Wow, managed to sleep until 5:30! Unfortunately, the internet wasn’t awake at that time, so I processed a few photos until it was time to go to the dining room for some tea. I took some time to wander around getting a few shots of the hotel.
Raj Palace Hotel
Kamal picked us up at 8:00 and we hit the road for Bundi, about a 3.5 hr. drive. He decided to take a shortcut, that took us through many small towns, all very busy with market activity. The road was very rough and, again, my FitBit told me I put on a lot of steps, about 6,500, while sitting on my butt in the car. Again we saw lots of sites and missed photo ops along the way:
- A couple of women with large loads on their heads leading a goat or, more correctly, the goats were leading them.
- Garbage burning along the side of the road and on the town streets.
- Extravagantly decorated trucks and tractors, with outside speakers blaring music. I thought it might have had something to do with Diwali, but Kamal told us that it’s all year. I managed to get a photo of a tractor later; saw another one later on that was much more dressed up than this one, including the trailer it was towing.
- One truck with a very large load on a 75-80 degree tilt toward the centre of the highway. It’s scary driving by something like that.
- Several goat herds down the middle of the road. I asked Kamal if you have to pay if you hit a goat and kill it. Yes, definitely….Rs 6,000-7,000. If you hit a cow, the price would start at about Rs 10,000, but it depends on the quality of the animal and could go up to Rs 100,000. A black buffalo is the most expensive.
- Despite the chaotic driving and the number of animals out in the middle of nowhere walking down the middle of the road, we haven’t seen one accident or dead animals. We have, however, seen cars with banged in fenders, so it does happen.
- 2 guys on a motorcycle with the passenger holding a 30 or so gallon drum.
- Women gathering hay in the fields and tying them in bundles.
- Tractors pulling extremely large loads of hay.
- Dung huts – small mud and straw huts for drying cow dung, which is used for fires. I recall seeing dung for sale in the markets in southern India a few years ago.
- Probably the best one of all, a guy walking on his hands, with his legs wrapped around his neck and his feet facing backwards. Was this a deformity, which would be sad, or is it just something he does? Who knows!
We arrived in Bundi, a very small city of about 100,000, at 11:30 and checked into the Bundi Haveli Hotel. The room is OK – it’s clean and a good size. Dass just checked for bedbugs and reports that there’s “Not a bedbug to be seen.”.
We left the hotel shortly after and drove back the way we came in to get some photos of the city, with the Taragarh Fort/Bundi Palace (built in 1354) on the hill above the city.
Kamal then took us to the Rani Ji Ki Baori ‘Step Wells’, the most well known of the 50 wells in Bundi, which dates back to the 16th century. It really is quite something, but it’s really too bad that the grounds and the buildings themselves are not cleaned up and maintained better, particularly considering the tourists they attract. That’s kind of ironic, considering that it’s supposed to be the most well maintained well. The water was unbelievably dirty. A shot of the well, an information sign, some architectural detail and the outside walls:
Before driving off again, I got a couple of shots of women selling flowers on the side of the street.
We went for lunch at a nice place with a rooftop view of the city. The service was really slow, but the owner, a very nice woman, came out to apologize. She was kind enough to let us take her photo.
Looking over the balcony of the restaurant, I noticed, what must have been, a rush hour traffic jam. Not even a cow involved!!
After lunch, Kamal took us to the Taragarh Fort/Bundi Palace so that we could tour through. We paid the Rs 150 ea. entrance fee and headed in. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any maintenance or upkeep on this place, but it was really remarkable. We got lots of good shots, saw lots of bats hanging from ceilings and were also approached by several people asking if they could have their photos taken with us. We’re rock stars! In general, the people here are very friendly.
After some Googling, we learned that we were actually in the Bundi Palace and didn’t even get to the Taragarh Fort.
People are always surprised with Dass’ Indian name and that he can speak Hindi. When he says something, people and say, “You speak Hindi!”, to which he replies in Hindi, “No I cannot speak Hindi.”. Besides speaking it, he does a pretty good Indian impression as well and falls into the role very easily. We’re often asked where we’re from. Dass answers, “Canada. Where are you from?” They tell him India and laugh.
People & Sights Around Town
Kamal took us back to the hotel, where we took it easy for 45 minutes or so and then ventured out at 4:30 to walk through the streets. This is a small place compared to the others we’ve been in. Some locals we talked to told us that they like it here because it’s very quiet. One tuk-tuk driver said that it’s the best place to live, even though now there are young people driving motorcycles who like to honk their horn a lot. No shit!! That’s true everywhere we’ve been. It’s continuous!! We got some great shots and talked to a lot of the local people in the shops, which are open to the street. The door and window shots here are incredible. We stopped to talk with a weaver, who weaves beautiful cotton scarves and shawls. His prices depend on how much time it takes to make them. For instance, if it takes 2 days, it’s Rs 500 ($10) and a 5 day shawls would be Rs 1,000 ($20). He said that his shop is a “no bargain shop”.
After not seeing any tigers, during our 2 safaris in the Ranthambore National Park, we were really surprised, and lucky, to see one in Bundi. He was quite docile, though, so not much of a challenge to shoot.
We headed back to the room about 6:00, downloaded photos and then left again to have dinner. We had met Jerry, of the ‘Tom and Jerry’ restaurant, when we were out earlier. Dass checked them out online and found that they had very good ratings, so away we went. We both had pizza and a bottle of water. The pizza was excellent and the water bottles were sealed. The total bill for both of us was Rs 540 plus an Rs 60 tip, so about $12.00. Cheap at twice the price! We were wondering if they pay royalties to Disney?!
A funny thing happened while we were there: a couple of times, were heard an awful racket on the tin roof right above us. The guy at the next table told us that it was monkeys. Shortly after, while the owner (either Tom or Jerry) was talking to us, they ran across the roof again. He said to us, “Those mother f—–g monkeys!!! All they have in their brain is destroy, destroy, destroy!” It was hilarious….the first time we’d heard anyone here swear.
Back to the hotel.
One last note: In the Day 5 blog, I made some comments regarding India that, on reflection, were unfair and I wasn’t happy with what I wrote. I’ve rewritten that paragraph to accurately reflect how I feel about the country, the people and their future. If you’ve already read that day’s blog, please go back for a re-read.
Off to Udaipur at 9:00 AM tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have time for another wander through the streets. With any luck, we’ll also have a chance to get some early morning shots of the fort and the city on our way out.