Forgotten royalty or grandeur of an age captured, frozen and immortalized in stone? Visit the small but charming village town boasting of palaces, temples (Laxmi Narayan Temple, Chatturbhuj Temple and Ram Raja Temple), royal cenotaphs and resorts alongside the banks of river Betwa to decide for yourself.
Orchha, which literally means “the hidden city”, is situated by the sparkling blue and clean river Betwa. The main street of the village town is flanked by neat houses, with tidy white borders. The road leads to the river Betwa beyond the village town. A small bridge spans the water, the palaces and temples reflected on the clear crystalline water and colorful saris and turbans of the locals drying on the rocks in water create a mesmerizing and enchanting scene.
The town surrounded by forests from all sides, was founded by the Rajput king Rudrapratap in the 16th century. Amidst the resistance and favor from the Mughal rule over India, the kings of Orchha ruled and built the town as capital of Bundela kings. They have built some marvelous structures here.
The town has religious importance and is a marvelous example of medieval architecture splendors. The entire place is strewn with a magnificent fort, wide range of monuments within the forts, chatris (cenotaphs) of Orchha kings on the lovely banks of river Betwa.
ORCHHA FORT COMPLEX
Orchha fort complex is located on the eastern side of the town, walking distance from the main market place. The fort has a number of palaces within, the Raja Mahal, the Jahangir Mahal, and the Rai Pravin Mahal.
Built by Madhukar Shah during 16th century, this beautiful palace is the residence of the kings. The most attractive feature of these residences is the beautiful and religious mural painted on the walls.
The Diwan-e- Khas at the entrance has Persian carpet like motifs on the ceilings and walls. The residence of Madhukar Shah’s queen Rani-ka -Mahal is decorated with vividly painted murals of scenes from the epic Ramayana and ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Jahangir Mahal can be well described as a blend of Mughal and Rajput architectures. It is a striking stone structure built by Bir Singh Deo in the 17th century. King Bir Deo built the Jahangir Mahal to welcome Emperor Jahangir during his one day stay in Orchha. Building is a three storied building with a fountain in the center.
Rai Pravin Mahal
Rai Pravin was a beautiful and exceptionally gifted courtesan, accomplished poet and singer. She was in love with Raja Indramani. Her palace is built in the Orchha Fort complex.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Laxmi Narayan Temple is situated at the far Northeastern end of Orchha. This temple is an architectural fusion and partly resembles a fort. The magnificent murals in the traditional Orchha style of painting are painted on the walls of the temple. The paintings depict the stories from mythology, day to day life of Bundela rulers, battle scene between British Indian army and the queen of Jhansi fought at the Jhansi fort. If it is your lucky day, you can fins local women outside the temple making and selling miniature paintings of the wall murals.
It is the largest temple dominating the entire western half of the town. This temple is an enticing example of Hindu Architecture. Built by Madhukar Shah, the temple has massive doors, large halls and inner sanctum. Originally, meant to be the queen’s temple, it could not be used later on as the legend goes. You can see a nice and overall view of the town from the windows and see a nice and overall view of the town from the windows and the balconies of the temple.
Raja Ram Temple
It is the only temple shrine in India where Lord Rama is worshiped as a king. The morning prayer is a must watch where Lord Rama sits on his throne in full durbar surrounded by Sita, his brothers, Hanuman and his courtiers. You can easily spot an armed guard standing vigil in the inner sanctum.
Visit Orchha for its medieval legacy, and the forts, shrines, monuments and memorials adding to the romantic beauty of Orchha.