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Etched in Stone - Orchha, a fortified Medieval City with a Rich History


Etched in Stone – Orchha, a fortified Medieval City with a Rich History

The palaces and temples of Orchha, built by Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries, retain much of their pristine perfection. The medieval city, 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.

What to see Orchha’s fort complex, approached by a multi-arched bridge, has three palaces set in an open quadrangle.

Jehangir Mahal Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha, this palace spells elegance.

Raja Mahal This palace was built by Madhukar Shah, the deeply religious predecessor of Bir Singh Ju Deo. Of special interest at Raja Mahal is a newly inaugurated Sound and Light Show in the premises facing the entrance gate.

Rai Praveen Mahal This palace, set in the landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, was built for poetess and musician Rai Praveen, the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672-76).

Ram Raja Temple This palace-turned-temple is the only one of its kind in the country where Rama is worshipped as a king (raja).

Laxmi Narayana Temple A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. It is home to the most exquisite of Orchha’s wall paintings.

Phool Bagh Laid out as a formal garden, this complex has an ingenious system of water ventilation that connects the underground palace with Chandan Katora, a bowl-like structure with fountains.

Diwan Hardaul’s Palace Hardaul was a son of Bir Singh Ju Deo. He laid down his life to prove his innocence to his elder brother, Jhujhar, who cast doubts on his relationship with his (Jhujhar’s) consort.

Sunder Mahal This small palace, almost in ruins today, is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, who pay homage to Dhurjaban, son of Jhujhar, who embraced Islam when he married a Muslim girl in Delhi.

Bundela Chhatris There are 14 cenotaphs of the Bundela rulers and members of their family standing proudly on the southern bank of the Betwa river.

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