How's The Serenity...
Trip Start Mar 22, 2009
23Trip End Mar 21, 2010
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Unlike the bustle of Varanasi and the tiny but touristy Khajuraho, Orchha was a sleepy little hamlet as yet untouched by the cynical hard sell of the big city
We discovered a cheap sound and light show was held just near our hotel amongst some of the ancient castles. Arriving promptly at show-time, it turned out we were the only audience members, apart from a few locals who seemed to just be popping in to visit their mates selling the tickets. We chose prime seats and enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining hour of sound and – wait for it – lights! The show was beautifully designed, with what seemed like hundreds of lights scattered throughout many levels of the surrounding temples, castles, walls and various other buildings. A traditional soundtrack accompanied the show, and wove in beautifully with the lights and stories. The show spanned a few hundred years and narrated the history and mythology of the area, with some of the stories performed by voice actors and complemented by excellent sound effects. By the end of the show, Danny and I were left with no other option than to abandon our preconceived (and unfounded) prejudices against sound and light shows, as this was without a doubt a fine piece of entertainment! For anyone who finds themselves in Orchha anytime soon, it was very enjoyable and highly recommendable
The following day we wandered through the market again, intending to visit the local temples, one of which was the only known temple to Rama. The story goes that a few hundred years ago The King and his wife both worshipped different gods, and she wanted everyone to worship her god, Rama. Her husband told her that if her god came to their city he would build him a temple and convert. So the queen went on a pilgrimage to Rama to ask him to come to her city. She came to a river and sat on the banks in prayer for days without eating or drinking, and the locals marvelled at her devotion. Then, in desperation, after days of waiting she hurled herself into the river. At this moment the boy-god Rama appeared and saved her from drowning. She explained her situation to him and he agreed to come back with her, on the condition that she carry him the whole way, and the place where she set him down would be his temple. She agreed, and word was sent ahead that the queen and her god were coming to Orchha. Work began on a huge temple in his honour. Finally the queen and the child-god arrived in Orchha to a huge welcome. The king ushered the queen into the palace, urging her to rest, and so, tired from her long journey, she placed the child on the ground and sat for a moment to catch her breath. But when she rose and attempted to continue to the new temple, Rama would not move. No matter what they tried, the child-god could not be moved from his position in the palace
The temples here were simple but beautiful. The locals went in the morning and at night to pray and give offerings of incense and flowers, and the streets were lined with stalls selling huge woven ropes of flowers all day every day. We acquired a small child during our wandering, who proceeded to trail behind us chanting a few words quietly; sometimes to herself, often to us. We weren’t sure if she was one of the many beggar children we had seen throughout India, although she didn’t seem to be asking for anything. We sat in a park and she stood a few metres away, still chanting and peering at us curiously. We continued walking, trying to ignore her but quietly wondering how far she was from her mother, as she looked only about 3 or 4 years old. After 20 minutes or so, I turned around to her and gestured, telling her to go away, as we were now so far from where we’d started and we didn’t want her to follow us out into the street. She took no notice, but after a few more tries eventually I got her to stop, and Danny and I quickly escaped across the road and out of her sight!
Orchha in its day had been the capital of the Bundelkhand region, a legacy which granted it a rich architectural and historical significance. But still, this was an untapped wonder on our journey which I felt so glad and privileged to have discovered. I could have spent many more days exploring Orchha, but the Taj Mahal was calling so off we set on one last train ride to Agra to experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World...