The painted rooms of Bundi Palace

When our group arrived at the ticket counter for the Bundi Palace on that November morning in 2016, the sight before me took my breath away. A path ascended and disappeared seemingly into nowhere, while part of the Palace loomed up above me, soaring up to the skies. In the distance, walls of the Taragarh Fort snaked away, disappearing into the mountainside it was built on.

Taragarh Palace, Taragarh Fort, Bundi Palace, Art, Painted Rooms of Bundi Palace, Royal Wall Paintings, Bundi School of Painting, Travel, Rajasthan, Incredibl India

If I had been awed by that first sight of the Palace and Fort when I had arrived in Bundi, I was spellbound now. I couldn’t help but recall Rudyard Kipling’s words when he first saw the Fort and the Palace at Bundi in the winter of 1887.

such a Palace [is] … the work of goblins rather than of men. It is built into and out of the hillside, in gigantic terrace on terrace, and dominates the whole of the city.

Our group was at the palace to see the paintings within and our explorations weren’t too different from Kipling’s. Like him, we too walked up a steep, stone-paved path and entered the Bundi Palace Complex through the Hathipol, and then explored its many corridors, rooms, halls, etc. with a guide authorised to unlock the many closed areas and tell us stories about them. [1]

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Forts of Rajasthan – 1: The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner

It was about 10.30 in the morning and vehicles were depositing tourists outside Bikaner’s Junagarh Fort. As I walked up to the Fort’s entrance, I overheard these comments:

This is a fort? Isn’t a fort supposed to be, like, on a hill?”

This is no fort. It looks more like a walled palace.”

“And why is it called Junagarh Fort? Junagadh is in Gujarat. Shouldn’t this be called Bikaner Fort or something?”

“Are you sure we are at the right place? Is this the only fort in Bikaner?

Now, if I had also been deposited outside the Fort in question like these people and was seeing the Fort for the first time, it is quite possible that I might have asked some of the questions myself. But since I had the opportunity to see the Fort from my hotel terrace the previous evening (see photo below), I knew that though it was not on a hill, it was a proper fort alright with a moat and all other fortifications befitting one.

Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan
View of the Junagarh Fort from the terrace of the Bhairon Vilas Palace around sunset

I could also see Bikaner’s flat landscape from the terrace, which indicated that the builders of the fort had no choice in the terrain. And, yes, I could also see that this was the only fort around. The only answer that the view of the Junagarh Fort from the hotel terrace did not give was why it was called so.

I hoped that a tour of the Fort complex would answer questions for all of us.

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