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South of Jaipur on the road to Kota, Bundi is a hidden gem in the desert state of Rajasthan, loved for its impressive forts and palaces, and the beauty of its surrounding hills, lakes and forests. This quaint town lies in a narrow valley at the base of a large craggy hill, enclosed by huge walls and fortified by four gateways. In ancient times, these lands were inhabited by various local tribes, of which the Parihar Meenas were prominent. Later, the region was governed by Rao Deva Hada, a Rajput chieftain of the Hara clan, who took over Bundi from Jaita Meena in 1342, and established a princely state Bundi.

The town is dominated by the imposing Taragarh Fort, which looks down onto the central lake and the town’s ubiquitous blue buildings below. Almost frozen in medieval times, Bundi is famous for its intricate paintings and murals, which are possibly the finest in Rajasthan. Next to its fort is Bundi Palace, which houses a superb collection of murals and lavish frescos. Bundi is also known as the city of step wells – the town has over 50 step wells – including the Raniji-ki-Baoli, which contains splendid carvings. Kipling was a famous resident of Bundi and he is said to have written part of Kim when he stayed at the Suhk Mahal palace on the banks of Jait Sagar lake.

Bundi’s well preserved old town is a place of real charm full of narrow alleyways, colourful bazaars, crumbling havelis and little temples. Despite its allure, Bundi is not on Rajasthan’s main tourist circuit and it remains largely unspoilt.

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