Orchha, located in Madhya Pradesh (a central Indian state) on the banks of the River Betwa, has a medieval feel. This town is full of life and has palaces, forts and temples displaying the rich, feudal and dreamy Indian history. Orchha is not as popular as yet another famous tourist destination, Khajuraho which is located nearby. But this small town in India has a well-preserved history of medieval dynasty. You can actually experience the Bundelkhandi architecture at Orchha. Though monuments are bit neglected from the preservation point of view but yet these are in good condition. Thanks to the nature that surrounds the Orchha in the form of thick forest.
By travelling to the west from Khajuraho is located a big Orchha fort. Established by King Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501, Orchha Fort complex consists of many palaces and monuments. You enter into a big courtyard after passing through the entrance gate of the fort. From here you enter into the Raja Mahal (King’s Palace). Both social as well as religious aspects of life are depicted inside the royal chambers in the form of murals.
At a small distance from this is a Jehangir Mahal. This Mahal was built for the Mughal emperor Jehangir’s on his one-night visit to Orchha in the 17th Century. The Jehangir Mahal displays a unique mix of Muslim and Rajput architectural style. Balconies and entrance of room are arched. Roof of the Mahal gives an amazing view of the entire town. The main entrance has now been converted into an exit of the Mahal. In addition to this, there is the small residence of the courtesan Rai Parveen. It is located at the center amidst of the garden representing Mughal architectural style. Life-size portrait of Rai Parveen is the main attraction. It is said that she was so beautiful that Emperor Akbar (1556 to 1605) forcefully moved her to his palace in Agra. But she was sent home after the Emperor read a poem written by Rai Parveen stating that why you want to enjoy the food that has already been tasted.
Chaturbhuj Temple is located just outside the entrance of the fort. Though the temple has a remarkable structure but no deity has ever been worshipped inside the Chaturbhuj temple. As per a story, once the queen had a dream of Lord Rama for whom the temple was built. In her dream Lord refused to stay in the temple and picked to live in a division of the Raja Mahal. Because of which that part of the palace was changed into the Ram Raja Temple. Till date that section of the palace is lively with devotees who daily come for prayers and to pay respect.
Chhatris in Orchha have an exciting appeal and situated on an elevated platform on the bank of the river. These are the royal tombs of Maharajas. Domes of the monument are painted stunningly. The narrow bridge gives a spectacular view of Chhatris with their reflection in the river water.
Another place of interest in Orchha is Laxmi-Narayan temple. This temple is located close to Chaturbhuj Temple. It is in the form of fort as well as temple. At present there is no deity inside the temple as the original one was stolen a few decades back. But you may see the owls flying around, that is considered as a vahan (vehicle) of the goddess Laxmi.
Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial is a contemporary building and built to commemorate the freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad. This great freedom fighter of India spent his days of exile during 1926-27 at Orccha. At Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial is a full sized bronze statue of Chandra Shekhar Azad that was unveiled in 1984 by the then Prime Minister.
Merchants were very popular and an influential class at Orchha because the town was a great trading hub. Though the merchants were not so rich but they used their wealth to construct Havelis that were beautifully done and decorated. Dauji ki Haveli is one of these and still in a very good shape and well-preserved. Mural paintings of the wall are worth visiting that are still shining.
Do have a look at the Orchha’s local life and visit the fascinating town of medieval times. Also taste the “Kalakand” a famous sweet and specialty of Orchha.
History of Orchha
Orchha is located on River Betwa. A Rajput ruler of Bundelkhand, Rudra Pratap Singh built this town and also the Orchha Fort. The Mughal Army under the generalship of Shah Jahan attacked the city. Till 1641 A.D Orchha was ruled by the Mughals. Though Marathas tried to rule over Orchha but could get success. From 1848 to 1874 AD Hamir Singh ruled the city. After this, Orchha was ruled by Maharaja Pratap Singh. In 1956, Orchha was declared as a part of Madhya Pradesh.
Travelling within the city
Within Orchha you can travel via bus, auto-rickshaw or taxi. Buses are the most preferred way to reach Orchha that run form 6 am to 11 pm with a very nominal fare. Auto-rickshaw takes flat rate instead of running on meter.