This extraordinary, partly decaying edifice – described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the work of goblins rather than of men’ – almost seems to grow out of the rock of the hillside it stands on. Though large sections are still closed up and left to the bats, the rooms that are open hold a series of fabulous, fading turquoise-and-gold murals that are the palace’s chief treasure. The palace is best explored with a local guide (₹700 half-day), who will be charged ₹100 to enter.
The palace was constructed during the reign of Rao Raja Ratan Singh (r 1607–31) and added to by his successors. Part of it remained occupied by the Bundi royals until 1948.
If you are going up to Taragarh as well as the palace, get tickets for both at the palace entrance. Once inside the palace’s Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate), climb the stairs to the Ratan Daulat or Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of Public Audience), with a white marble coronation throne. You then pass into the Chhatra Mahal, added by Rao Raja Chhatra Shabji in 1644, with some fine but rather weathered murals. Stairs lead up to the Phool Mahal (1607), the murals of which include an immense royal procession, and then the Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace; also 1607), with Bundi’s very best murals, including a wonderful Chinese-inspired ceiling, divided into petal shapes and decorated with peacocks and Krishnas.