The Plan – 29th December 2017
A new year without a story to tell is as good as a dish without salt: bland, dull, uninteresting. The excitement of welcoming a new year with the same zeal just dies down.
Our new year’s eve plan was heading in the same direction.
With multiple destinations on our list being struck off due to several reasons (read: unfavorable weather conditions, exorbitant hotel rates etc.) we were squandering for a place to escape the cold and f(sm)og engulfing Delhi.
My sister talked highly about an offbeat and unheard tourist spot frequented by foreigners rather than locals. She suggested we couple it with a nearby world heritage site and make it a memorable trip. The suggestion was met with enthusiasm from all corners barring one who thought “temple hopping” on new year’s was quaint to say the least. But I somehow knew that the trip would be memorable.
With very less time to plan, I got on with chalking out a rough itinerary for our two days on the road which included night stay alongwith ticking off all the temples/forts which the place(s) had to offer.
Surprisingly, we faced no hiccups in finalizing and booking hotels for our stay.
The Journey – 30th December 2017
We started from Delhi at around 0600hrs and were expecting to find some fog on the way.
The fog tried to play havoc with the schedule but was not enough to drown our spirits, until our stash of munchies and snacks lasted, that is.
We decided to make a stop before the Gwalior-Jhansi stretch and tame the beast rumbling in our stomachs. It was a decent dhaba with sarson (mustard) fields at the back stretching for miles. While the food was being prepared we had a small photo session with me trying desperately to shake off the tag of ‘least photogenic person in the group’ and failing miserably at it.
The aloo-pyaaz parathas with dal makhani was filling which was topped with dollops of Amul butter which were gladly belted. Soon, we were on our way.
The incomplete Gwalior-Jhansi stretch was disappointing considering that it connects two major cities. It was in the same dire condition as a year earlier (mid 2016). We covered the distance of 95kms in 02 hours and noticed a lot of roadside vendors selling jaggery made from local sugarcane (I assume). We took a left onto the Jhansi-Kanpur highway (NH-27), just outside Jhansi, which was a treat to sore eyes. The highway was freshly constructed but our excitement was short-lived as we had to take a connecting road towards Tikamgarh.
Once on that road, we missed a right turn beside a huge fort-in-ruins and realized a couple of kilometers later that we were on the wrong road as the road gave way to loose gravel and then to loose sand. The perplexed look on the village folks faces notwithstanding, we turned back.
DO note that all this time, Google Maps was showing that we were in the right direction!
After confirming with some locals, we hit the correct road. It was a single lane road with on-coming traffic consisting of lorries, tractors etc but we were so focused on reaching the resort that nothing was registering.
To top it all, there was a detour on the main road heading into the town due to a local festival being celebrated and a plethora of villagers had zeored in onto the road. We were made to go through fields along side buses, trucks by the local police.
It was 1500hrs when we finally reached Orchha.
Once we entered Orchha, our flaccid faces lit up when we saw the monuments and the sheer scale of temple in the main square. Unlike other tourist places, people were minding their own business and we drove through the main street unnoticed to our resort which had a view of its own.
Everybody forgot about the ride and was eager to stash their stuff in their rooms so as to explore what the town had to offer.
[To be Contd..]