Orchha is a town, near city of Niwari in Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The town was established by rajput ruler Rudra Pratap Singh some time after 1501, as the seat of an eponymous former princely state of covering parts of central & north India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha lies on the Betwa River, 80 km from Tikamgarh & 15 km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.
Orchha was founded in 1531 (the 16th century AD) by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha, (r. 1501–1531) and also built the Fort of Orchha. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built by the queen of Orchha, Ganesh Kunwar (गणेश कुँवर), while Raj Mandir was built by 'Raja Madhukar Shah' during his reign, 1554 to 1591. Orchha was captured by imperial forces of the Mughal Army led by Prince Aurangzeb in October 1635. On a seasonal island on the bank of the Betwa River, which has been surrounded by a battlement wall, stands a huge palace-fort. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which is the Raja Mahal.
The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit. The Jahangir Mahal is built on a rectangular base and is relieved by a circular tower at each corner surmounted by a dome, while two lines of graceful balconies supported on brackets mark the central storeys. The roof is crowned by eight large fluted domes, with smaller domes between them, connected by an ornamental balustrade. The Jahangir Mahal is considered to be a singularly beautiful specimen of Mughal architecture. A point worth mentioning here is that the mother of Jahangir, Mariam-uz-Zamani, was a Rajput princess. It is with this in mind that the Rajput king of Orchha had built the Jahangir Mahal. There is a spectacular light and sound show in the evening hours in the Jahangir Mahal. The show displays the history of the city of Orchha and the Jahangir Mahal. Chaturbhuj Temple is an old temple from the 9th century, and is noted for having one of the tallest Vimana among Hindu temples standing at 344 feet
The Uth Khana (Camel Shelter) where the King's camels were stationed is right next to the fort and is a must-see. Tourists can also climb on the roof of the Uth Khana and get a fantastic view of Orchha town. The ruins behind the fort complex are an even greater sight. It makes a tourist travel back in time and is an integral part of a visit to Orchha. It houses the residences of various military officers, ministers (housing, roads), gunpowder factory, etc.
Numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dot the vicinity of the fort and the Betwa river. Elsewhere about the town there is an unusual variety of temples and tombs, including the Chaturbhuj temple, which is built on a vast platform of stone. The more unguarded and neglected of these buildings are popular hangouts for tropical bees, wasps, and other such excitable stinging creatures
Nearest Airport to Orchha is Gwalior Airport.
Orchha is 170 km km and 3 hours’ drive from Khajuraho Airport which is well connected with other metropolitan cities in India.
Orchha Railway station is Jhansi-Manikpur section of the North Central Railways. 15 km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Orchha also lies close to another popular tourist destination, Khajuraho.
· ORCHHA TOURIST PLACES
Raj Mahal Palace
Rudra Pratap Singh, the Rajput king of Orchha, started the construction of the Raj Mahal during the 16th century. However, the work of completing the structure was eventually taken up by the successors of Rudra Pratap Singh, the most popular of whom was Madhukar Shah.
It is a square structure in which two wings have five floors on three sides and four floors on one side. The bedrooms of four queens are constructed to the right of the Private audience's hall. The Cabin of the emperor is at the front, at the same level as the Sanctum of the Chatturbhuj Mandir. The ceiling of the royal chamber has been delicately painted with vibrant colours. Many other paintings, illustrating scenes from Ramayana and the glory of Bundela Court are hung on the walls of the palace. Beautifully stone-carved grills give the palace a majestic royal look and the angle shaft allows natural air and light continuously flow through the rooms. There are parts of the palace which have been converted into a Heritage Hotel called Sheesh Mahal, open for the tourists to stay while they explore the sites of Orchha. The interior of the palace is decorated with fragments of mirrors and includes lavish royal accommodation.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
The history of the temple goes back to the Bundela dynasty. This temple is a square structure built by King Veer Singh Deo in 1622. The outer walls of the temple have the window like carvings and they are topped with battlements. The courtyard is surrounded by walls with galleries that run throughout them and are open to the sky. A hall is located in front of the octagonal sanctum in the centre of the courtyard. The murals that cover the galleries and vaulted roofs are the most artistic feature of the Laxminarayan Temple. The temple has some beautiful paintings on the upper part of the walls. The subjects of the paintings are particularly unusual than that of other paintings in the temple. While some of them illustrate episodes from the Ramayana, and of Lord, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, others depict mythical, martial and secular scenes. There is an outstanding painting of the 'Chungi Chirya', the giant bird that could fly high with an elephant in its claws.
There are fifteen cenotaphs honouring the Bundela kings and other members of their family on the right bank of the Betwa River in the south. The platform on which the chhatris rise as well as the sanctum are square in shape. The cremated remains of the royal princes and princesses are kept in the sanctums. A marble statue of Madhukar Shah and his wife with a painted canopy can be found in the first chhatri. The last chhatri in the line that can be seen from the riverbank is precisely square in structure which is built to honour Veer Singh Deo.
The design of the temple is unique in terms of architecture when compared to other structures in Orchha. The dome of the temple is not ribbed but smooth like that of a mosque. The court of the temple is open to the sky and it also has rising towers resembling the Chhatris of the Bundelas. There is a statue of four armed, that is Chaturbhuj, Vishnu inside the temple. It stands on a pedestal which gives the statue a majestic appearance.
Jahangir Mahal was built in the 17th century by the Bundela ruler, Veer Singh Deo. It was constructed to honour the first visit of Emperor Jahangir to Orchha. The entry of the palace is marked with a traditional and aesthetic gate. The east-facing front wall of the palace is covered with turquoise tiles. At the entrance, two stone elephants greet you with a bell that marks the entry of the King of that period.
It is believed that this palace is the epitome of Indo-Islamic architecture. The domes have engravings of external ribs which contrasts with the internal carving of the Islamic style. The brackets of the windows are made in a wavy style, following Jain architecture. It is impressively decorated with light-coloured ceramic tiles. This three-storied building has some amazing sculptures, beautiful balconies, Chhatris and beautifully carved-topped domes that reflect its architectural brilliance.
Shri Ram Raja Temple
The history of this stunning Shri Ram Raja Temple (Mandir) in Orchha is very fascinating. On the site where this temple presently stands, there were idols that were planned to be installed in the beautiful Chaturbhuj Temple. The idols could not be moved once they were placed on the ground, though. As a result, the area was designated as holy, and a temple was built to house the idols.
Orchha Bird Sanctuary
This sanctuary is full of scenic beauty and picturesque landscapes. Spread over an area of 46 sq. km, the Bird Sanctuary has its significance due to its rich fauna, Betwa River and availability of some rare species of plants.
Betwa river rafting
MPSTDC organises river rafting at Betwa river for the tourists. The rafting starts from the beautiful Kanchan Ghat and ends at Shiva Ghat. Rafting is quite popular among the adrenaline junkies who want to get a thrilling experience along with Orchha exploration. You can get to see the line of Chhatris while rafting which would give you a thrilling experience
Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India
Organization Fact Sheet
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