Orchha

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Orchha






The Friends of Orchha home-stay was in the village of Ganj, up the hill above Orchha. Ganj begun at the gigantic vine-covered mango tree; the tree that hung over the road hundreds of long, limp fingers that might stroke you on the head. A mud-house village of 64 families. Smooth mud walls merged into smooth mud floors which merged into smooth mud alcoves, shelves, benches, window ledges and smooth mud paths. Vibrant pista blue and deep ochre. Namaste in dusty streets. Cows, calves, chickens, buffalo, goats, puppies, children and motorbikes watched by girls and women lingering in arched, mud entrance-ways, toe-rings and bangles, immaculate coloured sariis. And breathtakingly beautiful. The village looked over the domes and spires of Orchha's Mughal temples and palaces, the river Batwa and forest until you couldn't see any further. 









Orchha






At breakfast time we ducked through the low entrance into the kitchen of the family we were staying with. Sitting on straw mats (accidentally nearly sitting on the family father who was sleeping in a bundle of blankets behind us), we sipped chai while the mother stirred sooji (semolina-ish) on the open fire. Her two daughter-in-laws peered at us through a layer of their translucent saris, pulled up over their heads and faces. One pummelled chapati dough in a giant silver tray, the other pushed onions onto the blade of the sickle held between her toes. We knew just a couple of words of Hindi and they just a couple in English so meal times were silent smiles and confused gesturing. We discovered later that Shanti, one of the girls, was 18 and pregnant with her second baby, she lost her first. We thought a lot about how much of their lives to come, now married, will be spent in their mother-in-laws kitchen, maintaining the endless supply of chapatis…






Orchha






Orchha is a small, lively town of smiling faces and magnificent Mughal temples and palaces. We crossed the river and walked for 8km around a nature reserve where we found ourselves on a very long track, watched by hundreds of pairs of macaque eyes and realised we had seen not one other human for the entire walk. The macaques lined the road in gangs, grooming each other and scratching their bollocks. 'Don't make eye contact...' I whispered, which Angus thought was hilarious/ridiculous. Then a car came, phew, might shoo the monkeys back a bit. The car slowed alongside us and begun throwing food out of the windows (for the monkeys not for us). Monkeys begun yobbing the car for crisps. The feeders got bored or ran out of food, and drove off, leaving us at the centre of hundreds of berserk macaques hungry for more munchies.






Orchha






Orchha






Orchha






Relieved to be back in Orchha we stuffed ourselves on vegetable pakoras, koftas, garlic naan and banana lassis. Teenage boys with questions to ask and stories to tell stopped and sat with us. We climbed the Mughal temples to the top. Zero health and safety meant you really could climb, to the top, of spires, domes and turrets, with the vulture nests and their hilariously hideous chicks. We sat at the edge (or a slightly safer distance from in my case) with our legs dangling over the market below. Blue Roller birds had in-flight dinners of giant yellow bees from equally giant, gravity-defying hives that hung from the temple walls. People bathed in the ghats of the Batwa. Drums to a wedding ceremony in the square, a dancing colour kaleidoscope of sarii-d heads and swishing bodies. A group of school girls caught up with us on the walk back up the hill to Ganj. The oldest was 10, they made us laugh being sarcastic in English, and invited us to their home for dinner.






11. 10 Jan - 21 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt






10. 10 Jan - 21 Jan 15 XA2 Ekt






Orchha






Orchha






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