Orchha is a very small town on the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh established along the banks of river Betwa by the Bundela Rajput, Rudra Pratap in 16th century It is more of a village with a small population, few shops and a whole lane of hotels and resorts and small restaurants.
Orchha is 451 Km from Delhi. There is no direct train or flight to Orchha. If flying to Orchha, get down at the Gwalior airport, and for train Jhansi is the nearest station to Orchha. From there you can hire a cab to reach the place.
Raja Ram Mandir
In the evening we stepped out to visit the Ram Mandir which was 1 km from our resort though the distance didn't seem so long. On our way, there were many stalls offering trinkets which I just couldn't miss to go through. There are lot many such stalls in the market near the temple. We reached in time to attend the famous evening prayer at the temple. Guard of honour is paid to lord Ram at both the evening at morning aarti which is one peculiar thing about it. The place has an interesting mythological story attached to it which I will write about some other time. There are sweet shops around the temple from where you can buy the prasad or even take some for yourself too. There is a whole market setup around the temple.
Light and Sound show at Raja Mahal
Just across the temple is the Raja Mahal, where we went to see the light and sound show. The light and sound show is held in the courtyard of Raja Mahal from where you can have an easy view of both Raja Mahal and Jahangir Mahal as well. The light and sound show was very interesting and enlightened me with the amazing history that the fort and Orchha holds. It was a very beautiful experience though I would say it could be a little better if it had pictorial projects as well.
The second day of our trip began with our very exciting pool party at our resort. We had more than our fair share of fun at the pool.
In the afternoon, we had lunch at a local restaurant. There are plenty of options to choose from varying from rooftops to open seating restaurants. We picked Lonely Planet , a small restaurant just beside the Raja Mahal. The food was fine but the service was so very slow, we had to wait for half n hour or more for the food to reach our table. After getting done with our lunch we rushed out to start our tour of the fort.
Evening at Jehangir Fort
The two forts- Raja Mahal and Jehangir Mahal are adjacent to each other. As I entered the Jehangir fort, I was awestruck with the greatness of the structure alone. The courtyard is wide with a fountain like structure in the middle. There are stairways and lobbies everywhere leading you from one place to the other. I entered a bit dark and somewhat creepy lobby, and when I came out, I was standing at the back gate of the fort, from where I could have the perfect view of the fort boundaries and other surrounding monuments.
The stairs in the fort were a bit difficult to climb up but the view from the upper storeys was surely worth the climb. The fort has several storeys. At each storey, you will find a lot many windows which give you the beautiful view of the city. The view from the Fort was so amazing that I run short of words to describe it. My mouth dropped open with the picturesque view, I just couldn't contain myself nor my eyes could gasp all the beauty in front of me at once. When I reached at the top of the fort I could see the Raja Mahal and the Chaturbhuj Temple in the front. The setting sun painted a silhouette picture of the view which took my breath away. Standing there, all my doubts that I previously had about Orchha vanished and I was so grateful that I got to visit such a beautiful place which holds such architectural gems in her lap.
Unfortunately I took so much of time going through the Jehangir Mahal that I missed the tour to Raja Mahal as it got closed. But I did get enough time to look at the other remains and ruins of the fort like Rai Praveen Mahal, Hardaul’s Palace and few others. The tour of the fort made me so happy but it also made me envy those times, where the kings and queens would enjoy such a beauty sitting in the comforts of their royal forts.
Day 3 Bidding Goodbye
Betwa and Chatris
Our last day at Orchha started with an early morning walk by the riverside. We visited some Chatris (cenotaphs), on our way to the river Betwa.
Chatris are basically memorials built in honor of the kings and other royals, something to remember them by. Apart from being pillars of history, Chatris are a piece of architectural genius and being located around the river makes them even more eminent. Each Chatri is build with a garden around it. There are 14 Chatris build along and near the banks of river Betwa. We spent some time adoring the view of Chatris with the river flowing alongside coupled with our own photo session of course.
Chaturbhuj Temple was our last bit of sight seeing in Orchha. It was walking distance from the resort. Chaturbhuj temple was originally supposed to be the Ram Mandir. Chaturbhuj means four-armed and is dedicated to the four-armed god- Vishnu. The temple so great that it can be seen from almost everywhere.
To reach the temple, you have to climb a flight of stairs . The temple is large but is not maintained very well, though I must say the view from the windows and upper storeys is amazing. The amazing fact about the architecture of Chaturbhuj temple is that it connects the temple to the Raja Mahal via 2 windows built in the same line of sight, one at the temple and the other at the fort. It was made this way so that the king and queen could see the temple directly from the fort, I so envy the luxuries they had. You can also move up by climbing up the dingy and semi dark stairways.Its just the view which made me go up those stairs as it is no picnic to go up and down there .I liked the exteriors of the temple, with lotus and and other resembling symbols engraved on it much more than the interiors.
After visiting the temple we shopped some trinkets at the local bazaar outside the temple. You can shop there for some pretty little things to take home.
After Chaturbhuj temple, Jhansi fort was our next and last stop on our journey back to Delhi. It took us around 45-50 minutes to reach there. Jhansi fort is grand no doubt but I didn't find it much to my amusement. The fort is not maintained quite well and there are monkeys and dogs to keep you accompanied. You can have view of the entire city from the fort. Apart from a few canons and the spot from where Rani Laxmi Bai jumped, there is nothing much to see. I liked the forts of Orchha much more than that of Jhansi.
Well that is all about my trip to a gem of a place -Orchaa, though I wanted the trip to be a little longer. It was such a great experience, and I cherish that I got to visit this hidden marvel and the bonus being I was with my favorite people which made the trip even more fun and memorable. I will visit it again some time and suggest you to do the same. Raja Mahal and Jehangir Mahal are a must see there.