The allure of Chitrakoot, dubbed a ‘mini Varanasi’, has pulled at me for quite a long time, but I’ve never been able to fit it into an itinerary until now. Varanasi is an amazing magical place, but it certainly has a healthy and well-established tourist trade. The thought of being able to visit a place with a similar magical feel, yet with people who are much less accustomed to foreigners was very appealing.
The only downside to being in a town with no established tourism is that your guesthouse feels exactly like a dungeon: each wall surface is filthy, the toilet is broken, there's no hot water, no internet (obviously), only a single light bulb per room, and blankets that smell like other unwashed people. I guess I’ve had worse.
But what a magical place it was. Built on a slightly less sacred river (apparently, India has more than a few of these) there are still oodles of people who come here to worship and pray on its banks everyday at sunrise and sunset. There are many temples on the banks of the river and for a small fee you can be rowed to them on a boat oddly and wonderfully decorated (and inhabited by bunnies of all things). Somehow that made sense at the time.
As usual, my interest was focused mostly on trying to capture the warmth of the local people and here it was all too easy - smiles, warmth, and openness were everywhere. Truly a very special place.