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Madhya Pradesh with Alanis Morissette

INDIA | Monday, 27 February 2012 | Views [2459] | Comments [2]

From Gwalior, my next stops would be Madhya Pradesh, further to the south. Arriving at the bus station 1 hour early to ensure a seat, the bus schedules to Jhansi seems to have changed overnight. Calling out "Jhansi, Jhansi", a man directs me to a bus taking off in 30 minutes. As buses are run by local operators competing against each other, it's just possible I spoke to a competitor. I got on the bus anyway, a bit skeptical of this change, but seeing all the empty seats. I made my way into the bus while subtly enquiring my fellow passengers about their destination. At 100km to Jhansi and a little arithmetic, 4 hours seemed excessive. I'll soon find out the bus will drive through villages to pick up extra passengers and small roads to save on toll fees. 

Finally we took off when the bus was full, which didn't stop people from trying to get on. As people who up till that point had been hiding in some bushes rushed out and clambered on board, both inside and outside the bus. We took off in a cloud of black smoke and settled onto the roads at an easy pace, India didn't so much whizzed by as trundled past. Add to this no AC, no suspension and dirt roads did not make a comfortable ride. If you're on a shoestring budget, by all means take the bus. Even if you're not, take a bus anyway, just for the experience. I like my home comforts and still thought the ride was fun! And who knows, you might get the the guy who sat next to me and took my copy of the "The Economist" without even a please (he did give it back to me after the arrived at Jhansi).

Finally we arrived at Jhansi bus station and either people in Jhansi are all a bunch of lying toads or there really are no buses back to Gwalior, Agra or Delhi. I've been advised to go to Jhansi railway station to get a ticket northbound. Jhansi is actually a small town by Indian standards and there was no special provisions for international tourists at the station. It took the best part of 3 hours to work out which trains I needed to get to Agra for my connecting train back to Delhi. Effectingly wasting half a day of sight-seeing.

Sadly, Jhansi has very little to recommend except for Jhansi Fort and Rani Mahal (Queen's Palace). After Gwalior, these pale in comparison. This is probably why Jhansi is described as a stopping off point for Khajuraho. 

The original plan was to go to Khajuraho to see the erotic sculptures, but decided that I can't face a 7 hour bus ride after the previous bus ride, luxury bus or not. So I add another day in Jhansi for a side trip to Orchha, described by travel guides as a small village of 10,000 in Maghya Pradesh. To get to Orchha, I first go to the Jhansi bus station and from there get a shared taxi going to Orchha. Here's a photo of the auto before we took off:

Believe it or not, there's already four passengers in this thing and it's not even half full at this point. Jhani is a place where the concept of a shared auto is taken to extremes. Eventually, we took off and I counted 14 passengers, with me in front on the drivers right, for 20km! I've no idea how it's possible drive with four people in the front. In any case, now I know why dogs stick their heads out of the window. It feels great with wind blowing into your face and hair. Without a doubt dangerous, but 30 minutes of tremendous fun and fear.

Orchha is small enough to wander around on foot and as I walked around the village, I meet a group of boys, calling me over to talk. The boy on the left is Krishna and the one sandwiched between the 2 kids is his elder brother Rabi.

When approached by a strangers, there's a good chance that they see the tourist as a target. This time, I knew they were genuinely curious about the foreigner. Krishna even took me on a 1 hour tour of Orchha, showing me his father's farm, the village, his school, Lakshmi Temple, which was closed and he persuaded the guard to let me in. Orchha also lies on the Betwa River, which Krishna offered to show me as well. Something I had to reluctantly turn down due to the need catch a train. With his school about to start, I was shown the quickest way to the Raja Mahal and we parted ways.

But for Krishna, I would not have been inside the Lakshmi Temple:

The Raj Mahal:

Having spent only 5 hours in Orchha, I wished Orchha had been my base instead of Jhansi. It was time to head back to Jhansi, missing out on a visit to the Raja Ram temple and the scenic river. Here's a picture of the temple to remind me what I've missed out on:

Orchha is a small town and most tourists will visit it as a stop from Jhansi or Khajurao. Having seen the village and experienced the friendliness of the people, it's worth using Orchha as a base for Jhansi instead, or at least spend a full day in Orchha.

Back to Delhi

An uneventful train from Jhansi and I'm on the platform at Agra Cannt, waiting for the train to Delhi. There's a last minute change of platform. With a train already on the new platform, I quickly ran across the bridge and boarded, relieved to have caught my bang on schedule train as it left. Only it wasn't my train and was ordered by the conductor to get off at the next stop. By sheer luck this was Agra Fort, only 1km from Agra Cannt. As the train arrived at the stop, I ran out of the station to get a taxi. Despite the need for haste, I still felt the need to haggle over the price. Here's a sample of my thoughts as I arrived at the train station:


Run ... Man this bag is heavy.

Where's the departure board???

Great, the train is still on the platform.

Over the bridge to the platform.

Great, it's a ramp up to the bridge and not stairs.

Across the bridge. Man, my lungs are burning.


Crap! It's a ramp down the platform and not stairs.

Got to get to my carriage, (don't want have to walk into the sleeper class carriages), past the carriages, S1, S2 ... S13??? AHHH COME ON!!! How many are there??? Man, my lungs are burning.

Finally! the AC class carriages. Not my carriage, but I'm getting on anyway. The train takes off with 5 minutes to spare. I've never been so happy about a late train. And as I lay on my bunk, a song popped into my head. The lyrics go a little something like this:

How 'bout me not blaming you for everything

How 'bout me enjoying the moment for once

How 'bout how good it feels to finally forgive you

How 'bout taking you upon your support


Thank you India

Thank you terror

Thank you disillusionment

Thank you frailty

Thank you consequence

Thank you thank you silence

Tags: bus, india, jhansi, misadventures, orchha, train




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A good work for Jhansi and thanks to Support to jhansi

  Abhishek Nigam Mar 20, 2013 4:13 AM

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