Edit Blog Post
Published: January 28th 2008
Orcha is a small town between Jhansi and Khajuraho and has some marvelous palaces and temples.
Although this is a one-street village, some how with the tour we had to spend two nights here and though lovely little town it did feel a bit of an overkill to spend two days though the accommodation we had to stay in was fit for a king with its own grounds including small temple and a large swimming pool and a room with bathroom large than my living room back in England!!
We arrived in Orcha after experiencing our first Indian train journey - 16 hours from Varanasi. Which was actually a very good experience and I have to say an improvement on the British transport system (sorry to be disloyal England). We all ensconced ourselves in our little sleeper bunks and settled in for a long journey. Having been ill with Varanasi Belly a feverish variation of Delhi Belly I actually slept for 15 hours of the journey and woke refreshed in Jhansi and able to cope with another auto rickshaw ride to take us to Orcha.
As said Orcha is a one street town and on the outskirts
of the city, along the river are a group of Hindu temples which have been abandoned and make an interesting outline against the sky but the main attraction of Orcha is the palace-fort complex.
The Palace fort complex of Orcha is a 17th century architects delight and contains three palaces or mahals.
Jahangir Mahal is the most impressive of the three palaces and was built by Bir Singh Deo to honor the Emperor Jahangir's visit to the city. It is a fine example of medieval palace-fort architecture. Much of the impressive structures were built by the Mughals who migrated to India in the 16th century and ruled for 250 years until the takeover by the British.
We spent a morning having a tour and exploring the elaborate arches and architecture of the palaces, which also boast some spectacular views over the surrounding countryside from the rooftops of the palaces or from in front of the previous main entrance to the palace with its elephant guardians.
The square in Orcha provides a place for residents to visit the temple as well as transact business in the open air market and an opportunity for tourists to bargain hard
for trinkets and jewelry.
The Ram Raja Temple is located in the main square and is "perhaps the most important—though unusual—of all the temples in Orcha. This is the only temple in the country where Rama is worshipped as a king—that too in a palace. According to legends, once Lord Rama appeared in a dream to king Madhukar Shah and directed him to build a temple for him. The king followed the instructions given by Rama and brought his idol from Ayodhya, the birthplace of the lord. However, the construction of the temple was not complete when the idol arrived from Ayodhya. So it was kept in the palace for the time being. Later, the king remembered that in the dream Lord Rama had specifically mentioned that his idol could not be removed from the place where it has been originally kept. This led the king to abandon the construction of the temple and instead the palace where the idol was kept was converted into a temple" (information from http://www.indiantraveldestinations.com/india-destinations-tour/orchha.html)
During our stay in Orcha we also took a tour of the local Paper Recycling Factory, which hilariously I misheard as a People Recycling Factory when we were
initially told about the excursion by Chandra! Though as we wandered around the many rooms there was one room where they dyed the papers and the red inky pulp oozing out of one of the presses was reminiscent of a scene out from a horror movie and so People Recycling may have been accurate! The factory is well worth a visit, the staff are eager to see photos of themselves and any purchase from the onsite shop goes some way to supporting their meager 80 Rupees a day salary.
On the evening we visited the home of a local women and her family where we were introduced into the delights of Indian Cooking, the result of the 2 hour demonstration was delicious meal produced from a 2 hob gas stove in her front room. Though we wrote down extensive notes I feel that reproducing the experience back at home will not be anyway near as good and will lack the same ambience.
But the most impressive part of the evening was Mama producing Chapattis with an impressive speed and accuracy. Like miniature car airbags they inflated when put into the flame after cooking on a flat plate and
we all watched mesmerized. Our attempts were clumber some to say the least and yielded small wonky chapattis that were more like old saggy feather pillow than inflatable’s!
Mama was also a dab hand at Indian head massages and we lined up to have our heads rubbed and our hair messed up. If nothing else the coconut oil used proved a great hair conditioner for my now brittle bone dry traveler’s hair. There is nothing nicer that having your hair played with and I did not appear to be the only one with this opinion looking at the expression on Debbie’s face as she under went Mama's treatment.
Orcha is well worth a days stay and is probably often overlooked by tourists seeking out the bigger more famous towns and cities of Agra.
Tot: 1.04s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 15; qc: 106; dbt: 0.0239s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb