Along the way between Agra and Khajuraho, there is a small town named Orchha. Few tourists have time for it or are even aware of its existence. After all, it is not easy to compete for attention with the Taj Mahal in Agra and the “erotic” temples in Khajuraho. By the way, these temples are not about “Kama Sutra”; the erotic carvings are only one part of the teachings about something much more spiritual. Just do not ask me to describe the spiritual part. I have forgotten much of that already. I guess I have a long way to go before reaching nirvana.
For those who have a day or two (or even more) to spare, a stay in Orchha can be quite enjoyable. Without hordes of tourists (at least not yet), the locals have not developed the habit of chasing you around to sell souvenirs, offer guided tours, find hotels, etc. You are likely left alone and undisturbed to see the temples or wander in the market. This reminded me of an old T-shirt from Kathmandu — “No souvenir, no rickshaw, no change money…. no problem!”. It is hard say that in Agra.
The palace and temples are quite magnificent, though a bit run down. Without many tourists, there is not enough money to maintain that many palaces and temples. The cows contribute to the problem with their frequent droppings inside these buildings. Watch your steps!
One “selling point” of Orchha is its location by the river. There are many palaces and temples in nearby Rajasthan. But they all are in the desert (except for City Palace and the Lake Palace in Udaipur; they are by the lake or in the middle of it). The view of Orchha palace and temples from the other side of the river is magical at sunrise and sunset. Get your camera ready!
There are two high-end tourist hotel complexes in Orchha. They look somewhat small and empty. Most foreign visitors coming to town are backpackers. Low-end guest houses are more commonplace. I stayed at this guest house right by the market. At 650 rupees/night(US$14) with AC, it was “cheap” (you know what I mean) though not exactly inexpensive. So what? I did not need much.
I took the photo above while sitting in a street-corner restaurant. Its location by the market meant “flies, flies and more flies”. I ate my meal with one hand; the other hand (holding a handkerchief) was busy fanning the flies away. Well, that’s the way it is in India, or anywhere else in the tropics. You will be tuned into it after a while. On this, I remember an old story. In the first few days in the tropics, you get very upset seeing some flies floating in your cup of tea and demand to have another cup. After a few days, you get used to seeing flies in your tea; so you simply scoop out the flies and drink the rest of the tea. Then a while longer, you come to expect seeing flies in your tea; so once again may get very upset, only this time for an opposite reason: “Waiter! What’s wrong today? No flies!” Well, there is so much of this world to see and to experience. A few flies do not matter much, if at all. So, bring out your backpack and get going.