Not long ago I spent a few days in one of my new favorite places in India, during a month-long trip in India!
I have traveled to India several times now and have always loved to get away from the crowded big cities for a break in a more rural environment. The cities in India are vibrant and magnificent, but the levels of trouble and overall stress of city life weaken you after a while. So after Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, it was great to get to Orcha and get some real time during the adventure of traveling in India.
The name Orchha actually translates into a "hidden place" that fits well. Geographically and Indian, it is not far from Agra to Orcha, but it feels the world.
The train took me from Agra to Jansi station. It was then a short trip to Orchha. Traffic declined as we left the train station and suddenly there was peace everywhere with the occasional car and the oxen cart on the road.
My driver took me through almost closed roads and across the city, passing through some simple but well-maintained houses, in beautiful Indian shades of blue and green. There were cows, goats, children walking around, casual jars, cyclists and saddles. Life had certainly slowed down at a more vulnerable and relaxed pace. Interesting and ancient ruins were scattered around the area and confined to the side of the road at intervals.
I checked in my beautiful hotel. It has the feeling and style of an old roaming mansion with courtyards, manicured gardens and very spacious rooms with traditional hand-painted details trim ceilings and around light fittings. He had bags of personal and personal and the staff were clearly delighted and well taken care of. I was only impressed by the "massage man" who even came to the door of my room to offer his services for the third time! That was how much trouble in Orchha as a lonely young man who wanted me to join him in his shop after dark! I refused, but I bought some "dirty" Khajuraho playing cards that interest him before I left. It was a pleasure to wander freely on the quiet streets of the hotel grounds to the banks of the Betwa River, where the vultures living in the ruined Shatris – a rare peaceful travel experience in India!
When I got to the river, there were a lot of activities; drying the laundry on the rocks, Sado floating on top of a rock, bathe people and a narrow stone bridge across the river carrying a few cars, water buffalo and motorcyclists. It was a bit difficult to get safely to the other side with a heavy bus coming to you where there is no barrier between you and the water. The rear view across the water in the late afternoon light was worth it – a real highlight of my India trip.
Orchha can sometimes be preoccupied with Hindu pilgrims coming to worship in mixed temples with a few tourists on the way from the temples of Khajuraho or Varanasi. There is a relatively lively main square in the city center next to the brightly painted Ram Raja Temple which was a palace. This is still a practical temple, but there are abandoned structures nearby that you can enter for a small fee and climb for a great view across the city and the surrounding landscape.
So, after two very enjoyable days in Orchha, I was appropriately refreshed and ready to hit the busy streets and ghats in Varanasi while I followed the travel plan to India.