Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tour to twin cities – Kota and Bundi

A comfortable 150 kilometers journey from Ajmer brought me to Bundi – the desert's undiscovered gem. It seemed as if time had come to a halt as Bundi till date retains its traditional flavour. I saw a young man by the street side, unmindful of the world around him. I stopped to stare. His sporting long moustaches and bright turban made me think that he was a local. I moved on to explore the least explored town of Rajasthan – Bundi.

It was early morning time when I drove into the town. Bundi had not even woken up properly. Most of the shops were unopened, some gradually coming awake with owners raising their shutters, making a creaking sound that disturbed the tranquility flowing within the aura of the town. Signs of life could only be observed around the Bundi Palace.

The view of the Bundi Palace that I caught from the window of the taxi seemed massive. I stepped out the taxi and entered the palace. The interiors of the palace transported me to another age and presented before my eyes another life altogether. Unfortunately, the whole of the palace is not open to the public.

I kick started watching the fascinating murals that adorned the walls, pillars and ceiling of the fort. I was lucky enough to see a room in the palace which usually remains locked. The colours of its walls had faded over the years. Flash photography was prohibited here. Chitra Shala, a portion of the palace, bowled me over with its beauty beyond compare. Traditional murals depicting scenes from Krishna raas-leela, hunting scenes and court life adorned the walls and ceiling of this palace of paintings.

I would have loved spending hours there capturing the beautiful memories in my camera. But I had to reach Kota before nightfall. I had to leave from Bundi without seeing the far famed Taragarh Fort and other places worth seeing. It was approximately a 40 minutes drive from Bundi to its twin city Kota. My overnight stay immersed in sinful luxury at the Umed Bhawan Palace in Kota was memorable.

Kota, the industrial heartland of the rustic desert, is packed with a series of delightful discoveries. Shopping was what I chose to indulge in. I could discover a unique spontaneity attached with the distinctive paintings are calligraphic of Kota. Remarkable shading and a blend of the Rajput with the Mughal style of painting made them a must buy. Thereafter, I laid hands on a unique product of this area, Kota Doria (sari).

Later in the evening, my taxi drove towards the famous Jag Mandir. Amidst Kishore Sagar lake stood Jag Mandir. The beauty of this structure in red sandstone was enhanced by the azure waters of the lake. A boat ride in the lake was the perfect way to end the Kota tour. While walking towards the taxi, I kept on stopping to admire the colourful small houses adorning the streets of Kota. I turned back for one last glimpse and promised myself to come back to this place.

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