Orchha-The Hidden Gem

Orchha, around 12 kms from the Historic city of Jhansi, is really what the Light and Sound Show at the Fort calls it- the Hidden Gem. Most people who have been there, confess having stumbled on it, accidentally, unless you are the religious type having ready the story of Ram Raja.
So a curiosity fanned by my next-cubicle colleague pushed me to proceed to Orchha for the weekend, from Gwalior where I was for attending a wedding. So with my family, wife and daughter in tow, took Taj Express from Gwalior to Jhansi, which took close to three hours, given the fact it was running behind schedule, not being a Duronto. So we landed up there in Jhansi at around 5 PM, tried to look for a taxi out side the station, which came out to be an impossible task, and finally ended up with an Tempo. The charge seemed little steep, at 250 Rs. but is approved by authorities and the travel is quite comfortable. The turn on the barren, uninhabited land, was quite scenic and beautiful, finally as we touched the town greeted on left by the Fort and by Ram Raja temple on the right.

The town is real small, some houses, several temples and the fort. One thing which covers major part of the village (can’t call it a town) is the three resorts. One is Bundelkhand Riverside, said to be the most luxurious one (did not see that), then The Orchha resort, on the bank of Betwa and MP tourism, Betwa retreat, last two being on either side of road running parallel to the river. We had booked in Betwa retreat, and had gone in anticipating a spacious infrastructure and poor maintenance and management. The surprise was in store for us, the retreat is comprised of cottages, independent rooms, interspersed in the scenic, well maintained greens of the resort. It was almost fairy tale like, beautifully landscaped, and extremely well kept. The staff was good and non-intrusive.

The two best thing about the resort, apart form the well maintained, landscape (included an artificial Chaupal, with a cart) is the vicinity to the River and Chhatris.

While you can walk down any time to chatris, it is important to remember that you need tickets for that which you can get only from the Fort. However, the caretaker can be accommodating and allow you in and even tell you a story on the village.

for some reason, the Chatri of Bundela King Bir Singh, which looks more roman than Indian, stands outside of the compound, still unfinished on account of the death of Jujhar Singh, his son who was supposed to finish it, as he was killed by the Son of the same Man, Jahangir, who was supported by His father, Bir Singh.

The friendship of the the
Akbar rests in Sikandra outside Agra, Bir Singh outside the compound of the clan, why the most glorious end outcast…? The work in the structure is exquisite, and grand, evidence of the resources available to the Bundela Kings and it is hard to understand how come Gwalior became what it did and Orchha could not become what it could have become. When the leaders are so far away from people great kingdoms are doomed. Profit sharing is not a kind way of living, but only way of living. The lowest guy of the food chain, as he uplifts himself, perforce you rise. The Fort is well built, not as huge as Redfort in Delhi or Agra but magnificent by any standard. The fort closes for visitors at 5 PM, so we could only see the light and sound show, good one and see exteriors of jahangir Mahal. Seven thirty the show ends and eight the Ramraja temple, right opposite re-opens, which we dutifully visited. The village town is extremely laid back, with decent food joints, especially one right on the entry of the fort, with a menu long enough to put to shame any hugely marketed set up in Delhi, and all food freshly cooked in you view. We had to make second trip to the fort the following day, to see the inner side of Jahangir Mahal, and the Rai Praveen Mahal, residence of the Mistress of the King of Orchha, who is a part of the folklore, on account of her intelligence and wit, which saved her from Akbar.

There are two shatabdis in the evening for Delhi, one which starts from Bhopal and other is Jhansi’s own. We took the latter and came back all fresh, only one thing missed was bathing in Betwa, hope to be able to do it next time.


One Response to “Orchha-The Hidden Gem”

  1. janetjaizeb Says:

    Your blog reminds me of why I love history. You should consider researching options for writing for Social Studies text books. My e-mail address is jaizeb@msn,com.

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