Are you the sort of person who doesn’t want to go to India because it’s too full of incredible landmarks? “Forget the Taj Mahal and the Pink City of Jaipur,” you say. “I want to visit a weird town that’s full of mysteriously blue buildings, goblins, and street food.” Then this guide to the best places to visit in Bundi India is the place for you!
Bundi frequently receives accolades like “best hidden gem in Rajasthan” or “coolest place to avoid tourists in India” or “a chic destination where my mother-in-law will never find me”. But I’m sure Bundi can’t stay secret for too much longer! After all, it’s only a direct train ride away from Delhi. Let’s find the best places to visit in Bundi India before the other tourists descend upon it like a swarm of furious Bee Gees.
Keep in mind that, unlike most of my 24 hour itineraries, I did this one on a group tour with Intrepid Travel’s Classic Rajasthan tour. I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like exploring a huge country like India solo. The Intrepid tour arranged most of our activities in this itinerary, but you could certainly experience the same best places to visit in Bundi India on your own. I’ll give you all the tips you need!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours of the best places to visit in Bundi India, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Bundi.
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24 Hours: Places to Visit in Bundi India
Morning: Bundi Palace
Bundi Palace is the number one attraction in Bundi! But fear not, Internet Stranger! You won’t be surrounded by crowds when you start your guide to the best places to visit in Bundi India here. There is a 500 rupee admission fee to Bundi Palace, which includes the right to take your camera inside. But you’ll probably have more fun with a local guide. It will cost more, but it will be worth it. Many parts of Bundi Palace are closed because they need to be prepared, so your guide will show you the best places to go. Talk to your hotel, and I’m sure they’ll help you arrange something.
The best thing to do in Bundi Palace is wander about and take photos of its eerie beauty. But of course we never want to waste the chance to learn something! That’s why I am happy to share with you…
three fun facts: bundi palace
1) why is bundi palace?
Bundi Palace looks crazy old to my American eyes, which aren’t used to seeing anything built before 1970. But it “only” dates back to the 1600s. Rao Raja Ratan Singh Hada built it, presumably to show everyone what a boss he was. And Bundi Palace has everything the modern 17th century ruler needs to flaunt his wealth. Elaborate columns? Check.
A fancy marble throne where you can sit and scowl at the miserable peons who come to pay you homage? Check and check.
A sweet gate guarded by giant elephants, so that when dunderheaded scalawags come to supplicate they will think to themselves, “Woah, this raja is totally a boss who could drop several elephants on my head if he wishes?” Checkity check check check. In conclusion: it’s good to be the raja!
2) what’s the most famous sight in the palace?
Aside from the giant elephant gate? It’s probably these blue and green paintings all over the walls. They are done in the Bundi School style, which is easy enough to remember, since we are spending 24 hours in Bundi. It’s also easy to recognize the Bundi style because the paintings are a) miniature and 2) blue and green.
Our guide told us that blue and green are used for religious reasons. The blue is the color of the Brahmins, the highest caste in the Hindu caste system, whereas the green represents Islam. Remember, the rajas ruling Bundi would have been of the Hindu faith, but in the 17th century, when Bundi Palace was built, the rajas’ bosses, the Mughal emperors, would have been Muslims.
So using the blue and green is either a lovely sign of religious tolerance–or the rajas were just trying to butter up the higher-ups in hopes of a promotion. I’ll let you decide which is more likely!
3) did any famous people visit here?
How convenient of you to ask, Internet Stranger! The most notable person who visited Bundi Palace was the English writer Rudyard Kipling. The legendary creator of Mowgli and The Just So Stories was one of the first tourists to fall for Bundi’s charms. Kipling famously said about Bundi Palace that it was “the work of goblins rather than of men.”
Thing one–I really want to know how much time Kipling was spending with goblins to be able to identify their architectural style so quickly. Maybe I’m just living a boring life, but I have no idea how goblins do anything except dance, and that’s only because I’ve seen Labyrinth. And thing two–get ready to hear this quote a lot when you’re finding the best places to visit in Bundi India. Literally every person in the tourist industry in Bundi will say it to you at least 7.5 times a day.
You know our guide was a knowledgeable one because he told us that Kipling was inspired to write the novel Kim while he stayed in Bundi. (The bad guides will tell you Kipling was inspired to write The Jungle Book here, but that’s not true. They only say that because it’s his most famous book.)
24 Hours: Best Places to Visit in Bundi
Afternoon: Explore Bundi
Now that we’ve seen the Big Cheese of Bundi, there’s still so much of the city we have to explore. If you’ve engaged a guide for the day, which I recommend, he can take you around some of the more remote corners of the city by car. But if this isn’t possible, you can still rock it out in Bundi, goblin-style. I’ll help you get started with…
approximately top 5: best places to visit in Bundi India
1) get snacky!
At this point, you’ll probably be a little hungry. But the most fun way to eat lunch in Bundi is to wander about like a goblin and grab some snacks. Our group got some refreshing lassis at Sathi Lassi, right near Bundi Palace. You can’t miss it because there’s several giant and intimidating signs outside.
I especially like the sign that says Royal Person Royal Choice. But I think Mr. Sathi should get an elephant gate outside his lassi shop if he really wants to drive the whole royal thing home. Ordinarily a drink is not lunch, but these lassis are made with (among other things) yogurt, sugar, cream, nuts, honey, saffron and other spices.
So on a warm day, these might be enough to fill you up. And saffron makes everyone feel Very Fancy because it’s one of the most expensive spices. But if you need something more, stop into Maheshwari Sweets and try one of their delicious treats. Some people may think that sweets + a yogurt shake aren’t lunch, but these people just haven’t learned how to live like a goblin yet.
2) stepwell of raniji
Now’s the time in your best places to visit in Bundi India itinerary when you’ll need a little vehicular support. Our guide drove us out to one of Bundi’s famous stepwells, the one, the only, the Stepwell of Raniji. Now if you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “Bwuh? What is a stepwell?” And if I tell you a stepwell can also be called a baori, that probably doesn’t help much either.
Apparently the reason I had never heard of stepwells is that they are unique to India. A stepwell is just a well that you can reach with steps. This made it easier to access water during the dry season. SMRT! Bundi is sometimes called the city of stepwells because it has over 60. But our guide said the stepwells are endangered by the arrival of plastic in India because now people throw plastic trash in them. I hope I don’t need to tell you not to throw plastic in a stepwell, Internet Stranger!
The Raniji stepwell is the most famous because of its intricate carvings of elephants and whatnot. It really does look more like a palace than a place to get water. My Brita filter is not nearly this fancy. But given how important water is to any human society, it makes sense to give it a properly ornate home.
3) views of bundi
You’ll continue to need your guide and his car for this one. Bundi is truly spectacular from above. From a drive around the city you can really appreciate the picturesque blue house sprinkled all about. (Do you remember the significance of the color blue, Internet Stranger? I’m sure you do because all readers of this blog are highly intelligent people.)
Don’t spent so much time photographing the blue houses that you neglect the lakes! Considering the respect with which the citizens of Bundi treated water, you’d think they lived miles and miles from the nearest water source.
But actually Bundi is home to several gleaming lakes. The most famous is Jait Sagar. (Rudyard Kipling and all his goblin friends stayed here when he was writing Kim.) But the Lake Nawal Sagar shouldn’t be missed either. It’s surrounded by stepwells, which I don’t really understand. What is the point of putting wells all about a lake. The lake already has water! But maybe this is why I’m not the Lord High Minister of Water.
4) old city
It’s rare to get a group of 12 travelers to agree on anything. But every person in my group agreed that the most fun activity in our 24 hours in Bundi was just strolling around the Old City. After all, there are over 200 temples in Bundi, and almost all of them are stunners.
The most impressive one we saw in the Old City was the Laxminath Ji Temple pictured above. Laxmi might be more familiar to you under the name Lakshmi. She’s the goddess of wealth and beauty, which are both excellent things to have, or so my friend Taylor Swift tells me.
And how fitting to create such a gorgeous temple for the goddess of beauty. It makes a lot more sense than most things in Bundi, like surrounding a lake with wells or making friends with goblins.
If you’re more interested in shopping than wealth and beauty, Bundi is famous for its textiles. You know a shop is good when you see the craftspeople weaving their goods right before their eyes. Even if you don’t buy anything, don’t pass up the chance to watch a master at work.
24 Hours in Bundi
Evening: Dinner at Ishwari Niwas Heritage Resort
Since I was on a group tour, I didn’t get to pick either my hotel or the restaurant for dinner. But fortunately everyone in our group was content with the lodgings and vittles at Ishwari Niwas Heritage Resort. It’s easy to get dinner at the hotel–just tell them what you’d like in the morning and they’ll have it ready for you.
The most notable feature of the dining room is this tiger skin on the wall. I especially like how it’s kept by the Pepsi machine. The maitre d’ said the tiger had been shot by Lord Louis Mountbatten when he stayed in Bundi. Fans of The Crown will know Lord Mountbatten as Prince Philip’s uncle, currently played by Charles Dance. The maitre d’ said Mountbatten was “an okay guy”, which is probably the highest compliment a member of the British royal family can expect in India.
I strongly suggest reading the NY Times obit of Mountbatten, who was murdered by the IRA, if you want your jaw to drop on the floor. I mean, this was a guy who referred to himself as the most conceited man he had ever meant.
“But enough about Louis Mountbatten! Let’s eat!” as my grandmother always used to say. Ishwari Niwas has plenty of options for anyone looking for light vegetarian food. (Don’t worry carnivores, there’s meat too! I just liked the vegetarian dishes in India better than the meat dishes for the most part.) I especially recommend the soothing tomato soup…
And the pleasingly un-greasy vegetable pakora. Just what the goblin ordered!
That’s 24 Hours: Best Places to Visit in Bundi India
What do you think are the best places to visit in Bundi India? When Lord Mountbatten gets killed on The Crown (spoiler alert!) will anyone bring out the majestic tiger skin by the Pepsi machine? And do goblin architects need a license before they are allowed to practice? Please leave your thoughts below!