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Orcha

21 Mar
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Jain Statues in Gwalior

After the breakfast at the hotel the driver came at 7:00 am to pick me up and showed me a place with lots of huge Jain statues sculpted in the rock. He brought me to a terrace that has 26 huge statues plus  other temples that on Sunday were used as an extension on the Jain temple from the bottom of the hill and people went there for puja.

The scene was impressive beyond words. This is India. When you think that you saw everything the surprises pour over you like nowhere else. No guide book talks about these statues, at least as I could tell,  because they are for worship probably. There were way more impressive than the ones I saw the day before. I stayed there more than 2 hours and when I left I visited the Jain temple, filmed inside and was accosted by a big boss who took me in his office, put a garland around my neck and gave me a portrait of one of the Tirtankaras. English was not an option as a language so I knew only that it was a sign of appreciation for my interest. I left him a business card and asked him to check my website and to look for pictures of his statues latter in April. From there I went back to the Fort where I visited again my Sikh friends from the previous night who recognized me and were happy to pose and latter I went to visit two more temples from the fort’s complex that I could not visit yesterday, the last one Telika Mandir being a very tall structure with Dravidian influences rare to be seen in Northern India. After that we hit the road to Orcha, 122 km that is supposed to take 3 hours and it did. The road is in construction and it comes and goes. The pavement changes from the old “lace pavement” one narrow lane that in India can fit 2-3 vehicles, to a modern finished lane wide for two trucks. But because is in construction it constantly changes from one, to two lanes, to no lanes, to dirt.

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Orcha Palace

We arrived in Orcha around 2:30pm and went directly to Hotel Ganpati, parked myself and left the driver to be. The village is small and picturesque with an amazing palace complex dated from the 16th century augmented in time by many rulers. It is relatively well preserved, but in the Indian way. There are few countries who can boast such a richness of monument and most of these monuments were left in complete neglect just to be partially saved latter. I went and visited the palace complex, its main two palaces, and many other palaces , the place where they kept the elephants and the camels. It was an entire challenge with the filming part because they did not allow the tripod, neither the video camera without a very steep fee but in end I brought both and I was able to shoot everywhere in the palace compound. Towards the end I spend some time in a tiny white temple from where I could hear the entire day the Navrati readings. On the roof of the palace I met a young couple from Brazil who asked me latter in the conversation to give them a lift the next day to Khajuraho. I told them that I will speak with the driver, and I did, but they did not show up latter to find me and coincidentally I bumped into them in the Golden Temple in Varanasi several days latter. I finished the visit around 5:30 pm and went on top of the tallest structure, Chaturbhuj Temple, a Hindu temple from where you could see the entire village, the eagles’ nests, and the love birds from the domes. I got there grace to a boy who had the key and was very happy to get a tip for such an unusual visit. I spent the sunset there on the roof on top of the village admiring the eagles flying in the sunset coming to feed their small ones. I went directly for dinner of curry with cashews, phone and Internet. But the first Internet try was not good because it was on dial up, so I went into the bazaar full of artifacts and very aggressive touts and to the Rama Temple for the Navrati Puja. The temple was, like all others, under high security so you have to leave everything at its entrance, including all the leather objects you may have on you. Inside the Navrati puja was in full swing, more or less like in other temples, with lots of bells and singing.

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Posted by on March 21, 2010 in Blog, India

 

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