An essential stop en route to or from Khajuraho, Orchha (“hidden place”) certainly lives up to its name, residing amid a tangle of scrubby dhak forest 18km southeast of Jhansi. In spite of its tumbledown state, the fortified and now deserted medieval town remains an architectural gem, its guano-splashed temple shikharas, derelict palaces, havelis and weed-choked sandstone cenotaphs floating serenely above the banks of the River Betwa. Clustered around the foot of the exotic ruins, the sleepy village makes an excellent spot to unwind after the hassle of northern cities. However, it’s now firmly established on the tour-group circuit, so try to spend a night or two here after the coach parties have moved off.

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