Hi friends and family,

Bundi seems a relatively prosperous town and area. I was initially attracted by the many wall paintings and the claim of 40 or 50 stepwells or baori in the town (of which we could only find a few). Later I found out that a number of our friends and acquaintances had been to Bundi. Our neighbor at Magnolia, Jeannie O'Connor; artists who have done tapestries with us, Andy Diaz-Hope and Laurel Roth-Hope; our intern Ezekiel Narcisi, who created so many great stop-action videos for us, and probably more people who will make themselves known once I post this. 

On the way to Bundi, Raj took a shortcut and we made a visit to a very old Hindu or possibly Jain temple (or more accurately 3 temples in a complex) in the small town of Bijolia. They're very old, from the 12th c. 

A very nice man, a government employee, according to Raj, showed us around the temple complex.

There was a baori (stepwell) behind the temple, mostly filled with murky water.

I think the self-appointed guide was pointing out a lingam stone to me. As is probably usual in India, more often than not, I have little idea of what I'm looking at. One of our goals in travel is to learn. (This guide didn't speak English.)

Now he is pointing out (I think) what I later read is a famous depiction of Lord Shiva. There are also a lot of erotic art carvings.

There are carvings here of a style I have not seen before.

Slightly chubby deity

We thanked him and were on our way. He was probably thinking, What a dud! She had no clue of what I was showing her. Quite true. 

A lot of mustard crops in this area for the mustard seed oil which is so prevalent in Rajasthani cooking.

Pausing for a short breather; those bundles look heavy.

Stopped for lunch at a place Raj knew. We realized that he was for the most part trying to pick cleaner places for bathroom breaks and meals. We would sometimes drive for an hour to get to one of these cleaner places. This particular restaurant seemed slightly perturbed when we ordered a Kingfisher (beer). It wasn't on their menu, but they said they had it. They pulled a curtain across the room and asked us to sit at a table behind the curtain, isolating us from the rest of the restaurant. We were happy to do so, as there was a large and noisy family eating at the restaurant with one child having a tantrum. After a short wait, the waiter returned with the beer in a shopping bag, and when he produced the beer we saw that it had been wrapped in a concealing napkin. When Don poured some beer into a glass, he quickly wrapped the glass with a napkin also, a sort of X-rated treatment. We thought it was interesting and amusing, but Raj was a little annoyed when he heard about it and said he wouldn't be stopping there any longer. The restaurant was masquerading as a Hindu restaurant with a Hindu name, but was actually owned by Muslims. Therefore the discreet alcohol handling.

In Bundi now. The photo is made up of a pano of three shots. This is the Rani ki Baori, the Queen's Stepwell. This image is huge; something over 200 megabytes. Below is a detail. 

Rani ki Baori, the Queen's Stepwell is very beautiful and covered with pigeon shit, despite the government (?), the city's (?) best efforts. They've put a lot of screening around it. They've tried. India is actually very kind to our animal friends: monkeys, cows, water buffaloes, birds of all kinds, goats, camels, pigs, horses, donkeys, even elephants in some locations, are found in the cities as well as the countryside. Nobody seems to bother them or tries to eradicate them. 

Down a few steps

I've read that these stepwells served as meeting places, community centers, temples in times past, as well as a place to get your water supply, of course.

Rani ki Baori is a very fancy one.

Another Bundi stepwell.

Don showing scale (Don: or showing off - not sure which).

Era; it's big (Don: or Era is small).

The old palace on the hill above Bundi. The old town sits below it, and the new town sprawls below that. We had dinner in the old town with a view of the palace, at a place recommended by Jeannie. It was good and the view was spectacular; in fact, this is the view. Unfortunately, our hotel was in the new town where we had a beautiful big room which was quite filthy. I don't even think the sheets were clean. Fortunately, we didn't pick up any bugs and we were only staying one night.

The next morning we visited the 84 pillared cenotaph. What is a cenotaph, you may ask. It's an empty tomb. This one built by a Raja to honor his foster brother.

 Harpies or angels on ceiling.

A more recognizable lingam and yoni.

We've mentioned the cows recycling the garbage. This is some of the not too pretty side of India. Again, a problem with the caste system and only untouchables allowed to pick up garbage. This is a not uncommon sight. All of these cows have owners; many of the cows are allowed to roam free in the cities, countryside and along and in the roads. They are fed by the general public, who seem to love them, as well as grazing on plants and garbage. They return home to be milked.

Sometimes a bit of a challenge to get around them.

Back to the beauty. The Bundi palace gates.

The Bundi palace architecture has a distinct elephant theme.

Painted ceiling

If you look closely, or click to enlarge, you can see that these paintings have been deliberately defaced, although some of it is normal wear through the ages.

So the need to lock up a number of the rooms. A young government employee appeared and unlocked some of the doors for us. 

Inside we weren't allowed to take photos. The Courtauld Art Institute was coming next month to do restoration work. Then everything will be protected with plexi, no doubt, and lighting installed. While we were inside, some young European tourists came in (not Americans this time) and started touching the paintings. The employee ushered them out and locked up after us.

Our guide wanted me to notice that the old paintings had a Chinese style and that the people depicted had a Chinese look. I couldn't see it myself, but kept that opinion to myself.

The ceiling; we were allowed to take pictures in this room, which actually had superior paintings. The guide agreed. Both Bundi and the old palace in Dungarpur had so many more paintings than we are showing you. Small wonder that marvel fatigue has set in.

View from the old palace of the older city of Bundi; the newer part is down the hill.

We enjoyed Bundi, but had to get back on the road. It's even scarier driving in India at night.

Love to all,

Era and Don