Budget backpackers guide to Bundi India
Rajasthan is India as we dreamed it to be and it is brimming with destinations to keep the intrepid traveller from not wanting to leave. There are so many chart-topping places here from the tiger rich jungles of Ranthambhore to the romantic palaces of Udaipur. It is small wonder travellers make a beeline for this state. It is, however, a big wonder why on earth almost no one comes to Bundi? It is not like it is not in the guide books, and it is not like it is not advertised? In my Budget backpackers guide to Bundi, I aim to change that.
Here you will find a traditional culture of devout Hindus living in a whimsical Brahman blue village and huddled around a magnificent palace. I want to set the record straight and show my readers this place deserves way more attention than it gets.
This understandably I think is hands down one of my favourite places in all of India. I want nothing more than for my readers to come and experience this beautiful place for themselves.
What’s even more astonishing is this incredible palace is left to fall into ruins! Only a small portion of it is accessible, and the rest of it is the domain of thousands of horseshoe bats. This place has a serious Tomb Raider feel to it. The imposing fort sits atop the mountain overlooking the whole area, and it too is in a state of massive dilapidation. There is so much to discover in this beautiful little town, so why wait to explore it for yourselves?
Rudyard Kipling once said the fort was the work of goblins and it certainly looks like it should be in a fairy tale. The fact this town sees relatively few tourists gives you a chance more often than not, to be one of the only tourists finding themselves hopelessly lost in its web of narrow streets and courtyards. The sense of tradition here is intoxicating and the friendly locals welcoming you into there seeming enchanted homes can see a weary traveller not want to leave here for some time.
My guide to Bundi Rajasthan.
The palace began construction under Rao Raja Ratan Singh in 1607 and was built on sporadically throughout the ages. Today it stands dormant and in a state of disrepair. The complete lack of infrastructure inside and it being wholly abandoned all add to an Indiana jones like experience. It costs 500 rupees to get in, and you are free to walk around. There is always a care tacker there who for a few extra rupees will let you in some closed rooms and well worth it for the beautiful murals that still adorn its walls that hint at its former grandeur.
The 500 rupee ticket also covers the fort above, that is full of rooms and battlements just waiting to be explored. The steep road up to the fort from the castle can be infested with cheeky monkeys who will swipe and grab anything they feel they can get away with. Under no circumstances, try and play with them as they are not friendly and you don’t want to risk getting sick. Some locals offer sticks for a small fee, and quite frankly they are a good investment even to bash on the floor as that should send them away.
The Chitrasala fort above is strung all across the mountain top so seeing it all is a very full day. The view from the top to the town below can feel like you need to pinch yourself to be sure you’re really there.
The village below houses some 60 odd Baoris (step wells) many of which you will have to find someone to let you in. Though many are neglected, they are still stunning to admire. India is full of these magnificent structures as the people tried to harness the bounty of the fleeting monsoon for the leaner times. Now entirely redundant for their original function they stand as a testament to human ingenuity and often are an impressive labour of love.
Its a lot of fun trying to find your way around as there are so many beautiful corners of the village to take in. There are many small temples and beautifully adorned Havelis, and just that could keep you busy for days. Budget at least four nights to be able to take it all in and even then you might need more time.
Getting a nights rest.
Most of the accommodation is snuggled around the fort, and there are quite a few to choose from. My favourite if you can afford it is Haveli Braj Bhushanjee. This hotel is owned by descendants of the former prime minister of Bundi. This hotel has 22 rooms of various traditional designs that can feel like your sleeping in a museum. The family are very friendly and excellent cooks. The Mutton curry is out of this world, and in Bundi, good food is surprisingly hard to come by.
It costs a little more than I would typically recommend at about 1500 – 6000 for the rooms. I tend to go in the hot season, as you have a lot of bargaining room. I would not usually suggest such a splurge as it is a lot of money for a room, but you really get something for the extra buck here. The rooms can feel like you have been carried back to another time. If you want something cheaper, there are many close by. For more information on this beautiful hotel and for online booking check-out the link provided.
If you find this is out of your price range, have a look around the roads running up to the fort. If it is possible to have someone wait for with luggage and another goes to search out the best place to rest your head. There is so much to choose from, and I have found the quality varies greatly.
Whatever you go with I would definitely recommend staying in the old part of town as the views of the palace are incredible and it so atmospheric. Since there is plenty to choose from here, there is no need to commit to anything before you have shopped around a bit. Many guesthouses have attached restaurants that can whip up the usual tourist fare. If you want good Indian food, you will have to head out of the old town and into the market where you will find some ok places.
Getting there and away.
Getting to and from Bundi is not so easy, to be honest. Since the train station is 4 km away from the town centre, and there is no tourist booth. That means if you do want a train ticket book it online or pay an agent because the fees they will ask for will be less than a taxi to the station there and back. The trains are very limited. None go to Jaipur or Jodhpur, but some are going to Dehli and Chittorgarh. If you must get the train to somewhere and there are no connections go to Kota as it is on a more central train track and connect from there.
There is a useful train to Sawai Madhopur for connections to Ranthambhore. It is only two and a half hours, and they leave in the afternoon. There is another at 10.45 PM, but that is no use as you don’t want to be pulling up in the middle of the night when all the guesthouses are closed. Some Hotels in Bundi offer a free taxi service to the station, so do inquire to see if you can save yourself some money.
The government bus stand is a pleasant walk through the old town and through the market. There are many buses in all directions. To Sawai Madhopur (for Ranthambore,) Kota and Udaipur. You don’t need to pay for an auto in and out if you are happy to walk 15 to 20 minutes. For more information on getting around India, check out my post, I have written just for that. It is packed with tips to make moving around this vast country that little less stressful.
Summary of my post the No1 Budget backpackers guide to Bundi.
After my in-depth guide to this beautiful town, I hope to have encouraged at least some of my readers to come and see this for themselves. For a romantic getaway, you really can’t beat this town. Bundi is bursting with colour and culture. As long as you are visiting Rajasthan, it would almost be a crime to skip it.
Since it is so damn exciting and so close to so many of India’s big attractions, there is little reason why the intrepid traveller should not incorporate it into their itinerary. I am sure there is room for that somewhere.
That is the end of my post on this place, and if you need any more information on the area, then don’t hesitate to ask as I would be happy to help. So until next time my fellow intrepid traveller’s happy exploring.
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