A quaint town silently sits on the sides of river Betwa in the erstwhile famous Bundelkhand region, expressing through its magnificent but worn out forts, a part of history that it has witnessed, a history that is rich with stories of spiritual beliefs and the legacies of many rulers that ruled this town.
A cool early morning breeze greeted me when I reached Jhansi railway station. From there, I hired an autorickshaw to Orchha. After crossing a small distance within the city, the auto turned to a stretch of road which connects the honks and hustle to the serene. I felt a sense of calm grow inside me as my ride rushed on the empty stretch, as if, the thick roadside greenery rejuvenated by the monsoon rains was sharing its joy with me.
My stay was booked at Amar Mahal, a magnificent hotel sitting right on the river ghat, adorning the aura of the ancient times in the style of its architecture, decor of the rooms and furnishing. The intricate carvings on the walls, chirping of birds in the garden in its center and the sound of flute played by a man in the traditional attire, all of these seemed to be in a perfect harmony with each other and with the stillness of the place. I spent some time sitting in one of the corners absorbing all of it in the company of my dear wife. Bliss!
In the evening, I visited ‘Chattris’ (Cenotaphs), a set of monuments built in the remembrance of various rulers of Orchha. Several such chattris are spread across the course of the river and can be explored through river rafting. On the river bank opposite to the hotel, there is a wildlife sanctuary which promises excellent views and glimpses of deer but my one day schedule could not factor these time consuming activities.
A five minute walk from cenotaphs took me to the forts which are built next to each other almost like a colony. The shattered state of these forts bears a testimony not only to the neglect and apathy of the administrators but in a way it also symbolizes the scars on the soul of a place which once upon a time breathed royalty. From the top, a view of a vast expanse of greenery stretching far and wide in all directions made me realize the might these forts still hold between their walls. How I wished that this ‘might’ be witnessed by the modern artists who scribble starry love messages on the walls of these monuments. Alas!
The heavy monsoon showers around 8 pm drained my plan of experiencing the engaging light and sound show which sublimely makes you traverse through the history of Orchha. However, I spent that time with my wife seated in a dome shaped seating space on the roof of my hotel. The local musicians sang songs and played the tabla, harmonium and flute while the splendid architecture of the hotel glittered in the evening lights. Not the original light and sound show I wished to experience, but fair enough.
Late in the night, I visited the historic Ram Raja temple seeking the blessings of the unique incarnation of Lord Ram, who according to a tale, came to Orchha from Ayodhaya (Uttar Pradesh, India) in an avatar of a baby with the then Rani of Orchha after she spent several days there worshipping Lord Ram and requesting him to appear.
I left early next morning but the one day that I spent in Orchha was very fulfilling. I missed visiting some monuments but my heart felt content and at peace. Isn’t that what travel is all about after all?
- Orchha is about 20 Kms from Jhansi. Jhansi is well connected to Gwalior and Delhi via rail and road. One can also take flight from Delhi to Gwalior.
- Khajuraho, the place with one of the finest art temples in India is about 4 hour journey from Orchha.
- Tourist spots/Experiences that I missed:
- Chaturbhuj Temple
- Laxmi Narayan Temple
- Uth Khana (Camel Shelter)
- River Rafting
- Views/Hiking in the Sanctuary
- Sound and Light show