By the time we crossed Chhatarpur, it was beginning to get dark and having no familiarity with the local landscape, we kept driving oblivious of pot holes and growing darkness, keeping our neck craned all through.
We had been driving for almost 12 hours. It was the first time that we had come that far towards the heart of India, driving. Roads were keeping up to the reputation they have earned (or lost). And by now it was not possible to read numerous ‘Doda Posta’ (its a kind of indulgence) boards so as to keep the humor going and we kept moving.
That was 2008.
What happened during the next couple of days was mind boggling. An encounter with the cavalcade of Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav who was visiting for the opening ceremony of the Khajuraho railway station. The laid-back cafe overlooking the magnificent temples, sweaty afternoon right during the Christmas winter holidays and of course, the magnificent temples.
We decided to come back, rather drive back. On very first day, with another day in hand, we decided that we would come back. We need more of this place than what these 2 days can give us.
By the time we crossed Chhatarpur, there was some light left. I was determined to reach Khajuraho before it got too dark. That was not to be, though, since in the end we did take a mini break and waited for the magic of Khajuraho to unfold. 2010.
I tried writing a log couple of years back but could never get to it. I took 3 million photos and marveled at the magnificence, took few more photos. I tried few times to write a log , browsed through the mythological legends behind the temples but was not successful.
I was rather nursing my guilt of not being able to write till I read Manisha’s “Poetry in stone”. After reading, I knew that I should just give up the idea and instead read her brilliant piece again if ever I need to relive those temples.
So, what am I doing now ?
Is it the end of this story ?
No. It is not.
I do have some tricks so I decided to write a log titled ‘Beyond Temples’. Do not read this story before reading the important text, but for sure doing some of this stuff can be a good break from the usual.
So, heres my list of TOP things to do in Khajuraho
1. Tota Point, aka Parrot’s Paradise
Very close to western group of temples, there is a fab place to spend the twilight hours. If you are facing the western group of temples, then walk towards left and take first big exit on your left. Walk down a little and you would see a huge tree on your right and a clearing on your left.
Notice the Shikhar in the background.
Find a good vantage point amid the tea shops and wait for the parrot gang. You would be amazed by the sheer number of them, each trying to making more noise than the other. Every few seconds a new fleet would come and disappear in the woods. This would continue till it gets dark. I have never seen so many parrots, up so close. Don’t miss it. I am recommending this for 6 – 7 PM timeslot.
Parrots. Multiple this by 50 at least.
2. Raneh Falls and Alligator park
It is about 20 odd KM from Khajuraho. Just like the national parks of that region, it is high on Sal trees so its not really green as Corbett but any Jungle is good. Your first point on this drive is ‘Raneh Falls’. After you get the permit at the gate, there is a small drive through the jungle and we did see some wildlife there, from very very close. It is very close to usual jungle safari track with minimal tourists.
We were there during December so there was no fall but by looking at the sheer drop, I would imagine that it would be a sight to watch.
A little away is Alligator point, the way to which i believe is closed during monsoons. Alligator park is an effort to save them by giving them some safe haven. If you are lucky you might sight some basking in sun but the micro-mini-hike is worth it and its a good stretch.
Raja cafe. Don’t be in a rush so go if you have time to kill. They serve good food over beer and have the best location in town, just overlooking the temples.
The other recommendation is Mediterino. Try their pizzas and don’t miss to take a look at the wood-powered furnace (I guess thats quite a hard work for baking a pizza).
I am requesting my fellow travelers to add few more to make this post somewhat useful.
We started for Bandhavgarh next morning and trust me, if a lot of you comment and encourage me, I might win over my inertia and take you there. And yes, we didn’t see any tigers.
Srijesh, Aruna, Smita – Add some more places (shopping ?? )
I think we missed on the waterfall’s details. It has a sub-standard Grand Canyon look with no water but the guide did tell us a good time when we should visit that place. I really loved the drive to Raneh falls even before we reached there and i guess we get to see the ruins of temples on the other side on the way. Quite a suburb with fields on both sides(or am i dreaming), and yes, there was a “Gharial” centre there where you might get lucky.
@ Srijesh – Yes. Incidentally I do not find any picture of it as well from my collection. And now I remember that countryside drive, totally worth it.
Having said that, “tota” point is a really great find. I just wanted to bring to notice of people who intend to travel there that, if you get followed by men on bike, don’t be scared. If they wave their hands and ask you to stop, don’t be scared. That’s just one of the ways to sell hotels :)
After going through the heading & the first line , I thought this post is on Chhatarpur (Delhi) , When I read you were driving for the last 12 hours , I got confused :-). After second paragraph, my doubts were cleared.
Sad to know that u were not able to spot the tiger. I heard that max. chances of spotting the tiger is either Ranthambore / Bandhavgarh.
You were expert in road reviews , hotel reviews & now expert in Short stories. :-)
@ Mahesh – We did spot one at Ranthambore though. Plan to is to visit Bandhavgarh once more at least and try one more time.
I think I would think seriously on the short stories part :-).
I passed through Chhatarpur once but didn’t stop to have a look. At Khajuraho, I did have the chance to see rare countryside birds one morning on my walk to the Jain temples. Definitely, there is more to Khajuraho than just temples. Have you been to the Panna National Park? The map suggests it’s quite close by.
Glad to see your Arvind, after a long time.
We did go to Panna on our last visit to Khajuraho. That was in 2008 and there we no tigers and very little wildlife. We drove in our own car after getting a guide who was more than frank on the overall situation. We stopped at the Ken riverside and it was great. One can take a boat/steamer ride but we moved on to a vista point where there was a small forest camp. Had tea and overall it was a nice experience, san wildlife.
This time, we drove towards Bandhavgarh and you cross Panna main-gate as well as some tiny ghat portion of the park. It appeared much more green this time and there was a big MP Tourism hotel as well, right at the entrance. I heard that they relocated 3-5 tigers and now one can encounter some wildlife so situation has improved drastically. It makes a good 3/4 of a day outing.
Hope to see your stories here, Arvind.
I remember seeing those parakeets (not parrots) on the ficus tree at the center of the villages. Never ever seen such an amazing density of them, though they are extremely common in usually seen in large numbers across North India.
Yes, Parakeets to be technically correct :-)
And my poor photos are not doing the density so imagine a even denser setup. Its really a sight.
this is the first time i have accessed ghummakar.com……i am quite a travel freak myself aind happened to read your story on chattarpur temples.My native place belongs to chattarpur which though i have not visited for the last 15 years last being when i was probably in school . It felt good to read your story bringing back nostalgic memories of childhood some good some bad like the bad roads as u pointed out which existed then also……wish there were few more photographs to see ………….but overall it was nice to read it.
I think I have lost my way and just happen to walk into the boss of ghumakkars story. I am like Mahesh also confused,not about Gurgaon Chatterpur BUT the date line of this visit. Isit 2008 or is 2010 or is this now2020? House Bound for long time., My travels to all that Kama Sutras place was about 40 years ago when I was Bombay based.
My last visit was to SIRHND and Hansali Farm was just before the Crona invaded us. .But the visit Hansali was more to relive the the history of Sher Shah Suri and Babers travel logistics of visiting Panipet.
I have now rediscovered ghumakkar and Khajurao of Nandan Jha. Really enjoyed it,Nandan. I am glad you didnt put too mant pixs and made it look like Kama…
Were you able to visit Bhimkund on way back ?