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

 

Introducing my Roadie

My other wife aka the MTB, got the exposure that she needed, meanwhile the overlooked beauty prodded me to be put on this blog. So, introducing here and now, the fast, light, fickle, slick tyre beauty:

20181104_102055

The lighter but faster touring Roadie.

This is several kilograms ( kgs. ) lighter than my MTB, but it’s just as fickle if stretched or fiddled with. The MTB can take our typical roads, smooth as butter in one stretch and then absolute mayhem in another. This one doesn’t cut it. On one of my 400 km. runs, it gave up on the way back, a cup in the hub that houses the ball bearings gave up. Today, it’s rear tyre burst and took the tube with it too. I had to drag it and myself for 20 odd kilometres with the no-rules traffic zipping by on the highway. Luckily, this was just a photo op run and I decided to limit myself to within 50 km. of my residence. If I had gone on further, I may have had to haul it over a lot many miles ( or kilometres ).

The roadie suffers from several shortcomings when touring in the Indian subcontinent. It has no suspension and the potholes here can be brutal. Then there are the uneven bumps on the better roads too, which can jar a rider if travelling at a good speed. To be honest, roads are now much better than a decade back, but still a no go for a roadie with slick tires. On the plus side if it gets a smooth as butter stretch it can clock 40 kmph.* with ease. 

*kmph. — kilometres per hour

When I had purchased it, it was a fixed gear roadie. It’s tyres are 27 x 1 1/4″ and the frame is steel. Worked on it and have added 21 gears to it, adding gears is not so easy as it seems, more of this later. The gear freewheel is non indexed and has thumb friction shifters. Have replaced the front and back mudguards with self made cardboard ones, they look a bit crude, but are much lighter and do the job of keeping the dirt in. The pedals are Keo compatible clipless type and I have shoes that lock into them. These pedals are comfortable on the long hauls but can be demanding when negotiating the chaotic Indian city/town traffic. A lot of practice is required before they can be used on our roads. Saddle post was replaced and a cushion seat cover added. Other accessories like a rear view mirror, front basket and a front light with an odometer were put in later, making it a short touring bike. 

Am trying to replace it’s tire frame with lighter alloy stuff but 27 inch wheel frames are rare and am considering fitting in alloy 700 cc wheels. I may replace the transmission with a freehub/cassette combination and compatible shifters. But, this is still in the planning stage. All in all, have travelled a lot on this bike and it has served me well on my shorter runs. That finishes the intro of my Roadie beauty. Keep checking back for more of my travel tips and tours!