This trip made me realize that there are many architectural marvel hidden in every nook and corner of India, we just need to visit, observe, wonder in awe and exclaim “How did they get it so fine and intricately beautiful?”
I had planned this trip 3 years back, mostly the longer travelling part held me back from further executing it. Finally, when I got the chance in form of 4 days leaves, managed to get 3 more friends on board and we went ahead with this architecturally – marvelous trip – Jhansi, Orchha & Khajuraho. This time, only to and fro travelling ticket was booked, with few experiences of bad hotels in the past, we avoided hotel pre-booking. For Mumbai – Jhansi, we had booked 3AC train travel which got confirmed from RAC, one day prior. While returning, instead of booking a wait list 3AC ticket, we booked the confirmed sleeper ticket (which turned out to be very very hot but still we managed to reach Mumbai without getting fried literally). With travel part sorted, we waited for the day to arrive.
Day 1: We boarded the Punjab Mail, which leaves Dadar at 19.35 pm. While Shalmali got delicious fries from “The J”(I kind-off got hooked to that, searching everywhere for its branch), Ketaki got homemade Veg Biryani for dinner. After meal, we slept for the night, after the hectic working day. Next day, we reached Jhansi at 3.00 pm. As soon as we came out, heavy rain with wind greeted us. Shalmali took Dipak along with her to get drenched to experience the first downpour while I and ketaki searched for some hotels (I do love to get drenched but was bit doubtful about the kind of pollutants, raindrop gets all mixed up, while on the way to the ground, didn’t want to get myself all itchy). After zeroing on one of the hotels, we hired an auto, the auto-guy was hovering around us for quite some time, while we were digging for some information on hotels, we bargained the amount to drop us at selected hotel (Rs.50). On the way, I saw one hotel, whose review was good, but it turned out to be full. Driver took us to another hotel, but it was beyond our budget. We checked another one in the row, driver started making stories about being unsafe, raids etc. I was bit taken aback. I told him blankly, if it is good and fits in our Budget, we will go ahead with that hotel. He kept quiet. Later on, we came to know these guys make stories because they get commission from hotels that they take the tourist to. Anyways, Hotel Sharma was good in terms of price and cleanliness. Anyways, we were supposed to be there just for a night. We asked the auto driver if he can take us to Jhansi fort. He gave us a deal of Rs. 1000 with trip to Orchha and Jhansi fort all inclusive.
My initial plan was to cover Jhansi Fort first day and Orccha next day till afternoon and leave for Khajuraho from there itself. When he said it can be covered, I was elated, thinking about maximum time, we would get for Khajuraho (Well, naïve me!). Dipak managed to get the price lower to 500. First visit was Jhansi Fort, 2 kms from Hotel. It was already 4.30 pm. The fort is located atop a hill. The structure is still well-maintained. There was a ticket of Rs. 15/- and after carefully examining my DSLR camera, fees was not charged for the camera. Only, video cameras are charged. We thought of giving this fort a quick tour. As soon as you enter the gate, there is a huge cannon called “Kadak Bijli”.
It was said that, when the cannon fired, it sounded like a thunder and struck fear in heart of enemies, hence the name. It was operated by faithful soldier called Gulam Gaus Khan, his statue can be seen while exiting the fort road. It started drizzling again, trying to protect my camera, managed to click the Panch Mahal (earlier this building consisted of five floors, now only three storeys exist), Jail house or Kal Kothari and also the location from where Rani Laxmibai jumped with her son on the back, riding Badal. From here the entire city of Jhansi can be seen. We were clocking the time, on the way back to the exit, we again saw Kadak Bijli, clicked some pictures before exiting the fort.
Next on list was Orchha and time was running out!