Everytime i am in India, i make sure i go back to some of my favourite spots. Orchha is one of them.
Apparently Orchha means “the hidden place”: well, it might not be as hidden as it used to be, but despite its name popped up in the touristic guides few years back, this little rural village of Madhya Pradesh, is still retaining its charme and subtle beauty.
Orchha is a place that offers much more than the cenotaphs and the river views: if you walk few minutes out of the village, you will spot a huge beautiful baobab. It is one of the few ones in the Subcontinent and they are mainly concentrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Their presence is shrouded in mistery and folklore.
This has become one of my favourite sunset spots: once you reach the top of the hill, there’s nothing better than sitting on a rock and admiring this fantastic tree changing its colour in the golden light of the evening.
Orchha popularity is mainly due to the Sheesh Mahal, a majestic palace built in the 16th century, during the Bundela kingdom. Tourists from delhi and Khajuraho flock everyday in their white 4X4 to visit the interiors and the surrounding chhatris.
I normally wait for the light to turn the landscape into a painting and then i walk through the old ruins behind the main entrance.
The back of the palace is very peaceful and not many visitors walk outside its walls.
The palace stands on the top of the hill overlooking the surrounding jungle and evokes images from the past.
The next day i paid a quick visit to the tailor as my trousers needed a fix…!
Rajah Ram and Bandmali, both 70 years old and originally from Orchha, are 2 local Sadhus (holy men) who perform songs and mantras near the Sheesh Mahal, the main tourist spot of the town. That morning, while drinking coffee, i heard them playing and singing songs to Lord Rama, with quite an hypnotic groove and went to my room, grab camera and microphone and recorded one of their songs.
After i told them the we are kind of “colleagues”, i tipped them and let them listen to the recordings straight away. Plus, they use no tuner and i found that they too play in A342hz, which is considered to be the natural tuning, a very “healthy” one, the pulse of the earth…!
They seemed to have enjoyed both the video and the audio recordings..!
In the afternoon i wanted to try to record some new stuff using the natural reverb of some of the deserted halls behind the palace.
I chose my spot carefully, clapping hands and singing to make sure the reverb was right and started working!
Once i placed the microphone on top of the guitar case, i realized what a stunning view i had in front of me: not too bad as a recording studio!
Just before the sunset, i stopped taking few classic shots of the chhatris near the river. The light was just perfect and i just walked around looking for the right angle, hoping to spot the vultures that live in this part of the town.
Those buildings looked like biscuits to me…!
I finally managed to find the spot where the vultures live and look after their babies. Apparently they’re becoming always less and are in danger as the food chain is slightly changing, therefore it is getting harder for them to find the right amount of dead animals.
On my last morning in Orchha, i had a coffee with this gentleman. I spotted him before, as he was walking in the village sporting a massive pair of studio headphones. We had a chat, he’s into music too, an arranger and violin player he said. Well, Mr. Nicky Harrison 76, wrote and arranged the string parts in ROLLING STONES “Angie” and “Winter”, and worked with Joe Cocker and many others back in the days. We spent a couple of hours talking about stuff and listening to each other’s compositions: we are both in love with Nick Drake’s “River Man” string part. You never know what can happen to you..INCREDIBLE INDIA!