Bundelkhand has been at the heart of India’s golden medieval history. While Rajasthan was known for its glamour and treasures, Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by Rajputs became known for its quiet elegance and subtle charm. On the banks of the River Betwa stand Orchha, the capital of a historic kingdom, steeped in rich culture and stunning natural beauty. The region is hilly and naturally verdant and green. The golden castles, palaces, forts and temples of Orchha, made of brick, sandstone, and red soil, make for a delightful sight. Orchha has been considered a photographer’s dream come true. More and more tourists are now discovering the beauty and allure of this wonderful city. Unlike many other popular tourist destinations, Orchha manages to blend a royal history, with green foliage, undulating mountains, overflowing lakes and riverbanks, and an abundance of flora and fauna.
History of Orchha
According to legends, sometime in the 11th century, a brave young Rajput prince offered his own life as sacrifice for the Goddess Vrindavasini. She restored his life and gave him the epithet “Bundela”, meaning sacrificial. Even as the Bundela capital, Garhkurar fell to the imperial ambitions of the Tughlaqs, the glorious town of Orchha was founded in the mid-16th century by the Bundela Rajput Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh. Between 1525 and 1531 AD, he built the city wall and started work on the palace. This work was completed by his successor Maharaja Bharti Chand. For well over a century, Orchha remained a stronghold of the Bundela Rajput kings. These kings were great connoisseurs of art and architecture. They left no stone unturned in building stately mansions and temples in Orchha. The remains of this regal legacy still stand in the city, a reminder of the golden era that this city has witnessed.
How to Get There?
Orchha, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh is easily accessible from Delhi the national capital.
Jhansi, at a distance of 14 kilometres, is the nearest major railway station and Gwalior at a distance of 108 kilometres is the nearest airport. You may take one of the many trains from Delhi to Jhansi and then take an auto rickshaw or hire a taxi to Orchha. Alternatively, you may choose to fly from Delhi to Gwalior and then hire a taxi to Orchha. Among the many trains connecting Delhi and Jhansi, the Shatabdi is the fastest and the most convenient.
Orchha is also a destination often covered by tourists headed to Khajuraho. Two regular trains run between Khajuraho and Jhansi (Khajuraho – Udaipur Express and Khajuraho – Nizamuddin Express). Apart from this, there are regular bus services between Khajuraho and Jhansi bus station. Orchha does not have a bus station of its own, though a number of state buses drop visitors off nearby.
Best Time to Visit
Throughout Madhya Pradesh, summers are very hot and dry and winters extremely cold. Monsoon is the best season to visit Orchha. The rains are moderate and the entire region takes on a greenness that soothes the soul. The lakes and ponds fill up and lotus blooms dot the golden land. July through September and even October (autumn) are the best months to visit Orchha.
Places of Tourist Interest in Orchha
Raj Mahal – The luxuriant palace with terraces, intricately carved columns, and stately chambers is one of the best attractions of the city of Orchha. The Raj Mahal palace was the residence of the royals of Orchha kingdom. The canopied pavilions, the looming towers and the gardens and courtyards are among its best features. Visitors come here in thousands each year. Some parts of the interiors are preserved in excellent condition.
Sheesh Mahal – The Sheesh Mahal of Orchha as its name suggests is the palace of mirrors. Embellished entirely with coloured glass and mirrors, this place is a beauty to behold. In olden times, the kings of Orchha used to enjoy song and dance performances here.
Laxminarayan Temple – Built by Maharaja Vir Singh Deo in 1622, the Laxminarayan Temple of Orchha was later restored by Raja Prithvi Singh in 1793. It is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the giver of wealth, and prosperity. The interiors of the temple are beautifully done up and the frescos are its key attraction. They depict scenes from the Hindu mythology.
Ram Raja Temple – The Ram Raja Temple of Orchha is a huge complex. It is believed to have been built By Raja Madhukar Shah after a prophetic dream. The Ram idol in the temple is believed to be exceptionally powerful and is worshipped regularly.
Jahangir Mahal – Jahangir Mahal is possibly the most famous tourist attraction of Orchha. Built by King Vir Deo Singh in the 17th century and named after the Mughal emperor of the times, the Jahangir Mahal includes over 100 beautiful rooms, balconies, terraces, and domes. It is a unique blend of the Mughal style of architecture and Hindu style of building palaces. The coloured tiles and large airy arches make for a handsome palace.
Chhatris of Orcha – The Chattris or cenotaphs of Orchha on the banks of the River Betwa are memorials to the various kings who ruled the land. 14 such chattris were built in the region. Each speaks volumes of their glorious reigns, the battles won, and their patronage of arts. The intricate artwork of these memorials makes them worth a visit.
Chaturbhuj Temple – Commissioned by Raja Madhukar, it is a wonderful temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The idol is believed to bestow on its worshippers all their desires. The temple itself is a masterpiece of Bundela architecture and is one of the major attractions of Orchha – its spires and murals lend it an ethereal beauty.
Places to Stay
Homestays are the best way to enjoy the essence of local life in Orchha and sample the local cuisine. Luxury hotels in the region, however, allow you to stay in restored palaces and havelis.
The Orchha Resort
- Telephone: +91-7680-252222
- Fax +91-7680-252677
- Address: Kanchanghat, District Tikamgarh, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
- Address: Kothi Ghat , District Tikamgarh, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
- Telephone: +91-7680-252612
- Telephone: +91-7680-252102
- Address: District Tikamgarh, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
- Address: District Tikamgarh, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
- Telephone: +91-7680-252614
- Telephone: +9199933 85405
- Address: Lakshmi Mandir Road, Ganj Mohalla, Orachha, Madhya Pradesh