Thanks to this successful and popular homestay program, started by the non-profit organisation Friends of Orchha in 2009, travellers have a wonderful opportunity to stay with local people and experience village life in Ganj, 1km west of central Orchha. You'll be staying in simple village homes and eating simple village meals, but you may be amazed at how spotlessly clean the houses are, and you can rent bikes (₹60 per day) to explore Orchha and the surrounding area.
Don’t expect luxury – you'll be sleeping on charpoys (rope beds) in most cases – but the eight rooms, in six homes in the small village, are better and more charming than a lot of budget hotels. Rooms have insulated walls and tiled roofs and are equipped with fans and mosquito nets. Most houses have sit-down toilets, while others have dry-composting squat toilets or a squat toilet linked to a bio-gas digester.
The interaction with villagers and immersion into village life is priceless (so you probably won't want the wi-fi; ₹100 per day) and guests are provided with a helpful information folder, which includes ideas about what to do and where to go around Ganj and Orchha.
If you want to stay one night only, you can, but room rates will be slightly higher than for longer stays. In any case, the slow pace of life in Ganj is something to be savoured and most guests stay several nights.
Friends of Orchha has an office, open from 3pm, on the right-hand side of the road as you enter Ganj, but it's easy to book directly online through their website, or make arrangements through the program's manager, Romi Samele, at OTS Tours & Travels in Orchha.
Friends of Orchha also runs an after-school youth club for village children. Options to donate are available.