5 Days Road-Trip in Madhya Pradesh to explore Orchha - The City of Raja Ram, Jhansi, UNESCO World Heritage City of Khajuraho, Panna for some wildlife experiences, Datiya for it's stunning Palace & Morena's outstanding Heritage

Last winters we drove to Madhya Pradesh from Delhi and we didn't have any definitive plan. We debated multiple plans but finally booked stay in Orchha for 2 days and from thereon we planned on runtime. Finally this road-trip turned out a great success because we had wonderful experiences and most importantly we explored so many things we had never thought. and that's what I love when I say 'travel'. The motivation was to visit Orchha to see Dussehra there as Orchha is considered the land of Raja Ram, where Ram is worshipped as a king and great arrangements are done by private trusts in collaboration with local administration. This Blogpost will share about the itenerary we followed and it can be a great plan for anyone who loves driving and specially in winters, as this part of the country is usually super-hot in summers.

Last winters we drove to Madhya Pradesh from Delhi and we didn't have any definitive plan. We debated multiple plans but finally booked stay in Orchha for 2 days and from thereon we planned on runtime. Finally this road-trip turned out a great success because we had wonderful experiences and most importantly we explored so many things we had never thought. and that's what I love when I say 'travel'. The motivation was to visit Orchha to see Dussehra there as Orchha is considered the land of Raja Ram, where Ram is worshipped as a king and great arrangements are done by private trusts in collaboration with local administration. This Blogpost will share about the itenerary we followed and it can be a great plan for anyone who loves driving and specially in winters, as this part of the country is usually super-hot in summers. 

Day-1 : Delhi to Orchha and some explorations in Orchha town.

We started early in the morning at 4:30am and we were in Orchha by 12pm, as we only took one break on the way for breafast. It was Covid time, so we were carrying breakfast with us. We stopped at a tea shop and enjoyed our meal here.  

Related Blogpost - The Marvels of the Orchha Palace Complex || A Stunning, Solid & Complex Architectural masterpiece that came up over the centuries

Though the temple is a little away from the main architectural complex of Orchha, we strongly recommend a trip to this beautiful structure, because it is one of the places where you can see history, through its paintings, and also admire the power of human creativity.   Related Blogpost - Stunning Bateshwar Group of Temples || Archaeological marvels at Padavali in Morena District of Madhya Pradesh

After reaching Orchha and checking into our hotel, we took rest for an hour or so. Then stepped out, had lunch and visited most of the key places to explore in the town. A day itinerary for Orchha is shared here

Related Blogpost - Orchha Palace Light and Sound Show || An Entertaining way to learn about the intriguing history of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

There are about 15 Chhatris in Orchha, dedicated to generations of Bundela Kings who have ruled Orchha since the early 16th century, such as Raja Vir Singh Deo, Jashwant Singh, Sujan Singh, Bharti Chandra, Indramani, etc. Some of the them, like the one dedicated to Raja Vir Singh Deo, the King whose reign is said to be the golden era of Orchha, are located right on the banks of Betwa river on Kanchana Ghat.   Related Blogpost - Orchha, Madhya Pradesh || The hidden land that adopted Lord Ram as their King in the 16th Century

Here are few quick details to know about Orchha :

1. Tickets for all monuments can only be bought of Orchha Palace. 

2. If you are in a car, buy 30 rs parking ticket at one place and it works in whole town. Please remember it's one time for a day. There is a scam around it to make tourists fool and charge parking fees every time at every tourist spot. 

3. Orchha is a small town and most of the tourist attractions are nearby. One can also walk easily between these key points of attraction in Orchha town. 

Related Blogpost - The Raja Ram Temple in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh || Raja Ram's Holy Abode, Complete with a Guard of Honour and Personalized Security

Here is quick list of places we visited in same order :

1. Orchha Palace

2. Raja Ram Mandir

3. Chaturbhuj Temple

4. Chhatris of Orchha

5. Laxmi Narayan Temple

6.  Orchha Biodiversity Park fr enjoying Sunset around Betwa River 

7. The famous Orchha Dussehra

8. Light and Sound show at Orchha Palace.

Related Blogpost - Beautiful and Unique Laxmi Temple in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh || Witness history through the fresco-laden walls of a beautiful temple

While on our trip to Orchha and Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, in October 2021, we also had the good fortune to visit Jhansi as well. It was fascinating to learn that while Orchha is in Madhya Pradesh, Jhansi is in Uttar Pradesh, and the two cities are just half an hour apart.

Day-2 : Explored Jhansi Fort, Rani Mahal, Jhansi Museum and Barua Sagar Dam 

On Second day, we drove to Jhansi which is approx 35 km from Orchha. Jhansi is in UP and we figured that petrol in Uttar Pradesh is 10 rs cheapter per lt in comparison to Madhya Pradesh. So we used this opportunity to get our car tank full. Here is the plan we followed in and around Jhansi.  

After the Maharaja's death, as the British rejected Damodar Rao's claim to the throne because he was adopted. In 1854, Laxmibai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. However, in June 1857, the revolt broke out and Rani Laxmibai took control of the fort and led Jhansi forces against the British.

1. We visited Jhansi Fort first. Parking is just in front of the entry gate of the fort. 

Related Blogpost - The Impressive Fort of Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh || An Expansive Fort that became an inspiration for poetry, literature, and folklore after the revolt of 1857

A few hundred meters from the marvelous Jhansi Fort is the relatively inconspicuous Rani Mahal. The mahal is tucked away in the crowded Jhansi Market and if it wasn't for google maps, one wouldn't even notice the unimposing entrance to it. The fact that there are several hawkers and cars blocking its stark yellow fa├žade, make it even more subdued.

2. After exploring Jhansi Fort, we moved to Jhansi Town to see Rani Mahal. It's in very chaotic part of the town but there is paring area in front of Rani Mahal.

Related Blogpost - Rani Mahal, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh || An unpolished diamond, a reminder of the 1857 revolt for India's independence

There are some accounts of the museum having being built in the late 19th century, but this seems very unlikely to me because the building looks very modern. It could have been that some part of it was constructed in the late 19th century but has since been renovated. Or may be people confuse it with the Rani Mahal, which definitely looks older and can be a 19th century structure.

3. We had our lunch around Rani Mahal and then we headed to Jhansi Museum. For more details please do check the blogpost shared below.

Related Blogpost - Informative and interesting Jhansi Museum || A good place to spend a couple of hours and gain knowledge about the history of Bundelkhand

There were a few boats out and about on water. Momentarily the thought of requesting these boatmen to take us to some of the islands crossed our mind, but the fear of crocodiles and also the fact that we didn't think the islands would be worth exploring quickly dispelled this quirky thought.

4. We still had time, so before heading back to Orchha, we took a detour for Barua Sagar Dam. 

Related Blogpost - Barua Sagar Lake and Barua Sagar Fort, Uttar Pradesh || A lesser known ASI protected place to visit around Jhansi and Orchha

Then we headed back to our hotel and we made bookings to stay in Khajuraho in coming 2 nights. Plan was to start early morning and reach Khauraho as soon as we could. 

Next thing to know is what all are you skipping when you explore only these 2 things in Khajuraho and let me explain each of those with reasoning. I am doing it so that you know my reasons and that may not align with your priorities. If it happens, you should skip this blogpost and create your own plan.  1. Khajuraho has more temples apart from it’s western group of temples and they are spread across different directions of the town. Most of the them are not so well maintained and smaller in comparison to what you will see in western clusture of temples. Architecture is also similar. Now this can be interesting for someone who wants to explore all temples along with understanding history & thought process associated with these temples. If you are that person, you simply forget about the Raneh falls and have a guide for full day exploration of these temples in Khajuraho town.

Day-3 : Checked into out hotel at Jhajuraho and visited famous temples of Khajuraho. 

3rd Day started a little early and we left Orchha at around 6am and we reached Khajuraho by 10:30am. On the way, we took one meal break and also came across some traffic jams due to ongoing construction on the highway. 

During our recent trip to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (Orchha, Khajuraho, and Jhansi), we had planned to do budget travel. We were driving from NCR, and we had decided that we would stay at budget hotels and eat at budget eateries. But we had also decided that we would reward ourselves by ending our trip with one stay in a non-budget hotel and one meal at a good restaurant. For a meal at a good restaurant, we went for Raja Cafe in Khajuraho. For non-budget stay, we chose Golden Tulip in Khajuraho.

Related Blogpost - A Pleasant, Standardised stay at Golden Tulip, Khajuraho || A hotel at walking distance from famous Western Group of Temples

We checked into the hotel, freshened up and then walked to the Western Group of Temples in Khajuraho. Tulip Garden is at 5-7 walking distance from these temples. 

Khajuraho has three groups of temples - Western, Eastern and Southern. Of these, the Western Group of Temples is the most famous. This is the place that is most frequented  by tourists. It is also at the center of Khajuraho, opposite the most happening marketplace and cafe street. It is also the place where the Light and Sound Show happens.

Related Blogpost - Ethereal Western Group of Temples || The Temples that make Khajuraho such an enticing entry on the World Tourism Map

Western Group of temples take 1.5-3 hrs to explore. There is single ticket for this and each temple in the campus is different from other. After exploring Western Group of temples in Khajuraho, we had lunch and then headed back to the hotel for some rest. After that we picked our car and visited other temples in Khajuraho which are dispersed in all directions but not too far. We also visited a jain temple in Khajuraho. For details, please do check out the link above. 

We were in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, in October 2021 when the pandemic had relented for a bit and had loved the city. It had the air of tiny, charming hamlets where you could stay for days and relax. It looked like a good place to spend your days and evenings drinking beer in one of the many cafes facing the Western Group of Temples, and just chill. And when it comes to evenings, you should plan to spend at least one watching the sound and light show that is organized in the Western Group of Temples.

Related Blogpost - Khajuraho Light and Sound show || A spellbinding and informative opportunity to learn about the history of the temples and that of the Chandela Dynasty

Light & Sound show happened at Western Group of temples in Khajuraho and before concluding the day, we witnessed this show. Audio of this show is done by Amitabh Bachhan. 

Related Blogpost - Raja Cafe, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh || Enjoy great views of the Western Group of Temples while munching on awesome food and chilled beer

After that we headed to Raja Cafe for dinner and concluded the day with a good meal. 

Related Blogpost - Khajuraho one day Itinerary - How to spend a day around this World Heritage City of Madhya Pradesh in best way ?

When we visited Khajuraho, we had a packed first day when we explored the Western, Eastern, and Southern Groups of temples. And after we were done with that, we had another complete day in the city. So we decided to visit some of the nearby places. We planned for Raneh Falls in the first half and then explore Pandava Caves in the second half. Pandava Caves did not happen because we ended up going for a safari in Panna National Park (Read about that exciting experience here), but Raneh falls did, and it was absolutely wonderful.

Day-4 : A day well spent around Raneh Falls, i's forest and Panna National Park, where we saw one leopard, dears & many birds

On 4th day, we drove to Raneh Falls which is close to Khajuraho. You see beautiful waterfalls here, along with beautiful canyons surrounded by dense green forest. we drove through this forest and also came across some deers, monkey and different kinds of birds which you commonly see in Madhya Pradesh state of India. 

Related Blogpost - Raneh Falls - A preserved area with Magnificent Waterfall around underrated Canyon with colourful rocks and lush green Forest with active wildlife around Ken river in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

To cut the suspense - no, we did not see a tiger. Though the way our guide was talking about it, we are more of an exception than a rule. Apparently during the morning safari, they had seen a tigress with cubs. But yes we saw a lot and it is definitely worth talking about.

After visiting Raneh Fall, we headed towards Panna National Park of Madhya Pradesh which is not too far from Khajuraho. We took afternoon safari and had a wonderful experience in Panna forest. 

Related Blogpost - Spots and Stripes at Panna National Park || Guess what we saw at the Tiger Reserve

After Jungle Safari in Panna, we headed back to our hotel in Khajuraho and this night we visited a small restaurant for their Marwari Thali. 

Day-5 : Final day : Journey back to Delhi by stops at Datia Palace, then Morena to see Chausath Yogini Temple, Garhi Padawali, Bateshwar Temples & Gharial Sanctuary

Datia in Madhya Pradesh was another location that we covered on our very productive drive back from Khajuraho to Noida. Upon reaching Datia, the state of the roads and the feel of the colony was such that we almost turned back. However a very enticing view of the Datia Palace, which is visible from quite a distance, kept us going.

We started early in the morning and we were doing very well in terms of time, so we planned to take some halts on the way. The first halt was at Datia Palace, which is a beautiful palace but it's tricky to reach the palace as one needs to drive through narrow lanes, so be aware of that. This is maintained by ASI, Archeological Survey of India. 

In almost all temples dedicated to them, the yoginis are depicted in different forms and poses. In some they are sitting in Lalitasana. In some they are depicted standing with their animal vehicles. However, in the Chausath Yogini Temple in Mitaoli, the images of the Yoginis have all been replaced by those of shivling. May be that is why the temple is also known as Ekattarso Mahadev temple.

Then we entered inside Morena and first visited Chausath Yogini Temple for which you need to climb a little but manageable. This place inspired the architecture of Indian Parliament building. 

We hadn't really planned to visit Gadhi Padhavali in Morena, but we happened to be in the vicinity. We had travelled to Mitaoli to visit the Chausath Yogini temple near Morena, Madhya Pradesh, and VJ knew that there were other interesting sites around. Several years ago, he had done a helicopter tour of this area for a Photography assignment.

Garhi Padawali is little away from Chausath Yogini Temple and we took a small stop here as well. 

Not too long back, mere mention of the name Morena was enough to send shivers down anyone's spine. This district near the Chambal river was once a stronghold of notorious dacoits, such as Daku Man Singh, Nirbhay Singh Gujjar, Phoolan Devi, and Paan Singh Tomar. If you happened to be passing through this district and your vehicle broke down, you would automatically start praying to the lord for your safe exit from this area (this actually happened to my parents back in 1982, so I am kind of talking from experience).

Then we headed to Bateshwar group of temples which is an amazing site and has brilliant stories associated. So far roads inside Morena were manageable but now coming back to the highway was nightmare. The roads were full of potholes and some of them were 1-2 feet deep and we were sacred of the situation. Please keep this road condition in mind before going inside the Morena area to explore above places. 

After coming back to Highway, we saw Gharial Sanctuary before Chambal river and took a small stop there. 

After this we only took a break for dinner and reached back home with lot of memories from this on-the-move road-trip to Mdhya Pradesh. Please use comments section below to ask questions or sharing feedbacks/inputs. 

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