Rajasthan : Bundi to Gurgaon | Horn please, OK?

Rajasthan : Bundi to Gurgaon

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Day 8 : Bundi to Gurgaon
When : January 2015 | How far : 450 kms | How long : 8 hrs 


Bundi Palace Miniature Paintings
Painted ceiling inside Bundi Palace
Bundi isn't one of Rajasthan's crown jewels and it doesn't feature on the state's list of tourist places. Its been saved from total obscurity by a 300 year old art gallery, Chitrashala at the Garh Palace, every inch of which is covered with exquisite frescoes.  

Bundi, Rajasthan

Bundi in its heyday saw a stream of illustrious visitors including Rudyard Kipling who had this to say about the palace


"The Palace of Boondi, even in broad daylight, is such a Palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams the work of goblins more than the work of men"
Bundi Palace seen from the town
Bundi Palace seen from the town of Bundi
At the centre of the town is Nawal Sagar lake framed by the Aravalli hills. The Garh Palace appears from afar to have been built into the hills and is crowned by the Taragarh fort. The entire composition looks like a picture postcard. The rest of the town spreads out around the lake and is made up of haphazardly built low rise houses and hutments with ruins of old havelis scattered within. All of Bundi exists within the crumbling fort walls of Taragarh fort which can be seen encircling the town.   

Bundi Rajasthan
Bundi Rajasthan
The Bundi Inn, our stop for the night, is a modest looking 2 storeyed house. Built on top of a shop, its conveniently located a few hundred metres from the entrance to the Garh palace. We got chatting with the couple that owns the place and learnt that they were long time residents of the town and had recently converted a section of their house into a hotel. Tourism, they said, is one of the few options available to the people of Bundi to earn a living. 


Bundi Rajasthan, skyline



Travel Tip: The Bundi Inn is a comfortable and non-fussy option for travellers to Bundi. Its easy on the pocket and is well located if you're planning on visiting the palace.

We attempted buying tickets to the Garh Palace a little after 5pm but were turned away at the gates. The place is infested with monkeys and bats and it has a  general air of desolation. Not the best place to hang around after dark. 


Bundi Palace entrance
Bundi Palace entrance
Travel Tip: Winter timings for the Garh Palace & Taragarh fort are from 8 am to 6pm but the last ticket is sold at 5 pm. 

The town has one central road barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass. The pavements were crowded with shops selling food, clothes, Rajasthani artefacts and from what we could smell, marijuana.  All the eating joints (because it would be a stretch to call them restaurants) had their menus displayed on the street. They had one dish in common - Hello to the Queen. We laughed about the strange name and walked on.



A sewage pipe had burst in the street and we had to wade through pools of stagnant water. Things got more rustic as we spotted squealing pigs running along the pavements. It looked like the municipal department had given up on the town a while ago. Not wanting to venture into the unlit streets we headed back the way we came. 

At the other end of the street we found a tiny hole in the wall selling miniature paintings painted on old post cards. The shopkeeper opened up a treasure trove for us to sift through. We found some with stamped dates going back a hundred years! Yes, we bought them. 

Craving something other than oily curry and roti, we went looking for a cafe with a more varied menu. The road led us to Surang Gate, an old city gate. Looking up we saw neon lights advertising wood fired pizza. Faint notes of Bob Marley crooning about women and not crying reached our ears.  A hike up many, many flights of stairs led us to the terrace of Tom & Jerry cafe

The entire restaurant was bathed in blue. Faded posters of The Beatles and Pink Floyd covered the peeling walls. The thin crust pizzas served were remarkably good despite not being wood fired. Still hungry we flipped through the menu looking for dessert and were greeted by the omnipresent Hello to the Queen


Wood fired pizza

Hello to the Queen is a mix of crushed cookies topped with ice cream, banana, nuts and hot chocolate sauce.  It is said to have been invented by an Israeli traveller after he got high and got the munchies. Whatever its origins, it was delicious and asked for a repeat!     


hello to the queen
hello to the queen
It was a strange evening. Eating thin crust pizzas and an inexplicably named dessert in the heart of Rajasthan while sitting in a cafe called Tom & Jerry illuminated with a psychedelic blue light and listening to Bob Marley. All of it set in a town with an aura of a rich cultural past but squatting in a crumbling present. 

Bundi Palace, Rajasthan

The next day we got to the palace a little before 8am. There weren't any guides to show us around so we set off on our own.

Bundi Palace entrance


Garh Palace was built by Rao Raja Ratan Singh Hada in the early 17th century. It is privately owned by Rao Raja Ranjit Singh a descendant of the royal family and currently a member of parliament in Alwar. The family has either run out of funds or interest in maintaining the palace and the ASI hasn't stepped in to prevent further damage. The Taragarh fort which sits atop the palace was constructed in 1305 and is a few centuries older.

The walls of the palace rose up high into the sky making us feel like miniature figures from the paintings on the post cards.  A steep walkway led to the Haati Pol or the main entrance of the palace.

Hathi Pol
Hathi Pol
There were faded frescoes painted on the underside of the entrance arch. Apsaras suspended in mid air surrounded by clouds.

Hathi Pol


Garh palace is not a single cohesive structure. It is a group of palaces built over centuries by successive generations of Kings. Haati Pol led us into the oldest of all the palaces. The architecture was delicate with small chattris adorning the tops of different blocks. A bright pink bougainvillaea bush bloomed in the middle of the garden defiantly challenging the state of decay surrounding it.

Bundi Palace courtyard
Bundi Palace courtyard
Bundi Palace courtyard
Bundi Palace Entrance from the inside
The place smelled musty and we could hear the rustle of wings behind closed doors. "Bats", said a young boy who seemed to be trailing us. We asked him if he could tell us about the history of the palace. He said he knew a little and was happy to point out the different rooms.

Bundi Palace window
Window with inlay work at the Bundi Palace
Bundi palace inlay work
Bundi palace inlay work

Bundi Palace Frescos

Rajasthan inlay work uses a shade of blue commonly seen in blue pottery from Jaipur. The blue used in the frescoes at Garh Palace were a shocking turquoise blue.



The boy then magically brought out a set of keys and opened the door to a room that smelt like it hadn't seen sunlight in years. Every inch of the room was covered in gilded frescoes. Large sections of gold had turned black with age and some parts had been gouged out. It was stunning. He asked us not to take pictures since the room was out of bounds for tourists. We were grateful for just having seen the room.


The next room was a different kind of stunning. It had a vaulted ceiling with intricate frescoes painted into every corner. None of the murals at Bundi have been restored so what we were seeing was original art dating back a few centuries!

Bundi Palace ceing fresco

Bundi Palace ceing fresco

Bundi Palace ceing fresco

After getting an eyeful of exquisite miniature art we headed over to the Chitrashala  in the adjoining Ummed Mahal. It was built in the early 18th century by Rao Ummed Singh, under whose patronage the Bundi school of miniature painting flourished. Rajasthani miniature art is often confused with Mughal miniature art but the two have distinct styles. The kingdom of Bundi had acceded to the Mughals and this probably led to one style having a strong influence on the other. Both art forms developed between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Ummed Palace, Bundi

The Chitrashala is maintained by the ASI and is in a much better state than the rest of the palace. Someone must've figured that it was too precious to give up to decay and ruin. An archway led us into a courtyard with a lily pond and a landscaped garden.

Ummed Palace, Bundi
Ummed Palace, Bundi

Chitrashala, Bundi

The Chitrashala is a raised platform with walls. It has a small atrium through which the sun shines brightly. The walls and ceilings are covered in miniature paintings thats are exquisite and in excellent condition.

Chitrashala at Bundi Palace
Chitrashala at Bundi Palace
The pigments used were made from precious stones, vegetables and minerals. The more elaborate paintings even used pure gold. The scenes were a combination of reality and imagination in a two dimensional plane. The lack of linear perspective was a trademark of this style of art.

Map of Bundi Palace at Chitrashala
Map of Bundi Palace at Chitrashala
Bundi Chitrashala fresco

Rani ki Baori, Bundi

It is possible to spend an entire day (or more) admiring and studying the frescoes inside the Chitrashala but we had 8 hours of driving ahead of us. On our way out of Bundi we made a quick stop to take a look at Raniji ki Baori, a famous stepwell built in 1699 by Rani Nathavati ji the queen of the then ruling king Rao Raja Anirudh Singh.

Rani ki Baori Bundi
Rani ki Baori Bundi
Rani ki Baori Bundi
Rani ki Baori Bundi
The step well is located in a busy market area with shops selling freshly made snacks like deep fried pyaz ki kachori, mirchi ke pakore and jalebis. We bought some for the road and headed towards Jaipur on NH 12.


Bundi was the underdog in our list of stops on this road trip. It was pitted against the grand palaces and forts of Udaipur and Jodhpur but still emerged on top. Why? Because it showed us things the rest of the world doesn't even know exists.

Stories from the entire trip
Day 1 -> Gurgaon to Bikaner via Mandawa & Fatehpur
Day 2 -> Bikaner to Sam sand dunes
Day 3 -> Sam sand dunes to Jaisalmer 
Day 4 -> Jaisalmer to Jodhpur
Day 5 -> Jodhpur, the blue city
Day 6 -> Jodhpur to Chittorgarh via Kumbhalgarh
Day 7 -> Chittorgarh to Bundi
Day 8 -> You just read it
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