Thursday, March 30, 2006

Culture Vulture

As I've mentioned before India has rarely been unified and was usually made up of a patchwork of petty, warring kingdoms. So it is easy, whilst travelling around, to visit various erstwhile capitals like I did on my way from Varanasi to Bhopal.

My first was a "must see" on the India circuit, being the famous temples of Khajuraho. They're known for their racy, and fantastically preserved, Kama Sutra sculptures. Rather annoying though, is the fact that many of them are quite high up on the temple walls meaning you have to crane your neck to see them and you can't get a decent picture; a sort of top-shelf censorship of the Middle Ages I suppose. More interesting for me, not least because the entire population wasn't out to fleece me, was the small town of Orchha. Its present-day population of about 8,000 is almost certainly less than what it used to be in its heyday, as can be testified by the imposing fort and palace, far-flung city walls and plenty of beautiful, old mansions in various stages of crumbling disrepair. I originally planned to see it as a day-trip but was disarmed by the relaxed atmosphere (and the oppressive midday heat of Summer which makes siestas a very popular activity) and exploration possibilities, and not to mention the river that was actually clean enough to bathe in (certainly a first for India!). The biologist in me was also excited to get his first sightings of vultures in India, soaring through the skies, as the once common birds have almost been wiped out in the Subcontinent due to the use of the drug Diclofenac, a painkiller administered to cattle which causes renal failure in the majestic birds.

1 comment:

Yann said...

Poisson d'avril!