Bundi Proposal

September 2008
Bundi, Rajasthan

The architecture of Rajasthan is well-known and appreciated world-wide, primarily on account of its palaces and forts. The better known examples are in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, which are visited an enjoyed by tourists in great number from all over the world. However, very few people are aware of the city of Bundi, which is perhaps the finest example of medieval architectue in Rajasthan.

Bundi is a historic town with a very special character and quality. The medieval urban and social fabric is still intact to a large extent, giving the town a distinctive position among the many historic towns of Rajasthan. There are several palaces in Bundi, but the main palace, called Taragarh, situated on a hill overlooking the city, is an outstanding monument, being an example of medieval Rajput architecture in its most vigorous and beautiful expression.

Several parts of the palace contain frescoes, in a good condition, belonging to the celebrated Bundi School of miniature painting.

It is not a mere chance that this remarkable school of painting flourished in Bundi. There is clearly something special about the environmental quality here. The light, the air, water and soil, combine to produce a fertile matrix for beauty to emerge.It is this blending of the elements that has also produced the architecture, best exemplified in Taragarh Palace.

The palace is not lived in at present. It is in a state of disrepair, only visited occasionally by a few tourists and serious students of architecture. It is possible to restore it sensitively to a habitable condition, and put it to semi- public use.

The present proposal is to convert the palace to an international art centre with some residential facilities for visiting artists and scholars. True connoisseurs of art and architecture from any part of the world will appreciate the value of this remarkable archiectural monument. Once restored to its original artistic intent, the palace could become one of the most beautiful venues for artistic performances and productions to be found anywhere in the world.

It is important that the task of restoration is undertaken by the most skilled experts in the field.

The financial resourses for this exercise are best collected by philanthropic endeavor, so that the Bundi royal family is not burdened with any liability, and there is no pressure for commercial benefit by turning the palace into a hotel, as is the case with other palaces in Rajasthan. Taragarh palace should be treated exclusively as a work of art to enjoyed by a discerning public and to be treasured over generations by connoisseurs of art. By promoting this proposal the Bundi royal family can secure its place in history.

The activity of architectural restoration of the palace would also lead to a revival of the medieval crafts, which exist in the city in a neglected condition. It is also likely to set in motion a process of conservation/ restoration of the city and its other palaces and 'havelis' (traditional extended- family dwellings), as well as revival of the traditional water supply system of the town built with remarkable ingenuity using a series of lakes connected to 'baoris' (step wells) set within the urban fabric.

Bundi city and its region has been the subject of serious study by concervation architects and the Indian National Trust for Architectural Heritage (INTACH) for a projeceted revitalization of the built heritage. These studies could be convinced into action with the Taragarh project becoming the catalyst, thus benefiting the entire population of this historic city.