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18 Jul

Orchha

Orchha (or Urchha) is a town in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The town was established by Rudra Pratap Singh some time after 1501, as the seat of an eponymous former princely state of central India, in the Bundelkhand region. Orchha lies on the Betwa River, 80 km from Tikamgarh & 15 km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

History

Orchha was founded in the 16th century AD by the Bundela Rajput chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha, (r. 1501-1531) and also built the Fort of Orchha. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built during the reign of Emperor Akbar, by the Queen of Orchha Ganeshi Bai, while Raj Mandir was built by ‘Madhukar Shah’ during his reign, 1554 to 1591.

The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit. TheJahangir Mahal is built on a rectangular base and is relieved by a circular tower at each corner surmounted by a dome, while two lines of graceful balconies supported on brackets mark the central storeys. The roof is crowned by eight large fluted domes, with smaller domes between them, connected by an ornamental balustrade. The Jahangir Mahal is considered to be a singularly beautiful specimen of Mughal architecture. A point worth mentioning here is that the mother for Jahangir was also a Rajput, Jodha. It is with this in mind that the Rajput king of Orchha had built the Jahangir Mahal. Chaturbhuj Temple is an old temple from the 9th century.

The Uth Khana (Camel Shelter) where the King’s camels were stationed is right next to the fort and is a must-see. Tourists can also climb on the roof of the Uth Khana and get a fantastic view of Orchha town. The ruins behind the fort complex are an even greater sight. It makes a tourist travel back in time and is an integral part of a visit to Orchha. It houses the residences of various military officers, ministers (housing, roads), gunpowder factory, etc. Although most are in absolute ruins, a silent walk through the ruins can give one goosebumps.

Numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dot the vicinity of the fort and the Betwa river. Elsewhere about the town there is an unusual variety of temples and tombs, including the Chaturbhuj temple, which is built on a vast platform of stone. The more unguarded and neglected of these buildings are popular hangouts for tropical bees, wasps, and other such excitable stinging creatures.

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