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Home » Madhya Pradesh » Orchha  

Orchha

Orchha - Medieval Legacy in Stone

Orchha Tour PackagesThe medieval city of Orchha, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. The city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa river, was founded by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, in the 16th century.

The word Orchha means 'hidden'. When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand rajas out of Garkhundar, they retreated to distant Orchha.

Apart from the famous landmarks like Jehangir Mahal, the Laxminarayan Temple, the area is peppered with fascinating little shrines and memorials, all of which add to the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, the city evokes in the visitor.

Orchha's grandeur has been captured in stone, frozen in time, a rich legacy to the ages. In this medieval city, the hand of time has rested lightly and the palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries retain much of their pristine perfection.

Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, who chose this stretch of land along the Betwa river as an ideal site for his capital. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular.

Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors are interiors which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life.

The origin of the Bundela dynasty in the 11th century is traced to a Rajput prince who offered himself as a sacrifice to the mountain goddess Vrindavasini; she stopped him and named him 'Bundela' (one who offered blood). The dynasty ruled over the area between the Yamuna and Narmada rivers. Garhkurar, once capital of the Bundela Rajas, fell to the Tughluqs just as that dynasty was weakening. Into the vacuum that they left, the Bundelas again expanded, moving their base to Orchha (meaning hidden). Raja Rudra Pratap threw a wall around the existing settlement and began work on the palace building (c. 1525-31) and an arched bridge to it. This was completed by his successor Bharti Chand (1531-54) who was installed in the Raj Mahal with great ceremony.


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Prime Attractions of Orchha


» Jehangir Mahal
Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness.

» Raj Mahal
Situated to the right of the quadrangle, this palace was built in the 17th century by Madhukar Shah, the deeply religious predecessor of Bir Singh Ju Deo. The plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colourful on a variety of religious themes.

» Rai Parveen
Mahal Poetess and musician, Rai Parveen was the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672-76) and was sent to Delhi on the orders of the Emperor Akbar, who was captivated by her. She so impressed the Great Mughal with the purity of her love for Indramani that he sent her back to Orchha. The palace built for her is a low, two-storeyed brick structure designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, beautifully landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, with its octagonal flower beds and elaborate water supply system. Skillfully carved niches allow light into the Mahal which has a main hall and smaller chambers.

» Chaturbhuj Temple
Built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps, the temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Within, the sanctum is chastely plain with high, vaulted walls emphasizing its deep sanctity.

» Laxminarayan Temple
A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality.

» Ram Raja Temple
With its soaring spires and palatial architecture, this temple is surely one of the most unusual in India. It is also the only place in the country where Rama worshipped as a King

» Dinman Hardaul's Palace
Hardaul was the son of Bir Singh Ju Deo, and died to prove his innocence to his elder brother Jhujhar who cast doubts on his relationship with his (Jhujhar's) consort. Thissaintly prince was, after his martyrdom,worshipped as a god and even today, the Jahangir Mahal Orchha Travelsvillages of Bundelkhand contain platform like shrines where Hardaul is worshipped.

» Phool Bagh
Laid out as a formal garden, this complex testifies to the refined aesthetic qualities of the Bundelas. A central row of fountains culminates in an eight pillared palace-pavilion. A subterranean structure below was the cool summer retreat of the Orchha kings. An ingenious system of water ventilation connects the underground palace with Chandan Katora, a bowl-like structure from whose fountains droplets of water filtered through to the roof, simulating rainfall..


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How to get there


» Air
Nearest airport is Gwalior (119 km) connected with Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Mumbai. Khajuraho (170 km), is connected with Delhi, Agra and Varanasi.

» Rail
Nearest railhead is Jhansi (16 km), on the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai main lines. All major mail and express trains stop at Jhansi.

» Road
Orchha lies on a diversion from the Jhansi-Khajuraho road. Regular bus services connect Orchha with Jhansi.Tempos and taxis are also available. Best Season : October to March.


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