Orchha Travel Guide
Orchha Travel Guide: Orchha Without the Betwa River, on whose banks Orchha lies, or the forests around it, this city would have been a barren outpost. But languishing amid a tangle of scrubby dhak forest, 18km southeast of Jhansi, Orchha, the “hidden place”, is Bundela land. Their palaces and temples built in the 16th and 17th centuries are poetry in stone. Every architectural gem shimmers here, evenings impart silhouettes to photographs and in the evenings, monuments wear an ethereal glow. Enough reasons not to Orchha the miss!
Places To Visit in Orchha
The Raj Mahal and the Rai Praveen Mahal
Built across the medieval granite bridge, the Raj Mahal was started by Rudra Pratap, and completed by his successors. The Sheesh Mahal that follows is a greater landmark. Used by the Bundela queens the second rectangular courtyard inside, is the most dramatic. Grandiose royal quarters, magnificent balconies and interlocking walkways rise in symmetrical tiers on all four sides, crowned by domed pavilions and turrets to create a symphony in stone. Fragments of mirror-inlay and scintillating painting plastered over their walls and ceilings still linger. Some of the friezes are also maintained remarkably.
Lying to the North is the Rai Praveen Mahal – a small, double-storeyed brick apartment built by Raja Indra Mani in the 17th century. Set amidst the Anand Mahal gardens, it has a main assembly hall, boudoir upstairs, and cools underground apartments.
Built as a welcome present for the Mughal emperor Jehangir, it still continues to hold sway over the minds of the people. The east-facing facade is encrusted with turquoise tiles. Two stone elephants flank the stairway and holding bells in their trunks to announce the arrivals. Three storeys of elegant hanging balconies, terraces, apartments and onion domes are piled around a central courtyard. Countless windows and pierced stone screens looking out over the skyline to the west give it a more spacious look.
The pink Ram Raja Mandir stands in a marble-tiled courtyard and is a popular pilgrimage place especially during major Rama festivals. Chaturbhuj Mandir has huge pointed shikharas soaring high above the village, in cruciform shape and epitomizes the Bundelkhand style.
The Laxmi Narayan temple is a unique blend of temple and fort architecture. The frescoes within this temple depict social and secular themes. These frescoes have retained their vibrant colors.
The Mughal-style Phool Bagh is a well-laid garden and was the resting place of the erstwhile Bundela rulers. This garden has fountains, pavilions and ingenious water ventilation system.
The Hardaul ka Baithak is a grand pavilion where Bir Singh Deo’s second son, Hardaul, once held court. Orchha also has 14 chhatris or memorials for its rulers, situated near the Kanchan Ghat on River Betwa.
The Shahid Smarak commemorating the martyrdom of Chandrashekhar Azad, the great freedom fighter, is an important place to revive nationalistic feelings.
How to reach here:
Orchha does not have an airport or a railway station. The nearest railhead is at Jhansi and since Jhansi is located on the main Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai route, many trains pass and stop here.