After vising Sukh Mahal and 84 Khambon ki Chhatri, I rushed to Taragarh Fort as I was already running out of time. I hired an autorickshaw that left the main road and entered some narrow alleys and got stuck in a traffic jam. I began to grow impatient but after a while I realized that there is a lot to see in these alleys too. That the Bundi rulers were great patrons of art was visible even on these narrow alleys. While passing through the bland, uniform looking lines of buildings, I’d suddenly see ones adorned with bright traditional graffiti. These people have kept the rich heritage intact although the age of its kings and queens is now a thing of the past. Taragarh is a massive Fort with the walls already across a vast hill that is the central feature of this town. However, I will talk about the rest of the fort and other features in a separate post. Today’s post is dedicated to only one section of the palace that is also adjacent to the fort. It is called Chitrashala, the gallery of paintings.
It is a hall of paintings… literally! The rulers of Bundi must have been extreme connoisseurs of finer things. They have dedicated a vast section of only to display some of the finest works of Bundi art. I had a small glimpse of these arts in the other two monuments I visited before. However, even they did not prepare me for what Chitrashala was! Also, it must be be mentioned that this part of the Fort is excellently maintained with a nice, colourful terrace garden. From here the Palace can also be seen on the other side and the actual gallery of paintings is inside the hall and closely guarded by one caretaker. It is fine to look at them and photograph, you are just not supposed to touch them.
Bundi Art was developed as the Kingdom broke away from Mewar in the 16th century. Now Bundi, along with Kota, forms the Hadoti school of Rajput arts which has distinguished itself from other schools such as Bikaner Miniature Arts, Mewar and Marwar schools, etc. through its vibrant and colourful depictions of various mythological and historical events. Krishna Leela, Royal Entourage, Hunting scenes, Battles, Court Scenes… Nothing has been left untouched by them.
The ones I could identify were the Krishna Leela scenes, Krishna holding the Govardhan Parbat, stealing cloths of the gopikas and making marry with them in general. This was probably the most favourite topic among the Bundi artists, followed by Shiva and various stories related to him.
Female figures are also noteworthy. But what is noticeable is the portraits of Mughal women, or at least their attire in certain cases, which shows the close collaboration between different styles and cultures.