Jan 28, 2013

Heritage- Mahals of Orchha


City of Orchha
Orchha, a 15th century village in Madhya Pradesh's Bundelkhand region, located on the banks of river Betwa 15KM from Jhansi. It was the capital city of Bundela Kings, a Rajput clan. Orchha- meaning hidden, the medieval capital city is almost in dilapidated state yet retains its original grandeur very silently. I took a bus from Khajuraho to Orchha Tigaila(170KM) and then a shared autorikshaw to Orchha village (8KM). After walking around a bit in the market and enquiring with few backpackers I got a nice and cheap place to stay right in the middle of the market! The village and the monuments are in such dilapidated state that inspired me to include pictures in monochrome!

I started with Raja Ram Temple , it has a huge square courtyard and is very simple. No carvings or decorations, painted yellow and white it stands out in the busy market.  It is a functioning temple and I haven't seen such maddening crowd of devotees anywhere else. It was very weird. At the entrance security guards asked to leave whatever in the hands. There were separate lines for men and women. Everyone pushed everyone else around as if it is a ritual. It was an ordeal for 1.5 hours before I came out.

Raja Mahal
Chaturbhuj Temple, is an imposing structure which can be seen from anywhere in the town. This 9th century temple has a high standing gopura from top of which the whole town and surrounding forest can be viewed. It is a functioning temple and has very few pilgrims compared to its neighbor. Many tourists were seen around.

Raja Mahal and Jahangir Mahal are protected monuments and have entrance and camera fees. Guide service is also available. Save this ticket for your visit to the group of cenotaphs and Lakshmi Mandir on the same day. This complex also has Sheesh Mahal, a hotel run by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. Raja Mahal is a royal palace which was built by Raja Rudra Pratap Singh. Later additions were constructed by his successors. It has halls, interconnecting pathways, elevated balconies, windows with intricate lattice work, pillars and domes. There are some paintings which are still in good shape. Mirror inlay work is worth seeing. Adjacent is Jahangir Mahal, which was obviously built by Jahangir, a mughal. Jahangir defeated Raja Vir Singh Deo, a Bundela King and built a citadel and a garrison. It is one of the finest examples of mughal architecture. 

In the above picture, one can see the village of Orchha. As I said earlier, the imposing structure on the right is Chaturbhuj temple, to its immediate left- with white domes is Raja Ram temple, behind it is Raja Mahal and to the far left- with many smaller domes is Jahangir Mahal.

Group of Cenotaphs
The medieval city Orchha has numerous unknown temples, cenotaphs, ruins of palaces, remnants of elephant and camel stables. The Group of cenotaphs (second picture) on the banks of river Betwa need entry ticket. I didn't enter this complex because I saw vultures all over the place. I took pictures from outside. But, I ventured inside the cenotaph of Raja Vir Singh Deo. It is a ruin and ghostly, there was nobody else around. I was very scared to be honest. 

Later I visited Lakshmi Narayana Temple to see the murals. The temple was built by Raja Vir Singh Deo on a hilltop. The ceilings and walls of the halls have murals depicting the stories from great Hindu epic Ramayana. There are many other murals too in mughal and british style. Looked for the Phool Baug Palace. Don't go by the name and its mention in the tour guide books. Phool Baug Palace must have been a beautiful garden of olden days but, now it is not worth going all the way looking for it. You will find a lot of stray dogs resting, people sleeping and doing all possible day-today activities inside this complex. There is a shrine too.

Pics: From top left- Cenotaph of Raja Vir Singh Deo, A street musician, mirror inlay work in Raja Mahal, a vulture perched on a cenotaph.

Though there are few very expensive hotels Orchha hasn't seen much development. Visiting Orchha was an incredible experience. I ran out of water and had to buy from a resort nearby. The hotel was expensive- Rs.70 for a litre of Kinlay!! You know? water is vital for life! When you need it you need it!! Next day, I went on a day-long excursion to Datia and Sonagir to see some more medieval architectural marvels and Jain shrines. Next morning, I started to Jhansi to find transportation to Chanderi, another village popular for sarees (Indian traditional costume for women).
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Leave a comment to share your beautiful thoughts :)

Click HERE to read more articles about Madhya Pradesh.
Click HERE to read complete Backpacking India series.

This post is linked to Weekend in Black and White and Our World Tuesday.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

39 comments:

  1. Because you have published them in black and white, the buildings do not look as dilapidated as you suggest. You have shown them at their best. I love the one of the musician.

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  2. An incredible place! I love your photos.

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    1. Welcome to my blog DragonStar, glad you like the pictures :)

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  3. I had been to Orchcha 10 years back as a member of sports team who had to wait for long hours to catch a train from Jhansi so headed to his heritage site at Orchha.I still remember magnificent of the fort and the temple coupled with that river right in front to make everything serene.Thanks for sharing this.I got some jolt in memory lanes.

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    1. That is nice! You got a chance to roam around on memory lane! :) Nice that you get chance to travel for sports!

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  4. I love your b/w images -- gorgeous!

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    1. Welcome to my blog Nancy and thank you :) Hope you will join my B&W journeys again!

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  5. youre right these buildings must be viewed in monochrome to fully enjoy them.

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    1. Most of you have the same opinion. Monochrome is best suited for Orchha!

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  6. Fantastic captures of a medieval city.

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  7. I agree that choosing &W was a good idea. But, I would have enjoyed this marvelous post in any color. I would love to visit these ancient old buildings and learn about the culture! Thanks for sharing this with us!

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    1. Thank you Jackie! Yeah, this important city of ancient times is worth a visit.

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  8. I would have loved these in color. Great place to visit. And how many Chanderi sarees did you buy?

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    1. :) Will post few pics in color too later in time.

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  9. nice info and nice monochrome photos

    thanks

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  10. It looks awesome in monochrome. Nice account of your travel Kusum.

    http://www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  11. these are very impressive! the architecture is superb now as it was centuries ago. i love your monochrome treatment.

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    1. Thanks Luna! Yep, centuries ago people lived very lavishly isn't it?

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  12. Wow - fabulous shots of this beautiful place.

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  13. Wow, an amazing place to visit. I like the B&W photos. Well done!

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  14. What an awesome city, Kusum! Terrific captures and post for the day! Thanks for sharing as always! Hope you're enjoying a great week!

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    1. Thank you Sylvia. You are always kind. Have a great week.

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  15. Fascinating tour!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  16. Beautidul pictures! How I would love to be there ...

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    1. Welcome to my blog Katrin and thank you! India has wonderful things, you should try visiting :)

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  17. Thanks for the tour..An "Exotic" post

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  18. That's a very informative post. And I must say, your pictures really do stand out. :)

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    1. I wonder why there's a camera fee in a lot of places. Don't these pictures spread the word and make more people want to come and visit. :)
      For pictures like this, YOU need to paid. :D

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    2. Thank you Divya. You are very kind :)

      And about camera fees ... I think ASI charges it to collect funds for maintaining the protected monuments. What hurts me the most is when they take money and don't give a receipt, which really means it is not being used for the purpose!

      I should be paid!? Well, I am glad that locals were nice to me than robbing me of my camera which is a common misconception about poor Indians :)

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