In the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India.
Temples of Orchha, Phool Bagh, the Chhattris, The Jehangir Mahal, The Sheesh Mahal.
Phool Bagh, the Betwa River side.
Nearby Tourist Destinations
Khajuraho, Gwalior, Jhansi.
When to Visit
October to March
12Okm From Gwalior
178km from Khajuraho
Summer: Max, 47oC, Winter: Min, 4oC
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.
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.
Orchha today is a sleepy little hamlet but it was once the capital city of the mighty Bundelkhand Empire. From time immemorial, Bundelkhand has been an important destination for all sorts of tourists and travellers.
The famous Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, visited the area in the 7th century a.d. and gave a vivid account of the kingdom of 'Jejakabhuti', which corresponds to modern day Bundelkhand and a small part of Bagelkhand as well.
Major Tourist attractions in Orchha
Temples of Orchha
Orchha has a series of temples that date back to 17th century. These temples are still visited regularly by thousands of devotees. The Ram Raja Temple and the well-preserved Lakshmi Narayan Temple are especially worth a visit.
The Jehangir Mahal
The most admired palace of Orchha's, the Jehangir Mahal, was built by Bir Singh Deo. It was built as a present to welcome Mughal emperor Jehangir when he paid a state visit in the 17th century.
The Sheesh Mahal
Sheesh Mahal ("Palace of Mirrors") was built during the early 18th century, long after Orchha's demise, originally intended as an exclusive country retreat for the local Raja, Udait Singh. After India's independence the property was inherited by the state government. The low, rather squat palace stands between the Raj Mahal and the Jehangir Mahal, at the far end of an open-sided courtyard.
The walled Phool Bagh or Flower Gardens is a cool summer spot. A sight you must not miss.
Fourteen beautiful Chhattris (cenotaphs) or memorials are lined up on the Kanchana Glut of the river Betwa. A sober row of pale brown weed-choked domes and spires, the riverside Chhattris are Orchha's most sought after ruins. These fourteen chhattris, are the memorials to Bundelkhand's former rulers and best viewed from the narrow road bridge (on the Betwa) or from the boulders on the opposite bank, where one can see the full effect of their reflection in the still waters of the Betwa.
Foundation of Orchha
Orchha as it stands today, was founded in the 16th century a.d. by the Bundela chieftain, Rudra Pratap. The Bundelas were a warrior tribe who traced their ancestry to a medieval Rajput prince who sacrificed his life for the mountain goddess, Vrindavasini. In return, the goddess proclaimed that henceforth, he and his descendants would be known as 'Bundelas', or 'those who gave blood'. The Orchha Bundelas are said to be chiefs of the Bundela clan settled all over the plains of North India.
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.
Charms of The Town
Although Orchha was never really a very affluent place, that did not deter the fiercely proud Bundelas from undertaking ambitious projects. Orchha's legacy has been captured in stone and frozen in time, a rich legacy to all ages.
The remarkable proportions of the exteriors are matched by the grandeur of the interior-rich repositories of Bundela art. The richness of its palaces, temples and cenotaphs is reflected in the gently flowing water of the Betwa River.
The Picturesque Site of River Betwa
The beautiful River Betwa on whose banks the city of Orchha is founded, is a picturesque site, with its monuments dotting the landscape on either side of the river.
The most notable is the Jahangir Mahal, a tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatris (domed pavilions). From here, the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular. The richness of the Jahangir Mahal contrasts nicely with the austere beauty of the Raj Mahal, built by Madhukar Shah who was a religious-minded person.
The last of the trio of palaces which embellish the Orchha fort is the Rai Parveen Mahal, built in the 17th century for Rai Parveen, the talented and artistically inclined lover of Orchha's king, Raja Indrajit Singh (see Rai Parveen Mahal under Places of Interest for more).
Art & Architecture
Orchha is known for its elegant architecture and its unique sequential development of domes, brackets, pillars, arches and ledges. The domes that crown the monuments of Orchha are primarily hemispherical, but in some buildings, one comes across palanquin-shaped domes.
The brackets are found mainly in two varieties: elephant-shaped ones that you can see in the Jahangir and Raja Mahals, and serpentine brackets with floral designs that are influenced by Islamic architecture.
The arches that decorate the monuments of Orchha are magnificent and greatly enhance the quality of the structures.
The earlier ones have horizontal lintels placed atop solidly constructed jambs, while the later fabrications have cylindrical-shaped trabeated openings united at the top to form a complex unit. The pillars are fairly plain with not much of ornamental work, but the Raja Mahal houses massive 12-faced pillars with inverted bases that are definitely worth a look.
Bundela School of Painting
Complementing the noble proportions of the exteriors are the interiors that represent the finest flowering of the Bundela School of painting. For instance, in the Laxminarayan Temple, vibrant murals covering a wide variety of religious and secular themes bring the walls and ceilings alive.
Literature and Poetry
In the medieval ages, Orchha also enjoyed a rich tradition in the fields of literature and poetry. Its most famous bard was Keshav Das who visited the courts of Birbal and the Mughal Emperor, Jehangir, in the 17th century a.d. His most famous disciple, Rai Parveen, was equally well known for her ravishing looks as well as her lyrical voice. Her enchanting beauty and her sharp repartees dazzled even Emperor Akbar.
Air : Nearest airports from Orchha are Gwalior (25Kms) or Khajuraho (1732 Kms.).
Rail : The nearest railway station is at Jhansi (18 km from Orchha). As Jhansi is located on the main Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai route, many trains pass and stop here.
Road : Orchha lies on the Jhansi - Khajuraho road. Regular bus services connect Orchha with Jhansi. There is regular bus service from -Jhansi (25Kms), Delhi, Gwalior, Agra, Bhopal and Varanasi. Autorickshaws are also available on hire from Jhansi.
Orchha offers several luxury accommodations along with budget hotels matching to your requirements.