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Archive for February, 2007

Orchha – A delightful palace place

23 February 2007 6 comments

Orchha (MP Tourism proclaims it as a medieval legacy in stone – some pictures here on Flickr) forms a part of the tourist circuit of Khajuraho to the north-west. To the south, we have Bandhavgarh National park, which has the highest density of tigers. There is no railway station in Khajuraho and the nearest major one, Jhansi, is 15km away from Orchha, thus explaining the connection. We takethe 8am deluxe bus (the best in its class) to Orchha from Khajuraho. There are plenty of buses covering the 5hour journey to Jhansi and we get down on the highway to take a shared auto to the village itself at 12.15pm. We have half a day to explore the palaces and the temples in this charm of a village. MP Tourism allows stay at one of the palaces called Sheesh Mahal, a luxury one could choose to enjoy and one I could only dream of now. Just like Khajuraho, we spot a lot of foreigners who seem to like it for its quaintness. The eateries are not expensive as in Khajuraho, a lot of Korean food surprisingly. There are the Lonely Planet recommended ones, mandatory to tourist spots preferred by foreigners. The foreigners seem to spend more time by the Betwa river and in the several palaces.

Orchha is a very small village and we go on the day of Sankranti. A Hindu Sammelan is happening at the entrance to the Raja Rama temple, which happens to be the only temple where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king. This has brought in the crowds from the nearby villages of UP. In Orchha at one end you could be part of the UP signal towers, though you are still in MP. After a quick lunch at the first eatery on the road, we proceed to the Jahangir Mahal, the most imposing structure here. A few eateries boast of the Mahal view. We get a guide with us for taking us through Raja Mahal and Jahangir Mahal opposite each other. Both the palaces are full of people today being Sankranti and a holiday. Raja Mahal is comparatively smaller whereas Jahangir Mahal built for Emperor Jahangir, but never used by him is larger and boasts of amazing views of the village and the Chatris (cenotaphs or memorials) by the river. After the very pleasing sights we experience in Khajuraho, palaces are a refreshing change. We spend a little more than 90 minutes at these two palaces. The fact that we have a guide probably helps us move quickly. We do not walk around the palace at all where we could see the beautiful garden Phool Bagh and the camel yard. We also spot some delightful paintings in the Raja Mahal. We are yet to see the temples and our guide has recommended that we walk to the Laxmi temple for more paintings. It is a little away, about a 15 min walk from the main streets of the village.

We walk through the crowded streets, alive with participants of the Hindu Sammelan which is having a session. One of us is advised by a friendly policeman to be careful about our things. The Raja Ram temple opens only in the evening and so we continue walking to the Laxmi temple. The nice walk up here is less crowded and so we find ourselves having the temple pretty much to us. It is thrilling to walk on the little stairs up the temple and peep from the top as some of us discover. We also see the cute colourful paintings recommended to us. We sit here and relax for some time amidst the cool breeze just like this sadhu and that foreigner . We walk back to Orchha.

The more sight-seeing guys among us continue to Chaturbhuj temple, the second biggest structure in Orchha. The views from here (of the main streets and of Jahangir Mahal) are also amazingly good. After that, we stop by for a sizzler (which is very tasty) in one of the eateries just before the bridge to Jahangir Mahal. Very soon, the auto which we had booked to take us to Jhansi (the land of Rani Laxmibhai) arrives. Our bus back to Indore would start at 8pm from there. Orchha has been a pleasing little stop in our Khajuraho exploration.

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Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

Khajuraho – Celebrating life

13 February 2007 2 comments

During the Pongal break (!), we go to Khajuraho (some pics here) on a study tour 😉 Khajuraho is the best known tourist destination in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The first erotic pictures we see at the Western Group are really very very interesting. A sample here. Having only read about the temples in history books, seeing them is an enlightening experience. Khajuraho is full of foreigners and a lot of the kids call out “Hello”, “Which country from?”, “Money” regularly. It is a surprise to see so many exotic restaurants in the village that is Khajuraho. Khajuraho is difficult to reach as it is so away from the main highways and the roads are a shame around the area in MP. We are a group of 8, which includes one of the French guys Arn on exchange here. All the guides swarm around him, promising several things. There is one particularly nagging guy, who speaks fluent French to the surprise of the rest of us. We spend roughly a day at this place, which speaks volumes about celebrating life. The Western Group is the most popular, being in the middle of the village and having the best temples and the most sensual sculptures. We see the Jain temples in the Eastern group, the Southern group and even a being-excavated ruins, all by cycle. Cycling is the best way to explore Khajuraho, as all the temples are within a radius of 4-5km. We have authentic Italian food at the Mediterraneo restaurant, which is a little pricey but Arn likes it. In the evening, we check out the Sound and Light show at the Western group, describing the history of the place.

I must write about our experiences with the MP Tourism office in Indore, which we approached to seek advice about a Khajuraho trip, as it is our first long trip within the state. MP markets itself as the Heart of Incredible India. The marketing manager there was very friendly and gave us a very big tourist map of the state when we asked him for directions. This has proved to be our biggest reference thereafter. Also, we stayed at the dorm in Hotel Rahil, Khajuraho for a pricely sum of Rs.90/-. The staff at the hotel too were quite friendly too and the stay overnight was pleasant. I must also mention the MP Tourism motels spread through out the state (I have been to Khalghat), which serve quality food.

Here’s a very popular image of a playful couple from Khajuraho.

Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

Lessons from the Metroman

9 February 2007 1 comment

Guest lectures have been intellectually stimulating components of my Bschool life. This evening, we had a rather short talk from the Metroman of India, Dr. Sreedharan, the man behind the Delhi Metro (The Economist has done a piece on him last year). I liked his no-nonsense talk. He emphasised 4 things for a successful person.

  1. Punctuality (He says this is a courtesy to the others)
  2. Integrity (He says it is not only about honesty rather a sense of moral values)
  3. Knowledge (You guys know it…)
  4. Health (which in turn derives from 3 things – a. Balanced Diet b. Ample Sleep, Early-to-bed, early-to-rise c. Character)
Categories: Bschool, Society