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ORCHHA: Far from the madding crowd

Sunday - December 25, 2016 6:49 am , Category : TRAVEL
ORCHHA: Far from the madding crowd
ORCHHA: Far from the madding crowd

Orchha, a city of a bygone era, the capital of brave Bundela kings who ruled the area for nearly two hundred years, has an amazing story. It is here, where lord Rama is not worshiped as God. Orcha is a historic shrine for two reasons: One, here Lord Rama is worshipped as a king, not as a God. And second, it is not a temple but a palace. There is a legend about it. One day Ganesh Kanwar, wife of Madhukar Shah the greatest among Bundela rulers, saw lord Rama in her dream. Without losing time, she brought an idol of lord Rama from Ayudhya to Orchha and placed that in her palace’s small bed room. It was decided to enshrine it in a specially build ‘Chaturbhuj Mandir’. When the mandir was ready, the idol refused to move despite best efforts.  Consequently, it was decided to let it remain in the palace where it was and the palace be turned into a temple known as ‘Ram Raja Mandir’. Founded by the Bundela Rajput king Rudra Pratap in the 16th century, Orchha is situated on the banks of Betwa River in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh. It is nearest to Jhansi and about 125 km away from Gwalior. Since the city is situated on the banks of River Betwa, the climate even in summers is not very hot. The winters do get a bit nippy during the nights but the days are pleasant enough to have a comfortable trip inside the city. Orchha is, now, an important destination on the tourist map of Madhya Pradesh. It is a peaceful place ‘far from the madding crowd’ Main places to visit: The main attractions in Orchha are magnificent palaces and huge temples located very close to each other making it less tiring for the tourists to enjoy their glory. Built between 16 and 17 century by the Bundela rulers, these are the best example of Indo-Islamic architecture. Jehangir Mahal : It is the most magnificent palace. It was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo to commemorate the visit of Mughal Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counter balanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness. Raj Praveen Mahal : This palace was built by King Indramani in the 17th century. It is said that he built it for his paramour Raj Parveen who was not only very beautiful but an exceptionally talented poetess and a musician too. The palace built for her is a low, two-storied brick structure designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, You can get scintillating views of nearby gardens of Anand Mahal and the octagonal flower garden. Chaturbhuj temple: Built on a gigantic stone formation has an idol of lord Vishnu. Originally it was built to enshrine the idol of lord Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Laxminarayan temple: Built in 1622 A.D. by Vir Singh Deo, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi. The interior walls of the temple are adorned by many exceptional paintings. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchhas wall paintings. Despite being many hundred years old, the colors still retain their impressive shine. Phool Bagh: 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. Sunder Mahal: 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. Cenotaphs (Chhatris): There are 14 chhatris or memorials to the Bundela rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa. Shahid Smarak: It commemorates the great freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad who lived and worked in hiding in Orchha during 1926 and 1927. Where to stay: There are many hotels and resorts to stay in. The rates are also reasonable. Many foreign tourists, who specifically come to visit Khajuraho, never miss to visit Orcha too. They stay at palace turned beautiful hotels having all the world class amenities.   How to reach: By Air: The nearest airport is Gwalior (124 km), connected with Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Mumbai. Khajuraho (170 km) is linked with Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi. By Rail: Jhansi is the nearest railhead, situated at a distance of 16 km from Orcha. All major super fast mail and express trains stop at Jhansi. By Road: Orchha is situated on the Jhansi-Khajuraho main road. The town is well connected to all the major cities of Madhya Pradesh with regular public and private transport. Lot of private taxies and auto-rikshaws are available in good numbers at Jhansi. -WTN