If I mention mountains surrounded by clouds, with temperature in summer season reaching as low at 18 degrees, you’ll picture a Himalayan destination from Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand. If I tell you about a town colored in Blue, the frames of Jodhpur will come to your mind. What if I told you that the sights of cloudy hills with beautiful forts and a town painted in blue can be found in a small hamelt of Rajasthan? Isn’t it hard to believe?
I am talking about Bundi. 8 hours away from Jodhpur and half an hour away from Kota, Bundi is a lovely little town that is neither popular between the mainstream tourist crowd of India nor the backpacking community. The beautiful lanes of Bundi are filled with snack stalls, special masala tea stalls that you’ll only find here and licenced bhang (a local intoxicating drink) shops. This combined with the beautiful heritage of the city which includes a fort, a palace, several stepwells and cenotaphs makes this place worth visiting and spending some time at.
Bundi is popularly known as a city of stepwells. Each of these stepwell is designed with lovely paintings with a flight of stairs leading you all the way to the bathing space. It is said that the total number of stepwells in Bundi is more than 50. I could only come across 5 or 6 of them, many are now closed for the public and can be viewed from the gate, others are scattered in the towns neverending lanes.
Naga Sagar Kunds are pair of two stepwells near the Chogan Gate in Bundi. These stepwells are locally known as Janana Sagar Kund and Ganga Sagar Kund. Constructed in the year 1871, these stepwells are now jointly called Nagar Sagar Kund. Out of the both stepwells, the Ganga Sagar has lost its beauty and the old paintings have withered. You will still find the colourful paintings on the walls leading to the well.
The most popular stepwell, however, is Rani Jee ki Baori. This is probably the oldest stepwell constructed someone around the year 1699. This stepwell gives you an introduction to how beautiful the other stepwells must have been. The architecture comprises of a beautiful arch leading to the premises of the bathing space. Terraces and the walls have beautiful paintings intact. The stepwells have lovely pillers and statues of elephants leading to the community bathing space.
Bhoraji ka Kund is another beautiful stepwell that is no more in use but is located at a place surrounded by Arawalis. If you visit this kund after the monsoon season, you’ll find a lot of birds chilling around in the compound. This Kund is easy to access as it is located right next to Abhaynath Temple.
Abhay Nath ki Baori is still operational and the locals use it for rainwater harvesting. Dadhi Manthan Baori is another 16 century constructed Baori that is or way primarily used for religious ceremonies. The interiors of the stepwells have statues of Goddess Saraswati.
The last but not the least is the Dabhai Kund. Locally known as Jail Kund, this stepwell is a traditional bathing space constructed with several stairs from all the four corners. The most amazing part of this well is that doesn’t matter which part you enter from, you’ll never find the same exit will leaving. Dabhai Kund is said to be constructed by Prithviraj Chauhan.
There are more stepwell scattered around the old and new city. You’ll find a small unnamed stepwell on your way to the Bundi Fort. Another one is in the main market and the entrance is closed for visitors.
The best way to explore Bundi is by walking in the lanes of the Blue City. I personally find the city of Bundi bluer than Jodhpur.
How to visit – The nearest railway station is Kota. From Kota you’ll find regular buses plying to Bundi. You can also take 10 hour buses to and from Jodhpur but the number of buses leaving Bundi to other places is very low. So make sure that you are at the bus stand on time.
Where to stay – Try to find a place with a local family and try their amazing hospitality and food. There are a number of heritage bungalows and havelis open for the visitors. You can find the best one around the fort area.