Orchha literally means ‘hidden place’ and it stays true to its name! Located in Madhya Pradesh, Orchha isn’t on most tourist maps and several travelers club their visit to Orchha with a trip to Jhansi (16 km away) or Khajuraho (170 km away). But with beautiful monuments, both big and small, revealing tales of battles between kings and emperors, Orchha deserves a trip of its own.
Once the capital of the Bundela Rajput kings, Orchha was established by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501. The medieval city has since seemingly frozen in time. Its several monuments continue to retain their original grandeur even as the city itself seems quite content to be hidden away from the throngs of tourists that descend upon Madhya Pradesh year after year.
The closest railhead to Orchha is Jhansi (about 16 km) and the best way to reach your destination is the ever-reliable auto rickshaw. If the narrow winding roads with fields on either side that lead you to this little town don’t transport you back to a more peaceful time, the several monuments that dot the Orchha landscape most certainly will.
The Orchha fort complex is the biggest tourist draw of this small town. You can buy a ticket here that will grant you access to all the sights in the town. The fort complex itself is divided into three parts:
The Raj Mahal was constructed by Madhukar Shah in the 17th century. His deeply religious beliefs are reflected in the design: the stunning murals are bold and colorful and revolve around religious themes. A well-tipped guide will be thrilled to open the doors of various chambers for you.
Also constructed in the 17th century, but by Madhukar Shah’s successor Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo to commemorate the visit of his friend, the Mughal emperor Jahangir, the eponymous Jahangir Mahal is another stunning piece of architecture in this hidden gem of a place.