Destination Details
Destination:   Orchha
Destination Type:   Cities
City:   Orchha
Country:   India

Orchha's grandeur has been captured in stone, frozen in time, a rich legacy to the ages. In this medieval city, the hand of time has rested lightly and the palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries retain much of their pristine perfection. Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, who chose this stretch of land along the Betwa river as an ideal site for his capital. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular.

Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors are interiors which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life.

The origin of the Bundela dynasty in the 11th century is traced to a Rajput prince who offered himself as a sacrifice to the mountain goddess Vrindavasini; she stopped him and named him 'Bundela' (one who offered blood). The dynasty ruled over the area between the Yamuna and Narmada rivers. Garhkurar, once capital of the Bundela Rajas, fell to the Tughluqs just as that dynasty was weakening. Into the vacuum that they left, the Bundelas again expanded, moving their base to Orchha (meaning hidden). Raja Rudra Pratap threw a wall around the existing settlement and began work on the palace building (c. 1525-31) and an arched bridge to it. This was completed by his successor Bharti Chand (1531- 54) who was installed in the Raj Mahal with great ceremony.

In the heart of Bundelkhand lies a fortified cluster of dwellings, temples and shrines bearing testimony to a medieval legacy in stone – Orchha.It has been called a medieval legacy in stone. Created by the Bundela Rajput chief Rudra Pratap in the 16th century, Orchha lies in the Madhya Pradesh, 16 km south of Jhansi. Its cluster of fortified dwellings, temples and shrines, along the left bank of the Betwa river, are reminiscent of those hardy times. To get there, it is best to board the early morning Shatabdi Express leaving New Delhi for Bhopal. Four and a half hours later, the train halts briefly at Jhansi from where taxis and buses cover the short distance to Orchha. The right time of year is October to March. Till not very long ago, visitors to the region passed it by on the way to Gwalior 120 km away or the 178 km drive to Khajuraho. Now, for those in a hurry, the returning Shatabdi Express enables even a day trip from Delhi.

By Air : The nearest airports to Orchha are Gwalior Airport (113 kms) and Khajuraho Airport (155 kms).

By Rail : The nearest railway junction to Orchha is Jhansi, which is 16 kms away.

By Road : Orchha is well-connected by road to places like Jhansi, Gwalior and Khajuraho. You can hire a taxi or bus to reach Orchha from these places.

  • Jehangir Mahal : Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chaturbhuj Temple :  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.
  • Laxmi Narayan Temple : A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality.
  • 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.
  • Sunder Mahal : This small palace, almost in ruins today is 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.
  • Chhatris (Cenotaphs ) : There are 14 Chhatris or Memorials to the rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa.
  • Shahid Smarak : Commemorates the great freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad who lived and worked in hiding in Orchha during 1926 and 1927.
  • Metal Craft : Unique to Orchha,Dokra crafts and artefacts made of wrought iron are wonderful showpieced and gifts.
  • Ram Raja Temple : It was initially the palace of the queen of Orchha.But that was until Lord Ram refused to be moved from there.

Visit Mahal & Temples


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