Distance : 70km from
Gwalior, 26km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh
lies on the track from Gwalior to Jhansi. In fact it is closer to
Jhansi, which is in Uttar Pradesh, than to Gwalior. 26km to the north
of Jhansi is the small palace town founded by the Bundela chief Raj
Bir Singh Deo.
Bir Singh supported Prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir) when he
rebelled against his father, the Mughal Emperor Akbar (see Orchha for
details). The palaces at Datia and Orchha are the best surviving
examples of a style of architecture that arose in the late 16th
and early 17th centuries in the Bundelkhand area under the
reign of the Bundela Rajputs.
Bir Singh Palace
It was built in 1620 by King Bir Singh Deo after whom the palace is
named. Locally, the palace is also known as Govind Mandir.
It was a favourite of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the man who designed most of
British New Delhi. Unlike Mughal inspired edifices, this was conceived
as a single unit and therefore its form and decoration are well
Erected on a rocky ridge, the Bir Singh Palace has five stories
visible. A central dome rising to 35m caps the palace. There are many
underground chambers excavated in the rock but they remain hidden from
Suites of underground rooms hewn from solid bedrock on a series of
different levels provide hot-weather accommodation. The palace has a
square plan with a domed tower at each corner.
The main entrance is on the eastern side, while the south opens out
to a lake, the Karna Sagar. What makes this palace special is that it
is made entirely of stones and bricks with no use of wood and iron.
Another five-storeyed structure with apartments for the royalty
stands in the central courtyard. It is connected by flying bridge
corridors to the middle of each side. The facades are decorated with
bracketed balconies, kiosks, arcades and wide eaves which create a
glorious play of light and shade. Strangely enough, for all its
mesmerizing beauty, the palace was never occupied and is now a
well-preserved monument with some lovely murals.
You can approach Datia from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh or from
Gwalior in MP. Datia is on the Delhi-Mumbai railway line.
Train from Gwalior: Bundelkhand Express; one and a half hours.
Train from Jhansi: Bundelkhand Express; 21 minutes.
Chappra-Gwalior Mail, 21 minutes.
Back to Jhansi: Chhatisgarh Express.