Orchha Travel Guide
Distance : 12Okm From
Gwalior, 178km from Khajuraho
Temp : Summer: Max, 47oC, Winter: Min, 4oC
Best season : October-March
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
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.
¤ 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.
¤ Main 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.
Orchhas 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.
¤ Jahangir Mahal
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
The richness of the Jahangir Mahal contrasts nicely with the austere
beauty of the Raj Mahal, built by Madhukar Shah who was a
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 Orchhas
king, Raja Indrajit Singh (see Rai Parveen Mahal under Places of
Interest for more).
¤ Temple Attractions
of the three main temples, the Laxminarayan Temple is a curious mix
of fort and temple architecture. Most of its walls are decorated with
murals, some with secular themes. On the other hand, the Ramaraja
Temple is unusual in that here, Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu
(the Hindu Preserver of the Universe), is worshipped as a ruler, and
the building is actually a palace.
The holy triad is completed by the Chaturbhuj Temple that is adorned
with lotus emblems and other religious symbols.
Other sites worth visiting in Orchha are the shrines of Siddh Baba ka
Sthan, Jugal Kishore Temple and the Janaki and Hanuman Mandirs.
Two famous memorials also dot Orchha Hardols Samadhi,
which has a tragic mystique about it, and the Shaheed Smarak, which
commemorates the freedom fighter, Chandrashekhar Azad, who lived and
worked in hiding in Orchha in 1926 and 1927. On the outskirts of
Orchha is the Jaraika Math Temple, dedicated to Laxmi, the Hindu
Goddess of Wealth.
¤ 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
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
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.