As the other great Hindu temple complexes of Northern India disappeared under expanding Muslim rule, the temple complexes of Khajuraho - abandoned by their royal patrons - sank into oblivion amidst the surrounding jungle. Re-discovered in the early 19th century and slowly restored, Khajuraho now represents one of the most glorious periods of Indian architecture. Khajuraho has long been a highlight for The Explorations Company but our tours there are not limited simply to ticking off the temple highlights.
With our specialist guides we explore the commanding hill-top fort of Ajaigarh and for the more venturesome Kalinjar - two of the greatest forts of central India that hardly anyone knows of. We stay at a stunning small lodge picturesquely located on the Ken River which emerges from the Panna Tiger Reserve - one of our favourite parks where tigers are making a remarkable come-back after poaching decimated their numbers.
One of the most blissful experiences is to drift down the Ken River in a boat at sunset looking for exciting birds including eagle-owls, kingfishers and much else to land on a rocky island for sundowners. In this unchanging landscape, our guests explore charming villages composed almost entirely of potters.
Not far from Khajuraho is the astonishingly grandiose cenotaph of Maharaja Chhatrasal Bundela one of the most turbulent and ambitious feudatories of the late Mughal period. The scale of his ambition is reflected in the cenotaphs he created for himself and his queens. Set amidst scrub land and subsistence farms, you can explore in solitude, pause perhaps at the small museum at Dubela before continuing to blissful Orchha.
This marvellous medieval town with its exquisite Bundela architecture - cenotaphs, fort, palaces and temples reflected in the pristine Betwa River is one of the real treasures of Central India. It isn't just the physical monuments but the atmosphere of the place, the setting, the opportunity to visit the Ram Temple for the evening prayer or ‘arti’ that makes Orchha a highlight not just of Central India but of Northern India.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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