Intro to Bundi
The region in the northwest of India known as Rajasthan has long been a favorite base for cultural and historic exploration. Most popular routes include the three J’s: the Pink City and capital, Jaipur, the Blue City, Jodhpur, and the Desert City, Jaisalmer, along with Pushkar and Udaipur, the City of Lakes. One of our favorite cities in India, Bundi is a little off this beaten tourist trail. While Bundi has certainly been discovered by foreign visitors, it still maintains a ton of charm. It’s quiet, unassuming, and a laid-back place from which to head out into the countryside for a bike ride.
Stay at a Haveli
Haveli are historically and architecturally significant structures in India and Pakistan. Formerly private homes, the compounds are usually oriented around a courtyard, and sometimes feature a fountain. These buildings were status symbols for their owners and their families. There are many around the Rajasthan region, filled with detailed frescoes, woodwork, balconies and arches. Some are famous and can be visited like a museum, while others are more modest historic homes that have been turned into B&Bs.
Hike Up to Bundi Palace and Taragarh Fort
Bundi Palace is set into the hillside, and filled with murals, niche paintings, marble floors, glass work, latticed windows and a garden. Bundi is known for miniature paintings, and the palace has a very well-preserved collection. Further up, the fort complex features deep baori (step wells), ramparts and battlements overlooking the town far below.
Take a Bike-Ride
Cycling into the countryside is a great way to spend the day. Dusty roads pass through vibrant green rice fields, giving way to small villages, some no more than a cluster of wooden shacks at a crossroads. We’d ask directions at a tea shop, gathering a curious crowd before riding on. The day was a series of glimpses into daily life in the region, and a set of memories we will treasure. The lakeside complex, Sukh Mahal, where Rudyard Kipling once stayed and wrote.
Rameshwar Temple, dedicated to Shiva, is about 20 k from Bundi. A long set of stairs up lead to the temple, set in a cave. Langur monkeys were everywhere, and we had to use care and step over countless tails. There’s a waterfall at the back, down some more paths, with a nice pool below, though apparently it’s more impressive in the rainy season. (We were there in January).
Where We Stayed
Hadee Rani is one of the ornately decorated heritage homes called haveli. The building is said to date back some 450 years, and is named after the story of an ancient queen who once lived here. Our host, Chintu, was full of local knowledge and helpful tips. His mother is an excellent cook, and we enjoyed trying something new from the menu nightly while watching the sun go down from the rooftop patio. There’s a handy stick kept in the corner for scaring away monkeys who get too close. The rest of the family consists of Chintu’s wife, young daughter and infant son (at the time of our visit in January of 2012). We really felt at home at Hadee Rani, and would definitely recommend a stay there. There were a couple of rooms with a shared bathroom. We stayed in the one en suite room.