The heart of India, Madhya Pradesh a.k.a MP is a concoction of primeval history, beautiful traditions, lip smacking food and lot more. Our recent visit to Orchha, a small town near Jhansi was all about bespoke architectural beauty. With dated structures narrating the glorious tales of a rich past, Orchha Fort topped our must-visit list. Here is all about exploring the illustrious Orchha fort.
Built by the Bundela Rajputs during the early 16th century, Orchha Fort houses several structures like palaces, temples gardens and more. The fort has three prime structures as follows.
Built by Madhukar Shah who ruled from 1554 10 1591, the Raja Mahal or King’s Palace was the official resident of the king and queen. Though the exteriors are simple, it’s the interiors that blows you away. Entwined with secret passages, the palace walls have murals of gods, mythical characters and people. Traces of mirror embellishments once adored the first-floor chamber walls.
A part of the palace also has a temple dedicated to lord Ram. As the legend goes, Ganeshkuwari, the queen of king Madhukar Shah who was a devotee of lord Rama dreamed of Lord Rama requesting a temple to be built in the deity’s honor. So, the queen brought the idol from Ayodhya and placed it in the palace since Chaturbhuj temple was still under-construction. When the idol was attempted to be moved to the temple post its completion, it did not budge! Since then the idol remained in the palace and a part of the palace was converted into Ram Raja Temple.
Good to know- Orchha is the only place in India where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king and not a deity.
Bordered by Raja Mahal to its front and Jahangir Mahal to its left, Sheesh Mahal was a royal accommodation built for Udait Singh. Known for its impressive hall room with high ceiling and intricate mirror work in the royal suites, the palace is now a heritage hotel under MP Tourism.
An amalgam of Mughal and Rajput architecture, Jahangir Mahal was built by Bir Singh Deo in 1605. The inner courtyard has a symmetrical square layout flanked by eight domes. The courtyard which once had a fountain, is the center point of the palace, was used to hold gatherings and ceremonies. Protruding balconies of the first floors were meant for royal guests or ladies to watch the ceremonies.
The arched doorways, lattice work widows and carved pillars speak volumes about the proficient architectural skills of those times. The top floor gives a great view of the surrounding temples and smaller structures. An adjoining complex was made for Rai Praveen who was a renowned poet and a female escort of Raja Indrajit. An elaborate garden named Anand Mahal surrounding Rai Praveen Mahal, offers a refreshing experience.
Behind the rear side of the palace, lies an abandoned camel stable which gave us abundant photo opportunity. The neatness of the arched walls and simplicity of the high ceilings won our hearts.
Light and sound show
The light and sound show conducted every evening is another major attraction of the fort. It is an audio drama supported by changing lights. The stories are well narrated and keeps you hooked. However, we were a bit disappointed as we expected a laser light show.
Timing and time to tour the fort complex
Day visit timing are 9 am to 6 pm. Light and sound show starts 6:30pm onwards. 2.5 to 3 hours are enough for exploring the illustrious Orchha fort at ease.
Check out our detailed post on the offbeat Nagaur fort in Rajasthan.
Rs 10 for Indians, Rs 250 for International tourists, Rs 25 as camera fee. Fee for light and sound show in evening costs Rs 200 per head. Vehicle parking fee is Rs 30.
None. Ditch your heels for flats or shoes. Wear comfy breathable fabric as it gets warm and humid.
How to reach Orchha
Gwalior is the nearest airport126km away. Or else board a train to Jhansi, merely 17 km from Orchha. Ours was a road trip from Gurugram following this route- Agra Expressway-Morena- Datia-Jhansi-Orchha. The 484 km distance took us about 8 hours to reach.