Known for its grand palaces, intricately carved temples and striking forts, situated on banks of river Betwa Orchha is a city with a lot of historical significance and a photographers’ paradise.
Situated on the banks of Betwa river, Orchha’s old world charm casts a spell on tourists from all around the world. The medieval architecture of the palaces and temples tell the story of this city’s rich cultural heritage. Orchha was the capital of one of the most powerful dynasties to ever rule in India- the Bundelas. The sheer magnificence and grandeur of the havelis and temples are absolutely breathtaking. Orchha is world-renowned for it’s classic mural paintings and frescos. The world renowned temple, Chaturbhuj Temple was built by Queen of Orchha, Ganeshi Bai. Another famous temple Raj Mandir was built by Madhukar Shah during his reign between 1554 and 1591. Dauji ki Haveli, Chhatris and Lakshmi temple are few other places that cannot be missed by any tourist travelling here.
How to reach
Orchha is within easy reach from Delhi. Visitors often combine it with a visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra and the erotic temples of Khajuraho. Jhansi is the nearest railway station and Gwalior the nearest airport. The distance between Jhansi and Orchha is 18 kilometres.
Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap. 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.
Orchha, also called Urchha, is situated in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. The town was the seat of an eponymous former princely state of Central India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha is close to Jhansi, lying on the river Betwa. Grand palaces and temples make it one of the most favourite tourist site of the state.
Orchha’s fort complex, approached by a multi-arched bridge, has three palaces set in an open quadrangle. The most fantastic of these are: Jehangir Mahal, Raj Mahal and Rai Parveen Mahal. Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo built Jenangir Mahal in the 17th century to
commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris ( canopies) and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness.
Situated to the right of the quadrangle, this Raj Mahal 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.
There is an interesting story about Rai Parveen Mahal. History says that 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.
Chaturbuj Temple, Laxminarayan Temple, Phool Bagh, Sunder Mahal, Shahid Smarak are other major places worth visiting in the town.
There are some good package tours to the city from Delhi – Medieval Splendour , Charming Chanderi , Khajuraho Dance Festival to name a few. The nearest airport from Orchha is Gwalior. The closest railhead is at Jhansi, on the Mumbai-Delhi and Delhi-Chennai mainlines. Regular bus services connect the town with Khajuraho and Jhansi. During the tour one can sojourn at Hotel Sheesh Mahal and Betwa Retreat.
Must see places: Orchha’s fort complex, Jehangir Mahal, Raj Mahal, Rai Parveen Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple, Laxminarayan Templ, Phool Bagh, Sunder Mahal, Chhatris (Cenotaphs) , Shahid Smarak, Ram Raja Temple, Sound and Light Show.