Both Orchha and Khajuraho can be boasted as the heritage capital of Madhya Pradesh. A trip to Orchha fills you with old glory and magnificency of the Bundelas and leaves one nostalgic and revitalized. Orchha has so much to do right from the magnificent forts, royal palaces, enchanting temples, the glorious Chhatris offering a panoramic landscape and activities like kayaking and rafting on the Betwa river, bird watching in the nature trail and the trip to the Orchha sanctuary.
The solitude and serenity of Orchha is immensely multiplied for a tourist as it conveniently lies on the tourism circuit Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Jhansi and Gwalior.
A population of around 10 lakhs makes Orchha less crowdy even in the peak season. Orchha offers multiple verticals of tourism like spiritual, historic and nature.
Hiring a local rickshaw or tuktuk is adventures. Do not miss a brunch at Didis café, recommended menu is lemon forte, porridge and freshly brewed coffee.
Orchha inherits great local craftsman. Handmade paper, paper artifacts, metal crafts are recommended as souvenirs.The local language is Bundelkhandi, a first cousin of hindi but English is manageably understood by most concerned with tourism.
The lifeline of Bundelkhand and Orchha is the Betwa, flows right within the Vindhyas and submerges with the Yamuna. Wide banks, intermittent rapids and tranquil flow makes rafting and kayaking an adventure by keeping the newbees in lieu with the sports.
Gradually flowing with the river, amongst the greenery and the Chhatri’s, the view offers in distinguished pleasure to one and all.
An extravagant event is the “Light and Sound Show” organized daily in the fort / palace complex keeps the visitors enthralled with the history and glory of Orchha. This extraordinary event is considered to be one of the best “Light & Sound Shows” in the country.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple : It is among the three most significant temples in Orchha. It is said to be the combo of fort and temple architecture. It is built with lime mortar and bricks and devoted to Goddess Lakshmi. The temple has several amazing paintings and frescoes on the walls.
Sunder Mahal : Built by Raja Jhujhar Singh’s son, Prince Dhurbhajan, this stunning palace is said to be a Muslim’s pilgrimage site.
Chattris(Cenotaphs) of Orchha
They are actually the autobiographies of Bundela Rulers. Total 14 Cenotaphs or Chattris are laid alongside the Betwa River.
PhoolBagh : Here you can explore the testament of the Bundela Rulers’ nobility. For the Orchha rulers, PhoolBagh was a summer delight. It is the memorial for the death of Dinman Hardaul.
Raj Mahal : The precursor of Bir Singh, Madhukar Singh built Raj Mahal all along the granite bridge. Raj Mahal is a palace famous for its complex details and intricate interiors. From 10:00 Hrs. to 17:00 Hrs. visitors can enter and view the palace from inside.
RudraPratap supervised the construction of Orchha Raj Mahal but Madhukar Shah completed the construction. You can explore lavish royal quarters and raised balconies in the Raj Mahal.
Apart from visit to the historic monuments, a highly recommended activity for the adventurous type are rafting and kayaking on the Betwa. This activity is discontinued during the monsoon season.This is primarily conducted by MP Tourism and off late by few private operators.
Ram Raja Temple : It is one most stunning temple in Orchha City. Once upon a time, the temple was a palace of Madhukar Shah. According to the legends, Lord Rama told Raja to take his idol to his palace in his dream. The palace was changed into the temple when idol was mounted. Each day, morning & evening, a armed salute is given by the police following a tradition of respect to the local king.
Rai Parveen Mahal : Rai ParveenMahal is among the major tourist destinations in this city. This beautiful palace has 3 storeys and its history is entrenched in every brick and stone of this palace. Maharaja Indrajit Singh built Raj Parveen Mahal in the year 1618.
Dinman Hardaul’s Palace : In the state of Madhya Pradesh, this palace is the living evidence of love and respect between brothers. Since ancient time, it has been regarded as an architectural phenomenon as it has the leftovers of the cultural ancestry and rich history. As per the legends, Hardaul was a great leader who loved his elder brother & sacrificed his life for him. This palace was built in honor of him. According to Jhujhar, Dinman Hardaul’s elder brother, he was in long-term relationship with his friend and partner. He was very religious and he lost his life to prove his honorable love to his brother.
Jehangir Mahal : It is a vibrant epitome of the architectural presence of Bundela Rulers. It is Orchha’s one of the most sought-after tourist destination. This 5-storied palace was constructed as per the Agra’s Hamam Saras. There are 8 splendid pavilions in this majestic palace. It boasts historical relevance, paintings, decorations and complex carvings.
Orchha Sanctuary : For those who love the presence of nature and wildlife, Orchha Sanctuary is definitely a worthwhile retreat. It is bestowed with sprawling tranquility of nature which also attracts general public & offers an incredible view of sunset amidst the cenotaphs.
Chaturbhuj Temple : Chaturbhuj Temple is known for architectural association which was constructed by Raja Madhukar during 1558 to 1573 for Maharani Ganesh who was his wife.
Sawan Bhado: The incredible air coolers of Orchha
Adjacent to the Ram Raja Temple lies a row of fountains, which culminates in an eight pillared pavilion. A subterranean structure below the pavilion, the Tehkhana, was the summer retreat of the kings of Orchha. The tehkhana was cooled by a cleverly constructed Persian cooling unit, which was made up of two adjoining Dastagirs (wind-catching towers). The towers were named after the two spring months in the Indian calendar – Sawan Bhado.
The towers were perforated on the top, to allow them to catch the wind, while their lower part was connected to a reservoir of water. The towers, the aqueducts, and the underground reservoir of water were ingeniously connected to a Chandan Katora (fountain) in the pavilion above the retreat. The water from the underground reservoir was pushed up into the Chandan Katora, from where it rained on the roof of the retreat to cool the Tehkhana. This is perhaps the only example of the Persian system of cooling in India.