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 !

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