Orcha Fort


Overview

State: Madhya Pradesh
Distance: 435 Km SE of Delhi
By Road: 10hrs
By Rail: 4hrs & 30min + 30min by road
Location: On the banks of the Betwa River in north-eastern MP, 17km from Jhansi
Route: NH2 to Agra via Mathura; NH3 to Gwalior via Dholpur; NH76 to Jhansi via Datia; state road to Orchha

Fast Fact

  • When to go Orchha

    Summer are awfully hot in central India, so winter months are the best

Orchha is located in northern part of the state of Madhya Pradesh, in the central region of India. It lies beside the Malwa plateau. The Betwa River flows through the town. The climate of Orchha is temperate. Summers (April-June) are not too hot while winters are cool (November-February) and pleasant. It experiences southwestern monsoon rains in July-September. It is 18 km from Jhansi.

Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, who chose this stretch of land along the Betwa river as an ideal site for his capital. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular.

Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors are interiors which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life.

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  • Places to visit in Orcha

    Fort Complex:
    The fort complex is a great place to visit; hit this first to obtain an all-day ticket good for all the sights in Orchha. Divided into 3 parts, it consists of
    - Raj Mahal: Situated to the right of the quadrangle, this palace was built in the 17th century by Madhukar Shah, the deeply religious predecessor of Bir Singh Ju Deo. The plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colourful on a variety of religious themes. Get a good guide inside here to take you all over the complex, including locked rooms, for a tip.
    - Jehangir Mahal: Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness.
    - Rai Parveen Mahal: Poetess and musician, Rai Parveen was the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672- 76) and was sent to Delhi on the orders of the Emperor Akbar, who was captivated by her. She so impressed the Great Mughal with the purity of her love for Indramani that he sent her back to Orchha.

    Ram Raja temple
    (closed during the afternoon): This is the center around which the life of Orchha revolves. The presiding Deity here is Lord Ram. The idols were meant to be installed in the magnificent Chaturbhuj temple, but when the idols, once kept on the ground(where they are today), refused to move. So a makeshift temple was built around it and is known as Ram Raja temple. It has an excellent courtyard, tiled with marble and the temple in pink and yellow colors, gives a bright look. No photography.

    Chaturbhuj Temple
    Built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps, the temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Within, the sanctum is chastely plain with high, vaulted walls emphasizing its deep sanctity. Find the hidden stairs to the roof for a view of the entire area.

    Laxminarayan Temple
    A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality.

    Phool Bagh:
    Laid out as a formal garden, this complex testifies to the refined aesthetic qualities of the Bundelas. A central row of fountains culminates in an eight pillared palace-pavilion. A subterranean structure below was the cool summer retreat of the Orchha kings. An ingenious system of water ventilation connects the underground palace with Chandan Katora, a bowl-like structure from whose fountains droplets of water filtered through to the roof, simulating rainfall.

    Sunder Mahal:
    This small palace, almost in ruins today is still a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Dhurjban, son of Jhujhar, embraced Islam when he wed a Muslim girl at Delhi. He spent the latter part of his life in prayer and meditation and came to be revered as a saint.

    Cenotaphs:
    There are 14 Chhatris or Memorials to the rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa on the south end of town. You can climb up to the roof for views of the river.

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