Published: January 1st 2012December 23rd 2011
The portable shop on the way to Bundi
December ’11 Ranthambore to Bundi
Another 9 am start – I hope we don’t get lulled into a false sense of security! It was minibuses this time and a 3 hour journey. Today’s pee and tea stop was on the outskirts of a village beside a lovely lake. The toilet was the bushes and the tea plus shop arrived with one man and 2 bags! It was brilliant soon we were all drinking chai and tucking into red hot pakoras which blew your mouth off (so Howard had 3 plus 1 other strange thing no one else could eat). Most of the village then turned up to look at the strange people and slyly photograph us!!
We arrived at Bundi at lunchtime (oh my god they had chocolate pancakes!!!!!!!) and we stayed at the amazing heritage hotel called Ishwari Niwas. Again it was a lucky dip key situation and we picked last and it turned out that our room was the one used by Lord and Lady Mountbatten when they came to visit their friend the Maharajah of Bundi and stayed for 5 days! How cool is that?! It was quite an amazing room – well I say
Sitting room tigers
room it was actually a collection of them. First we entered an incredible sitting room which would hold about 20 people with ornate settees and chairs, lush rugs, even a leopard skin one with head attached, 2 tigers heads mounted on the wall, an elephant’s foot stool, various tables holding hundreds of photos, knick knacks, a china cabinet full of toy trains and then a real treasure – all the old family photo albums – I could have spent hours with them. The walls were hung with framed photos of very important looking people of different nationalities, Lord and Lady Mountbatten were in a solid silver frame, with an additional 2 individual portraits of them all on their own special table. I have to say though walking through that room in the dark was rather a spooky experience.
From the sitting room there was a door leading to the bedroom unfortunately though the bed theMountbattens slept in is no longer there so we had to make do with a big four poster bed instead! The bathroom with a huge stone bath tub came next and then another enormous room containing just a toilet and the highest washbasin I have
... and a leopard
ever seen. Luckily I managed to find a carved wooden footstool to stand on or I would never have been able to use it, it made me feel like a child again ha ha.
We invited the rest of the group in to have a look round as it truly was amazing!
We then had a walk tour through the town. It was a typical Indian town but with a special feature – it is renown for its street dentists! And sure enough there they were lined up on the road side with their various instruments all spread out on a sheet. You could even get false teeth – which apparentley had all been donated. None of the dentists are trained but the skill has been passed on through the family down the generations and people come from miles around to get treated as they don’t charge high prices. While we were there someone was squatted on a blanket having some work done!!
The other thing Bundi is known for is its Step Wells, there about 40 of them of various sizes in the town but are no longer used as the town now is connected to
Street side dentist stall - false teeth anyone?
the mains water supply. So women no longer meet at them to collect water, do their washing and have a gossip.
We went into see the Queen’s Step Well which was really beautiful, it was all built in marble with amazing carvings and the steps which led down a very long way to reach the spring water. We went on from there to visit the vegetable market, saw the milkman – who arrives on a motorbike with 4 huge brass pots tied to the sides and wears very distinctive large gold earrings! We saw all the small shops selling everything from musical instruments (tubas seem to be a big favourite here) to clothes.
We wound our way up through the streets to the Palace. This is no longer used and had this air of neglect to it which somehow just enhanced its magic! There were monkeys everywhere and the most enormous beehive hanging from the underside of the entranceway. Despite the vast majority of the palace being in such disrepair it cannot be visited and the looting of a lot of the decoration, you could really imagine what this Palace must have been like in its heyday. The
At the dentist!
vast stone blocks – now full of weeds, which the royal family would use to mount their elephants, higher up the stables for the horses as the ground was to steep for elephants up at this point. The stunning architecture with its incredible attention to detail, the design of the palace to maximise the cooling breezes in the summer and conserve heat in the winter. The sweeping views of the surrounding area and just the sheer romance of it all! Aaaarrrggghh this is the stuff of India, the India I absolutely love!
This palace is unique in that it still has in some of its upper rooms the original and un restored paintings, of which a surprising number were still in very good condition. The colours were beautiful blues and greens and the detail in them was amazing.
There is now some attempt to preserve this as guards are posted to make sure no one uses flash photography and the picture gallery can only be accessed through one narrow staircase with a sturdy metal cover which is looked at night. In this area the original garden has been maintained and somehow this one little patch of colour just
evokes the whole past.
Tonight was a party to celebrate our tour leader Akki’s birthday, the group had clubbed together to and Christian got him a bottle of rum and some fireworks which terrified the life out of us all!!
Unfortunately the hotel was then invaded by a huge group of Germans who got us turfed out of our seats by the fire and moved to a smaller area. They then got their food before all of us and by the time ours arrived it was lukewarm so tonight its fingers crossed our stomachs survive!
Next stop Bassi (a different Bassi to the one we were at before)
There are more photos below