Sunday, February 22, 2015

Orchha,Madhya Pradesh

           Orchha is a charming village in Northern Madhya Pradesh besotted with some stunning pieces of architecture.Orchha translates into hidden city. Tucked away in the plains of central India,15km from the city of Jhansi,orchha truly presents a picture of a tiny hidden city what with its glorious structures,cafes serving english,isreali and korean food, souvenir shops and plenty of foreigners.

           I visited Orchha a few days back during my double off.My total journey to and fro from my room was to take up 32 hours and I had a visiting time of 5 hours in Orchha.That too got shortened when my train was late by a couple of hours and I reached Jhansi by 9am.I had a small breakfast and immediately started looking around for share autos to orchaa.An autowallah informed me that share autos to orchha start from the bus stand and he took me there.An auto to Jhansi bus stand takes around 15minutes and Rs10.From there a share auto to orchha takes 40minutes and Rs15.This is a very cheap mode and one can save almost Rs200 compared to engaging an auto.If you are alone with little luggage share auto is the preferred mode.

           I reached orchha at 10am.As I entered the town clinging to the side of the auto I could see the landscape dotted with many ruins here and there.I got down at the last stop and to the left side I saw the entrance to the palace complex.After a quick look at google maps I trudged along the road leading to the palace complex.The right side of the road was lined with souvenir shops and two cafes claiming that they were recommended by Lonely Planet.One of them really is,as in my preparation for the trip I had referred to Lonely Planet and could recall the cafe name.The other one I couldn't recall and maybe I need to check the latest edition.

            I approached the palace complex,passed under the arch and just ahead saw the ticket counter.I took the tickets and entered the complex.There was a man seated at the entrance who greeted me warmly and asked if I wanted a guide,I politely declined and went ahead.I came across a big open ground.I went straight ahead.To my left lay the Sheesh mahal,a palace turned into a hotel.One can stay in it to experience of staying in a palace.Straight ahead lay the splendid Jahangir Mahal. The architecture of the Mahal was different from the kind I was used to seeing with domes and arches all around.This one had umbrella like structures called chhattris all over.As I entered in, I came across a sqaure courtyard with a fountain in the middle.There were four exquisite chhattris on the four sides of the top floor.There was excellent symmetry in the structures here.I climbed up the stairs on one of the sides and strolled around all the four sides.The view is stunning from here.One can see the nearby Chaturbhuj temple,the Laxminarayan temple and the Betwa river from the sides.On one of these sides I met a foreigner.One of the many I would see that day.Jahangir Mahal was built in honor of Mughal King Jahangir sometime in the 1600s.

After I saw the whole mahal to my.heart's content I moved on to the Raja Ram Mahal.This Was to the left of the Jahangir Mahal a little bit ahead.Built in the same 17th century this palace was very plain when compared with the Jahangir Mahal.The exteriors are plain,there aren't any exquisite chhattris.But one thing that stands out are the paintings on the wall.The murals are very beautiful and interesting.There are many hidden stairs here and one has to keep looking for a way to to reach the top.From the top the views are magnificent.Some of best pics I took  are from here.

Next I walked back around the main palace complex,behind the Jahangir Mahal is the Rai Parveen Mahal.Built for a courtesan of the Ruling raja here.This is a very small palace.Nothing interesting here except for a few paintings inside.Other than that there is a small garden outside.Everything is systematic here.The whole garden is divided into the mughal style of four quarters.Here I met a tourist from Switzerland who was fascinated by the whole palace.We talked for a few minutes and since I was in a hurry now I left rather quickly.

Around here are some other ruins which I did not visit as my time was running out.I had a train to catch at 3pm.and It was already 12 30pm.I still had to eat my lunch.I pondered over the possibility of visiting the famous chhattris nearby.I finally came to the result that it was not possible.So I went to one of the cafe, Ram Raja cafe.Here I had a banana Pancake.From here I went to a souvenir shop and bought a few things.Next I went to the other cafe on the road, the Bhola Cafe. Here I ordered kimchi,the korean dish but the cook said it was not possible so I settled on the simple egg fired rice.It was horrible.Anyway after this I immediately started looking for a share auto to take me back to Jhansi.I found one nearby.Took it and reached Jhansi bustsand.From there I took another auto to reach the railway station just in time to catch my train back to Raigarh.

I was very happy with this trip and all my 32 hours journey was worth the 3 hours I spent in Orchha.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hemgir Palace,Hemgir,Orissa

In a remote village of Hemgir lies the Palace of the Zamindars who once ruled the Hemgir Estate.Covering over 900 sq km including large areas of forests,Hemgir Estate was part of the Gangpur State.

While returning from koiligughar falls we stumbled upon this palace while passing through the Hemgir village.I was the first one to spot it,surprised by the distinct looks of the front fa├žade and the small cuboids at the corners.A house featuring an arch made of lions on the front roof in a village was quite unexpected.I urged the others in the group to stop.We got down and after asking the neighbours about the entrance which was,we found out,at the back,we made our way there.

We walked inside a small doorway and to our right there was a small hut which we assumed to be of a caretaker.Even after repeated knocks and shouts nobody came out so we proceed ahead.To the right there were ruins of a small house with very short pillars at the front.The whole house was characteristically short.

Next we went through another doorway to reach a thatched hut which showed signs of life.Satya being an Odiya himself called out in odiya.An old man came out inquiring.We said we were a group of travellers passing by and wished to see the palace.I was expecting a rejection but to my surprise and happiness he lead us to inside the main palace complex.We looked around.From an inscription I found out the palace was built in 1930.This section looked more modern when compared to the first structure which we had seen.The old man explained that that was the older palace which was built much before the 1930s.The best part was that we found an almirah full of documents.I casually looked at some and was excited to see that some of the documents dated to 1930s and 40s. Since these were private property we were a bit hesitant to look at them.

The old man enthusiastically told us about the palace and a few stories.We were grateful for him for his help and his stories.He informed us that the actual owners still come by sometimes to spend some time in the village.Indeed we saw AC in the windows while leaving.It would have been interesting to meet the owners.Later an on online search told me that the present owners were MLAs.Hemgir ascended to India in 1953.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Koilighugar Waterfalls,Orissa

Koilighugar waterfalls is a small but lovely three tiered falls lies near the village of govindpur in the Jharsuguda dist.

           Myself along with my work colleagues made a day trip there a few weeks back.Anil sir,Amol sir,Vinay sir,Naveen sir,dhiren,satya and myself made up the group.We started at 8am and after going through many small villages along the way we reached the waterfalls at around 10am.The villages in these pars of India are very beautiful with small ponds everywhere.
           The kolilighugar falls,well, fall in steps.There is a pathway made along the small stream on which the falls are located on the upstream side.One can walk over it to cross over to the other side.There is an ashram just at the start of the walls and there is a small souvenir shop as well.This was unexpected.The stream upstream of the falls along with the forest surrounding it makes for some beautiful scenery.There were even some beautiful ducks peacefully swimming in it.

            We gingerly descended onto the second tier of the falls and slowly entered the gushing water.It was very chilly and fast.Slowly we got accustomed to the cool water.We spent an hour splashing around in the water and then emerged out only when we were content.The area where the water falls is deep and is excellent for people who know swimming and diving.

            It is a nice little place to chill out.Very good for a day trip.But in my opinion not suitable for families with small kids.

How to reach- My friend Satya saved the route we took from our place near tamnar by using the application 'My tracks'
here is the route map.