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Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

Information about Orchha
Orchha is situated on a rock island on a bend in the Betwa river and is elevated from the surrounding wooded countryside and approached by an arched bridge. The word ‘Orchha’ means hidden. Orchha was founded by the Bundela chief Raja Rudra Pratap in the 16th century as his capital. It remained the capital of the Bundela kings until the 18th century, when it was abandoned for Tikamgarh. Orchha is situated about 16 km. from Jhansi and 120 kms. from Gwalior. The

Orchha Madhya Pradesh

fortified cluster of dwellings, temples and shrines in Orchha bears testimony to a medieval legacy in stone. The best time to visit Orchha is from October to March.

History of Orchha
Garkhundar, once capital of the Bundela Rajas, fell to the Tughluqs, as that dynasty was weakening. The Bundelas later expanded their control, moving their base in the early 16th century to Orchha. Raja Rudra Pratap threw a wall around the existing settlement and built the first palace, the Ramji Mandir and a bridge to it. Before his death, he started the construction of the Raj Mahal. This work was finally completed in 1591 by his successors, Bharti Chand and Madhukar Shah. Though Madhukar Shah was defeated in battle by Akbar, he nevertheless won the Mughal emperor’s friendship. Later, the Bir Singh Deo, while opposing Akbar, aligned himself with Jahangir and is believed to have killed Abu Fazl, one of Akbar’s closest friends and supporters, at Jahangir’s instigation. He was rewarded when Jahangir succeeded his father and thus ensured the ongoing prosperity of Orchha. The Jahangir Mahal was built to commemorate the emperor’s visit to Orchha. However, Bir Singh’s first son, Jhujan, ran foul of Shah Jahan and, ignoring orders, killed the neighbouring chief of Chauragarh. Jhujan was killed in the jungle by Gonds. Orchha was then pillaged. In 1783, the Bundela capital was moved to Tikamgarh, leaving Orchha to the jade green dhak forests, the Betwa river and its guardian eagles. Orchha is now a famous tourist destination, on the way from Gwalior to Khajuraho.

Tourist Attractions in Orchha

There are three palaces in Orchha, each built by succeeding Maharajas in a similar style and combined to form a complex. The three main palaces are the Raj Mahal, Jahangir Mahal and Rai Praveen Mahal. The Ramji Mandir, Ram Raja Temple, Laxminarayan Temple and the Royal Chattris are the other tourist attractions in Orchha.

Ramji Mandir
The Ramji Mandir is the prototype of Bundela Rajput architecture and has a central rectangular courtyard and apartments rising in receding plains. Much of the original blue tile decoration remains on the upper outer walls. The Raj Mahal comprises of a solid block crowned by pavilions. This palace was built by the Madhukar Shah. Despite its crumbling look, the wall paintings, portraying the Hindu religious mythology are strong and vivid.


Jahangir Mahal
The Jahangir Mahal is the most famous palace and was built by the Bundela kings in the 17th century and one of the best examples of medieval fortification in India. The Jahangir Mahal is the most impressive palace and a mixture of Hindu (brackets decorated with elephants, chattris) and Muslim styles (a formal garden, pavilions and jail lattice work). The Jahangiri Mahal is a wonderful example of Rajput Bundela architecture, with its lapis lazuli tiles, jail screens, and billowing cupolas.

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha

Jahangir Mahal, combines the ruler Bir Singh Deo’s eye for detail with sweeping views from its turrets. The palace is named after Jahangir, who spent a night there. There are 132 rooms off and above the central courtyard and an almost equal number of subterranean rooms. Hanging balconies with wide eaves provides the shade from the sun and numerous windows give this huge palace a delicate and airy feel. The palace also contains a small museum. In the area surrounding the palace are about 100 temples. These temples are located near the confluence of the Betwa and Jamni river.

Ram Raja Temple
The Ram Raja Temple is situated near the Raj Mahal. This temple is unusual since it is the only one temple in the country where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king. Due to a dream visit by the god Rama, the Madhukar Shah brought a statue of the Lord from Ayodhya to his capital. The image was placed in the palace before its installation in the temple. When the time came to shift it, it proved impossible to move and Madhukar Shah remembered the deity’s edict that the image must remain in the place where it was first installed.

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. The palace built for her is a low, two-storeyed brick structure designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, beautifully landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, with its octagonal flower beds and elaborate water supply system. Skillfully carved niches allow light into the Mahal which has a main hall and smaller chambers.


Laxminarayan Temple
The Laxminarayan Temple is located near the Ram Raja temple. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. The 17th century brick structure combines the architecture of a temple and a fort. There are attractive wall paintings of the developed phase of the Bundelkhand school of art. There is a fine view from the back of the temple, across the plain to the chattris and palace.

Chaturbhuj Temple

Laxmi Narayan Temple Orchha

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.

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.

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.


The Royal Chattris
There are 14 cenotaphs or the royal chattris of the former rulers grouped by the Kanchana Ghat on the banks of the river Betwa. These cenotaphs are overgrown and neglected and fine views can be obtained from them. These chhatris can be best viewed from the bridge connecting the massive midstream island.

Sunder Mahal
This small palace, almost in ruins today is 

Royal Chattris Orchha

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.

Shahid Smarak
Commemorates the great freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad who lived and worked in hiding in Orchha during 1926 and 1927.

Other places worth seeing are the shrines of Siddh Baba Ka Sthan, Jugal Kishore, Janki Mandir and the Hanuman Mandir at Ochharedwara.

How to reach Orchha
By Air:

The nearest airport is located in Gwalior, about 120 kms. away from Orchha.

By Rail:

The nearest railway station is located at Jhansi, about 19 km away from Orchha.

By Road:

Orchha lies on the Jhansi–Khajuraho road, about 16 km from the Junction of NH 25 and 26. It is connected by road to Agra, Jhansi, Gwalior and Khajuraho.


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