‘It was like being Alice-in-India.’ Artist Natasha Kumar on Bundi, Rajasthan

The light, dust, colours and street life mean this town is as artistically inspiring as St Ives is to other painters

I heard about the step wells of Bundi, in southern Rajasthan, about 10 years ago. I was travelling in the Thar desert, which divides India and Pakistan, and in that landscape of scorching heat, the idea of exploring damp, shadowy caverns of possibly bottomless dark water was tempting.

The first place I stayed at was Bundi Vilas, a family-run boutique hotel built into the walls of the crumbling Bundi Palace. Mr Sharma, who could have inspired Dev Patel’s character in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, had been left in charge by his brother. He had the keys to the palace, and when he learned I was an artist, he insisted on giving me a tour, not just of the standard rooms, but of areas forbidden to the public too.

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