Orchha is your ideal mix of history and heritage, lying in a laid-back city. A prime example of the influence of Mughal architecture on Rajput monuments, Orchha has spectacular palaces, beautifully adorned temples and royal cenotaphs. And this small town can be explored within a single day, as all the places to see are located within 2-3km of each other.
What to see
1. Begin your day early and start with Orchha Fort complex. A large area is encompassed between the fort walls with three palaces inside. First is the Raja Mahal, an elaborately royal palace decorated with murals of social and religious themes of gods, mythical animals and people. Next is the Sheesh Mahal, built as a guesthouse for visiting kings, now converted into a hotel. Both the royal suites of Sheesh Mahal provide scenic views of the town and give the guests a small glimpse into the royal life. Right next to the Sheesh Mahal is the Jahangir Mahal, built for the then king of India, Jahangir, who was to stay in Orchha for just a night. Today the royal palace has many rooms with arcade openings, and windows with lattice design work. Entry fees to the fort complex is ₹10 for Indians and ₹100 for foreign nationals. The fort is open from 10am to 5pm, every day. Keep the ticket of Orchha Fort complex as it is the ticket that will grant you access to all the other sights as well.
2. Next visit the Chaturbhuj Temple, whose spectacular soaring spires are visible from every corner and street of the city. The temple was built for Lord Ram but it never fulfilled its purpose of being a temple. The idol that was supposed to be inside this temple was instead put in the Raja Mahal of the Orchha Fort complex and the inner sanctum sanctorum of Chaturbhuj Temple has since remained devoid of an idol. You can climb a steep, dark staircase to emerge on a mossy roof from where you can enjoy unmatched views of the Betwa River and Orchha Fort complex.
3. Next is the Ram Raja Temple and Laxmi Narayan Temple. Ram Raja Temple was built as a palace for the queen of Madhukar Shah, but was converted into a temple when, according to legend, the idol of Lord Rama placed inside the temple proved impossible to move. Today, the temple is the only one in India where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king and not as a lord. Laxmi Narayan Temple is situated on top of a hill and is a uniquely constructed temple where the outer structure is triangular in shape while the inner parts are square-shaped. Ram Raja Temple is open from 9am-12.30pm & 7-10.30pm in winter (October - March), and from 8am-12.30pm & 8-10.30pm in summer (April - September). The Laxmi Narayan Temple is open from 10am to 5pm, all days.
4. The last things to see are the royal chattris or cenotaphs. They are basically mausoleums of royal kings and high-ranking officials of their court. The cenotaphs are inside a complex with beautiful rose gardens surrounding each cenotaph. You can go to the roof of allcenotaphs and enjoy views of Betwa River. The cenotaph complex is open from 10am to 5.30pm.
4. End the day with a sound and light show at the Orchha Fort, learning about the history of kings and queens of this small but mighty town. The show costs ₹100 for Indian nationals and ₹250 for foreign nationals. From March to November, the English show happens at 7.30pm and the Hindi one starts at 8.45pm. Between December to February, the timings are 6.30pm for the one in English and 7.45pm for the Hindi one.