Khajuraho & Orchha

Khajuraho is well known for his splendid temples full of carving, particularly those inspirited by the Kama Sutra! The temples are located in different areas: the eastern and southern groups are free to visit whereas the Western Group is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage and therefore require the traditional 250 Rs (~4€) entry fee for foreigner (only 10 Rs for Indians!). The temples are indeed very impressive, the carving being so well detailed and so many!

I spent 2 days there, visiting these temples and enjoying the time with my CS host Shubham, his brother Ravi, some friends of them, and Daniela, a German girl met in the train from Varanasi.

The Couchsurfing experience there was very interesting as Shubham -19 years old student- is living with his sister and their parents in a modest house, his Dad being a farmer renting some fields to sell his production. So a kind of real India life, quite though when you are 4 people sharing a 15 sq room! They are living with the traditional family scheme where the girls are cooking for the boys: so shared breakfast and lunch with the sons, while the sister and the mother were serving us, and eating in another time.

The 2nd October is the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore a day off within all India. After some sightseeing (western and southern temple group close to his place), I joined Shubham and a friend of him to a active Hindu temple (the famous one are more for tourists now), where they prayed and sung within a 20 men group. Here again, the men were praying, while some women were cooking some Dal for lunch.

In the evening, I got amazed by the music and dance performance of Shubham, his friend and the rest of their troupe (ca. 30 people).

After some temples from Easter group, I spent most of the morning with Daniela visiting the impressive Western Group. Daniela is a kind of “hard core” traveler, having visited almost 100 countries already in the last 7 years (among them 1 year studying in South Africa and 2 years working in Australia). She plans to spend the whole 2013 again with a working holiday visa, this time in New Zealand!

I left her in the temple area around 11am because I wanted to take the train at noon for Orchha. I shared a rickshaw to the train with a French girl who is living in the same town and same street than my mother! The world is small! She was already in Orchha on her way from Agra. Asking the driver again, I realized that Jhansi, <20km from Orchha is on the half way between Khajuraho and Agra, my next planed stop. So I went back to Khajuraho, booked a ticket for Jhansi in a travel agency for the same evening, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with Daniela, Ravi, Shubham and their friends.

Arrived a midnight in Jhansi, I took an auto rickshaw to Orchha and spent 1 ½ days there.

Orchha is an impressive small town, less than 10000 inhabitants now, but used to be the capital of the Bundelas rajas in the 16th and 17th centuries, who built many palaces and temples.  Therefore, you got many sites to visit in the countryside! A very appreciable journey, far from the loudness of the big cities! I rent a bike (quite crap, but only 50 Rs) to go from one site to the next. A nice way to go around! In the evening, I met a group of 4 French girls, and we figured out we were in the same guest house! We finished the day playing Uno there!

I spent most the 5th on the roads and rails, going from Jhansi to Agra. I first took the local bus from Orchha to Jhansi 2h before my train (Orchha is only 18km from Jhansi train station). The bus came in Jhansi 30min later, but needed 20min more for the last km to the bus stand, the traffic jam was terrible. I could finally share an auto for the last 5km to the train station, and arrived there only 30min before my scheduled train departure time!

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