Orchha is a place of stories and historic monuments. It’s a small town in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, India. You will love the place if you like historic monuments and archaeology. I don’t know about others but whenever I visit such historic monuments and forts I feel like a part of history.

In Orchha, especially in Jahangir Mahal, Raja Mahal, and Chaturbhuj, I felt it very much as these places are less crowded. For me, the most attractive is Jahangir Mahal. The beauty of the place can’t be explained through words, it has to be experienced. Being there felt like, living with Kings and Queens.  

The name Orchha means “hidden”. Once upon a time it used to be a part of the jungle situated on the banks of river Bethwa and was really a hidden place. As per the stories told by local people the king of Bundelkhand Raja Rudra Pratap Singh came here for Shikar or hunting and had some conflict with a Yogi or Priest. When the priest was about to curse the king, the king apologized. Then as per the Yogi’s order, the king established Orchha as the second capital of Bundelkhand in the 16th century. Orchha is situated on the banks of Bethwa river, 53kms far from the original capital (Garhkunda) of Bundelkhand. 

History Behind Orchha

The emperor of Bundelkhand, Raja Rudra Pratap Singh started building the palace in 1501. As he died in the year 1531, his elder son took over and kept the work of the palace uninterrupted. Unfortunately, he also died very soon and the empire was been taken over by Rudra Pratap’s younger son Raja Madhukarsh Rai. Raja Madhukarsh Rai completed the work in the year 1552. Apart from the palace, the kings of Bundelkhand made Chaturbhuj mandir, Ram Lalalala Mandir, Lakshmi mandir, and Chhatri.

How To Reach Orchha

The nearest railway station from Orchha is Jhansi. Orchha is 19 to 20 km away from Jhansi Railway station and can be reached by an auto within 30 to 35 minutes. Buses are also available but I took an auto to reach there. Orchha is connected with other parts of Madhya Pradesh by buses. 

Stay and Food

I visited the place in 2018, That time there were not many options for staying in Orchha. A few small hotels are available, choose them if you want a budget friendly stay. Apart from this, there were 2 more options if you want a luxurious stay. 

1) Sheesh Mahal [a part of Orchha Fort converted into a heritage hotel] and 

2)A resort near Bethwa river. You can find more options in Google.

One can enjoy simple Indian and Continental vegetarian food here non-vegetarian food options are less as Ram Lala mandir situated nearby. Though eggs are available in almost all the eateries.

Places to visit in Orchha and their stories

Orchha Fort:

While entering the Orchha fort, it felt like I was entering that era when Maharaja and Maharanis used to live there, just felt like I was one of them. And the same feeling never left me alone till the time I left the fort. Whoever is reading my blog please visit this fairytale fort once at least to feel and believe the same. Every monument here has a story. Every stone and every painting of those monuments speaks thousands of stories about the time, era, people of that time, their culture, the skills of the painters, labourers, and engineers, and of course the stories of the kings and queens are the most interesting ones.

    Raja Mahal: While we enter the fort, we can see the Rajamahal first, and we found the Diwane Aam, where general people used to meet the king. Then we entered the main mahal or palace, here first we saw Diwane Khas, where the king used to meet his sabhasad or the ministers, dances, and music used to be performed by professionals for the royal family (including ladies). As we entered, we saw the dining room, bedrooms of the king and queen, are at the centre yard of the palace. I can’t stop myself from sharing a few pics of the paintings of the rooms. These paintings are made of natural colors and gum. The walls are made out of stones and instead of cement, they used the paste of chuna, surki, jaggery, pulses, and rice. The basic white paint is made out of the paste of different types of sea shells. This portion of the palace has a basement plus 4 storeys, but rooms are in the basement, ground level, and 1st floor, rest two storeys are only verandas (they call it hawa mahal). In the basement, there are 100 rooms, which were built for safety purposes (as in other forts).

    Jahangir Mahal: Jahangir Mahal was built by the king of Bundelkhand Vir Singh Deo in the 17th century. As per History and local people’s belief king of Bundelkhand built this beautiful huge complex to impress Jahangir to build up friendly relations with the Mughals. It took 22 years to make the complex. Though Jahangir stays there for a few days only and after that, it was used by the royal family of Bundelkhand. This complex also has many stories and rooms. The architecture of this complex is inspired by Mughal architecture. It is one of the most beautiful palaces I have seen. The total time I spent in Orchha, most of it consumed to explore Jahangir Mahal.

    Chaturbhuj Temple and Ram Lala Mandir:  Chaturbhuj Temple was built by the king Madhukarsh Rai for the Hindu god Rama. There is a very interesting story behind Chaturbhuj Mandir and Ram Lala Mandir. As per the local people Raja Madhukarsh Rai used to worship lord Krishna and the Rani or queen used to worship Rama. Once Raja Madhukarsh Rai asked Rani to go with him to Vrindavan Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna but Rani wanted to visit Ayodhya as it is the birthplace of Lord Rama. The King said to the queen that if she went to Ayodhya, she had to bring Lord Rama with her to Orchha, otherwise she would not be permitted to come back to Orchha. In Ayodhya Rani worshiped Lord Rama and meditated for several days. Lord Rama then agreed to come with the queen with three conditions. 1. she has to treat him as a baby or kid (balak rup) and carry him on her lap, 2. she has to carry him in a particular time (Pushpa nakshatra) and the most important 3. after reaching Orchha where he will sit once, that place would be his permanent place and he would be the king of that place. It is said that Chaturbhuj temple was made for lord Rama. But finally, lord Rama refused to be there.

    Few more interesting facts about Chaturbhuj:

    a.It has 4 temple tombs.

    b.Each tomb is totally different from the other.

    c.The place to keep Lord Rama (garvgriha) is made in such a way that it can be seen from Rajamahal.

    d. You can have a view of the whole Orchha city from the terrace of Chaturbhuj.

    e. The guide of this temple taught us communication skills don’t depend upon ears or tongue coz he is deaf and dumb, but he does his work efficiently.

    Ram Lala Temple:    When the queen of Orchha reached, she mistakenly kept lord Rama in the royal kitchen for some time before he could be shifted to the Chaturbhuj temple. After this lord Rama refused to shift as per his 3rd condition and the people of Orchha started treating lord Rama as the king of Orchha. This way the royal kitchen became the mandir of lord Rama and as Rama had been brought as a kid (Lalla) it’s called Ram Lala Temple. The prasad of this temple is a real treat for those who have a sweet tooth, the pure desi ghee motichur laddoo. Oh, you will also get a paan and it in a piece of cotton.

    Lakshmi Mandir: This temple is a bit far from Orchha Fort (15-minute walk) and was constructed with the same archaeology. Few interesting facts about this temple :

    1. It is a triangle in shape,The front of the temple looks like a bird face (garur).
    2. The paintings are textured and very different from each other. For example, if one corridor has the sequences of Ramayana the other has the lifestyle in the British era.

    Chhatri: On the banks of Bethwa river you will see a few temple-type tombs called Chhatri. The Bundelas made these in memory of the dead people of the royal family. The reflection of Chhatris on the river at the time of sunset is a must visit.

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