|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.
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.
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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