Orchha

A town locked in medieval history, in the midst of rocky hills and forests, that is Orchha for you. There are historical forts, temples and ruins everywhere in Orchha. The historical town was established around 8 A.D. but most of the historical structures in existence date from 16th century to the 19th century A.D.. There is a bird sanctuary and river rafting facilities for the adventure seekers. In short Orchha has everything one hopes to see and soak in for a few days of relaxation and adventure.

My bicycle tour to Orchha was memorable and I do want to share pics and vids of my Orchha visit. The lodge where I stayed was clean and had spacious rooms, like most of Orchha lodges and hotels. The hotels range from the budget to the expensive five star ones.

Left image:- Outside Orchha walls, the forest at 6 am., Right image:- Banks of river Betwa

Orchha was and is a religious town, and is known as Ram Raja city where the deity is considered as the de facto ruler of the town. The new Ram Raja temple is right next to the old one offering a striking contrast between the medieval and modern architectures.

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In Order:- The striking contrast between the modern Ram Raja temple domes next to medieval domes of bygone era; the Ram Raja temple entrance.

Orchha has a large cenotaph complex housing the cenotaphs of 15 kings. The oldest is probably the cenotaph of King Madhukar Shah on the right below dated 16th century A.D., the larger complex on the left below houses many such structures.

Cenotaphs on the banks of river Betwa, situated within 300 meters of the Ram Raja temple.

Orchha fort is the major historical attraction and houses several palaces and ruins in a vast area across the river Betwa. The fort is again at a walking distance from the city center.

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In that order:- Medieval bridge connecting Orchha fort to the city, Jahangir palace, Raja palace pictures of the interior courtyards.

Jahangir palace is the later historical palace, ( the earlier one being Raja palace ) in the fort and has a lot of frills in it’s architecture with dazzling elephant sculptures in the support columns. The difference in the style of architectures of Jahangir palace and Raja palace is evident when one gets to go there. Jahangir palace seems to have a lot of Mughal-Turkic influence in it whereas the Raja palace is more Indic. Raja palace precedes Jahangir palace by at least a century.

A quick view video of the fabulous interior of Jahangir palace

The town always had a special place for animals, in it’s heart. Dogs and cows are treated with more care than other towns and cities in the region.

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In that order:- A notice encouraging people to drive carefully, taking care of chilren and animals; a medieval ‘gaushala’ or cowshed probably dating to 16th century A.D.

The journey back to my hometown was uneventful but I did see several historical monuments on the way. One such structure was the Ammargarh fort, in Jhansi district, Moth tehsil, about 80 kilometers from Orchha. It was a bit on the inside from the highway and there seemed to be no way in to go there except through congested village lanes, but I did manage to take a few snaps of it. See below:

Thanks for reading my blogs and do keep coming back to check for more of my bicycle tours !

ओरछा तक की साईकल यात्रा

ओरछा के इतिहास और उसकी गाथाएँ तो मैने सुनी थी परन्तु वहाँ जाने का सुअवसर नहीं मिला था। ओरछा एक रोमाँचक नगर है, जो ११०० फुट की पहड़ी  पर बसा है, इसके चहुँ ओर वनक्षेत्र है और बेतवा नदी का किनारा है। इसका इतिहास बहुत पुराना है, आज भी नगर के भीतर पौरानिक काल के किले, मंदिर और खण्डहर दिखायी देते हैं।

कानपुर से ओरछा की दूरी लगभग २५० कि.मी. है और इसे तय करने के लिये साईकल से दो दिन का समय लगता है जिसमे एक रात का विश्राम भी है।

कानपुर से ओरछा का रास्ता

रास्ता राष्ट्रीय राजमार्ग से होकर जाता है, इसी कारण मैने अपनी रेसिंग साईकल ले जाने का मन बनाया। कालपी के शहर को छोड़ रास्ता बहुत ही आरामदायक रहा। कालपी मे सड़क नाम मात्र की है और वहाँ हमेशा जाम लगा रहता है। मै सुबह करीब ६-७ बजे निकलता था और ४-५ बजे शाम को सड़क से सटे किसी ढ़ाबे मे अपनी यात्रा शेष करता था। दिन भर मे १२०-१३० कि.मी. का रास्ता तय करता था। अपने साथ रात काटने के लिये बेड और कपड़े लत्ते भी लेकर चला था। १६ दिसम्बर, २०१८, सुबह ६ बजे मैने प्रस्थान किया और २० दिसम्बर संध्या को लगभग ६ बजे मै कानपुर वापिस आ गया।

बाँय चित्र ओरई से ओरछा राजमार्ग सुबह ६ बजे का है, और दूसरा ओरछा से १०० कि.मी. दूर एक ढ़ाबे पर खड़ी मेरी साईकल का है।

ओरछा शहर का द्वार भी पुरातन काल का है, और इसके चहुँ ओर एक पुरानिक दीवार भी है जो जगह-जगह से टूटी है। शहर छोटा है और इसकी गलियाँ सकरी हैं। सबसे भव्य पौरानिक भवन ओरछा का किला है, इसके साथ बेतवा नदी के किनारे १५ राजाओं की छतरी है और रामराजा मंदिर है। ओरछा को रामराजा नगर भी कहा जाता है। ओरछा का गुलकंद और पेड़ा भी बहुत स्वादिष्ट है, निम्नलिखित चित्र देखें:

ओरछा मे अनेक धर्मशालाएँ एवं होटल हैं, जो साफ सुथरे हैं। पूरा नगर लगभग ३ कि.मी. के अंदर बसा हुआ है और आप इसका पैदल ही भ्रमण कर सकते हैं।

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क्रमानुसार: ओरछा का नया रामराजा मंदिर परिसर, ओरछा नगर की गलियाँ, राजाओं की छत्री, राजा मधुकर शाह की छत्री।

राजाओं की छत्री बेतवा किनारे स्थित हैं, ओरछा का किला बेतवा नदी के पार है। किले का परिसर बड़े क्षेत्रफल मे फैला हुआ है।

क्रमानुसार: ओरछा किले को जाने का पुरातनकालीन पुल, किले के अंदर मुख्य द्वार, जहाँगीर महल एवं महल के स्तम्भों पर सुंदर हाथी बने हुए।

एक दिन भ्रमण के बाद मैं १९ दिसम्बर को सुबह ६:३० बजे कानपुर के लिए चल दिया।  निम्नअंकित चित्रों मे पहिला मेरा है और दूसरा ओरछा के बाहर वन क्षेत्र का है।

वापिसी ठीक-ठाक रही, केवल कालपी मे कुछ परिश्रम करना पड़ा, कानपुर से ६० कि.मी. दूर से ही सड़क यातायात बहुत अधिक हो गया और कानपुर के भीतर वही यातायात की मारा-मारी रही। यहाँ मै यह कहना चाहूँगा कि हमारे शहरों का यातायात बहुत अनियंत्रित और असुरक्षित होता जा रहा है। ऐसे मे साईकल चलाने वालों को विशेष सावधानी बरतनी चाहिये।

 इति।

Journey to Orchha

Orchha* is a historical town locked in medieval time. It’s a goldmine for those interested in history and adventure. It was on my radar for long but somehow the journey never came to be. It was time to settle this.

The jouney to Orchha took me two days on my modified roadie, with a night halt in between. The return leg was similar. Stoppage in Orchha was for a day. The total distance covered was approximately 500 kilometers. Orchha is in the state of Madhya Pradesh, so as far as I am concerned it was an interstate trip, my state being Uttar Pradesh.

Kanpur to Orchha route

Road traffic along the whole route is heavy, except for the last 20 kilometere leg to Orchha town. The route is quite good for a roadie run except for a very rough patch in and through a town called Kalpi. Kalpi is a dusty town and the road here has craters that can break a heavy vehicle’s axle. The entry/exit to Kalpi is via narrow bridges on the river Betwa and this causes frequent traffic jams. Had to dismount on the return leg and walk through the town.

20181217_062853Foggy winter morning ( 6 am ) on the route, near Orai, 120 km. from Orchha.

20181217_083954My roadie all laden up with gear, 100 km. from Orchha.

Lodging and food on the journey to Orchha was in roadside dhabas ( trucker stop restraunts ). Most of these are situated far away from congested towns and are very convenient for cyclists. As for me dhabas always were a major attraction as the fresh clean air of the countryside never failed to rejuvenate me.

20181217_090442A typical roadside dhaba, the food is tasty and reasonably priced, about 100 km. from Orchha.

Near Orchha the terrain becomes hilly with a few uphill/downhill gradients. The town is surrounded by forests although most of these are now rapidly being encroached by human settlements.

The town itself is full of historical relics and one gets a sense of being locked in time here. The culture here hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

20181217_160523Orchha gate, the entry to the town.

The town gate was probably part of a historical fortified structure built to guard it. In Orchha there are historical ruins and structures dating from 16th to 19th century A.D., with the Orchha fort being the major historical attraction. Besides the fort, there is the cenotaph complex next to the river Betwa and the Ram Raja temple.

The town itself is small and all the historical monuments are situated within walking distance. The lodges and hotels are budget oriented. The Ram Raja temple has a plethora of sweet shops and restraunts. Mouth watering peda** and kalakand adorn the sweet shops next to the temple.

20181217_175216Orchha kalakand sweet.

My stay was in a budget hotel, next to the temple landmark of Orchha. The rooms were spacious and clean with hot piped water, which was a welcome relief from bathing with cold water in my dhaba lodgings. Winter temperatures can reach around 2-5 degree Celsius here but it gets hot in the afternoon.

20181219_062344The roadie parked next to my room at a lodge in Orchha.

The return leg from Orchha started around 6:30 am, and I was heavily decked up to face the morning winter chill.

20181219_064523 Yours truly getting ready to start off the return leg.

There was a gear malfunction on the return leg with low tire pressure issues along the way. But this was sorted out as I was carrying a full bike repair kit alongwith replacements.

The route from Kanpur to Orchha and back, has quite a few long arching highway flyovers but there are level byways alongside these. These byways are something of a boon for cyclists like me as huffing and puffing up the flyover inclines alogside speeding heavy truck traffic is not something to be relished. Further, most of these byways are almost empty of any traffic which is something a cyclist would enjoy. However, not all of these byways connect right up to the bridge end, with a few coming to an abrupt end halfway across the flyovers. One has to be careful in making the byway route selection.

20181220_143150

Byway alongside a highway bridge. 

That is it for the very enjoyable bike trip to Orchha. If you would want to see more about Orchha and it’s historical structures, do visit my other blog specifically for videos and pics on these.

Journey date:- 16th to 20th December, 2018.

*Orchha

**peda sweet

 

Cars and Climate Change

The term ‘climate change‘ is parodied around by current global media outlets at a mind boggling rate. It’s become so frequent that it mostly bounces off the collective mindsets of commoners like me. However, it does affect the lives of billions of people on our planet. The issue is that we can’t link this up to our individual scale of existence and often pass it up. 

What is climate change ? To a layman like me it’s the mother term encompassing global warming*, CO₂ emissions**, air pollution and other such ills. Climate change extends over a longer period of time. Its the climate, dummy ! Not weather. It means disruptions in climate patterns caused by human factors such as CO₂ emissions.

So, here we go :- CO₂ emissions cause Global Warming and this leads to Climate Change. These are all intertwined together in a death like grip.

I would dare say that a lot of people make a living by foisting climate change and related issues on international forums. This is not bad per se, but action at the ground level remains woefully short of promises. One wishes otherwise, rather than the same old meaningless and drab summits with people vying for media photo ops. 

What is the trigger for this rant of mine ? I have plenty of beef spinach in this. Go vegan ! For starters I am very sensitive to vehicle emissions and to add to my woes, my nose can smell out the difference between clean and polluted air. That’s what our noses are for, isn’t it ? My troubles started during the nineteen eighties when I was a teenager living in various North Indian metro cities, but mostly New Delhi .  I remember going down with severe allergy symptoms almost regularly, usually worsening further into full blown severe cold and cough. Of late I have discovered that this was due to increasing levels of vehicular and industrial air pollution particularly from coal fired thermal plants which releases CO₂ and other harmful elements into the air. 

There is data to support this :- https://knoema.com/atlas/embed/India/CO2-emissions-per-capita

The CO₂ emission data is now quantified in terms of per capita, and you can see from the chart in the link above that the per capita emission zooms off after 1978-79, with every Indian contributing nearly 2 tonnes of CO₂ emission as of 2016.

To cut a long story short, most of my life was spent in dealing with allergy and cold issues, till I discovered Ayurveda*** in Kanpur, my present city of residence. It wasn’t hard to link my condition to air pollution. By this time Air Quality Index statistics are available online for most of our Indian metros. We are now regularly crossing the hazardous air limit indices in metros of North India, with the rest of the country averaging poor or below average air quality.   Here is the latest addition to my cluttered room :- 

 

testAn air filter used with the filter already blackened after a few hours of usage. Seems like carbon soot formation on the filter, not sure. My city has air pollution levels that are well above the norm.

Air pollution to me then, is what ties us as individuals to climate change. Air pollution in my part of the world is mostly due to transport emissions, since industrialisation here is not significant. Thanks to our corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, business and industry growth remains stunted in India. The result is that heavy industries which pump major pollutants into the air are few. For once we can credit our babus ( a term used here for bureaucrats ) to keep some pollution in check.

There are no large industrial units near my city, but we do have millions of vehicles plying our roads on a daily basis. Regarding other modes of transport, we don’t have a heavy duty airport nearby, and most of our railroad traffic runs on electrified power lines. So, I am going to narrow this down further to road transportation.

That brings us to the revised contribution chain in the context of my region, Road Transport pollution –> Air pollution –> CO₂ emissions –> Global Warming –> Climate Change i.e. road transport contributes to air pollution and that contributes to CO₂ emissions and so on.

Transportation is a major source of air pollution as well as that of climate change. This has been stated by environment agencies around the globe.****

Coming back to climate change, a major cause — global warming, results in rapid ice cap melting around the Poles, consequently rising sea levels threaten vulnerable sea island nations like Maldives and sea delta inundated ones like Bangladesh. Climate change has also impacted agriculture globally.^ There are national level data sets available online to study this impact.

The solution is to go green, reduce our carbon footprint^^ and chose lifestyles that lessen this downward spiral of worsening climate change. As for me, I have started shunning petrol/diesel driven cars/SUV’s as much as possible, with my multi terrain bicycle being a constant companion and a major source of transport. The influx of battery driven electric rickshaws here has been a welcome change and I often use these to move around. 

My best guess is this, if each one of us does make a modest effort in cutting back our carbon footprint, we will be making life much easier for ourselves and for our future generations. 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

*Global Warming :- Gas emissions like that of CO₂ act like a blanket, trapping heat in the atmosphere contributing to a rise in global temperatures.

**CO₂ emissions :-  Happen from burning oil, coal and gas for energy use. 

***Ayrurveda :- An Indian medicine system that lays emphasis on diet, healthy living and medicines derived mostly from herbs and plants.

**** Carbon Pollution from Transportation :-  https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/carbon-pollution-transportation via @EPA

^https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_and_agriculture

^^Carbon footprint :- The sum total of Carbon emissions caused by our individual activity.

अंडमान — धर्ती पर स्वर्ग

अंग्रेज़ शासकों की क्रूरता इतिहास के पन्नों मे समा गयी है — यह वाक्य अतीत के पन्नों मे से होकर अंडमान द्वीप के पोर्ट ब्लेयर स्थित सेल्युलर जेल मे जैसे झूठा सा हो जाता है। अगर आप अंडमान-निकोबार ( संक्षेप मे अंडमान ) के रमणीय टापूओं को पर्यटन की दृष्टि से देखें, तो यह कहना अनुचित न होगा कि अंडमान भारत का एक अनमोल मोती है। सामरिक सुरक्षा की दृष्टि से भी अंडमान का महत्व बहुत बड़ा है। पिछ्ले वर्ष समुद्री गोताखोरी के सिलसिले मे मुझे अंडमान घूमने का अवसर मिला था।

अंडमान द्वीप समूह केंद्र शासित प्रदेश है और इसकी राजधानी पोर्ट ब्लेयर किसी आधुनिक नगर से कम नही है। अंडमान द्वीप पहुँचने के लिये भार्तीय महासमूह से सागर अथवा हवाई रास्ते से होकर आया जा सकता है। पोर्ट ब्लेयर का वीर सावरकर हवाई अड्डा अंडमान का एकमात्र हवाई अड्डा है।

IMG_20170406_104036                                         हवाई यात्रा — अंडमान आते वक्त दीपों का सुंदर दृश्य

अंडमान मे कई एक टापू हैं। यहाँ कई वन जनजातियाँ भी हैं जो सैकड़ों वर्षों से यहाँ निवास कर रहीं हैं। इन आदिवासियों को सरकारी संरक्षण प्राप्त है जैसे की सेंटिनेल, ओंगोनेल और जरावा जन जातियाँ। अंडमान की राजधानी पोर्ट ब्लेयर मे सेल्युलर जेल काला पानी के भयावह इतिहास को एक बार फिर सजीव कर देता है।

IMG_20170412_161211                                                       सेल्युलर जेल के अंदर का दृश्य

सेल्युलर जेल अवशय देखें और अपने वीर स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों के बलिदान को नमन करें। पोर्ट ब्लेयर के निकट चिड़िया टापू है, जो वन जीव अभ्यारण भी है, इसके अलावा पोर्ट ब्लेयर से हवेलोक और नील द्वीपों के लिये आधुनिक नौकायान उप्लब्ध हैं। यह फीनिक्स बंदरगाह से नीयमित समय पर इन द्वीपों के लिये प्रस्थान करते हैं।

समुद्री गोताखोरी के लिये हवेलोक टापू मे कई एक प्रक्षिण केंद्र हैं, मैने अपना आरम्भिक गोताखोरी प्रक्षिण यहीं से उत्तीर्ण किया था। इसके अलावा हवेलोक मे समुद्री मोटरबोट सैर, हेलिकोप्टर सैर और वन क्षेत्र का भ्रमण भी किया जा सकता है।

IMG_20170408_061332                            समुद्री गोताखोरी के लिये नाँव पर ओक्सिजेन सिलिंडर चढ़ाये जा रहे हैं

यह मै अवश्य कहना चाहूँगा कि अंडमान आना-जाना और वहाँ ठहरना आपको महँगा पड़ सकता है; अगर आप अकस्मात ही वहाँ जाने की योजना बनायें। २-३ महीने पहिले से अगर आप अपना प्रोग्राम बना ले तो यह बजट मे पूरा हो सकता है।

                               हवेलोक द्वीप के निकट समुद्री गोताखोरी का मेरा एक संक्षिप्त वीडियो

अब और क्या कहुँ ? अगर हो सके तो अंडमान घूमने का प्रोग्राम अवशय बनायें।