There are many things to do in Bundi but most of them I didn’t get around to doing on account of ending up with my head in a bucket throwing up whatever my various internal organs could produce. I’m not even shitting you, it’s like my body was on a mission to expel everything I’d put into it via the nearest available orifice. I only had a squat toilet in my room an all and I’m sorry, my legs don’t deal well with long periods of squatting when they’re working properly, never mind when all they want to do is buckle underneath me whilst I weep into my pillow so I ended up sitting on it, essentially cross legged, wishing I’d not eaten that fucking samosa. Aaaanyway, onto nicer things that don’t anal seepage or general vomiting.
Bundi Palace & Taragarh Fort
One of the main things to do in Bundi would be the palace and Taragarh fort which cost ₹100 each, plus ₹50 each for your camera. I spoke to Raj, the guy who runs Haveli Elephant Stables where I was staying and he advised me to see the fort first as it was still early and it wouldn’t be as hot. He handed me a stick and after a brief tuition on how to fend off monkeys he sent me on my way. It’s basically like walking in a sauna up to the fort and I was the only one there. The black faced monkeys weren’t bothered about the upright, hairless ape wandering through their vicinity and I didn’t see any macaques, the red faced aggressive fuckers which are the reason they recommend you take a stick with you. I’d politely declined the services of a guide ergo promptly got lost for a while but it’s a cool place to spend a bit of time and when I grow up and get a house I’m totes getting massive, spiky doors on it like they have here. And maybe a moat. And a dragon. Anyway.
There’s a sign outside the palace which says Rudyard Kipling described it as “the work of cobbling, not men.” I stood and stared at it. What the fuck? No amount of scratching my head or quizzically tilting it in the appropriate manner it could make it make sense, then it dawned on me. Goblins. They mean goblins. The palace looks like the work of goblins, not men. Riiiiiight! I kinda want to travel India correcting spelling mistakes. Too many cafes sell “cronflaks” for breakfast and “nuddle” of the Maggi variety for lunch.
The palace is well worth a visit though, even if you don’t make it up the hill to the fort. There are a heap of awesome murals to put in your eyeholes and don’t miss the steps in the wall to the top level where the best ones are. Try not to gag at the bat stench, now.
Oh oh oh, and have a butchers at Chitrasala. It’s the gardens and there are so many awesome paintings in ridiculous detail. You’re looking at them and you’re like, yeah, they’re cool. Then you look closer and realise they painted the fucking leaves on the trees! Awesome.
Bhimlat Waterfall (plus some dubious rock paintings…)
I. Love. Waterfalls. Love them. This bad boy is 35km away from Bundi which basically equals a bone jarring hour in a tuk tuk over a shit road. You spinal column will not thank you for it. The people I was with wanted to check out some rock paintings on the way too which meant an even longer ride over an even worse road but it was cool to see the little villages along the way, though the rock paintings themselves may or may not have been put there last week by someone with a whiteboard marker. Jus’ sayin’. There’s a bloke in town called Kukki who I met a couple of times and he seems awesome. He’s a self proclaimed discoverer expert and internet hero. I really wanted to spend the day with him, driving round looking at rock art and his discoveries, but y’know, stomach wringing itself out and all that. I ran out of time.
But this waterfall. There’s only so far the tuk tuk can go so you have to hop out, walk over the train tracks like a real Indian then walk down to the falls past a Shiva temple. The waterfall is so cool and you can swim in the plunge pool so I left all my shit with Jake, Naomi and our driver, Morn, in the hope that the macaques didn’t steal all of my things and swam over to it. There’s a ledge in the middle that you can sit on and just enjoy the shower too. I reckon it’s worth the trip if there are three or four of you to fork out for the ₹700 rickshaw ride but girls, this is most definitely a sports bra moment. And perhaps a head protection moment. And maybe keep your tongue clear of your teeth at all times so when you do smack your head when the tuk tuk goes over a particularly savage pothole, the tip of your tongue won’t end its days as a dog snack.
Sukh Mahal, Raniji-ki-Baori & The 84 Pillared Cenotaph
The less than princely sum of ₹70 will get you into all of these places on one composite ticket. I guess they’re all worth a look, it’ll kill a couple of hours as you walk from one to the next. Start with Sukh Mahal and end with the Cenotaph or vice versa, though. Because it makes sense. It just does, ok? And remember that walking in the midday heat will suck all of the moisture from your braincells and the will to live from your very soul.
And finally, the 84 Pillared Cenotaph. No, I didn’t count the pillars. I’d met a Kenyan couple whilst loitering around two crap-filled stepwells in town and we’d walked to Raniji-ki-Baori then to the cenotaph together. It’s pretty much a 5 minute photo stop but we chilled for a while in the shade before we caught a rickshaw back into town with a mildly psychotic driver with a penchant for driving at motorcycles, cars and pedestrians head on at what passes for high speed in a tuk tuk. I don’t have a god but I was this close to adopting one and promising to follow it forever if I survived. I’ve had some pretty hairy rides but this one was the only one that actually evoked squeals. If I’d have felt comfortable relinquishing my death grip I’d have crossed myself.
Krishna’s Chai, Best in Bundi!
Tis a bold claim methinks but one that is warranted though he puts so many spices in it your stomach will rot if you drink it every day. He’s not cagey about guarding his recipe either, he’ll happily show you what he’s putting in it and he makes every drink to order as opposed to having a pan sitting on the side gathering flies.
So, you will need some black pepper corns, a tiny amount of cinnamon, some cloves and some ginger. He already had the milk and the tea leaves on the boil and he crushed each spice really finely and chucked it in. We watched in horror as he dumped eight and a half tea spoons of sugar into the mix and I silently contemplated maybe taking out shares in cement to fill the imminent cavities.
Finally, he crushed a cardamon seed each but said you don’t boil that, it just goes in at the end. He boiled everything for about 4 minutes, threw in the seeds then strained the whole lot straight away into a pot. And that was our chai. It burns so gooooood!
Wander Until You End Up Somewhere Random
Me and a couple from the guest house, Jenny and Will, went for a stroll to the arse end of nowhere, you to have a look around. We wandered through tiny streets where we were met with groups of children who wanted their photo taken, but not for money as is often the case. Just for the joy of seeing themselves on a camera screen. We eventually ended up in an area of town where the truckers hang out and all the shops are workshops or tyre shops and it smells of dirt and grease. I’d have shat myself if I’d ended up here alone but being with other people, you can relax a bit.
A lot of the vehicles have “Blow Horn” or “Horn Please” emblazoned along the back of them too. Yeah, like anyone needs any fucking encouragement in this country ay.There’s a load of other stuff to do including renting bicycles and heading out to the villages but bicycles are the devil’s transportation, or there are temples to explore and stuff. It’s another of those places you can get stuck, especially at Haveli Elephant Stables with the legend that is Raj who proves that dad-dancing is the same all over the world, and his wife, Neema, who cooks probably the best damn thalis in Bundi, if not India. Eating there is a communal thing, they ask you in the daytime if you want to eat there that night then you get whatever Neema is whipping up that evening and eat together in the garden.
Bundi, Rajasthan, India
Stayed at: Haveli Elephant Stables