Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bundi

Rudyard Kipling moved to Bundi to write and it's easy to understand why. It's relaxed, friendly and beautiful, a perfect combination for inspiration. We only had a day here, but gladly would have stayed for more.

Bundi's major sights are situated on a hillside overlooking the town below. Two stone elephants and the smell of guano greeted us as we entered the crumbling Bundi Palace. It has an air of neglect, but is actually a work in progress, with several rooms of the abandoned building being opened to the public a few years back. Beautiful murals don the walls, their colors faded, but still revealing hints of the kingdom's former glory. The paintings in the Chittrasala room are particularly well preserved and their beauty is accentuated by the lovely garden at you must pass through on entry.

A cautious hike further up the hillside past some fiercely intimidating red-faced monkeys brought us to the Taragarh or "Star Fort". The Fort is chock full of decaying stone buildings, battlements and baoris (step wells) slowly being smothered by encroaching weeds and vines. We had full run of the place to explore each dark and spooky passageway or decrepit staircase we came across, or to walk along the top of the fort walls peering down at the lake cradled in the valley below. We also spent a while observing a group of docile black-faced monkeys playing and grooming one another near an old canon, curiosity gradually emboldening the younger ones to involve us in their games as time passed.
Bundi also has some lively markets and hundreds of beautiful temples and baoris scattered throughout town, making it a nice place to leisurely stroll around. It was the perfect location to savor all of sights, sounds and smells that make Rajasthan so captivating one last time before heading south.

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