Had a nice sleep then headed off to find breakfast. Ended up grazing, starting with some tangy samosas from a cart, then came across an alu tikki seller, which were served with chickpea curry and chutney. Merrill had trouble explaining she didn’t want the curry and sauces but to no avail. Walked through some cute alley ways full of cows, people going about their morning chores and kids off to school. Followed some drumming up one lane to a ceremony of some kind, perhaps some pre wedding ritual. This was all taking place in front of their house, with everyone dressed up. The road curved back around to the main street, where we watched a crazy guy throwing rocks at everyone to the amusement of the local children. Entered the old town through a decorated gate, which opened out to the vegetable market and the first of Bundi’s stepwells., which was more of a step-toilet or garbage dump. On the other side of the market is the bigger stepwell, the Rani ki Baori, a beautifully carved deep step well inhabited by bats clinging to the walls, and pigeons and parrots. Sat for a while in the pretty garden that surrounded the well watching the birds and squirrels. Outside the walls was a mirch pakora stand, which brought back memories of our last trip to Rajasthan. Sweets followed at a Bikaner sweets shop opposite. Wandered through to the hotel via the Muslim quarter, where we organized a driver for Udaipur for 4000Rs, not sure at this stage if we were ripped off or transport costs have gone up. Vegged out on the rooftop garden of our hotel eating sweets, then walked around the lake with its abundant bird life and cheeky brat kids, before a nice dinner by candlelight at the rooftop restaurant of the Taragarh Palace hotel. Nice friendly people and seemed like a nice hotel for next time.
Nice brekky at hotel of puris and sabzi, helping an American woman with the food choices and then again with negotiating the best option for the Metro. Walked to Rajendra Place station which was nearer than Karol Bagh despite what the auto drivers said, caught train to Chandni Chowk (love the Metro!) and walked up the Chowk to the market area of Khare Baoli which was bustling with shoppers and labourers unloading carts. Followed all the way by a one legged guide, no idea what he wanted if he wanted anything at all. In the spice market we saw numerous nut and dried fruit stalls, hundreds of sacks and trolleys and an amazing and pungent chilli market in an old haveli. Back along Chandni Chowk to our old favourite samosa and jalebi stall, by this time very crowded. Walked down alley to Metro and caught train to National Stadium, and then it was a bit of a walk along Lodi Rd through a busy local bus station that doubled as a camp ground to Humayun’s tomb. The tomb (a pricy 750Rs, students free) was excellent, a beautiful building that in many ways is more interesting than the Taj. Got a really cool fun auto driver to take us to Prajati Maidan station which is on the Karol Bagh line. Tracked down a money changer in money changer street (Saraswati Marg?) via an intermediary and then had a delicious dinner, with lots of paneer tikka and a great thali at the Punjab Sweet Corner on Ajmal Khan Road. Wandered around Karol Bagh a bit longer before back to the hotel to pack for the train. Had a nice bottle of Black Label beer in the hotel “loungeroom” then got the hotel car to Hazrat Nizamuddin station for our train to Bundi (Dehradun express 9020A) at 9.55pm. Although this was a first class carriage it was pretty shabby and there was no food provided, so glad we had our snacks and a meal. Managed to sleep until 6am then stared out the grubby window at India passing by, which is very soothing. Amazed as usual that no matter how remote, or what time it is, there is always someone wandering by or standing in the middle of nowhere. Hopped off to buy water at Sawa Madhupur station, which was busy as it’s the station for Ranthambore NP. Also explained why the palace on Wheels train was at the platform.
Long stop at Kota with the train shunting back and forth for sometime. Had a pig-out here on deliciously spicy bondas and very gingery chai. Arrived Bundi 2 hours late, caught 2 autos for a bumpy ride into town only to get stuck in a mini road block in the narrow streets, which involved a few drivers getting a bit aggro. Checked in at the very nice Hotel Bundi Haveli, a nice white building with views of the lake and fort and a pretty roof garden. Run by a rather mysterious and enigmatic Aussie lady. Rooms were nice but crappy plumbing, no surprise there. Headed off for an epic climb up to the Taragarh fort, armed with our 10 rupee stick for climbing and monkey fighting. Had fun exploring this rather sad abandoned fort, it was obviously a beautiful place once but is now overrun by jungle and a scary monkey tribe. Vegetation grew through collapsed roofs and walls, and faded paintings could still be seen. Headed back down which was harder going than the walk up owing to a very slippery stone ramp. Visited the Bundi palace. on the way down, in much better condition. Some nice murals but some rooms were very smelly from bats. Evaded the obsessive ticket collector and headed back down to our hotel where we had a pricy and very average dinner, the food being the only disappointment with this hotel.