Orchha is a place of historic importance and has tremendous importance at the national and international level with respect to its architectural, natural and living heritage. The town has immense natural beauty and is placed within the once dense forest region along with two major rivers, Betwa and Jamni.
Orchha is also famous as a worship centre with ritual ceremonies celebrated on various occasions, which invite thousands of pilgrims from different part of the country.
Orchha has a rich architectural heritage which symbolizes the Bundela architecture from 16th to 18th century A.D. The name Orchha is derived from the remark of a Rajput Chief who exclaimed the land as ‘ondche’ as it lies low or far enough and is considered as a place with provides natural security. The town is famous as a pilgrim centre of Lord Ram, who is worshiped in the renowned Rama Raja Temple.
The town was founded by Maharaja Rudra Pratap in 1531 AD. In 1783, Maharaja Vikramjit shifted his capital to Tikamgarh and since then Orchha lost its importance as a major centre. It however, has retained its past glory of unmatchable monuments and temples of architectural and cultural importance.
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Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness. Raj Mahal Situated to the right of the quadrangle, this palace was built in the 17th century by Madhukar Shah, the deeply religious predecessor of Bir Singh Ju Deo. The plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colourful on a variety of religious themes.
Rai Parveen Mahal
The palace built for poetess & musician Rai Parveen, is a low, two-storeyed brick structure designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, beautifully landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, with its octagonal flower beds and elaborate water supply system. Skillfully carved niches allow light into the Mahal which has a main hall and smaller chambers.
Built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps, the temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Within, the sanctum is chastely plain with high, vaulted walls emphasizing its deep sanctity.
A flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant
compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality.
Ram Raja Temple
The palace which later became a temple has soaring spires and grand architecture. The monthly ritual of Pushya Nashatra is famous for worship of Lord Ram Raja in which about 25000 to 35000 pilgrims from various regions participate every month.
More to see in Orchha
This small palace, almost in ruins today is still a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Dhurjban, son of Jhujhar, embraced Islam when he wed a Muslim girl at Delhi. He spent the latter part of his life in prayer and meditation and came to be revered as a saint.
There are 14 Chhatris or Memorials to the rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa.
Laid out as a formal garden, this complex testifies to the refined aesthetic qualities of the Bundelas. A central row of fountains culminates in an eight pillared palace-pavilion. A subterranean structure below was the cool summer retreat of the Orchha kings. An ingenious system of water ventilation connects the underground palace with Chandan Katora, a bowl-like structure from whose fountains droplets of water filtered through to the roof, simulating rainfall.