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Bundi

This well preserved, ancient walled town is something of a hidden gem. Towering above it is a mighty star-shaped fortress, and below is a wonderfully complete Rajput palace with a feast of peaceful courtyards and colourfully-muralled rooms to discover. It’s less manicured than some of Rajasthan’s better preserved monoliths, but more atmospheric. Bundi is aptly nicknamed the ‘City of Stepwells’, being home to more than 50 of these historic structures. Wander the narrow lanes of Brahmin-blue houses and busy bazaars with few other travellers in sight, stopping for a cup of what is, according to the locals, India’s best chai.

Three things to do in Bundi

Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...

City of stepwells

In a land where water is such a precious commodity, stepwells (distinctive wells with, perhaps unsurprisingly, steps leading down to water level) are a frequent occurrence. Some of these feats of engineering date back 1600 years, when they were instrumental in protecting the local population against water shortages during the scorchingly hot summer months. In Bundi you can visit stepwells to your heart's content, many of which form great backdrops for seriously arty photos. Rani Ji Ki Baori, aka the ‘Queen of Stepwells’, is particularly special: a multi-storey well, over 400 years old and 150 feet deep. Its terraced stone steps and ornate carvings ensure it remains stunning, even as it slips gradually further into decay.

Bundi stepwells

Hilltop palace

Bundi’s Garh Palace could be described as something of an ongoing restoration project, but this only adds to its appeal. One of India’s largest royal residences, it was constructed by Rao Raja Ratan Singh in around 1607, high on a hill above the city, and then augmented by a long line of his successors. As yet, not all of the palace is open for business, but for those travellers who do make it to Bundi the areas that can be explored are stunning. They boast unique, colourful and intricate murals and paintings, including the miniature artworks for which Bundi is rightly famous. These stunning works shine even more brightly in contrast to their slightly crumbling surroundings.

Bundi’s Garh Palace

Stay in a heritage haveli

Climb Bundi’s steep, narrow lanes, and nestled against the walls of the Garh Palace you’ll find a number of havelis: traditional townhouses built for well-off families. These offer simple but charming accommodation for visitors, perfectly placed between the historic fort above and the town below. This is one instance where you might want to eat-in, with the owners and chefs often concocting delicious menus based on home cooked family favourites. Start with a masala omelette for breakfast and go on from there...

Bundi Villas

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