She'd trade Colorado if he'd take her with him...

Trip Start May 17, 2012
Trip End Jun 03, 2012

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Saturday, May 26, 2012

(C) What is that rattletrap going on outside??  It's 7am and the power doesn’t go off until 9, so we still have air conditioning.  I roll out of bed and go to the window.  Open the curtains just enough to let some of the early morning sun in and see three of the little monkeys playing hide and chase on our patio!  Kind of like little kids, kind of like dogs – they chase each other up and down around the chairs and stairs and plant cages.  Turns out, they are small enough to get inside the plant cages that are supposed to protect the the Braj Bushanjee’s desperate lawn bushes from the voracious monkeys.  But the little ones are interested in stripping off all the leaves, just running around and hiding from each other.  Pretty cute.  Soon, Sara is up and we are off to breakfast – hopefully while there is still electricity to cool the dining room.

Our day today is ambitious, but not overwhelming.  We learn from the owner that yesterday was a mind-bending 47 degrees in Bundi.  Today is much better.  It will only get to 43 or so.  While it doesn’t sound like much, each one of those numbers above 43 seems to be exponentially hotter than the one before.  Like the Richter scale.  Believe me, 110 feels nothing like 120 degrees – at least not in India.  I keep reminding myself that people in Arizona choose to live like this.  But I guess they have cool running water and air-conditioning 24 hours a day.  The water here runs warm most of the time and we have several hours of scheduled power cuts each day.

So, today is not AS ambitious as yesterday – mostly because we are not climbing up a rocky mountain with no shade at noontime in 47 degree heat!  Today, we will take a rickshaw to see five different Bundi highlights and we will not climb any mountains.  The first stop is the Shikar Burg, which means Shikar Town in German.  I don’t know what it means in Hindi (Shikar Tower?).  It was the hunting lodge for one of Bundi’s rajas, although there are no signs at the place explaining any of it.  And we’re not sure what they were hunting, but we guess it was wild boar given the number of them still wandering the lanes and sewers of Bundi.  We had read we needed to bring sticks to beat off aggressive monkeys, but we didn’t see any of them – which is actually disappointing – even though monkey attacks are probably pretty awful and presumably the bites can fester.  So we wandered around the ruins, and watched a bunch of kids swimming in the baori (stepwell), then headed off in our trusty rickshaw to the next sight.  The area around the hunting lodge is very nice, filled with old stepwells, and temples.  Lots of people living in and around the ruins and of course, plenty of cows wandering about.  No monkeys.

Not far down the road from Shikar is the Kshar Bagh.  This is a beautiful garden – and also a cemetery -  and probably my #2 favorite in Bundi after the palace.  It’s very peaceful and with the shade of mango trees and breezes from the lake that make even a hot day in Bundi feel like it’s only 105.  We had some language barriers with the "caretaker?" and thankfully our rickshaw driver came to the rescue, who also doesn’t speak any english, but explained what we were doing and showed us the camera tickets we needed to buy.  When we paid, it caused some kind of confusion and they had to sit down immediately on the sidewalk and talk about it.  Sara and I left to continue exploring through the monuments.

The next stop today, the Sukh Mahal or Lake Palace, was kind of disappointing.  It was built on a dam at the end of the Jait Sagar Lake and from a distance looks like an Indian version of the French chateau Chenonceau, with its towers and arches over the water.  It was built by Raja Vishnu Singh in 1776 – and named after his Diwan Sukhram.  According to the sign, Rudyard Kipling stayed here for a couple of days and wrote part of the Jungle Book in residence.  That’s a fun fact.  But up close it’s very run down and mostly in shambles.  As Ajay says, the Indian Government is very careless.  Still, the setting is very beautiful and we watch some old folks up in the trees picking mangoes and look out on the lake that is almost completely covered with water lilies.

The last two stops in the city are less impressive, though interesting.  We spent a few minutes at the “84-pillar cenotaph” also known as Chaurasi Khambon Ki Chatri.  It is most notable for its age.  It was built in 1683 to commemorate one of the Raja’s foster brothers.  Today it sits in an open dirt field all by itself, with some rubble at the base for a courtyard.  But it does have a nice view of the city and is probably more impressive in December – when the sun isn’t baking your face off.

Our last stop is the much vaunted and highly acclaimed Queen’s Stepwell, or Rani Ji Ki Bawari (Baori).  I was really hoping this would be one of the square stepwells with all the zigzagging steps going down.  But it isn’t.  It’s a VERY deep, very long staircase into a bat cave.  The carvings are cool – especially the elephants in the archways – and the steps are hypnotically repetitive which makes for some interesting photos – but the place is kind of dank, and again there’s the bats.  Sara was concerned we might fall in the well and we were both ready to exit.  At the gate, we were tempted by the fried anaheim peppers.  YUM!  But we decided against such foolhardiness and came back to the Haveli instead, had some Masala Munch and took a nap.

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threadbaresoul on

Well, now I'm going to have nightmares about monkey attacks and the festering wounds....
When we went to the Denver Zoo, there were some monkeys that scared me to the core....I can still see their evil little red eyes and it gives me shakes.
The crazy thing about your photos is that despite the heat, you all look so GOOD! Not crabby puddles of melted humanity at all!

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