Sunday, 15 March 2009

Lost Temples and Palaces of Orccha

The temples of Orccha surrounded by the forest

Nitoli (aka Susanna) and I had wanted to go to the abandoned city of Orccha for years, and finally we managed to do so in our prolonged October weekend trip celebrating her birthday (yes, I know I am falling further and further behind). Why it had taken us so long to go here I don't know, since it's well connected to Delhi by very fast trains, but let me tell you right away that Orccha despite our expectations was no disappointment!

A couple of centuries ago this was a vibrant regional power centre, but for a variety of reasons the local residents left the city almost over night. Most of the city is long gone, but the temples and palaces - mainly on a river island citadel - have been left to their own devices and the jungle undergrowth was allowed to take over. Local villagers have now reclaimed some of the land and brought a bit of life back to the area, but Orccha still has a fanastic "lost world" feel to it. In many ways it reminded me of Hampi in South India, another of my favourite spots in India. All the people who just travel around the big metropols of India don't know what they're missing.

There is not horribly much to do in Orccha except to wander around the old palaces and temples and enjoy the peace and quiet of this forgotten corner of India. We even stayed in one of the major old palaces which has been converted by Madhya Pradesh Tourism into a basic, but very atmospheric hotel. In total we spent two days and nights there, but could easily have stayed a day or two more if we had the time.

In this first post from Orccha I will focus on the many different old buildings scattered around the landscape. More will come later.

Temples and wheat fields dominate the northern part of the citadel island, surrounded by the river Betwa

Nitoli leaving our palace hotel, the Sheesh Mahal


The main fort palace complex seen from the old stone bridge leading from the village to the island

Same complex seen from the village side. It looks very imposing from this angle.

Nitoli capturing a picture in one of the many grand palace courtyards

Most Indian palaces are today mere shadows of their richly ornamented past, as everything of value has been stripped by robbers, local warlords or even the new rulers, including the British. Here a few decorative tiles have survived.

Some decorative paintings have also made it

From the roof of Jehangir Mahal

Tourists and renovation workers cross paths in the courtyard

View from the roof of Jehangir Mahal towards old ruins in the middle of the undergrowth

The Mighty Jehangir Mahal seen from the outside

3 comments:

BOISHALI SINHA MASSOT said...

amazing pics and place....

She talks like June said...

Love the pictures esben. I am a soon to be love immigrant to your part of the world ( if the visa gods cooperate that is).

By the by i am from the northeast too.

Esben said...

Hi June,

Thanks for your comment. I think I have already had some correspondence with your husband-to-be, but I'm sure you know that already :)

Haven't made it to Arunachal yet, but have a couple of good friends there, so I'm sure I'll make it in the not too distant future. Hear it's beautiful - as is Denmark (but mostly in summer).