Bundi, India

February 4, 2003
Weather: high of about 75ºF and partly cloudy
Odometer reading: 2,812 km

In Bundi, we stay at the Haveli Katkoun, where a couple from Seattle encouraged us to try. It is a delightful and relaxing place to stay. But Bundi is short on internet facilities and we get behind on our email and web posting. The highlight of our trip to Bundi is the hill fort that is blissfully free of touts and crowds.

Our guidebook has a quote from Rudyard Kipling in 1899: "The Palace of Boondi, even in broad daylight, is such a Palace that men build for themselves in uneasy dreams -- the work of goblins rather than of men." This is the view of the palace from our hotel.
It is a steep but short walk up to the palace where we find the doors locked. "Maharaja brother and sister are fighting," is the reason the caretaker gives for the locked doors. The elephants above the doors were originally cast in bronze.
From the palace courtyard, we get a nice view of the old city.
Leaving the palace, we hike further up the hill to the fort. This is a view looking back to the palace. I have to say it is far better than anything we've seen in Everquest, but here there is no danger of sarnaks.
It isn't entirely clear if we are allowed to explore in the fort, but in the absence of anyone to ask, we assume that we are welcome. We creep in the door and explore the silent fort. This is one of our favorite experiences in India.
There are fabulous marble floors, murals, and incredible stonework. And not another tourist anywhere. We climb up to the roof battlements. We creep through the dark passages down to the protected access to the well. It is thrilling and beautiful.
Outside the fort is a large banyan tree full of monkeys. We stand under the tree and listen to the sounds of 30 monkey mouths munching leaves all around us. They jump and swing and play and quarrel. And they ignore us for the most part. A well-dressed Indian family comes by and throws stones at the monkeys and chases half of them away and gets the remaining ones very agitated. We ask why, and they say it is to defend themselves.
We sit under the tree after the tourist family leaves and watch as the monkeys come back to the tree and continue their frolicing. This baby monkey is as interested in us as we are in him.

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