Sunsets & A Slice Of Calm In The Town Of Orchha, India
It’s a rare thing to find a slice of tranquility in Northern India. For the most part, this end of the country is hurried, loud, bustling, and in many ways quite an exhausting travel experience. Orchha though, is a small, almost laid-back town, with plenty of 16th century architecture to offer a visitor. Arriving in Orchha with our G Adventures tour group, all of us are ready to relish two days’ respite. First though, we’re off to visit the Orchha Fort complex, which overlooks both the Betwa River and the jungle, from a hilltop.
You’d think that after seeing the Taj Mahal, every other palace, fort, or generally grand building would be less impressive. Nope. The yellow sandstone Orchha Fort is a huge complex that includes a mansion, and is filled with the leftovers of peeling murals and paintings. It takes us a good couple of hours to wander around the whole place, peering out from quaint balconies and turrets into a landscape of trees and temples that spread for miles. It’s a stunning place to explore, and what’s even more astounding is that the three-storey mansion was built by an emperor in honour of his visiting friend, but was used for only one night!
As we leave the complex the sun is beginning to set, so we wander through the dusty town’s streets towards the river, passing by the usual free-roaming goats and cows. As we arrive a group of young children spot us and begin to run forwards, opening and closing their hands whilst chanting, “Money, money!”. It never becomes less awkward or humbling when that happens, and you never stop feeling horrid for not dishing out despite knowing you’re doing the right thing.
Arriving at the riverside, we follow the one single road that enables cars and people to pass across. It’s built with rocks and right in the centre is the perfect spot to capture the orange sunset against the background of the onion-shaped temple domes. As we stand and watch, local kids run and jump into the river, allowing it to sweep them down small rapids between exposed branches and small rocks. It makes me nervous to see them jumping so freely into the deep water, with no parents to be seen. Despite my nerves though, I see the joy and the freedom they enjoy whilst clambering in and out.
As darkness takes over there’s a sense of serenity, that is only disrupted by groups of teenage boys that approach and ask for photographs with Dave on their mobile phones. Given that Dave is over six-foot tall, he’s quite a novelty in this town of mostly short and slim young men.
The rest of our time in Orchha is to be spent wandering markets of fresh fruit and vegetables in the warmth of the December sun, and relaxing by the pool of our hotel, which is by far the most luxurious we’ve stayed in for months given our backpacking status. The rest of the group visit a mosque to witness a Hindu evening ceremony, but numerous early morning starts and long days mean I’m feeling run down, so unfortunately have to miss this activity in favour of catching up on sleep. Still, Orchha has proven to be a beautiful spot that I’d definitely recommend to any travel friends.
Thinking of visiting Northern India and got questions? Drop them in the comments below!