Any place on note in India seems to have an intact historical fort and Orchha is no exception. This was an interesting one to visit. Orchha Fort contains a whole labyrinth of palaces, balconies, monuments courtyards and rooms to wander around. There hardly seemed to be any other tourists around. The complex is slightly crumbling but is in decent condition considering it dates back to the 16th century. Our tour guide was Mr G. India is quite a formal place and names containing more than a couple of syllables are often shortened to make things simpler for westerners.
As with a lot of India, especially the more rural areas, most food on offer in Orchha is vegetarian. Ajay told that this can be for both cultural and financial reasons. Vegetables and spices are cheap and are within the means of almost all Indians, while meat is considered a bit more of a luxury item for many. Eating vegetarian for a few days isn’t a big deal to me. You can still get an excellent curry containing potato, mushrooms and spinach. This sort of cuisine should also reduce the odds of obtaining the runs.
Tonight we attended a vegetarian cooking demonstration. It wasn’t billed as vegetarian but clearly this is the diet that the vast majority of people in Orchha consume. The cooking took place a couple of miles out of town. Getting there involved my first trip on an auto-rickshaw. We were taken to a home and were invited into the open plan downstairs room. It was a nice family setup with the children doing their homework at one end of the room, the father attending to the newborn baby and the mother explaining the cooking process. As an aside the 13 year-old boy in the family had an excellent mustache, a fashion that remains all the rage in India! After about an hour of cooking everything from scratch, the food was ready. We were treated to an excellent thaal meal, which is essentially a bit of everything including a couple of different veg curries, some daal, a bit of salad and excellent fresh chapatis. Excess chapatis would be fed to the numerous cows that wander the Orchha streets. Cows holy status means that they are well looked after. For pudding it was some sort of plum recipe which was nice, albeit a bit sweet for my palate. The family have been doing this activity for years and it seems to be a nice side business for them. They seemed nice enough and it turned out to be an interesting experience.
Back at the hotel the wedding next door was still be going strong. A few of the guests were also staying at the hotel. At the start of the trip Ajay told us that some Indians may not be entirely used to western people so sometimes stare a bit. In the lobby tonight this seemed to be the case with a young Indian girl seeming fascinated by our group. Eventually she came over and approached Lyndsey from Australia. The young lady politely asked if she may have a photo, before pulling out her phone for a selfie!