Population: 171,227 (in 1901)
Bundi was a princely state in the Rajputana Agency (at present Rajasthan State). Maharao Raja Raghubir Singh, who ruled from 1889-1927, issued the first stamps in 1894.
The stamps were lithographed and imperforate. The number ones were issued on laid paper with gutters between the stamps. The number twos were on wove paper with no gutters between. The latter were issued in sheets of 294, comprising two panes; one of 140 stamps and the other of 154. Later stamps of Bundi were overprinted and were issued by the unified state of Rajasthan (SG 1-14), into which Bundi had been incorporated after independence.
The state of Bundi, largely Hindu, was founded in 1342 and has had an unbroken line of rulership. Its Rajput rulers were said to be “beings forged from flames” of the gods. It is situated in a valley within Rajasthan. It fell under the influence of the Mughal empire in the 1600s and 1700s.
In 1804, the Rao Raja (later Maharao) provided aid to the British in an Anglo Maratha war. The revenge taken by the Maratha empire drove the Rao Raja to seek British protection, and an alliance with the East India Company was signed in 1818. Throughout the period of British influence, Bundi was either studiedly neutral or pro-British. Rulership was stable. Even when minors inherited the throne, as did Ram Singh when he was 11, adulthood provided a long, stable, and productive rule of 68 years (1821–89).
The province grew poppies to be used as opium, largely traded by the British. Two disastrous famines produced starvation and emigration, despite the ruler’s best efforts to mitigate their effects.
Bundi is a place of strong artistic traditions. It is famous for its beautiful wall murals, in both palaces and forts, some dating back to the 1500s. Additionally, there is a lively tradition of beautiful miniature paintings. Local Hindu traditions were honored through stamps; the so called “sacred cow” stamps show the ruler saving the animals from the depredations of the Mughal empire.
In 2011, the population was somewhat over a million. Important present-day industries include agriculture, handicrafts, and tourism.
A fascinating 1958 article in the New Yorker details a visit by a woman reporter to the Maharao Raja of Bundi after its incorporation into India. Her host retained many of the privileges of wealth, including a vast palace with a private night club, noisy peacocks, and well-organized tiger shoots. The Maharao supervised the farming of the 50,000 acres on his estate. Educated at the Mayo “Princes’ College,” in Ajmer, India, he was in many respects a modern man, who cooked as a hobby. Despite his protestations of informality, though, employees bowed deeply to him, and his two children had personal servants. He had two private planes, a passion for flying having been developed while serving in the British army.
The (woman) reporter stayed in a “Mermaid Suite,” which sported a variety of pictures of nude and partially clothed women. Yet, the Maharao’s wife observed purdah (seclusion) and was not seen publicly without a veil and escort. While the reporter was there, the fifteen-year-old daughter bagged her first tiger. In short, the visit was a study in contrasts between new and old.