Soul searching in Bundi
Bundi was a personal getaway from Pushkar’s hectic crowd which consisted of sagas from daily haggles to strategic small talk from competitive falafel sellers. Word of Bundi got to me from other travellers who have gone by and since it was almost the end of the year, I decided to bid a quick farewell to my travel mates and head there for a day or two before returning to Pushkar. It was the perfect place to get some quiet time to reflect about the year’s shenanigans, make resolutions and think about life. One of the things I’ve learnt in India, is that it can get challenging to have some alone time. But here in Bundi, I found that little bit of peace.
The bus journey from Pushkar takes about 7 hours and as I began yet another Indian bus journey, my mind starts to wander off into the realm of daydreams. It was a windy road through the mountains with the occasional toilet breaks in between. I quickly read up about Bundi to see what to expect, and found out that like Jodphur, Bundi also has blue buildings that paint the city in the calm hues – except that it’s on a smaller scale
Somewhere around twilight, the bus goes around a bend and through the windows to my left, I saw in the warm dusk an alluring splash of blue buildings; a condensed town nestled around hills with a majestic fort overlooking a lake. Perhaps it was the light, or having a plain view of dusty roads and common hills for 7 hours. But this view was so spectacular, I can still visualise it in my head just thinking about this exact moment.
I arrived in the night right into a Sikh festival that caused some sort of road closure. The tuk tuk wouldn’t take me any further to find a hostel and dropped me right outside a leather shop. I believe in coincidences, and this was sure a lucky one. I hopped off and was immediately greeted by the friendly storeowner of a leather shop, who spoke remarkable English. He explained that there was a festival celebration and a parade was coming around, and let me rest my backpack in his shop before offering me a cup of chai and the best spot to stand in front of his store to get a good view.
People in Bundi are so kind hearted and warm, it’s an incredibly surprising change to the people in Pushkar who were so used to potential merchants coming through for the usual deals.
After walking around for a while, aimlessly looking for a place to stay, I finally settled down at R.N Haveli Guesthouse.
The rooftop view was sick and perfect for a light yoga stretching session in the morning. There was a quiet garden and the family who owned the guesthouse were remarkable and humorous, making jokes about never returning my passport!
Bundi is well known for baoris (also known as step wells). This traditional method of obtaining and storing water has not been forgotten, but most of the step wells have either become paid attractions or completely neglected and unrestored. Despite that, it’s still eye-opening to pay a visit to some of the bigger ones to see how these well-weathered baoris look.
Once up there it was completely deserted, and from afar, I could see other viewpoints within the fort grounds. But it was almost impossible to find my way there and make it back down before closing time at sunset – that’s how vast the entire land was!
The Palace was also one of the attractions on the way up to the fort. There are paintings inside beyond the garden that are so intricate that one can’t help but stare at it and try to figure out the story behind these masterpiece murals.
TIP: Lookout for pesky monkeys! It helps to hold a stick/branch and use it as a weapon in case they get aggressive or come too close. I came across a guide who brought a couple up, and he was yelling in gibberish and making noises that sounded like a tribe sacrifice song while chasing away monkeys that came close. Guess that also works…
Bundi also captured my heart because of this beautiful man.
I met Krishna while looking for a place to enjoy a good cup of chai. In my 2 months around India, he’s made the best cup of tea I’ve ever tasted and not only was it made cup by cup with love, watching him ground spices with a self made rock mortar was intriguing on it’s own. Our encounter was a special connection I can’t quite explain.
Colourful, bright painted walls and a winning smile from Krishna caught my attention as I walked by. The strong aroma of cinnamon and rich cardamom made me decide to take a rest stop between aimless exploring to have some chai in his humble shop. There I also befriended a couple of Spanish travellers who also felt the same way about Krishna’s Chai and we spent the afternoon complimenting this one-of-a-kind city.
So there’s really something captivating about Bundi – for me at least. Perhaps because I had more quiet time to look at this city and notice things I never did being in other hectic places while being caught up in the midst of socialising with other travellers. Which is why sometimes I prefer to go solo, despite enjoying company of others. But Bundi was special, the people warmed my heart and through observations I understood so much more about their lifestyle. Watching the seemingly calm city high up from the fort, there was nothing but subtle sounds of swishing and soft cracking from kites. Children excitedly emerging on multiple rooftops at dusk and with their kites hovering around in the sky, swooping up and down; it was such a simple yet beautiful moment. How very free and tranquil indeed.
A part of me would love to return someday to experience the kind of serenity I felt when I was in Bundi. And hopefully I can once again cross paths with the beautiful people that I’ve met in this unpretentious city of blue.