toonsarah Written Jan 20, 2016

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    On a level above the Hall of Public Audience is that of Private Audience (every fort and palace we visited in Rajasthan had these two halls). Its most distinctive feature are the elephants that ornament the top of each of its many pillars – four elephants to each pillar, facing in each of four directions. I loved these, and they give the hall its alternative name, Hathiyasal or Elephant Hall.

    Facing this hall across an open courtyard is the Chhatra Mahal, the private apartment of the king, which was added by Raja Rao Chhatra Shabji in 1644. This has some interesting wall paintings, albeit rather damaged – by weathering, and I suspect disrespectful tourists, also probably the many monkeys who are left to roam freely through the palace. They are still worth seeing however, and include some scenes from the life of Krishna and colourfully painted ceiling beams.

    From the courtyard that lies between these two halls you get marvellous views of the town below – see photo five. Incidentally, the building immediately below the walls with the chequered floor tiles on its flat roof is our hotel, and it was on that roof that we’d enjoyed a delicious dinner the previous evening. The photo on my Intro page was also taken from here.

    Above this level lie separate quarters for the king and the queens, the Phool Mahal and Badal Mahal, which we didn’t visit. I understand that these are usually locked, but if you find them open (or find a guide willing to open them for you) they are well worth seeing for their painted ceilings.

    Next tip: the hanging garden.

    Hall of Private Audience Hall of Private Audience Chhatra Mahal In the Chhatra Mahal View of the town
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    Bundi Palace: hanging garden

    by toonsarah Written Jan 20, 2016

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    Between the privately owned areas of the palace and the government-run Chitrashala is this small pretty garden courtyard, added by Raja Rao Ummed Singh in the 18th century. It was designed as a place for leisure and relaxation for the ladies of the court. Its sunken pool allowed them to bathe in its cool waters in reasonable privacy, before relaxing on the stone steps and thrones around its edges.

    There are wonderful views from here of the Taragarh Fort on the hillside above, as well as of the town below. It’s also a good place to orientate yourself within the palace, as you can see some of the lower buildings through which we have just passed below you on the right, and the remainder around and above.

    Next tip: the Chitrashala.

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    Bundi Palace: the Chitrashala

    by toonsarah Updated Jan 20, 2016

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    A highlight of our tour of Bundi Palace was this, the last part that we visited, the Chitrashala or Painting Gallery, also known as the Ummed Mahal (named for Raja Rao Ummed Singh who added it in the 18th century). Unlike the rest of the palace it is run by the Indian government, under the Archaeological Survey of India, and is consequently somewhat better maintained.

    The whole of this pavilion is covered with paintings and is fabulous! Bundi is one of the few cities in India to have developed its own unique painting style. The “Bundi School” lasted from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. The most popular themes were hunting and court scenes, festivals and processions, court life, romantic tales, animals and birds, and scenes from the life of Lord Krishna. It was influenced by Mughal and Mewar styles but was, our guide pointed out, unusual in depicting figures in profile – most Indian paintings of that time show them face forwards. Other distinctive features include lively movement, dramatic skies and a unique way of depicting water with light swirls against a dark background

    The examples of Bundi School paintings here in the Chitrashala, which date from 1773 to 1821, are considered to be among the best. They are painted to a consistent colour scheme – green for backgrounds, white for human bodies and red, blue, black and yellow for traditional dresses. Every surface is covered, including the ceiling. Our guide pointed out some of the most interesting paintings, some of which I photographed, including:

    Photo three: an elephant and bull are fighting but the artist has very cleverly painted a single head which serves as that of both animals (you may need to blow up the photo to appreciate the effect).

    Photo four: Lord Krishna is holding up Mount Govardhan and using it as an umbrella to protect the earth from the storms raging overhead caused by Indra, the god of thunder and rain. His defeat of Indra is celebrated in the Govardhan Puja festival, the day after Diwali.

    Photo five: a sort of map of Lord Krishna’s birthplace, Mathura (we were to pass through here a couple of days later on the train from Sawai Madhopur to Delhi)

    [By the way, although photography is allowed, the use of flash is not.]

    I found more information about the Bundi School on this website, from which I have copied the following extract:

    ”Colourful glimpses of history are provided by these paintings depicting hunting and court scenes, festivals, processions, animal and bird life, and scenes from the Raagmala and Raaslila -- Lord Krishna's life story. Also, courtly luxuriance and prosperity have been exhibited, major themes being young princesses looking into a mirror, plucking flowers and playing musical instruments. Graceful, well-proportioned bodies and sharp features bring out the elegance of the female figure. The gestures of the subjects of the paintings express more than their looks.

    A study of the paintings revealed that the painters were masters of their brush strokes and the chiaroscuro of light and shade. The lines are mainly serpentine and circular in character. They were developed to capture complex and intense emotions. The deep brush marks add life to the clouds, trees, cascades, lotus flowers and flowing streams in the paintings. There is use of characteristic shades of blue, green and maroon reflecting the verdant greenery of the region, while bright colours are seen in the borders with red prominently appearing in the background. These paintings are made in gouache, an opaque watercolour that requires less preparation than oil. From a local Bundi artist we learned that the colours used by the artists of miniatures were made from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. The preparation and mixing of colour was an elaborate process and took weeks, sometimes months, to get the desired results. Very fine, specially created brushes were made for different kinds of paintings.”

    Next tip: Nawal Sagar.

    Chitrashala Chitrashala
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    Nawal Sagar

    by toonsarah Written Jan 20, 2016

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    Much as I loved Bundi Palace, I found there was much more to the town than that, not all of which we had time to see in our short visit. But we were able to take a couple of walks through its lively streets. On the afternoon of our arrival, with only an hour or so of daylight left, we grabbed our cameras and headed out to retrace the short distance back to Nawal Sagar, which we had driven past on our journey to our hotel. This is a large square-ish artificial lake on the edge of the old town. There is a temple dedicated to Varuna, the Vedic god of water, half-submerged in the middle of the lake. You can get wonderful reflections in it waters of the palace and surrounding town. We found these reflections were at their best in the late afternoon when we first visited, as when we stopped here again the next morning there was more haze and more movement on the water.

    This is a great place for photography. In the evening locals were washing their clothes at its edges, and despite the lake water looking rather dirty, with rubbish floating in it, it must be clean enough to sustain fishes as there were lots of birds around the edges – egrets of different kinds, herons, cormorants. The only downside was that at this time of day the lake also attracts little biting flies – this was one of only two places on our trip where I was bitten.

    Next tip: the streets of Bundi.

    Palace and fort from lake-side Clothes washing Laid out to dry Egrets

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    An elephant and a horse

    by toonsarah Written Jan 20, 2016

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    As you walk south from the palace on Sadar Bazaar Road you can’t help but notice the massive statues of a horse and an elephant that loom above you. A sign nearby explains their significance. The elephant is Siva Prasad and was a gift to the local ruler, Raja Shatrushal Singh, from the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, as a reward for bravery. Shatrushal Singh rode the elephant in battle many times, and when he died in 1707 erected this statue in his memory.

    The horse belonged to a later ruler, Raja Rao Ummed Singh (who you may recall had added the hanging garden and Chitrasala to the palace) and likewise was ridden into battle by his owner. He was honoured with a similar statues placed on the opposite side of the road, facing the elephant. I haven’t been able to find a date for this statue – Ummed Singh ruled from 1749 to 1770 and again from 1773 to 1804, but I suspect the statue of his horse may be more recent.

    Next tip: shades of blue.

    Sign nearby
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    Raniji ki Baori "Queen's stepwell"

    by vinod-bhojak Written Oct 20, 2015

    Raniji ki Baori, also "Queen's stepwell" is a Famous stepwell situated in Rajasthan . It was built in 1699 by Rani Nathavati Ji who was the younger queen of the ruling Rao Raja Anirudh Singh of Bundi. It is a 46 m deep stepped well with some superb carvings on its pillars and a high arched gate. It is a multistoreyed structure with places of worship on each floor. The step well has a narrow entrance marked by four pillars. Stone elephant statues that face each other stand in the corners. Ogee brackets decorate all the archways of 46 m deep Raniji ki Baori, which is reputedly the largest Baori of Bundi. Baoris were significant social constructions in the medieval Bundi since they acted as assembly areas for the townsfolk. Raniji ki Baori has superb carvings on its pillars and a high arched gate

    Raniji ki Baori Raniji ki Baori Raniji ki Baori Raniji ki Baori Raniji ki Baori
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    Sukh Mahal (Palace)

    by vinod-bhojak Written Mar 4, 2015

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    Sukh Mahal was constructed by Umed Singh on the banks of Jait Sagar. The palace has a white marble chhatri that stands in the center of the roof of the second storey. Rudyard Kipling stayed here and found inspiration for his famous work Kim.It is a common belief that an underground tunnel runs from Sukh Mahal in Bundi to the old palace.Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bliss was the venue for debauchery by the Princes. The nearby forests were used for boar hunting.

    Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bundi Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bundi Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bundi Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bundi Singn-board @ Sukh Mahal (Palace) of Bundi
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    Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri (84 Pillars cenotaph)

    by vinod-bhojak Written Mar 3, 2015

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    A magnificent memorial with84 pillars in a single cenotaph along with a Shiva lingam was erected by Rao Anirud Eighty Four Pillared Cenotaph is one of the major attractions in Bundi, Rajasthan . As the name indicates, the structure has 84 pillars that support the entire monument. The grand structure is located to the south of Bundi. Rao Anirudh Singh, a famous Rajput, constructed the pavilion in the late 17th century for the worship of God Shiva Rao Anirudh Singh constructed the Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri in Bundi to pay a tribute to his wet nurse, Deva.local called Dhabahi In ancient times, there were wet nurses, who were appointed to take special care of princes and princesses. For the love and care that the nurses showered on the children made them very attached to the nurses. Some of them also treated the nurses as their own mothers. Deva was such a wet nurse to Rao Anirudh Singh.The cenotaph is ornately decorated with engravings depicting elephants, deers, fishes, and dancers in various poses.

    The structure has a large shivling covered by a decorated roof top that is supported by 84 pillers; tradition has it that one is unable to reach 84 correctly when counting them.

    Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri (84 Pillars cenotaph) Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri (84 Pillars cenotaph) Beautiful stone carving@Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri Painting on celling@@Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri Shiva lingam @Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri
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    Chitrashala (Art Gallery) at Bundi Palace

    by vinod-bhojak Written Mar 2, 2015

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    Chitrashala (Art Gallery) at Bundi Palace:Bundi is the place of an authentic school of painting ” The Bundi School”. The best wall paintings in the Bundi style are still available in the Chitrashala,

    Art Galley of Bundi Palace is a visual delight. This gallery is the part of a beautiful palace, known as Ummed Palace, built by Rao Ummed Singh. Many murals, wall paintings and artworks at its wall make it a must visit place. These paintings are mainly related to Hindu Mythological Stories (Especially stories related to Lord Krishna), court proceedings, love stories, musical melodies and general scenes of recreational fights as well as wars. These paintings are highly influenced by Mughal and Mewar style of Art. The color scheme consists of green background, on which men and women are printed with white color, while red, blue, black and yellow colors are used for traditional dresses.

    Krishna stealing the clothes @ Chitrashala Ceiling of the Chitrashala An Artwork in Chitrashala at Bundi Palace An Artwork in Chitrashala at Bundi Palace View from Chitrashala at Bundi Palace
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    Visit Bundi Palace

    by monina_c Written Feb 4, 2013

    A MUST see in Bundi!!!
    I loved the artwork in this palace. I can believe that their style created their own following and that there is indeed a Bundi School :)
    The rooftop gardens overlooking the city of Bundi is also a treat! You have to go there for the sunset view!

    My first glimpse of Bundi Palace beyond the lake
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    Visit the Rani Jiki Barol Stepwell

    by monina_c Updated Feb 4, 2013

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    The Rani Jiki Barol Stepwell is considered to be the most beautiful of the 32 stepwells built by the Queen Mother of Bundi back in 1699. It features a mix of Hindu and Jain architecture. There's a lot of bas relief featuring gods and goddesses. The columns holding up ornate designs make the whole structure a feast for the eyes.

    Be careful about where you stand while you are inside :) there's a lot of bats hanging around and you might just be unfortunate to catch their s**t.

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    Raniji Ki Baori

    by illumina Written Sep 23, 2012

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    Bundi is known as the city of step wells, as it has around 50 beautiful tanks and step wells known as baoris.

    The Raniji ki Baori is a noted stepwell located in a small park in Bundi. It was constructed in 1699 under the orders of Rani Nathavatji, the queen of Rao Raja Anirudh Singh of Bundi (reigned 1681-1695AD) who distinguished himself in the imperial campaigns of Aurangzeb.

    Baoris were the centre of religious and social functions, and this one has places of worship on each floor. It is 46 metres deep, and has superb carvings on its pillars and a high arched gate.

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    Taragarh Fort

    by illumina Written Sep 23, 2012

    The Taragarh or 'Star Fort' is probably the most impressive structure in Bundi. Situated at the top of the hill, up a particularly steep path (see warnings and dangers tip, the plant-life is vicious!), it was constructed in 1354AD. It is now rather ruinous, and is the home to several troops of monkeys, both the more common red-faced rhesus macaque and the black faced gray langur with long tails.

    Gate and monkeys (langurs left, macaques to right)
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