Though not exactly on the tourist trail, Bundi is a fascinating town in Rajasthan. Medieval palaces, a bazaar full of wonders, a charming lake, a garden of ancient cenotaphs, and more than 50 stepwells in and around the city make it well worth visiting.
It is in this environment of fantastical architecture that Rani Ki Ji Baori is crowned the “queen of stepwells.” (“Rani” means “queen” in Hindi, and a baori is a stepwell.) This magnificent tank earns its title both because it was built by a queen and because of its size, scope, and artistry. It is truly a marvel.
Rani Ki Ji Baori was built in 1699 by Rani Nathavati Ji, the younger queen of Rao Raja Anirudh Singh, ruler of Bundi. Rani Nathavati Ji was married to the king, as his second wife, because his first wife was not able to give him an heir. However, after Rani Nathavati Ji gave birth to a son, she was cast aside by the jealous first wife.
She turned her energies to public projects and building stepwells, and Rani Ki Ji Baori is the largest in Bundi. It’s a multi-storied structure, 150-feet deep, covered in intricate and superbly executed carvings.
The stepwell has a narrow entrance, with four pillars joined at the top by slender arches decorated by intricately carved stone brackets. Stone elephants stand in each corner. There are also places of worship on every floor, which is unique in a stepwell.
Know Before You Go
Bundi is located in southeast Rajasthan. It is 206 kilometres from the state capital, Jaipur, and well connected by road. The nearest railway station is at Kota, 36 kilometres away, and the nearest airport is at Jaipur.