Travelling in Madhya Pradesh (see our Madhya Pradesh guide) is possibly one of the pleasantest experiences affordable for the tourist in India. The roads are a dream, the people hospitable, and the lodging and transport facilities absolutely godsent. Orchha was no different. But that said, Orchha is a destination that will always counter expectations.
We arrived on a warm winter afternoon, the fog having delayed our morning Shatabdi and put us in a mild state of apprehension regarding our packed itinerary. But what took our breath away was how, with the clearing of the fog, the spectacular ramparts of the Palace Complex arose out of a decidedly small and sleepy town.
But daylight was fast disappearing and Time (the ruling factor on work trips) was laughing diabolically in our faces. So we decided to head to the Betwa river to catch a glimpse of the lovely chhatris of the Bundela kings reflected in its waters with the sunset.
Heading back to the fort and our MPT lodge within it (called Sheesh Mahal), we realized we had traversed the length of the town in under ten minutes! The lodge itself was a real bargain for the setting, the food and the facilities. Diana pigged on butter chicken and I had some stew as we watched some local troubadours perform in the hotel restaurant-cum-lobby.
And then we happily turned into bed in preparation for an early morning. Of course, the fog didn’t agree with us and morning couldn’t start as early as we had hoped. But we still managed to cover Jehangir mahal, Raj Mahal, Rai Parveen Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple, Ram Taja Temple and Dinman Hardaul’s Palace. Laxminarayan Temple was out of bounds what with Ram Gopal Verma shooting his Ravan, with Abhishek Bachchan, inside!
We lunched at a beautiful terrace eatery aptly called Open Sky where the owner actually refused to give us a bill. ‘Humko sirf khilane mein khushi hai. Meri beti ne banaya hai’, he said, nudging a shy, pretty girl, who was studying for her B.Sc exams.
Leaving Orchha, we knew we’d come back again and bring more people with us. We hope the Orchha Travel Guide captures some of this longing.
The Orchha Travel Guide is now available in bookstores. Here’s a sneak preview: