Small towns have a vibe that draws you to explore these little places – you are inspired to etch out its history to know more about it. Orchha in Madhya Pradesh is one such town that will make you want to learn more about it.
Orchha: A Historical Wonder
Orchha truly lives up to its name, “hidden place”! It can engender jealousy in communities ten times its size. It is, at the core, a modest farming village that shouldn’t be of much curiosity to anybody, but it was gifted with history: it was one of the most significant urban places in this region of India for about 300 years. As a result, the little town now has magnificent palaces, temples, and royal chhatris (cenotaphs) that are superb examples of Rajput architecture inspired by the Mughals. Additionally, it serves as a significant hub for spirituality and pilgrimage because of a significant temple devoted to Lord Rama.
Orchha, displaying the magnificent traditions of the Bundela era, continues to be the primary historical place that has preserved the culture and mythology of the Bundela dynasty’s monarchs. Chieftain Rudra Pratap Singh established the town on a plot of land by the Betwa River. During your journey, you will be captivated by this remarkable town, which is an ideal place to visit with loved ones. Orchha has abundant historical sites to explore and is well-connected to practically all of Madhya Pradesh’s main cities.
Top 12 Places to Visit in Orchha
1. Raja Mahal
The Raj Mahal was built in the sixteenth century by the Rajput ruler Rudra Pratap Singh. However, Rudra Pratap Singh’s successors—Madhukar Shah being the most well-liked—finally took up the task of finishing the edifice.
The building is square, with two wings with four storeys on one side and five floors on three. Four queen bedrooms are built to the right of the hall and used for private audiences. At the front, on the same level as the Sanctum of the Chatturbhuj Mandir, is the Emperor’s Cabin. Vibrant hues have been beautifully painted on the royal room ceiling. The palace walls are covered with several more murals that depict events from the Ramayana and the splendour of Bundela Court. The palace has an imposing, regal appearance because of the exquisitely carved stone grills, and the angle shaft lets natural light and airflow through the chambers continually.
A portion of the palace has been transformed into the Sheesh Mahal Heritage Hotel, which welcomes visitors to stay as they tour Orchha’s attractions. Mirror fragments adorn the palace’s interior, which houses opulent royal quarters. Within the fort’s complex, these amazing architectural structures tower and captivate the sightseers.
2. Laxminarayan Temple
The temple’s history dates back to the Bundela dynasty. King Veer Singh Deo constructed this square-shaped temple in 1622. The temple’s outside walls are adorned with window-like sculptures and feature battlements on top. The courtyard is enclosed by walls with sky-lit galleries running the length of it. In the middle of the courtyard lies the octagonal sanctum, fronted by a hall. The Laxminarayan Temple’s greatest artistic feature is the paintings that decorate the vaulted ceilings and galleries. The top portions of the temple’s walls are decorated with some exquisite murals. Compared to other paintings in the temple, the topics of these paintings are especially unique. Some of them portray scenes from mythology, martial arts, and secular themes; others show scenes from the Ramayana and of Lord, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. The enormous bird known as the “Chungi Chirya,” which could soar to great heights while grasping an elephant, is depicted in a magnificent picture.
3. Ram Raja Temple
This temple, which resembles a palace, is the only one in India where people worship Lord Rama as a king. The magnificent, dome-topped structure with peach tinge was formerly the palace of Queen Ganesh Kumari, the spouse of Orchha’s monarch, Madhukar Shah. Then, it was referred to as Rani Mahal.
Because she was a great admirer of Lord Rama, the queen requested that his idol be placed in her home. The queen made a journey to Ayodhya, which is believed to be the birthplace of the Lord, in an attempt to bring the deity back in the shape of a son. Her prayers are said to have delighted Lord Rama, who granted her wish to accompany him to Orchha. According to legends, he said that he would stay put in the location where she would originally keep the idol and would not relocate to any other temple. As a result, the palace after that became the Lord’s temple.
4. Dauji Ki Haveli
Orchha, the trade hub, created a new social class called Merchants. Despite their intelligence and power, they utilised their riches to erect magnificent structures that were exact duplicates of the royal residences.
One magnificent example of a structure built by the Merchants is Dauji ki Haveli. This mansion’s architecture is just as spectacular as that of the larger havelis, giving it the appearance of a tiny replica of the Royal Palace. Beautiful murals conserved over the ages may be found at Dauji Ki Haveli.
5. Chaturbhuj Temple
One of the historic architectural structures from the Bundela era is this temple. It was constructed almost exactly between 1558 and 1573. The builder of it was Raja Madhukar. In addition to being devoted to Lord Vishnu, this temple features a large four-handed deity statue. According to legend and history, the temple was originally intended to house the idol of Lord Ram, but for some reason, it was altered for unclear reasons. It’s worth hearing the backstory on this. The idol of Lord Vishnu was placed in place of the idol of Lord Ram, and it was given the name Chaturbhuj.
The exquisite royal tombs of the Maharajas, known as Chattris, are situated on the banks of the Betwa River. The graves are supported by pillars and are positioned on a platform. The greatest way to appreciate Chattris’ splendour is to observe it from a little bridge across the river, where you can see the tomb’s whole reflection. Beautiful murals adorning the domes contribute to Chattris’ seductive charm, which has drawn travellers for years.
7. Rani Mahal
Nestled within the magnificent fort complex, the Palace of Queen (Rani Mahal) is renowned for its remarkable architecture. In addition, the exquisite artworks inside the castle are utterly captivating. The queen apartments are also known as the mahal. It was Raja Madhukar Singh’s wife’s royal room. Because of his intense devotion to Lord Rama, he painted murals in the queen’s chamber that featured scenes from famous epics like the Ramayana. The walls and canopies are adorned with exquisite artwork throughout.
8. Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial
A memorial to Chandrashekhar Azad, one of the greatest liberation fighters in history, this structure captures the spirit and ideals of the revolutionary hero. A life-size bronze statue of Chandrashekhar Azad is also housed there.
9. Nature Trail
This 12-kilometre nature walk in the Orchha Natural Reserve has the potential to be quite enlightening. It is a portion of a stunning river island that spans 44 square kilometres and is encircled by the Betwa and Jamni rivers. The entrance fee is relatively cheap, and tickets must be purchased from the Reserve office between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are several signposts throughout the well-marked trail. It’s also a nice spot to go for a bike ride. In this location, one may also see a few monkeys, peacocks, and even deer. On the banks of the Jamni River, close to Ret Ghat, turtles were also visible.
10. Phool Bagh
This stunning garden complex, which has several fountains culminating in an eight-pillared royal pavilion, beautifully captures the aesthetic attributes of the Bundelas.
The Chandan Katora gathers water, which is then used to create droplets that appear to be raining through the ceiling, resulting in a very detailed working of the fountain. The rulers here utilised this garden as a summer getaway. This garden was created as a tribute to Prince Dinman Hardaul, who killed himself to convince his older brother that he was innocent.
11. Jahangir Mahal
This palace was finished in 1598 by Bharath Bhushan following his victory against Vir Deo Singh of Bundela. It was constructed as a fortress and fortification for the Mughals to provide better control over the Bundela area. This location is a good illustration of Mughal architecture. The Iwans, or gates, are big enough to let war elephants pass through and are constructed following Timurid norms. Additionally, the palace’s comparatively elevated location compared to the environs rendered it a crucial residence for the Mughals.
12. Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary
The Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a wide range of wildlife creatures. The Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary is on the banks of the Betwa and Jamini rivers in Madhya Pradesh. The Sanctuary, which is 19 kilometres from Jhansi and 4 kilometres from the town, is home to tigers and leopards, two endangered species.
With over 200 different kinds of Indian and migratory birds calling the sanctuary home, bird viewers are in for a real treat. The woodland is home to various birds, including swans, peacocks, and peafowls. For a natural getaway, Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary is the ideal location. The Sanctuary offers an array of activities all year round to satisfy the needs of those addicted to adrenaline. River rafting, hiking, canoeing, fishing, camping, and trekking are among the anticipated adventures.
5 Things to Do in Orchha
1. Rafting and Boating on the Serene Betwa River
Rafting may be done on the Betwa River, beginning at the boat club. Tickets may be purchased at the Hotel Sheesh Mahal or the Betwa Retreat and are organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. Six persons in one raft might cost Rs. 1000 an hour or more.
2. Shopping in Orchha
Shopaholics will only find something in Orchha: souvenirs, handicrafts, jewels, beaded chains, etc. Near the majority of tourist destinations are several tiny stores that offer these kinds of goods. Negotiating the price is a good idea.
3. Getting Ayurvedic Massages
If you want a nice and calming Ayurvedic massage, go to the Orchha Resort or the Amar Mahal. The fees range from Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000. Daily yoga courses are also offered here.
4. Cycling along the Trail
Cycling around the Nature Trail is an enriching experience. You can cycle all along the 12 kilometres and take in the breathtaking vistas nature offers here.
5. Forest Safari through the Jungles
Across the river from the royal cenotaphs lies the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary, founded in 1994. Taking a vehicle safari indoors is the finest option. Visitors’ opinions of the nature reserve, largely recognised for protecting common avifauna, are divided. November through March is the ideal time of year to visit.
How to Reach Orchha
Orchha is well-connected to the major cities of Madhya Pradesh. You can arrive here by flight, train, bus or car.
Gwalior Airport is the closest airport to Orchha, with a distance of 122 kilometres. From the airport, you can either drive here or take a bus or taxi.
There needs to be a railway station in Orchha. However, Jhansi is just fifteen kilometres away and has train connections to every region of the nation. So, taking the train to Jhansi and then travelling by road to this hidden town is the most efficient method to go to Orchha.
The most affordable choice is to take a tuk-tuk, a horse-drawn cart, for your trip from Jhansi. The closest major airport, Gwalior, is located 116 km away and has connections to most other regions of the nation. To reach the town from Gwalior, use a cab. Additionally, buses run between Orchha and other surrounding locations, including Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Gwalior, and Bhopal.
Best Time to Visit Orchha
The perfect time to visit Orchha and take in its magnificent architecture is during the monsoon. The hazy surroundings and cloud cover enhance the experience of seeing the palaces and temples. It’s best to avoid travelling here in the height of summer to escape the oppressive heat; winter is another great option to travel to Orchha.
Orchha is a hidden gem of India that will make a place in your heart with its spiritual and natural beauty. Your visit will be fulfilled if you visit in monsoons and let clouds make way for your trip. It is a great place to spend time with your family as you go about touring the exquisite palaces and temples of the town.
Pack your bags and prepare for the best monsoon of your life here in Orchha!