After celebrating Diwali in Jaipur, we decided to head south for a short two day trip to the small towns of Bundi and Todaraisingh. We wanted to see some of the more rural areas of Rajasthan, and we had heard great things about the sights around Bundi so we jumped in an open-air jeep with our guide and driver and headed out.
Our first stop was Todaraisingh where we explored some stepwells. The first two were fairly small but had cool intricate carvings. The third one was huge! We learned it was named after queen Hadi Rani who was quite the interesting character:
Hadi Rani is known for her legendary character. She was a daughter of Hada Rajput and was married to a Chieftain Chundawat of Salumbar in Mewar. Hadi Rani sacrificed her life only to motivate her husband to go the war. In the year 1653-1680 a battle was fought between Maharaja of Mewar and Aurangzeb. Maharaja of Mewar called her husband for the war. But the Sardar hesitated about going to war as he was married only a few days earlier. However, being a Rajput and to protect the Rajput honour he had to join the battle and he asked Hadi Rani to give him some memento to take with to the battlefield. Hadi Rani thought that she was an obstacle to his husband in completing his duty for Mewar of being a Rajput. So, to motivate her husband to go the war and protect Mewar, she ordered her head to be severed and presented to her husband. On seeing the head of his beloved Hadi Rani, the Sardar shattered but then tied her head proudly as a memento around his neck by its hair. He fought bravely in the battlefield and made the forces of Aurangzeb to run but even after the victory he refused to go from the battlefield and he cut his neck too as he didn’t want to live anymore.
– From todaraisingh.com
Now the stepwell is a popular tourist spot for Bollywood fans as it’s a filming location for the movie Paheli.
After the stepwells, we visited the highlight of our short trip to this region: Todaraisingh’s abandoned fort. It was super fun to climb through the ruins and enjoy the beautiful vistas of the river flowing through town.
That evening we wrapped up our time in Todaraisingh by hiking to the top of a small mountain to watch sunset.
We spent the night in the small town of Bundi and the following morning explored the palace situated on the hill above town. Lucky for us, we were one of the few visitors there that early so one of the museum workers gave us a tour as he was opening up the different rooms. He told us how the palace fountain waters would be dyed for the festival of Holi, showed us how to tell which paintings had been done by a Chinese artist (“Look at the eyes!”), and pointed out that the queen’s bedroom had depictions of kama sutra (“To help set the mood!”).
We visited one last stepwell on our way out of Bundi which was pretty but small compared to those we had already seen. Our last stop of the trip was supposed to be a big waterfall with a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, but since it was dry season you could really only call it a water trickle at best. It was interesting to see locals coming here to bathe in the holy waters near the shrine, but otherwise this was definitely the flop of the tour.
India is a huge country and by driving a short distance you can find wildly different cultures and numerous dialects. This excursion was our first view into rural Rajasthan, and although it was a short trip, we learned a ton from our guides and enjoyed observing everyday life in these small towns.