India (9) – Orchha to Kajuraho
Today our photography has rather a different focus – primarily people. We had a late start to the day, as Major wasn’t coming to collect us until 9.30. We realized afterwards that we could have had a wander around Orchha village beforehand, but as it was, it was nice to have a bit of a lie-in and a relaxed breakfast.
We had 170km to travel to the town of Khajuraho, which as on previous days was split into two parts. I have to admit that when we stopped at Alipura to see ‘a nice palace’, I didn’t feel too enthusiastic about walking around in the midday sun. As it happened, though, the palace was low-key, the main features being some paintings and the view over the village. Our guide, from the palace (which is now a hotel/restaurant) also took us around the village, where we had fun photographing the children. Getting the kids to pose was not so difficult, getting them to look natural, and not to leap in front of each other in desperate attempts to be in the picture, was!
After a short stop in the restaurant, for a small snack of pakora, samosas and french fries we continued our journey along the rapidly deteriorating road. Not only a single track road, but one so full of potholes that we were weaving all over the place. Come to think of it, we do that anyway, since Indian driving includes frequent overtaking on whichever side of the roads takes your fancy.
Despite the state of the road, we were making good progress until we hit a road closure. First a small warning wall built across the road, which we drove around, followed by a more definitive wall a kilometre or two further along. Defeated, we had to turn back and take detour.
We arrived in Khajuraho in the early afternoon and were looking forward to cooling off and relaxing a little. Major had a suggestion for us – to take a bicycle ride up to a village 5km away. Despite the heat, and the fact that after our bird sanctuary tour we’d sworn off bicycle riding for a while, we decided to go for it, and it turned out to be a good decision. This time I was luckily enough that they found me a ladies’ bike, albeit one built for giants, or more likely, the Dutch. According to Bilal, our guide, all his clients are Dutch. It figures, who else would be crazy enough to go cycling in over 40 C?
The trip took us along bumpy gravel roads, with frequent stops to see the work of the local villagers – digging wells, making bricks, etc. We ended up spending quite some time touring the village, and again photographing the villagers, particularly the children, who loved seeing their images on the back of the camera screen.
Finally back at the hotel round 6pm, we wasted little time in heading for the swimming pool to cool off before doing some photo/blog work. Dinner was a big improvement over the last couple nights, having turned down the extortionate 630 rupee buffet option, in favour of the cheaper and tastier a la carte menu.