In the state of Madhya Pradesh, located on the banks of river Betwa in the district of Tikamgarh, is the historic city of Orchha. This historic city was founded by the Bundela Rajput Chief, Rudra Pratap in the 16th century.
The place has mystery in its air, with its enigmatic architecture that curiously interchanges from forts into temples. It is also said to be the only place in India where Rama is worshipped as a King and not as a Demigod.
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This ancient town seems to be frozen in time, as many of its monuments retain their grandeur even today. Here you would find some of the fascinating temples and palaces which would take you back to your childhood and remind you of the stories told by your grandmothers.
The town has a handful of families who have been living here for several generations. It's surprising when you have your neighbours who freely move in and out of each other's homes and everyone know each other by their names, unlike today.
Orchha is located at a distance of 351 km from Bhopal, 124 km from Gwalior and 17 km from Jhansi, which also happens to be the closest major railway station which has trains reaching from Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities.
Places To See
1. Chaturbhuj Temple
This 16th century spectacular temple is visible from anywhere in the town. The temple was built to be dedicated to Rama, but it never served its purpose. One can climb up a steep and dark staircase from the north-west corner of its central interior space and reach all the way up to its roof pinnacles which give some of the best views in the town.
A word of caution, there are no guardrails in place and you have to be extremely careful while climbing up. There are people who try to make quick money by trying to make you believe that the door leading to the stairs are locked and to get it opened, they ask for a tip.
2. Jehangir Mahal
A brilliant example of Mughal architecture, as the name says it was built in honour of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. The mahal features a course of steep staircases and precipitous walkways.
It was built in the early 17th century by Bir Singh Deo. It has eight domed towers and eight slender domed pavilions, with eight more pavilions on the level below.
With beautiful carved pathways, you walk across the arches, doorways to the 'jalis' or the carved mesh which gives a beautiful view of the town.
The tombs of the Orchha royalty are called as Chhatris, situated on the river bank. These huge and serene structures are best to be enjoyed during dusk, when you can find birds heading towards their nests and children playing in the river.
The best view is from the far bank of the river.
4. Ram Raja Temple
This is the only temple where Rama is worshipped as a king and always has the devotees making a beeline to pay a visit. The Queen of Orchha was an ardent devotee of Rama while returning from Ayodhya after a pilgrimage, she wanted to bring Rama along with her as a boy.
Rama, who was pleased by her prayers agreed to accompany her, on one condition that he would not move from one temple to another, but will remain where she would take him first, which happened to be the palace and Rama chose the palace to be his shrine.
The King had passed an order to construct a temple and shift the idol of Rama from the palace. As per the orders the temple was ready and when the time came to shift the idol, it could not be moved.
Since then Rama has remained in the palace. He is not only worshipped as a God but also treated like a King. As a mark of respect Rama gets a gun salute everyday.
5. Raja Mahal
It was the official residence of the erstwhile Kings of Orchha. The Raja Mahal built in the 16th century has several rooms dedicated to deities such as Brahma, Vishnu, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, Sita and Ganesha in addition to which the Orchha royalty, wrestle, hunt, fight and dance.
The mahal has all its walls and ceilings in vivid and colourful murals and the upper floors give a great view of the town the pretty 'jali' windows.
6. Lakshmi Narayan Temple
An interesting mix of a fort and temple, which has a rooftop that offers a fine view along with the mural paintings. These paintings have compositions from various mythological stories on the ceilings of the domed towers which are well-preserved.
The best time to visit Orchha would be from the months of September to March. The cool months of October and November will be the ideal time to visit the palaces with its cool climate.
Food And Accommodation
There are many options open for one to find a place to stay and eat, which ranges from the pocket-friendly ones to luxurious and heritage stays. Food is not a problem here as there plenty of options.
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