Sunday, August 17, 2014


Day 40 Gwalior To Bhopal

Distance 424 km 
Road condition: Moderate to Bad

Bhopal, the Capital of Madhya Pradesh, comes as a big surprise for people from metros or any developed cities. It is way ahead of it's time - brilliantly planned city with wide roads, express lanes for bus, immaculately functioning signals & people following traffic rules adds more beauty to the city.

The Upper & Lower lakes in Bhopal are very well kept and makes it an ideal place for a perfect evening. Sail, speed boats & ferries are available for hire, cruising on one of them & watching the sunset makes it a great experience.

Be sure to check out the Imposing Taj-ul-Masjid in old city. This is believed to be the largest Mosque in India. The most striking feature of the Mosque is the pillars towering to great heights flaunting brilliant Islamic architecture.

Jama Masjid, built in 1837, continues to impress people with its gold spikes on the domes. It would be a great idea to visit this mosque early in the morning when it is free from all chaos. The lanes that lead to the Masjid would be very crowded later during the day owing to the several hundred shops that have mushroomed around.

Sair Sapata: This amusement park on the other side of the lake is a great place for kids to have a ball. The toy train being the highlight, there are quite a few restaurants to pamper your taste buds. There are plenty of other activities to keep the kids engaged.

Despite all development and buzz there still lingers a dark shadow on Bhopal reminding us of the 'Bhopal Gas Tragedy.' The Union Carbide Factory that stands as a testimony of the tragedy that had befallen on Bhopal. The factory, in ruins today, continues to contaminate the environment and the area is still off-limits.

We checked into Hotel Sarthak in New Market. The rooms are spacious & clean, their service is good. Location of the hotel is brilliant. The food is good. Rooms offer a TV & fridge. They have exclusive car park.

From here we head to Sanchi

Friday, August 15, 2014


Day 27 Shivpuri To Gwalior

Distance: 200 km

Road condition: Average to Bad.
We were advised not to take the Datia route as it was in terrible condition. It was a dry 200 km drive with no food options en route.

Gwalior Ki Shaan
The city of Gwalior was founded in the 8th century by Suraj Sen & named after Saint Gwalipa who cured the king of a deadly disease. Gwalior served as the Capital city for many royal dynasties. The invincible fort dominates the city. The splendid temples & palaces left behind stand as testimony of the Royals.

The massive fort on a cliff, 300 ft above ground level continues to epitomize Hindu architecture. At the foot hill you are greeted by huge Jain statues carved out of the mountain.

Rock Cut Mahavir
The fort complex is home for Man Singh Palace, 11th century Sas Bahu mandir, 9th century Teli Ka Mandir, Gurudwara, Suraj kund and the Scindia School.

For The Bahu 
For The Saas
The splendid Raja Mansingh Palace built in 1508 AD, is a four storeyed monument of which two are underground. This magnificent palace proudly flaunts the glazed iconic blue tiles with varied painting of figures like ducks, humans, peacocks etc. on its exterior wall. In its heyday, the entire palace was beautifully lit up with these tiles, much of it now remains in bits & pieces, telling a tale of the destruction the fort has witnessed.

Teli Ka Mandir: This temple soaring 30 mt in height is of Dravidian style & the carvings are from Indo Aryan period.

Jai Vilas Palace: This neo-classical palace, the residence of the royal family, takes you back in time and showcases the lifestyle of the Maharajas!

Home Of Royals
A section of the palace is converted into a museum exhibiting silver baggi & rath, Persian carpets, armoury, crystalware, paintings, stuffed white tiger skin & other precious artifacts.

The highlight of the museum tour is the Darbar Hall, that houses two Belgium glass cut chandeliers, each weighing 3.5 ton and were hung only after 10 elephants had tested the strength of the roof.

The magnificent chandeliers have made the palace famous and the hall housing the chandeliers is decked up with 560 kg of melted gold.

The dining hall houses a train that carries cigars, wine & champagne, used till date by the Royal family to host lavish dinners.

While in the study room, do catch a glimpse of the vintage kerosene run fans & phonograph.
Made In 1914
Another section of the palace is now converted to a heritage hotel, run by Taj group. If you want to have a real sense of how to live life King size, this palace is a must visit.

Gwalior is a foodies paradise, do try the faluda ice-cream, chaat, Bahadura's laddus made in desi ghee & finish with paan from Rathore at Gandhi market.

From here we head to Bhopal.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Day 26 Orccha To Shivpuri

Distance: 120 km

Road Condition: Very good 4 way lane.

Chhatri In Memory Of Madhav Rao Scindia
Shivpuri, the then summer capital of Scindia rulers, is a small town with great places of interests such as Madhav National Park, George Castle, Chattris & Tatya Tope memorial.

Madhav National Park: It is a great park but sadly almost all wildlife was wiped out due to rampant hunting by the Royal family and their friends. The 20 km drive inside the park hardly yielded in any wildlife sighting. However, it is a bird watcher's paradise. The park is open from sunrise to sunset with no specific safari timings.

Within the park premises is the massive man-made Sakhya Sagar lake, home for marsh crocodiles. The lake has abundant water even during peak summer and is a good place to spot wildlife & birds quenching their thirst. MPTDC operates a boat club offering joyrides.

George Castle: Within the national park stands tall George Castle built by Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia for the King Of England George V. It was built as a rest house for the King during his visit to hunt tigers, it so happened that he shot and killed one on the way and hence never stayed here.

These majestic beasts that were once found in abundance here are now completely wiped out. All to prove machismo of Nawabs, Kings and Britishers. The panoramic view of the national park from atop George Castle is fabulous. The castle is now converted into a museum.

Madhav Rao & Maharani Sakhya Raje Scindia Chhatri: In their memory the Scindia family have built 2 magnanimous Cenotaphs facing each other. These monuments are nothing less than architectural marvels. Especially the one dedicated to Madhav Rao Scindia built with sparkling white marbles is stellar.

The doors are made of silver and the exquisite mural wall paintings are a delight. This place is ideal to spend a quiet evening and watch the sunset.

Truly Royal - Silver Door

Tatya Tope memorial: Betrayed by his friend Man Singh this is where Legendary Tatya Tope's trial was conducted and he was publicly hanged to death by the British Raj for the Revolt of 1857.

Legend Lives On
We checked into Tourist village Shivpuri operated by MPTDC, this is one of the best properties. The property is brilliantly laid-out and the aesthetics are very good. It is at the edge of Madhav national park & shares boundary with Sakhya sagar lake. Resort houses swimming pool, gym, indoor games area & adventure activity zone. Mountain bikes are also available on rent. Food standards are pretty good. The boat club is within the resort premises.

Next destination Gwalior.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Day 23 Khajaraho to Orccha

Distance 200  km

Road Condition: Decent to Good.

True to it's name, Orccha is a hidden jewel of MP, quite literally, there are absolutely no sign boards and we had to stop multiple times to check if we were heading in the right direction despite using Maps. This small town packs a punch and keeps tourists busy for a couple of days.

Orccha is way off the tourist radar, the place offers stunning view of Chattris, river rafting in Betwa, Raja Ram Temple with an astounding story, Laxminarayan Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple, beautifully planned and exquisitely built Fort - housing Jehangir Mahal, Raja Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal.

View Of Orccha From Lakshmi Narayana Temple
Raja Ram Temple: This Palace turned temple has a fascinating story to say. The statue of Lord Rama was brought from Ayodhya to Orccha by Ganesh Kuanwari. The temple still being under construction, the deity was placed in the palace kitchen. Upon completion of the temple they tried to move the idol but in vain. Thus a new temple was built around the idol. This is the only place in India where Lord Ram is worshiped as King.

Palace Turned Temple
Make yourself available here at 8 pm to witness the evening Aarti. The temple premises is buzzing with activities and you can capture sadhus doing what they do best. Camera and leather belts are strictly prohibited inside the temple premises and there are no safe deposit box or cloakrooms.

Chattris: Built along the banks of Betwa river, stands tall the burial place of the Bundela rulers. The narrow passages lead to the first and second storey offering breathtaking view of Orccha. The view of the Chattris from the 'Sunset Point' across Betwa river is stunning.

These monuments are now shelter to vultures. Maintain absolute silence and be sure not to disturb them as they may take flight. This is one of the very few places to get up close view of these critically endangered species. Gates open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, however the tickets have to be purchased from the ticket counter at the fort.

Right next to the Chattris by the river side are 2 monuments left in ruins, one of them seems to be an old Shiva temple. This 3 storeyed building has mysterious stairway leading to the upper floors. The higher the climb the better the view of the river, ruins & Chattris. Do watch out for bats & insects in the dark stairway.

It would be a good idea to visit these monuments early in the morning as plenty of beers bottles left behind suggest trouble mongers could be around after sunset.

Fort: The fort compound is the center of attraction in Orccha, home of magnificent and much talked about Jehangir Mahal built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th Century.

From Jehangir & Raja Mahal you get a breathtaking bird's eye view of Orccha. The mural painting in the palace and the views from Raja Mahal are so mesmerizing that you might lose track of time.

It is a long walk to the exit door which is the only way out and is closed at 5.30 pm. Be mindful of the time otherwise you might end up like us, trapped inside. In a much dramatic way, we had to scream our guts out to draw the attention of other tourists and finally got the authorities to unlock the door and get us out.

Our Gateway To Freedom
Sound and light show takes place here, there are 2 shows - 7.30 pm English & 8.45 pm Hindi. A part of the fort complex 'Sheesh Mahal' is now converted to a heritage hotel, owned and run by MPTDC.

Chaturbhuj Temple: Built upon a massive stone platform stands tall the stunning Chaturbhuj Temple initially built for Lord Ram. Steep steps lead you to the top of the monument and the view of the city is brilliant. You have a panoramic view of Jehangir Mahal, Raja Mahal, Chattris, Ram Raja Temple & Lakshmi narayana Temple.

There was a charming wedding processing going on with guys playing desi music on drums. The mood was electrifying and everyone around felt like they were a part of the Baraat.

Lakshmi Narayana Temple: Make it a point that you visit this temple to see the 2000 year old Mural wall paintings covering spiritual & secular concepts bringing the walls of the temple to life.

The weather gods were very kind to us. As a pleasant relief from the scorching sun, the sky turned gloomy, slight drizzle & strong winds brought down the mercury level drastically. Making the visit around these historic monuments very pleasant.

It was quite thrilling & exciting to drive on the narrow bridge that can accommodate only one heavy vehicle at a time.  A slip here or there you might end up in the bottom of the river. This narrow bridge is the lifeline connecting Orccha & Tekhmargh.

We checked into Bundelkhand Riverside, it is hard to believe this is not a heritage property. This charming property built on the banks of betwa river, takes you back in time. The switchboard, furniture, high rise ceiling with chandeliers, huge mirrors in hallway, beautiful paintings, old photographs, minute attention to detail makes this one of the best properties in Orccha. The rooms do not have TV sets but there is a common TV room. Property is absolute value for money, they provide complimentary breakfast.

Hotel offers swimming pool, open terrace, private entry to the river. The river facing rooms have great sit-out. The management organizes folk musical event in their lawn everyday. The service is outstanding - everybody is helpful and knowledgeable. They always greet you with a smile and exchange pleasantries. They stand as a fine example for hospitality industry.

After spending 3 beautiful days in Orccha, we left for Shivpuri.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Kodak Moments From Orccha

Jehangir Mahal
Imposing Domes
A Section Of Fort Complex
Sharing Center Stage Chaturbhuj & Ram Raja Temple
Cenotaphs Of Royals 
Look Who Is Watching
Eye Catchy! 
Ram Raja Temple
2000 Yr Old Mural Painted Ceiling
Scenes From War
Resting Lord Vishnu
Celebrations Within The Fort
Ruined Remains Of Shiva Temple
Stunning Chattris
Building Nest Little By Little
Best Of Orccha