When I came to India, I knew there would be culture shock, but after a week of traveling through a few big cities, I couldn’t handle one more minute. I was sick of the filth, the overwhelming poverty, the deception and the greed that was so prevalent in the cities. Sure, I loved the food, the history, the colorful yet dilapidated buildings, but I was lacking human connection. I am a “people person” to my core, so to feel such a lack of trust with the majority of the people I encountered really affected me.
It was right around this time that my travels moved onward to the “small city” of Bundi in Rajathstan. This city of approximately 100,000 people was a breath of fresh air in comparison to Delhi (population: ~25 million), Varanasi (population: ~3 million) or Jaipur (population ~6 million).
From the moment I left Jaipur and started to drive through the countryside, I felt an immense relief. For the first time in days, there was space around me! I passed beautiful green crops, and saw herds of camels making their way across the desert land. It was wonderful.
About 4 hours after leaving Jaipur I entered Bundi, a city full of royal blue houses. Fort walls climb the mountainside where a clay-colored palace is perched, perfectly located to oversee the city below.
Even though Bundi is “small” it is still packed full of people, and bustling with cows, dogs, carts, motorcycles, and other signs of life, but the difference with this city is that the people are still genuine. When they smile and say hello, there is no ulterior motive to proposition you to buy something, they are simply happy to share their town with a foreigner.
As I walked the town, exploring the streets off the main drag, I found decorated doors and exquisite entryways. There were many brightly colored and ornately carved buildings. Of course everything could have used a coat of fresh paint, but it was beautiful and wholesome, and I loved it nonetheless.
The best part of Bundi was definitely the people, especially the children. Everywhere I went, kids would smile and run up and ask, “One photo please??”
They were used to seeing foreigners take pictures of things in their town, and it made them feel special to have a picture taken of themselves. Of course I obliged.
But every now and then, there would be a little scoundrel who would start hustling you for Rupees after you took the photo he had requested, and that would again put a bad taste in my mouth. Unfortunately, it’s probably only a matter of time until the obnoxious sales tactics of the larger cities makes their way into Bundi, but for now, the city is a sweet reminder of all that is incredible about India.
If you’re ever traveling about Rajathstan, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the noise and the chaos, take a side trip to Bundi. The city’s slower pace will put you at ease, but it’s not so small that it will put you to sleep. In a matter of a day, you will know Bundi, and Bundi will most likely know you. Embrace the charm and share a smile with all those you encounter… Then, when it starts to become too familiar, make your way to Udaipur, with a stop at the Chittaurgarh Fort on the way.
Ways to Make the Best of your Stay in Bundi:
Be sure to climb up to the Palace and the Fort.
Eat a friendly local meal on the rooftop with brothers, Tom & Jerry, or kick back with some non-Indian cuisine at the delicious restaurant, Out of the Blue.
Stroll the streets, enjoy the “best Chai in Bundi” at Krishna’s Chai.
Make friends with the locals, but try to avoid getting head-butted by a cow…