Orchha


Orchha is the erstwhile capital city of the Bundela rulers. The town is steeped in history and is famous for its palaces and temples built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The architectural splendor of the monuments in Orchha reflects the glory of its rulers. The Betwa River, on whose banks Orchha lies, and the forests around it attract tourist to this place.

Orchha is located in northern part of the state of Madhya Pradesh, in the central region of India. It lies beside the Malwa plateau. The Betwa River flows through the town. The climate of Orchha is temperate. Summers (April-June) are not too hot while winters are cool (November-February) and pleasant. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains in July-September. It is 18 km from Jhansi.

The history of Orchha sheds light on the glorious past of the Madhya Pradesh city that was famed as an erstwhile princely state in the Bundelkhand region. The legendary Bundela chieftain Rudra Pratap Singh founded the town of Orchha, way back in the 16th century.

The town of Orchha has fought against the vagaries of time. The chronicles of Orchha history record that Raja Jujhar Singh, a former Orchha monarch had renegade against the mighty Mughal potentate, Shah Jehan in the 17th century. This tactical error met with disastrous consequences and soon afterwards, in between 1635 to 1641 AD, the Mughal army took over the princely state and caused wanton carnage and destruction. Very soon, however Orchha grew into a powerful empire. The only state that did not succumb before the Marathas in the 18th century, Orchha has many a claim to its fame. In the year 1783, the town of Tehri (present Tikamgarh) was established as the capital of Orchha. Tehri is also an historically eminent town that houses the majestic and crenelated fort of Tikamgarh.

In the long lineage of the Orchha emperors, Maharajah Hamir Singh was another celebrated monarch who ruled over Orchha between 1848 to 1874. The philanthropist Maharaja Pratap Singh, Hamir Singh's successor ascended to the throne in 1874 AD and worked solely for the noble cause of the sustainable growth and development of the state's engineering and irrigation facilities. In fact, Orccha reached the zenith of prosperity during his regime. In the year 1904, the state encompassed an area of 2080 sq. miles and marked a net populace of 321,634 people. The first and foremost of the Bundela states with a 15-gun salute, the Maharajahs of Orchha were deeply esteemed in the region and were conferred the hereditary title of the First of the Princes of Bundelkhand. The annals about Orchha state that Vir Singh had coalesced his princely state with the Union of India on 1st January 1950.

There are three beautiful palaces set in the open quadrangle of the fort in Orchha. Jahangir Mahal was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal in Honour of emperor Jehangir, when Jehangir visited Orchha. A tiered palace crowned by graceful chatris, from here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular. Raj Mahal built by the deeply religious Madhukar Shah, it is situated to the right of the quadrangle. In Raj Mahal a trail through the maze of intricate stairways leading to numerous turrets is an experience in itself, evoking nostalgia of the thrilling lifestyle of the royals. The interiors have exquisite colourful murals, on a variety of religious themes. From the turrets, one is treated to a breathtaking view of Jahangir Mahal on the east and the Chaturbhuj temple on the west.

Rai Praveen Mahal was built for the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672-76), who was a poetess and a musician. It is a low two-storey brick structure, designed so as 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.

Ram Raja Temple turned temple with its soaring spires and palatial architecture is one of the most unusual in India. The legend goes that the statue of Ram, brought from Ayodhya was temporarily installed here while a temple for it was being built. Later on, it was impossible to move the statue to the new location. It is the only temple in the country where Ram is worshipped as a Raja (king), probably because the statue of the god is in a palace.

Chaturbhuj Temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Ram 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 and its vaulted walls emphasis its deep sanctity.

Laxmi Narayan Temple the style of this temple is a mixture of fort and temple moulds. Its interiors contain the most beautiful of Orchha’s paintings. These murals cover the walls and ceiling of three halls and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in an excellent state of preservation.

Cenotaphs: There are fourteen cenotaphs or chhatries dedicated to the rulers of Orchha, along the Kanchana Ghat of the river Betwa. Other attractions of Orchha are Phool Bagh, Shrines of Siddh babe Ka Sthan, Jugal Kishore, the Janki Mandir and the Hanuman Mandir. The historic city of Jhansi is 18 km from Orchha. It is a famous tourist destination and is known for the exploits of Rani Jhansi, who played an important role in fighting the British during the revolt of 1857. A number of monuments belonging to this period including Jhansi Fort and Rani Jhansi's Palace are important tourist attractions of Jhansi.

Orchha does not have an airport or a railway station. The nearest railhead is at Jhansi (18 km from Orchha). As Jhansi is located on the main Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai route, many trains pass and stop here. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.