Orchha Madhya Pradesh

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2020

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1. Orchha is 19kms from Jhansi. The Rajdhani Express train from Mumbai reached Jhansi at 5 am. Orchha is known for its Chhatris, Sunset & temple where Sri Ram is worshipped as king. Pic sent by local friend Vandana. She does not remember name of photographer. If u know please mail so can give credits.

2. Pics 1 to 11 give an overview of Orchha. Chhatris of Bundela rulers, on the banks of the river Betwa. Orchha has a rich legacy of the time gone by as it is captured in stone and frozen in time. The monuments built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries retain much of their pristine perfection.

3. This panoramic view pic by pal Ashish Chauhan shows is from Raja Mahal, gives you an overview of Orchha. Left to right at a distance see chhatris on left side end of pic, in front is Jahangir Mahal, behind is Chaturbhuj temple, white structure is Raja Ram mandir, at end of pic centre is Lakshminarayan mandir.

4. Front view Jahangir Mahal, entrance east side. Jahangir stayed here for one night so named after him. “The 70m square palace has a small interior courtyard with a central fountain around which are apartments and terraces in three storeys. A dome caps each corner bastion. Within the fort are numerous shrines, memorials and monuments.”

5. Chaturbhuj Mandir. The temple is like a beacon in Orchha and can be seen from every corner. A tall shikhara (spire) rises over the sanctum. The four hundred year old temple is nearly eight stories high, in a place where contemporary buildings rarely raise higher than one level.

6. Through this gap in Raj Mahal the Queen saw the Chaturbhuj Mandir and hoped to offer pranams to Sri Ram whose murti she could see. Comparisons are drawn between heritage towns of Hampi and Orchha. The comparison is not apt because Orchha is a living town while Hampi is not.

7. View of Raja Ram Mandir. Blood, war and sacrifice are the keywords to describe the Rajput Bundela dynasty that ruled Orchha for over two centuries starting 1531 A.D. The word Bundela means, ‘the offerer of the drops (of blood)’. Sacrifice is the very essence of Bundela life and its history amplifies this fact.

8. Lakshminarayan Mandir. It is about a 5 minute drive from the Ram mandir. It was built on an elevation and on a rectangular plan by Veer Singh Deo in 1622, renovated by Prithvi Singh in 1793.

9. Raja Mahal, the second palace in the fort is well known for its murals depicting religious themes. The deeply religious Madhukar Shah built it in between 1554 and 1591. It`s plain exterior, a solid single block crowned by chhatris (umbrella like memorial cenotaphs). In the Janana chamber is a huge courtyard that overlooks the Queens rooms.

10. Betwa river. Early morning saw devotees bath there, water was cold. There is a fort wall that u see which surrounds the palaces.

11. Memorial of freedom fighter Chandrasekhar Azad. Missed going here. Pic is by local friend Vandana. Orchha is a medieval city built during the 16th century by Bundela Rajput Chieftain Rudra Pratap. It was his second capital, the first being Gadkurar 55 kms away.

12. Chhatris – early morning view front is river Betwa. One on extreme left is of Vir Singh Deo, Bundela ruler.

13. First chhatri is of Madhukar Shah 1554 to 1592 A.D. He was a contemporary of Akbar, devotee of Sri Krishna and built Chaturbhuj temple.

14. Six chhattris are in one enclosure. Board says it all. All in a well maintained garden. Includes cenotaphs of Maharaj Bhagwant Singh, Maharaj Indramandi, Maharaj Sujan Singh, Maharaj Sawant Singh.

15. 2 rear side chhatris. Upper portion angular with arches. Peak of the sanctum is in the Nagar style of temple architecture.

16. Early morning view means around 8.30 am. For guide services, home stay and cooking classes email Vandana vandnadubeyorchha@gmail.com or call 91 94253 42597 or 93400 31598.

17. Vandana, resident of Orchha, sent me this lovely picture. She runs a homestay in Orchha.

18. Side view. Design is same.

19. Vir Singh Deo (1605-1627) chhatri design is different as u will see in next pic. His rule is regarded as the Golden Era of Bundela dynasty. He built the Jahangir Mahal, Lakshminarayan Mandir and Palace in Dantia amongst others.

20. The chhatri is square shaped. Joint on each floor have balconies. It was made by Jujhar Singh in 1627-28. It touches the steps that go down to river Betwa.

21. Construction was started by Maharaj Madhukar Shah (1554-1592). Maharani Ganesha K wanted to install murthi of Sri Ram in this temple but could not do due to Mughal invasion. Temple was completed by Vir Singh Deo (1605-1627).

22. Side view of temple, gives you a sense of its height. Temple made on a high plinth and its ground plan consists of garbagraha, antara and ardha-mandapa. There are shikars of Nagara style. The second phase made of brick and lime, is an imp example of architectural perfection of Bundela style of architecture.

23. Inside temple.

24. Front view Raj Mahal with fort wall. Waterbody is a moat that is on 3 sides of the mahal, the 4th side is river betwa.

25. Inside mahal, this is where the king met his subjects.

26. Same meeting place, shows ceilings have paintings Bundela style.

27. Close up of ceiling painting. There is another album of Bundela Paintings Orchha where we cover paintings exhaustively.

28. Pic of Jahangir Mahal from the meeting hall area. Guide said very popular location to click. On left Sheesh Mahal ie now a hotel.

29. View JAHANGIR Mahal, western side.

30. It was constructed by Vir Singh Deo, supposedly for Jahangir hence the name. It has a square shape with 4 bastions at each corner which end in a ribbed dome at the top, & have 4 kiosks at the corners of the base of the dome. The chajja on the 4 corners of the 1st storey is held by a series of elephant brackets.

31. East side Jahanagir Mahal. See 3 ribbed dome at the top. On 1st storey see chajja ie supported by brackets.

32. Right side close up.

33. Entrance to mahal, note elephants on both sides and carved entrance.

34. Close up of elephant, need I say more.

35. Horse stable. Behind that is palace wall, fields and lastly river Betwa. Think there is a moat before the palace wall, could not see though. Ways to protect palace.

36. Inside Jahangir Mall. 4 sides each have 3 bastion with a ribbed dome as u see in this pic. Bottom of pic, looks like provision for 2 fountains.

37. Angular view. U see bastion with a ribbed dome. 1st floor chajja supported by brackets. Bottom of pic four fountains with a small step well. Note Tulsi plant, worshipped then and now.

38. Pic by Ashish Chauhan. Top view of bastion with ribbed dome. See chajja supported by brackets. Loved this design.

39. Another angle to give u an idea of design. Right of pic is east.

40. Door entrance of one of the many rooms.

41. We missed going down to this mahal. Told it has some lovely paintings. Rai Praveen Mahal was built for the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672-1676) who was a poetess and musician. She was a superb dancer and singer. Jahangir wanted to marry her but she refused.

42. Sheesh Mahal, now a hotel. Left end of pic is Lakshminarayan mandir.

43. Moat area beyond Sheesh Mahal.

44. View of Raja Mahal bang in front of pic. Left at a distance are chhatris. Right tall shikhar is Chaturbhuj mandir. To its right is Raja Ram Mandir. Extreme right end of pic is Lakshminarayan mandir.

45. Raja Mahal – this is where artists performed dance.

46. Close up of area where ladies sat to see performance.

47. Side view Raja Mahal. Pic by Ashish Chauhan, Gwalior based pal who runs an event mgmt. company there.

48. Angular view Raja Mahal.

49. View of moat from inside raja mahal.

50. Heritage Walk Orchha Plan outside palace. Love Orchha, is a must visit.

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