Monday, January 28, 2013

Magical Orchha!

Drove into Orchha in the afternoon from Jhansi.
Orchha was founded in the 15th century AD by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha.
History confronts you at every step from the minute you enter Orchha. Stay anywhere and you are bound to sight some palace or the other either from you room or from the roof top.


The first palace that we visited was the Raja Mahal. This palace was built by Rudra Pratap Singh.


It has beautiful paintings on the ceiling and murals on the walls. Fortunately these paintings can still be seen in



its original colours!


Then we visited the Jahangir Mahal. The Jahangir Mahal was constructed after Vir Singh Deo of Bundela Rajputs revolted against the Mughal Emperor Akbar. 


It was completed in 1598 by the victorious Mughal Prince Salem (later known as the Mughal Emperor 


Jahangir) after defeating Vir Singh Deo of Bundela, a sworn enemy of the Mughals.
By the time we were through visiting these palaces it was evening and we were advised by our guide to go 


over the bridge over river Betwa to view a fabulous sunset against the Chhatris or Memorials built to honour 


the rulers of Orchha.
Next morning it was time to visit the Chhaturbhuj temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was built in 875, 


during the reign of imperial Gurjara Pratihara dynasty.


Adjacent to that is the Ram Raja temple. Both, the Chaturbhuj temple and the RamRaja temple have a fascinating myth. The King of Orchha, King Madhukar Shah Ju Dev was a devotee of Lord Krishna while his wife Kamla Devi, was a devotee of Lord Ram. One day both of them went to Lord Krishna’s temple but the temple had closed by that time.  They decided to join a group of devotees who were singing and dancing in the praise of lord Krishna outside the temple. Lord Krishna and Radha were so pleased that they too danced with them. After that incident, the King asked the Queen to accompany him to Mathura, the land of lord Krishna, but the Queen wanted to go Ayodhya , the land of Lord Rama.
The queen left the palace and started the long journey to Ayodhya (Rama's birthplace) on foot to bring Lord Ram with her to Orchha. She didn’t tell the King before leaving but she ordered her servants to start building a temple (Chaturbhuj Temple) for Lord Rama.
After reaching Ayodhya the Queen started praying to Lord Ram close to Laxman Fort near Sarayu river.. The queen fasted and prayed for about a month but Lord Ram did not appear, so eventually in despair the queen decided to jump in the Sarayu river. Just then something magical happened, Lord Ram appeared in child form in Queen’s lap.
The queen was ecstatic and began to cry. Lord Ram told the queen that he was happy with her prayers and she could ask for a boon, at which the queen asked Ram to come with her in child form to Orchha. Ram agreed to go but he put forth three conditions: 1) I will travel only in Pukh Nakshatra, when Pukh Nakshatra will end I will stop and resume only when Pukh Nakshtra sets in again. In this manner I will travel from Ayodhya to Orchha on foot along with a group of sages. 2) Once I reach Orchha, I will be the King of Orchha and not your husband. 3) Since child form of Ram would travel in Queen’s lap, the first place where you seat me will be my final place of stay and will be famous by the name of Ramraj".
The Queen agreed and started her journey to Orchha with baby Ram in her lap. Since the queen traveled only in Pukh Nakshtra it took them 8 months and 27 days to reach Orchha from Ayodhya on foot (between 1574 to 1575). King Madhukar Shah meanwhile had a dream where Lord Krishna scolded him on discriminating between Lord Ram and himselfand reminded the King that Lord Ram and he are one and the same, there is no difference. The King was very apologetic when he woke up and found out that the queen was returning from Ayodhya. The King went to receive the queen with horses, elephants, servants, food, etc. and apologized to the queen. The queen did not accept king’s apology and refused the comforts offered to her by the King. The Queen claimed that she now possessed everything one could ever ask for (Lord Ram in child form).
On returning to Orchha the queen went back to her palace with baby Ram and retired in her room for the night thinking she would take Lord Ram to the Chaturbhuj temple the next day. But according to Lord Ram’s conditions he took the first place where he was seated hence Lord Ram transformed into an idol and got transfixed in the queens palace itself. To this day the Ram Raja Temple is in the Queen’s palace and not in the Chaturbhuj Temple which is right next to the palace.


Orchha is geared to cater to all tastes. It has a wide range of restaurants listed in Lonely Planet and these restaurants display that fact.

How to reach:

By Rail: Jhansi railway station, 16 km away from Orchha, is the nearest railway station. Jhansi is situated on the major rail route and there are regular train services to the major cities in India.

By Air: Gwalior is the nearest airport to Orchha (116 km) and is well connected to all major Indian cities.

By Road: Many private and Government Transport bus services are available to reach Orchha from Jhansi (16 km). Orchha is well connected by buses with Bhopal, Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho and Gwalior.


42 comments:

  1. What am amazing place! The paintings are wonderful as are the designs on the walls. Nice to see all these terrific places through your eyes :)

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  2. That's an interesting myth; the one behind Ram Raja temple.
    And thank you for another fascinating photo tour. :)

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  3. What a wonderful set of pictures . Very beautiful places .

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  4. I had no clue about this place. Thanks Deepak for taking me on this journey to Orchha.Excellent account and neat shots. Loved the silhouette shot with the temples the most

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  5. Beautiful post and nice photos.Thanks for the post.

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  6. Story is new to me, very interesting. Chatrubhuj temple has surprisingly a front arch and Gumbaj which is often found in Muslim architecture, may be it was extended or renovated later. Best shot is of the sunset behind chhatris.

    Your account of Orchha is very excellent. I am surprised I never heard of this place a tourist destination.

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  7. Amazing art......

    http://debnature.blogspot.in

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  8. Brilliant captures of the art works!

    http://www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  9. Very informative and nice photographs.

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  10. Lovely pics and a wonderful post, Deepak!
    I had been there some 10 yrs back during my Khajuraho visit, but your post/pics appear grander than the real thing!:)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Amit

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  11. Very informative. And loved the paintings on the roof...

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  12. The palace is beautiful and the legend even more fascinating. And the temple was built in 875 AD is still intact? That is amazing, isn't it? Isn't Orchha also famous for the prehistoric paintings or is it some other place in MP?

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    1. The prehistoric paintings are in Bhimbetka near Bhopal. Have blogged about them at http://magictravels.blogspot.in/2012/09/bhopal-capital-of-madhya-pradesh.html

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  13. Perfect blend of pictures and write up...informative too...

    http://journeyintrance.blogspot.in/

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  14. Orcha seems to be yet to be less visited. I have heard so much about it but not of its history and resistance to the Mughals. Great pics that capture the essence of the place.thanks

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  15. great pictures and details. should visit once

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    1. Thank you Shrinidhi. Yes a must visit!

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  16. Had never heard of this place, though I lived for years not far from Jhansi. Thanks for sharing.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. You sure missed out on visiting this beautiful place Damayanti!
      Pleasure to share!

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    2. Thanks again -- next trip to India, maybe.

      Your blog would look good in the travel category of the A to Z Challenge!

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  17. Old architecture is very impressive-marvelous!Thank you,i feel like visiting it.

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  18. simply beautifully captured shots...lovely place to be!

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  19. The palace looks magnificent, and at sunset it looks all the more awesome!
    Love the frescoes...
    Bhusha's INDIA TRAVELOGUE

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  20. Never been there. Time to visit?

    More than anything I liked ceiling pictures most. :)

    P.S.- Can you pls enable the Name/URL option for commenting ?

    Nisha - Le Monde-A Poetic Travail

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  21. Nice pictures. Now I realise I missed some of these things.

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