India is the land of many stories and legends. Orchha is one such place that talks about the legacy of Bundelas and their glorious reign on their kingdom. Founded in 16th century by Bundela King Maharaj Rudra Pratap the town today is attracts tourists and travelers alike to experience an off the beaten track. Rich with palaces, temples and cenotaphs with the mighty Betwa river flowing the town it makes Orchha a place worth visiting. Throughout the time Orchha has served as the capital city of the Bundelas. Today it might be a small town but it has a rich architectural heritage. Three key sites bring lots of visitors here, Orchha Fort (which contains Jahangiri Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal and Raj Mahal), Ram Raja Temple and Chaturbhuj Temple. I have been to Orchha before when the extreme summer heat made me feel as if I am going to die of heatstroke any moment now. I had to run away after my attempts to survive failed and since then I was planning to visit Orchha again. I got a chance to explore this place with a group of students for the trip I was organizing and thankfully my dreams to explore Orchha came true.
We started from Delhi, the train moved after me getting occupied between worried parents and confused girls few of them who have never traveled in train and it was their first time. We reached Jhansi early morning followed by a 45 minute ride to Orchha. Out hotel was gorgeous! Just next to a secluded jungle complex and the river flowing by. Again I had my own room, and there is a pool which looked amazing!
Orchha a small town (8500 people), but has masses of temples and monuments all over it. We went for a walk through town after a very expensive lunch in the hotel. Orchha is slowly emerging as a tourist town, it was good to see it before it becomes crowded with tourist activity in coming future.
We spent most of our time at the 17th century Fort that has some amazing set of buildings like in Raj Mahal that has plain exteriors with beautiful chhatris but inside is an exquisitely ornate interior of bold and brightly coloured religious murals. The palace is an exotic work of architecture. The designs on the roof and the walls look as if a little child made them up while playing with lines going thick and thin at places, it looks childish but it is an example of one of the finest craftsman ship that was prevalent in that age. Jehangir Mahal was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo as a gift to Emperor Jehangir on his visit to the kingdom. Emperor Jehangir spent only one night here when he was on his way to Lahore and after that no one used the palace. This palace is a grand example of Mughal Architecture with more than 100 chambers leading from the courtyard of the palace – both on ground and below ground and beautified with chhatris and trellises. The carvings and designs are so exotic that my breath gasps with the mere view of it. Such beautiful shapes and delicate patterns is never fail to surprise me. Rai Parveen Mahal is a palace built for the poetess and musician, Rai Parveen – the beautiful mistress of Raja Indramani. When Emperor Akbar visited Orchha he was captivated by her and he ordered her to Delhi for himself. However, once in Delhi, he was so impressed by her deep love for Indramani that he returned her Orchha to be with her love. 14 Chhatris (memorials to the rulers of Orchha), are grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa. The views from this Palace are lovely. Ram Raja Temple is the only one in the country where Lord Rama is worshipped both as a God and as a King. We explored Orchha from afternoon till night, the sun hid itself behind the ruins, the vultures were getting bored and the girls with me were getting tired. I was entertaining myself by observing the folks around me. Not always we get to meet such lovely and cheerful bunch of people and thanks to them the boring light and sound show because so hilarious. Will never forget that THAKUR JI scream that despite trying to attempts at being painful I couldn’t help myself laugh thanks to the group I was with. The night was falling, the forts and the ruins slowly got lost in the darkness and we returned to our hotel. Next morning after a dull and boring visit to Orchha wildlife sanctuary we left for Khajuraho that is totally 360 degrees opposite to the pride of Bundelas. The kings might have left a long time back but Orchha still lives in that royalness that comes from the soul of this place. The royal pride still lives inside the natives who hesitate from showing the pride the bundelkhand once bestowed here. They’ll welcome you here in the same style that once kings used to welcome their guests who arrived here and then bid you goodbye putting that royal touch inside you.