Information on Trips around Agra Indiaby Nisha Parmar SEO Executive
In addition to the Krishna villages, trips to Fatehpur Sikri, Bharatpur Deeg—all towards Jaipur—make good outings. But here is one very special trip down into Madhya Pradesh state to Gwalior, Datia and Orchha. It is best taken with two overnight stops, at Gwalior and Orchha.
Gwalior fulfils the romantic maharaja image even today. Its hilltop fort, built by the Tomar chief Man Singh (ruled 1486-1517), is perhaps the best of its kind, surpassing Amber, with precision-cut animal carving and glittering tiles. Its grossly extravagant Jai Vilas town palace (1872-4), built by Maharaja Jayaji Rao, and now partly open to the public, is where, in 1987, the family daughter married the eldest son of the ex-Maharaja of Kashmir, watched by more than a hundred ex-maharajas, in a sensational (and controversial) revival of royal panoply. In the unspool, provincial town lurk the tombs of Tansen (Akbar's musician) and Muhammad Ghaus (Akbar's spiritual guru), the richly carved royal mausoleum, and the town's local steam train built by Jayaji Rao (well worth a ride).
Then, to Datia and Orchha, where remarkable palaces were built by Raja Bir Singh Deo, the Rajput ruler who was a partner in crime with the rebellious Prince Salim before he became Emperor Jahangir. Datia's seven-storey palace with stone elephants poking out at the top is surrounded by quiet village lanes. It gets better and better as you climb up, with fine jali work, perfect pavilions and surviving ceiling paintings (the curator lives next to the great entrance). Orchha has three palaces built on an island in the Betwa river: one built for Jahangir (worth scrambling up and around the roof's); one whose rooms are coated in brightly coloured murals including one of the raja out hunting; and one to stay in. In the rest of this perfect, forgotten medieval city, find more paintings in the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, explore the chartist and other deserted buildings, and enjoy the sunset from the far side of the Betwa. (A new hotel composed of cottages on the Betwa banks may begin to destroy the peace.)
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