Dadu Aur Madak

Orchha
We had been hearing some positive comments about Orchha, a village just outside of Jhansi. Often the deciding factor in planning our day's destination is the information available regarding lodging. There was still more than 350 kilometers from Khajuraho to Agra, a distance right on the outside edge of what we like to commit to in a day, especially with the road conditions we had encountered so far in Madhya Pradesh. We are told that the roads in Madhya Pradesh are the subject of jokes in other states in India. If you have experienced the roads in most of India you will understand that this is a scathing indictment. Orchha, and the much larger Jhansi are the only practical places en route for which we had any information about lodging. Lonely Planet described Orchha as having a "...wonderful complex of well-preserved palaces and temples." We found those remarks to be incredibly generous of the folks at Lonely Planet.





As is often the case, some of the most interesting things you might encounter in the course of the day are along the way. Under normal circumstances we end our day regretting having not stopped for that photo you just can't explain to anyone--the donkey with one hoof stuck in a blue plastic sandal, the procession of pilgrims, one of whom is prostrate and rolling down the highway. Having only a short hop of 120 kilometers from Khajuraho to Orchha we were able to indulge ourselves a bit. The water buffalo at left had the mack-daddy of all water buffalo horns. Top right is just one of the temporary Durga shrines that had been constructed in every little village we came across, and bottom right is a typical washday at the river.




It isn't so much that the sights in Orchha are uninteresting, it's just that there seems to have been little effort expended to make the town itself a welcoming experience. The road in deteriorates at the town limits to a cratered and debris strewn mess, that was the site of our third flat tire. Although our hotel was part of Orchha's large palace complex it was a state run affair with a staff that was disinterested at best. The meals there were unremarkable. The towns restaurants were equally unappetizing, with open air seating next to the dusty and diesel infused air of the town's noisy, bumpy roads. At left is a view of part of the palace taken from the courtyard in front of the hotel. The photo at top right was taken from across the river. The shot at bottom right was  from the terrace on the roof of the hotel.

The town also housed this temple complex, but once again, following the spectacle of Khajuraho it showed little to distinguish it. It is a shame though, because the town would really have very little to do to make visiting more pleasurable. There is however the possibility that I am being just a little unfair. After loading both bikes on the morning of departure we discovered the flat tire I mentioned earlier. Since help didn't seem to be forthcoming from the hotel staff, we had to unload both bikes and remove my rear tire and head out two-up in search of a tire walla, with Karen carrying the rear wheel between us. It was an inauspicious start to our last leg to Agra, and may have colored my perception of the overall experience.