This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Dhiraj from the blog, Team G Square as he discusses his journey to some of the hidden gems of India.
Today's destination: Orchha, Madhya Pradesh!!
Nearest Airport: Gwalior Airport or Khajuraho Airport (HJR)
Nearest Railway Station: Jhansi Railway station (about 18kms away)
Prerequisites - NA
Packing - Depending on the time of the year you visit, make sure to carry hats, eyewear and sunscreen. Best time to visit is between November and February as the plains get very hot after that.
Time of the year - January
Length of the itinerary: 3 days
- Dhiraj and his 'team' cover Orchha as a part of a bigger MP road trip that lasted about 10 days.
- The Orchha itinerary can be broken down into 3 areas - the palaces, the temples and the Chattris with the Vulture sanctuary.
- Orchha is the home of the Bundela Rajas in the 16th century, who were originally based in the Varanasi region, until the invasions by the Delhi Sultanate began after which they moved to MP.
- The town is home to a number of palaces of different architecture shapes and sizes. Notable among the palaces are the Raja Mahal built in 1538 which is one of the biggest and most beautiful of the palaces. The palace has innumerable jharokas and chattris that amplify the beauty of the palace.
- Next on the list is the Jehangir Mahal, also a very beautiful palace that has shades of Mughal/Indo-islamic architecture that makes it stand out. Legend has that this palace was built for the visit of Emperor Jehangir, son of Akbar, who visited here just for a night!
- Another unique palace that is high on the list of must see palaces is the Sheesh Mahal, which is now a boutique hotel and was one of the palaces built during the fag end of the rule of Bundela Kings.
- An interesting and smaller palace is the Rai Parveen Mahal, believed to have been built for the Rai Parveen, a courtesan in the court of King Indrajit Singh. The legend goes that she was so beautiful and talented that even Emperor Akbar was blown away by her beauty and wanted to have her as a part of his entourage of courtesans. However, she did not budge and chose to stay with the Bundela King and was eventually moved to this palace.
- Other smaller structures/palaces also adorn the town, although they have not been very well maintained. Notable among them are Dasiyon ka mahal, Dauji ki Kothi, Himma Hamir ki Kothi, ShamDua ki Kothi, Rasaldar ki Kothi etc.
- Moving on from the palaces, one cannot overlook the umpteen number of temples and their marvellous beauty that Orchha has to offer. One of the first temples to catch your attention is Chatturbhuj temple that is one of the grandest temples of Orchha.
- Legend has it that the Chaturbhuj temple was built by King Madhukar Shah for Lord Rama, but the Lord instead chose to stay at the Raja Ram temple, which was previously the Rani Mahal.
- The story behind the Raja Ram temple is that when Rani Ganesh Kunwari performed penance to invite Lord Rama, he was impressed by her devotion and agreed to accompany her only if he is to be the King of the first place they stop at, which ends up being the Rani Mahal. The Lord also puts a condition that he will remain the only king of the place and hence he is worshipped as King in this region.
- Other temples that are notable are the Shiva temple, Vanavasi Ram Mandir, Radhika Vihari temple, Panchamukhi temple and Lakshmi temple. All in all, Orchha provides a great treat for lovers of architecture and temples.
- On the last leg of the journey, one can stop by the iconic Cenotaphs or Chattris of Orchha that are situated on the banks of the river Betwa.
- The 14 Chattris were built as a homage for the Bundela kings and were constructed between the 17th and 18th century. Being situated on the banks of the river just amplifies the beauty of the cenotaphs.
- As an icing on the cake, the region is also home to some endangered species of vulture and houses a Vulture Sanctuary. One can spend hours admiring the beauty fo the history and architecture, the beautiful sunset and eerie vultures or Orchha! All in all, a great trip uncovering some hidden gems of India!
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