Population: 74,000
STD: 0747
40km northwest from Kota

About Bundi Palace
The palace is reached from the north - western end of the bazaar, through a huge wooden gateway and up a steep cobbled ramp. Only one part of the outer perimeter of the palace, known as the Chittra Shala, is officially open to public. It is a fascinating pavilion and has a gallery of miniature murals that embellish the palace. Elaborate colourful paintings on the walls depict scenes from the 'Raga mala' 'Raslila' -- the Radha-Krishna story. You can see the renowned Bundi murals at the Chattar Mahal and Badal Mahal within the palace complex.

Chattar Mahal is a steep, paved carafe-way is the only way to reach the monument. Of special interest in the palace is the Hazari Pol or Gate of the thousand, the Naubat Khana, the Hathi Pol with its old water clock and the Diwann-e- Aam. Flash photography is officially prohibited. The palace looks beautiful, from a distance and when illuminated at night.

Bundi has one of the most magnificent histories that a region can have, and many wars and battles were fought here for over 600 years between Rajput clans, the Marathas and the British. Eventually it was Bundi which became the loser, not in terms of military losses but those of statesmanship. In 1264 it was deprived of the region which became Kota when Shah Jahan bestowed the area on the 14 year old Madho Singh (see Kota History). Then again in 1838 Bundi was forced to part with its land in the east when Zalim Singh, with a little help from the British, hewed another state out of Bundi Ė that of Jhalawar (see Jhalawar History).

Bundiís royal coat of arms is an exhibition of the origin of the Hara Chauhanas, with a warrior emerging from flames signifying the genesis of the clan from the Agni Kunda (fire pit) atop Mount Abu. Bulls representing dharma (piety) flank the inevitable shield topped by a slanted Katar (dagger).

While Kota emerged as the stronghold of the Hara Chauhanas during the 18th century, Bundi was gradually reduced to being just a titular state. It gradually lost its importance, thanks to Zalim Singh who ruled nearby Kota. Zalim Singh was the unofficial ruler of the regions of Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar, and the maharaja of Bundi Umed Singh was just an honorary figure. This was the same Umed Singh who, on his fatherís death, had been placed on the throne when he was an infant and on whose behalf Zalim Singh had become Regent of Bundi, ultimately taking control (see
Kota History).

It was from Kota that decisions were taken, be it of a military nature or that of administration. By the time the British came in and established themselves in eastern and southern Rajasthan, Bundi had become a weak and powerless ramification of Kota. However, unlike Kota and Jhalawar, Bundi sustained its independence from British rule, before as well as after the Uprising of 1857.

Bundi was a strategically important place since it was surrounded by the Aravalli hills on three sides and could be entered through four huge gateways set in a massive wall that surrounds the town. Taragarh fort is one of the places to see here, and like almost every Rajasthani town, Bundi also (believe it or not) has a lake. Rajput heritage continues in Bundi, famous even today for paintings depicting royal hunts, murals on the walls of the palace and its lacquer work on toys and ornaments. In fact, the
Chitrashala or Hall of Paintings has one of the best examples seen in Rajasthan.

Arts & Crafts
Like Kota, Bundi too encouraged the arts, especially painting. The most famous of the Bundi style is perhaps the Ragmala, a narrative portrayal in spectacular colour. However, the Ragmala gradually began to incorporate Mughal influences and eventually its Rajput originality took a back seat. During Akbarís reign in Delhi and that of Rao Chatar Sal in Bundi, Mughal influence became more apparent. This may have been due to the fact that Chatar Sal was very close to the Mughal emperor so much so that Akbar made him the governor of Agra. However, during the first half of the 18th century painting in Bundi seemed to have declined, probably because most of the time was spent in fighting wars.

With the advent of the second half of the 18th century there seemed to have been stability in the kingdom and a revival of art. It was now that Krishna and his consort Radha began to figure heavily in the Ragmala, surrounded by vegetation and animals. However, colour was the important aspect and form was secondary. In most paintings, figures are depicted as squat and a basic conformity is lacking. Also, Bundi painters had a habit of overcrowding their work, putting in as many things as they could within one painting.
Bundi is also known as the City of Wells for its more than 50 step wells built over the centuries. The 17th century
Sabirna dha ka Kund is perhaps the most prominent one in Rajasthan, contructed in such a manner that no matter what the water level, access to water was always easy.

There is a dreadful lore attached to Bundi. Suraj Mal, Bundiís ruler, was paying a visit to Rana Ratna of Mewar who was married to his sister. It so happened that Rana Ratna had decided to kill Suraj Mal, and to further this design he invited the latter to a hunt. On their way to the forests they encountered a sati (here: widow about to burn herself on her husbandís funeral pyre) who cursed them saying that whenever a Rana and a Rao would meet at the annual Aheria (Bundiís royal spring hunt), one of them would lose his life. On this occasion, however, both Suraj Mal and Rana Ratna died at each other hands (see
History). Later, four such meetings occurred between the rulers of Bundi and Mewar and each time one or both were killed.

Modern Bundi seems to live in the past, and the best way to describe the town would be to repeat a phrase Ė it is a sleepy little town. A bit off the main route to
Ajmer, Kota and Sawai Madhopur, Bundiís main feature is its tranquility, a town undisturbed by tourists and tourists undisturbed by locals. The town also has a flourishing matchbox industry, not very large but catering to almost all of Rajasthan and parts of northern and central India.
The town comes alive during the festival of
Teej, celebrated here with a different fervour. Unlike the normal Teej, the people of Bundi celebrate it on a different day and month altogether. A heavily decorated palanquin led by a huge procession starts from the Nawal Sagar lake, winding its way through the town and culiminating at Azad park. Here Teej celebrations carry on for eight days, ending with Janmashtmi, the birthday of Krishna. People from Ajmer, Kota and Jhalawar converge in Bundi during this festival with cultural activities and little fairs, making it an exciting time to visit.









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