Bundi: Architectural Heritage of a Forgotten Rajput Capital

#GS1 #Heritage #Architecture #Culture #History


The Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series titled “Bundi: Architectural Heritage of a Forgotten Rajput Capital” focused on Bundi, Rajasthan.


About Bundi

  • Bundi erstwhile capital of Hada Rajput province known as Hadauti located in south-eastern Rajasthan, is one such place.
  • Bundi is also known as City of stepwalls, blue city and also as Chotti Kashi.
  • In ancient times, the area around Bundi was apparently inhabited by various local tribes, of which the Parihar Tribes, Meena was prominent.
  • Later the region was governed by Rao Deva, who took over Bundi from Jaita Meena in 1242, renaming the surrounding area as Haravati or Haroti.



  • Governed by Rao Deva for two decades, the Hadas of Bundi were the vassals of the Sisodias of Mewar and ruled by the title of Rao until 1569, when Emperor Akbar conferred the title of Rao Raja upon Rao Surjan Singh after the surrender of Ranthambore Fort and his submission.
  • In 1632, Rao Raja Chattar Sal became the ruler, he was one of the most valiant, principled and just kings of Bundi.
  • He built the temple of Keshavarao at Keshoraipatan and Chathra Mahal at Bundi.
  • He became king of Bundi after his grandfather Rao Ratan Singh, as his father Gopinath died while Ratan Singh was still ruling.
  • Rao Chattar Sal died fighting valiantly as the head of his Hada Rajput troopsin the Battle of Samugarh in 1658 along with his youngest son Bharat Singh Rao Bhao Singh, the eldest son of Chhattar Sal succeeded his father to the throne of Bundi.


Post-Mughal Period

  • In 1804 Rao Raja Bishan Singh gave valuable assistance to Colonel Monson in his disastrous retreat before Holkar, in revenge for which the Maratha Empire and Pindaris continually ravaged his state and forced the kingdom to pay tribute up to 1817.
  • Consequently, Bishan Singh made a subsidiary alliance with the British East India Company on 10 February 1818, which brought him under its protection.  
  • He was responsible for the creation of the pleasure palace of Sukh Niwas on the outskirts of Bundi.
  • Maharao Raja Ram Singh grew up to be a much-respected ruler who initiated economic and administrative reforms and established schools for the teaching of Sanskrit.
  • On the throne for 68 years, he was described as a grand specimen of the Rajput gentleman and "the most conservative prince in conservative Rajputana.
  • At the time of the partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their soverignity over the princely states, which were left to decide whether to remain independent or to accede to the newly independent Dominion of India or to Pakistan.
  • The ruler of the state of Bundi decided to accede to India, which later became the Union of India. This brought the internal affairs of Bundi under the control of Delhi.
  • Bundi's last ruler signed the accession to the Indian Union on 7 April 1949.


Important and unique aspects

  • Hoda Rajputs were fierce, fearless warriors often laying down their life at young age, fighting on behalf of their soverign. Owing to this several times a Hoda child ascended the throne of Bundi. Therefore, the role of the royal queen, Diwan and of Dhai ma became very important in royal administrative and political affairs of Bundi.
  • The City of Bundi thus grew outwards Taragarh hill.
  • Garh Mahal became the focus and an imposing landmark on skyline of Bundi was visible from the valley below.
  • Most houses in Bundi have Jharokhas with some screens on upper floors opening on to street, providing light and ventilation.
  • Apart from enabling movement and connectivity, these streets also performed the important role as facades of settlement fabric of walled city.


Darwajas in Bundi can be classified as: -

  • Entrance gateways of Taragarh, the oldest darwajas
  • Four Darwajas of walled city
  • Darwajas of outer city wall
  • Darwajas on principal streets of walled city
  • small darwajas built


Water Architecture

  • Best example of medieval Indian city exhibiting water harvesting methods adopted at settlement level as well as finest examples of water architecture.
  • Location of Baoris and Kunds outside the walled city was also influenced by social considerations as ascess to baoris and kunds were located within walled city was controlled.
  • Bundi was also known as Chotti Kashi owing to presence of over hundred temples within and around the hada capital.
  • Despite being a Vassal State of Mughal empire, Hada rulers not only retained their hindu religious and cultural traditions but escalated their unflinching affiliation to them manifesting it in large number of temples built during four centuries of Hada hegemony. 
  • Temples constructed in early phase of Bundi’s growth were is classical Nagara style, while in later phases new temple typologies emerged from amalgamation of architectural form of traditional haveli with the classical Nagara style.
  • Jain temples formed third type of temple type constructed in an introvert form, integrating typical Jain temple features like serpentine Torna gateways at entrance, large cuboid opaque mass and central courtyard with and Nagara style shikars on its garbhagriha. 
  • A fourth temple type emerged in the form of raised or elevated temple. Absence of monumentality in their scale is a distinctive feature of temples in Bundi. 
  • The diversity in temple forms and liberty exercised in this creation departing from classical, established norms is indicative of freedom and involvement of local communities.


Architectural heritage of Bundi can be classified in six typologies: -


1) Garh (Fort): Taragarh


2) Garh Mahal (Royal Palace): Bhj Mahal

     Chattar Mahal

     Ummed Mahal


3) Baori (Stepwell): Khoj Darwaja ki Baori

       Bhawaldi Baori


4) Kund (Stepped tank): Dhabhai ji ka Kund

     Nagar Kund & Sagar Kund

     Rani Kund


5) Sagar mahal (Lake Palace) :  Moti Mahal

     Sukh Mahal

     Shikar Burj


6) Chhatri (Cenotaph) : Chaurasi

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