Faithful readers, I have no doubt about it, Tajikistan has also become your Kiffistan . But stop there, addictions, it’s dangerous! So for you to avoid any dependence, a small break is necessary. And presto, it’s the perfect excuse to go back to another of my addictions, India . I am taking you this time to Rajasthan . I already hear your disappointment, “you talk about something against the tide of Rajasthan”. But if I took you to visit a Rajasthan a little less touristy. A Rajasthan where you will not try to sell anything and everything on every street corner. A Rajasthan where you will not want to spend your nerves on the first rickshaw a bit too insistent! Today, I take you for a stroll in Bundi .
As soon as one evokes a trip to India, especially if it is the first one, the choice is carried out for the greatest number on Rajasthan. More than a quarter of foreign visitors to India come to Rajasthan, making it the most touristic region of India. There are very good reasons for this (the tourists are not completely idiots either), the region is beautiful and close to Delhi. But the counter-shock of this massive influx of tourists is an equally massive influx of touts and other sellers of just about anything and everything ( in India, everything is possible ).
And these touts know at their hours to be extremely persistent. Some travelers do fine, others do not. I am speaking to connoisseurs here, you do not have a little saturated sometimes with all these solicitations? A classic circuit like Delhi, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Agra and back to Delhi will leave you little escape from this breaking wave.
So it’s gone, goodbye dreams of lonely visits to the land of the Maharajas. It would have been necessary for that to come to India at the time of Nicolas Bouvier , now, it is done. Hop hop hop, not so fast! Admittedly, the splendors of Rajasthan in explorer mode , it is of the past, but a small side step away from the big tourist migrations is always possible. This small step off the highway, it could be Bundi .
Rajasthan off the beaten track
In 2012, more than 500,000 foreign tourists visited Jaipur, but only 16,500 visited Bundi. Obviously, you will not be really alone in Bundi and will cross other congeners in the streets, but it does not prevent, the contrast is far from negligible, what a calm .
No, you will not be alone in Bundi
In Bundi, we take pleasure in walking quietly in the alleys of the old town. No traffic Dantesque , no sellers or rickshaws that constantly appeals to you, just Indians who look at you (yes, we are still in India!) And who gladly exchange a smile with you. In fact, I have never met tourists who came here and were disappointed. But if you’re one of those rare animals, I’d be curious to know why.
Bundi is a small town located between hills whose ridge line is filled with ramparts. I imagine that in military terms, we call it a strategic position. We are here in Rajput territory, and to say that they proudly wear the Rajputs with their dhotis , their earrings, their turbans, and their tapered mustaches. When we meet them in the streets, they do not look at their pumps, but walk proudly, with their heads held high. It must be said that with such a presence, it would be crazy to play sled-slippers.
They meet in the small squares of the old city, discuss, smoke a few bidis, drink a chaï , probably remake the world a little, unless remaking Rajasthan is a sufficient horizon. That one of them gets up, his countenance, his body language impress. Among the Indian mosaic, they undoubtedly represent with the Sikhs the quintessence of a certain elegance.
At their head, the Bundi raja lived of course in a small palace. This palace and the fort that dominates it may not be as impressive and majestic as in Jodhpur, but we are not facing a little shack either.
The palace of Bundi
Being rather adept of a certain simplicity, I did not take up residence in the palace, but in his stables! Indeed, the stables at the foot of the palace have been converted into a cheap hostel (Haveli Elephant Stable). Notorious advantage, when you stay in old stables for elephants , we do not bang on the ceiling! A very good address for the rest. The manager, Raj, is very affable and adorable, and his wife Neema, in addition to being very smiling, is a very good cook . Expect fabulous candlelight dinners in the garden.
In addition to the traditional cows, the monkeys also live in Bundi. Some jump from roof to roof in the city, but it is especially in the surrounding hills that one crosses them. As I walk along the ramparts, the monkeys walk on the ramparts, jumping from merlon to merlon. With the youngest, it’s a kind of game, each trying to intimidate the other with the means at his disposal. They scream in my direction, because they sometimes hesitate to double me, while I hit the floor with my stick. With adult males, I’m less clever. I do not want to find myself surrounded by males who can sometimes be quite aggressive. Suffice to say that the stick is an essential accessory to go to the hills. Without, it’s more complicated!
From the ramparts, like a mini version of Jodhpur, the blue city extends to our feet. This blue is recognized by the houses of the Brahmins and is also supposed to protect from heat and mosquitoes. Once back in town, we find in these streets a magical atmosphere that has disappeared from the major cities of Rajasthan. Here you will not find sitting snake charmers waiting for the tourist for the photo. Everyone is quietly going about their business.
Obviously, cows are not absent from this urban landscape. As everywhere in India, if one of them decided to occupy the middle of the street, the rickshaws will honk well, it is lost. They are here at home . Do not reverse the roles, in Indian cities man sometimes seems to be a guest in a territory already conquered by the cattle.
After walking in the fort, along the ramparts, in the palace, after being lost in the streets, after making a visit to use primates and cattle, the only, the only absolutely essential address in Bundi This is Krishna’s little stall in Sadar Bazar. Krishna will serve you no less than the best chai ever drunk in India , a marvel!
Some practical tips
How to get to Bundi
Bundi is not on one of the main railway lines, but there are nevertheless two trains a day to Chittorgarh, two to Delhi, one to Agra and one to Udaipur. Finally, since Kota is only an hour away by bus, there are many trains to Delhi and Jaipur. As always, train schedules are available on Indian Railways or ClearTrip . Since Pushkar, there is in principle a direct bus and very many from Ajmer.
Rather Bundi, Chittorgarh or Pushkar
The drama for many people in India is to have to choose where to go, but also by extension where not to go. We have known drama more … dramatic, but it does not prevent. A question that comes up often is what choice to make between Bundi, Chittorgarh and Pushkar?
The Chittor fort is worth a visit, but the city of Chittorgarh is, in my opinion, much less pleasant than Bundi. So if you have to stop a choice for lack of time, I would definitely throw my heart on Bundi. Note that Chittorgarh is also more touristy.
For Pushkar, it will be a little more complicated to give an opinion because … I have never been to Pushkar! But I sometimes chat with other travelers. Pushkar is definitely a rather peaceful place, but if you are looking for a destination that is not too touristy, clearly, this is not the place to go. Although Pushkar is only a small town, it has become trendy for many years. So again, if you are looking for a break outside the tracks, Bundi is definitely the right choice.
Now that I’ve given you all the keys for Bundi, all you have to do is find the right lock . Which one will have your favors?