When we reached Jhansi it was well past 9PM. We took an auto and he agreed to drop us to Orchha. We were kind of worried about our safety;...


When we reached Jhansi it was well past 9PM. We took an auto and he agreed to drop us to Orchha. We were kind of worried about our safety; I shared my live location with a friend back home. But the auto driver seemed to be good guy and he dropped us near our homestay. The homestay owner - uncle checked us in and we requested if we could get some Aloo Paratha They obliged us with freshly made just for us.

The room was too good for the charge we paid. It had been a long day and thankfully everything had gone well. We slept off fast.


 Day Three

Gunjan had woken up early and been for Yoga on the rooftop. I chose to sleep in for some more time. We started off a bit late in morning. First on the list was Ram Raja Sarkar Palace – Temple. The mobile phones were to be switched off and no photography was allowed. The Ram Raja Sarkar is believed to be the governing authority of this locality.

After the Darshan we went to Chaturbhuj Temple, Jehangir Mahal and Raja Mahal. The Raja mahal has some good frescos which are being conserved. The paintings are depicting scenes from mythology and Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

The day was getting hot and now we were also very hungry. Gunjan recommended a place “Café Nomads” for lunch. We went there and food was delicious. I am somewhat skeptical about online recommendations, but they proved me wrong.

Now we were close to the famous Orchha Chhatris - the cenotaphs. There are 9 Chhatris, out of which six are being maintained and visitors are allowed. Three chhatris were closed out of which one is biggest of all: Raja Veer Singh Dev’s chhatri.

It was around 3PM and we desperately needed a break now. So, we went to the homestay and rested  for some time. Now last one on list was Lakshmi Temple which was less than a kilometer away from 

our homestay. So at 415 PM we again started our odyssey. The Lakshmi Temple is somewhat on a hillock. It is huge structure with outer wall and sanctum sanctorum inside. The idol of Lakshmiji is not big but the temple is functional yet i.e. Puja is performed daily.

The walls from inner side have been painted with several mythological stories along with some of those from certain battles of Indian upsurge of 1857AD against British rule. We spent quiet some quite time here and then the security guard told us it was about closing time, hence we left.

There is a huge Baobab tree which is named as  “Kalpavriksha”  and is also being marketed as  by MPTDC and I have no clue why… We went there just out of curiosity and I couldn’t find any reason to call it a Kalpavriksha – a tree that grants every wish.

We wanted to see the lights of Chhatris from opposite side of the river, however the way was sealed with barbed wire, so we returned to main town of Orccha and went to attend the Aarati at Ram Raja Sarkar Temple at 7 PM.

It was really enchanting to see the faith of so many people in one place. As I mentioned earlier The Ram Raja Sarakar is believed to be the governing authority of this locality, hence every evening before Aarati, a guard of honor is performed by local police.

After Aarati, we did little shopping of glass bangles with some bits and bobs. Then the very delicious gujia found their way in our tummies and in the bags along with few other delicacies.

We returned to the room and requested uncle to oblige us with dinner. Meantime, we packed considering that both of us were to take our separate trains next day to our respective destinations. (Bedding!) Uncle also arranged for an auto to pick us up next day early morning. There was an elderly couple who was staying at same homestay asked if they could join us, we were happy to have them.

For a change, we slept pretty early that night. 


Day Four

We woke up well in time, got ready and auto driver arrived on time. It was pleasantly cold when we drove to Jhansi. We wanted to keep our luggage in the cloak room at the station but they won’t accept because it was not locked. They sent us to some toilet facility at the entrance of the railway station who accepted our big backpacks with some charge. We took an auto to Jhansi fort which is like 3 kms away from the station.

The fort is a small structure on a hill top. The fortification is strong yet and the monument is managed by ASI. We took a walk along with the fortification. The Indian Tricolour was flurrying high on the fort which obviously reminded me why the queen sacrificed herself in the battle.  (Not exactly in the battle but while being chased!) Looking at time, we cut short our trip on the fort and returned to the railway station. Soon after Gunjan left for her next destination and thankfully my train arrived on time.





Few highlights of the trip were:

1) Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are really developing good in all senses.

2) Toilets were really clean no matter where we went. Be it monuments, railway stations or roadside restaurants, anywhere everywhere.

3) All the cell phone services had good coverage again anywhere everywhere. Whilst on our auto ride from Jhansi to Orchha, I shared my live location for about 45 minutes and it did not drop even for 10 seconds.

4) I wore somewhat fancy touristy clothes like shorts and tunics and did not have to face eve teasing even once.

5) No cheating, no extra charge, no unnecessary hi hellos, no pictures without our knowledge, no uncomfortable advances…perfectly safe for ladies!!!

This trip was like meant for some peace of mind to by bringing pieces of mind together! Gunjan love you loads for this trip and beyond!

Fact File:

Pune to Thane: Shivneri 450 Rs.

Thane to CSMT: Ameya dropped us

CSMT to Gwalior:  Rajdhani Express departure 1600 and arrival at Gwalior at 0615.

Gwalior Stay:

Seth Vidhichand Dharamshala 1500 for one night

Room was ok ok types but expensive for charge we paid.

Gwalior intra- city transit:

Hired a bike for 2 days at Rs 500 per day.

Vendor: rent my UFO. Contact: Bunny Bhaiyya: 9669229053

Contact info:

Gwalior to Jhansi

MP State Transport bus: Rs. 150 each

Jhansi to Orchha and back:

Private auto rickshaw: Rs. 300 one way.

Orchha: we went around on foot as everything is well within city limits.

 Lunch at Café Nomads: Aloo Paratha and Curd Rice

Orchha Stay: Rs. 600 per night (two nights) Hotel Sunset 



 It was a cold morning of January when Gunjan messaged and asked if I wanted to join her on a short trip to some parts of Madhya Pradesh. I ...

 It was a cold morning of January when Gunjan messaged and asked if I wanted to join her on a short trip to some parts of Madhya Pradesh. I had just returned from a winter trek in the Himalayas so I took couple of days and then said yes.

We discussed several options and she was also planning to attend a family function at one of the cities. So the rough plan was to one day each at Gwalior, Orchha and Jhansi. We also listed few monuments and made train reservations. It was obvious that I would be returning to Pune, and she would be staying back so we decided to travel together from Mumbai to Gwalior. Thanks to CoViD19, It had been more than a year since we had met last. A lot of catching up was pending.

Couple of days before departure she informed that IRCTC is not providing any bedding and food would be available at extra cost. I was taken aback as we would have to carry the bedding throughout the trip and that was going to add weight to the backpack. 

As decided earlier, I left from Pune on 14 Feb and reached Thane. The Shivneri reached Thane just in time to start for CSMT. So Ameya obliged by driving us all the way to CSMT. We had booked Second AC berths, so comparatively there was less rush in the bogey. We occupied our seats and started chatting which stopped only when somebody came or when we ate. Around 9 PM, we realized that we were the only ones who were blabbering. It was time to sleep. The only worry was getting up in time to get down at Gwalior where we would be reaching at 6 AM. Hence, with couple of alarms in place for 5 AM and 530 AM we slept.  I woke up couple of times in the night only to realize that the train was running ahead of schedule.

Around 615 we alighted at Gwalior. Like a typical Indian railway station, there were autowalas available ready to take us anywhere in the city. We weren’t so keen in travelling anywhere away from station so chose to share a plate of Poha and tea before going to the hotel which we had chosen. 

We had booked at Seth Vidhichand Dharamshala as our abode which is right outside Gwalior Station and is a 2 minute walk. When we reached the reception area, the man at reception was missing for about good 40 minutes. He arrived and we were allotted a tiny room. Tired we took ourselves to the room and slept for couple of hours.

During planning Gunjan had found a bike rental service in Gwalior which we had booked beforehand. Around 9 AM both of us were ready to explore Gwalior. Right outside the gate we found a small hotel which offered us yet another plate of Poha and samosa and eventually we got some coffee. By then the guy at bike rental service had already called us about bike pick up. So we immediately went to pick up the bike.

It was Honda Activa5G. The fuel was about half filled. The formalities were complete under 10 minutes and we were on our way. The first item on our list was Mitaoli - Chausath Yogini Temple which was 35 kms North of Gwalior. We topped the fuel to full tank and rode off. The highways were in good condition. Some 12 kms away I realized that we were in Uttar Pradesh, between Morena and Bhind District.

While growing up, the stories of Late Phoolan Devi and other dacoit filled columns of several newspapers from time to time. Somewhere back of the mind, the tension about getting into any unpleasant situation was present and I did my best to keep it under control. 

 We took a turn on internal road from Malanpur and the condition of road deteriorated with every kilo meter. Best thing was the cell phone coverage was very good throughout the journey. Soon we reached Mitaoli village and a quick hike of 5 minutes we were on the top of the hill which has a small plateau. The Chausath Yogini temple is dedicated to 64 yoginis and the goddess Devi. There is a shrine in the center which houses a big Shivlinga. The temple was constructed in 11th century to provide education of Astrology and mathematics based on sun transitions. It is believed that the current structure of Indian Parliament House is based on this temple. There are 65 chambers which probably housed images of different “Yoginis” however now there are just some with Shivling and few are empty. We spent some good one hour here.

The second stop was Gadhi Padhavli which was about 5 kms from Mitaoli. I hadn’t heard much about it and it looked very intriguing from the parking lot. We entered and were just walking through the walkway; there were idols on both sides. I noticed some Gajalakshmi, Ganesha and few erotic ones.

The Nandi Mandapa is at a height and is accessible through a staircase. There were two lions on each side of the staircase. I didn’t know what was to unfold. We climbed the staircase in no time and the complete picture unfolded… I was spellbound, stunned. I have been to many archaeological sites but the Nandi Mandapa here is something way beyond. Absolutely beautiful! There are 5 sections to the ceiling and each one of them has numerous mythological figures. I am unsure and grateful for that most of them are intact while the entire Shiva Temple is destroyed.  There are few erotic ones as well and then the Yaksha. Different panels telling stories from Puranas and other ancient literature like Bhagawat et all. There was a fellow who showed us the intricacies from the carvings. We paid him 100 rs and went to the fortification on the side. 

The Nandi Mandapa looks beautiful while the empty space of Shiva temple will ache your heart. We came down clicked few beautiful pictures and moved to the third item on our list: Bateshwar group of Temple.

We all should thank ASI Bhopal region's Superintend Archaeologist K.K. Muhammed who restored the site with help of Dacoit Nirbhar Singh Gujjar and his gang.  

Bateshwar will make your brain freeze with its grandeur. There are about 100 temples restored by ASI from mounts of ruins just like a jigsaw puzzle. In one of the interviews that I had watched Shri K. K. Muhammed had mentioned the temples were based on principles of architecture in Sanskrit architectural texts.  I don’t remember the names of the texts.

Bateshwar still has a long way to go when it comes to restoration and I am glad that ASI is relentlessly working on it since 2005. Can’t thank them enough! Please visit Kevin Standage’s blog for photos pre and post restoration.  

We clicked and clicked. Thankfully it was Monday so there were almost no tourists.  We had hardly spoken to each other since we arrived here. Most of the words said were,”get out of my frame.” No number of photos is going to bring any justice to this site.

When I checked the time, we had already spent over an hour here and it had felt like a split second. We were now hungry hence took a quick snacks break in the seating area bang opposite The Vishnu Temple which we chose to skip since we also had to return to Gwalior in day light because first the road conditions and secondly being in a remote area in dark didn’t sound like a safe idea.  Hence we started our returning ride to Gwalior around 330.

On our way back Gunjan was continuously checking the closing times various other destinations in the city. The Surya Mandir – Sun temple aka Birla Temple was closing down at 5, the Tansen Maqbara too at same time, Rani Lakshmibai Samadhi as well. Also that Google wasn’t helpful much because it kept showing temporarily closed on map and different times for closing when we searched. All because of CoViD19!

We took a chance and went to Gwalior Fort. The parking lot was yet filled with many bikes and cars.  Gunjan checked that there was a sound and light show in Hindi at 630. While buying tickets for the show we had a word with the elderly man at the ticket counter. He guided us about the fort and other tickets and also about other destinations on our list. He was curious about where we had come from etc. It was a good chat. 

We hurriedly made our way to Sas Bahu (Sahasrabahu) Temple but the security guard literally shooed us away since we didn’t have ticket. So we had to return to galleria to wait until it was time for Sound and Light Show. The entire city of Gwalior was getting lit by lights and looked very beautiful.

Soon it was time for Sound and Light Show and we were engrossed in the history of Gwalior fort and City. It was not so pleasant but the bike rental guy called us and asked when we were returning the bike and I didn’t know when. I requested him for some more time to call back. We had booked for only one day thinking we would be done. It was clear that Gwalior needed more time. We were to check out of the hotel next day morning as well. This called for a long discussion over permutation and combinations of possibilities.

After leaving from the fort, we made our way back to the hotel. Dumped our backpack in the room and freshened up.

The receptionist told us we could leave our luggage in the cloak room and go around the town and not have to pay for entire room. The autorikshaw drivers seemed uninterested in taking us on a fixed rate to explore other parts of the city for most part of the day. Apart from that main attractions at Gwalior fort still remained unvisited. After accounting for many things, we called the bike rental guy and requested if we could use the bike for another day. He agreed readily just that asked for payment upright which worked perfectly for us.

All set for next day, we went for dinner. The dinner was Masala dosa followed by a good cup of coffee at Indian Coffee House opposite to our hotel. It is a typical south Indian restaurant. Gunjan decided she didn’t want coffee but the masala milk. And the same restaurant where we had breakfast was serving it in the Kulhad. Happy with day one we retired to our room around 930.

As expected Gunjan and I chattered some more and finally slept off around 130.





Day Two:

The day began pretty early for us at 530. Both of us were ready to leave at 715. The restaurant where we had breakfast on the day prior hadn’t opened yet, so we went back to the station entrance and had Poha and coffee. It had started drizzling for no reason. I was worried because of the cold that it brings and additionally riding in rain on an unfamiliar vehicle seemed rather gruesome.

We started our ride to Gwalior fort again. The city roads were all wet and obviously it reduced the speed. After reaching Gwalior fort and we took our first stop at the Jain caves near Urwai gate.

Then at Hathi Pol took our entry ticket for Man Mandir palace which also was valid at Sas Bahu Temple and Teli Ka Mandir. We made our way first to Sas Bahu Temple, because I wanted good pictures in perfect day light. We spent some half an hour here and then headed back to Man Mandir palace.

I guess most part of the Palace is closed for visitors, we didn’t take guide here. The staircases and the hallways and the rooms were absolute maze. It is a three storied structure and if you’re bad with navigation and signs you should take a guide.  After another half an hour we came out of the Maze.

Some part of Gwalior fort is under Madhya Pradesh State Archaeology and there is separate ticket for that. We were not sure if we wanted to go. After reading the list of monuments, we thought we should explore it. There is Jauhar Kund, Bhimsen Rana ki Chhatri, Vikram Mahal and Karna Mahal. We didn’t spent much time here and came out quickly.

It was time for brunch, so we went to MPTDC restaurant. One last and important one on list was Teli Ka Mandir before we would leave the fort. Thankfully we could ride to the Teli ka Mandir. The temple is a tall structure and dates back 8th or 9th century. There are no exact records as to who built it. The carvings are yet again fascinating. We walked around the temple, clicked pictures and left.

We checked Google and Jai Vilas Palace was close by. The palace was built in 1874, a part of which is now a museum. Apart from enormous range of artifacts, The Durbar hall is a glamorous royal place which tells us about the aristocratic lives of Scindias of Gwalior. The crystal fountain and the chandeliers made the visit worth the ticket. 

Our next destination was Rani Lakshmibai Samadhi. I would have never forgiven myself if we would have skipped it. Having grown up listening to valor stories of this queen this was a must visit place. However, upon visit I felt sad because I saw many couples seating and publicly displaying affection and courtship. Elderly people seating there because they had nowhere to go probably. It had become just another place of pastime activities for people.

We rode to the Sun Temple which is a replica of Konark Sun temple and is funded by Birla Family. It was almost 3PM now and Jhansi and Orchha looked far away! Somehow made a tour of Sun Temple and rushed off to hand over the bike back to the guy. Then took an auto to the Station and took our luggage. The bus station is another five minute walk from the Hotel.

The first bus we got in was a private bus which was going somewhere else and they were planning to make us change the bus at Datia. We were not convinced with the idea. Then Gunjan searched for more buses and then we found a government serviced bus which would drop us at Jhansi Bus Station. It was leaving at 6PM, which meant we would be reaching Jhansi around 9 PM and then Orchha looked far away from there. I felt I hadn’t dressed appropriately with a sleeveless one piece or tunic. Then we also realized that throughout the day there hadn’t been a single incident of eve teasing and I wasn’t made to feel uncomfortable in spite of wearing a sleeveless tunic.