The small town of Orchha (or Urchha), just a few hours south of Agra is positioned on the edge of the state of Madhya Pradesh and just a few miles west of Uttar Pradesh. With the Betwa River to the east which also surrounds the palaces and with huge rocks and boulders that seem carefully positioned on the rivers-edge the palaces seem almost unattainable.
Founded in 1501 CE by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, he became the first king of Orchha and went on to rule for 30 years.
Orchha means 'Hidden Place' and the majority of visits would agree with this description. Orchha's history has been captured in stone, many of the palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers retain their grandeur and seem unaffected by modern day influences.
Easily accessible from Agra and on the way to Varanasi, Orchha is often missed out but is well worth stopping off for a few days. Unlike a lot of India, Orchha is incredibly laid back and carefree and is becoming more and more popular with backpackers, hippies and tourists in general.
Located in the centre of the market square, thousands of Hindus believe that the Lord Rama lives here, pilgrims flock to pray on a daily basis. This is the only temple where Rama is worshipped as a king.
Originally built for Madhukar Shah's wife in the 16th century, but became a temple when an image of Rama was installed and proved impossible to remove.
Dedicated to Vishnu, Chaturbhuj temple (chaturbhuj meaning four-armed), the temple has plenty of space inside and allows in a lot of light, which is unusual for a Hindu temple. It was built between 1558 and 1573 by Raja Madhukar.
A highlight of this temple are the views from the roof. Climbing the stairs you may need a torch, which of course can be bought from one of the main stalls at the bazaar.
Vir Singh Deo ordered the construction of the Laxmi Narayan Temple around 1622, but due to inadequate maintenance over the years the temple soon began to fall apart and had to be reconstructed by Prithvi Singh in 1793. The temple is worth seeing because it has been built using a mixture of temple and fort architecture.
Built for Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth, inner chambers were built for pilgrims to offer sacrifices to the Goddess. Strangely and unlike the majority of temples, there is no idol of the Goddess kept there.
These are dome-shaped pavilions built and then dedicated to the memory of previous rulers, including Bir Singh Deo. Located about half-a-mile outside of Orchha, these are best since as the sun is setting in the distance, while the birds swoop around the domes.
The Jehangir Mahal is Orchha's most admired palace. It was built by Bir Singh Deo as a welcome present for the Mughal emperor Jehangir when he paid a visit in the 17th century.
Two stone elephants guard the stairway, holding bells in their trunks to announce the arrival of the Raja. The palace is filled with light during the day due to it has countless windows and pierced stone screens looking out over the skyline to the west.
Rudra Pratap Singh ordered the construction of the Raj Mahal in the 16th century, however the palace was not completed until the successor to Rudra Pratap Singh, Madhukar Shah took power.
A key feature of the Raj Mahal are the lavish royal accommodations that are marked by elevated balconies.
The interiors of the Raj are lined with mirrors and paintings which are all over the walls and ceilings, some of which are still in superb condition.
Housed here are some great examples of Indian folk paintings from the different states of India.
The months of April to September are generally the hottest in Orchha with temperatures reaching the high 30s (ºC) but can easily raise into the high 40s. However June to September will be the wettest as well, but this does mean the Orchha will be lovely and green.
October to May are the coolest months and the driest but are by no-means cold as temperatures will still be around 20 °C. Although December and January has been known to fall to nine or 10 °C.
Roughly a four hour drive from Agra and a three hour drive from Khajuraho. But Indian traffic can be a nightmare as anyone who has been to India before knows, so it may take longer.
There are buses from both places to Orchha.
The easiest way is by foot as the town is small, however like everywhere else in India, Orchha is littered with rickshaw drivers waiting to drive you around for a small fee. Always agree the price before hand though!
Bikes are for hire, these are a good way to see the surrounding areas of Orchha.
Although there are not any particular foods that Orchha is famous for, you can still get a wide variety of Indian food from the bazaar stalls to the more expensive restaurants. Dhal, pakora and paneer all available from most restaurants. Whether you are a carnivore or herbivore, you will not go hungry and if you tire of Indian food, why not try the Korean, Chinese or Dutch food available.
Not a particularly great place to party or enjoy the night life, the main places service alcohol are the restaurants. Orchha is more about having a quiet Chai under the shade of a tree.
|The Orchha Resort||Kanchanghat, Orchha Distt. Tikamgarh||Hotel||91|
See also International Telephone Calls
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost 50rs to 200rs. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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