Magnificent Orchha

Orchha, which for so long served as a satellite attraction to Gwalior, is now emerging as a destination in its own right. With Madhya Pradesh Tourism supporting local people to offer homestay accommodation to visitors, you have more chances to stay in beautiful places other than state tourist lodges. The opening of accommodation facilities now will help visitors to explore Orchha’s many attractions, including palaces, temples and monuments, as well as try out a spot of river rafting.

Founded by Rudra Pratap Singh in the early 16th century, Orchha is steeped in Bundelkhand culture. the Sound and light show (ticketed entrance) at the Orchha Fort complex will acquaint you with the history of the former royal province.

What to see and do in Orcha

RamRaja Temple
RamRaja Temple Shutterstock.com

RamRaja Temple
A tour of Orchha usually begins with a visit to this temple. Part of the palace of the ruler Madhukar Shah, this is the only temple where Ram, the hero of the Indian epic Ramayana, is worshiped as king and given an honor guard. The temple is open from 8 am to 10 pm.

Fort Orcha
This 16th century fort is located near the confluence of the Betwa and Jamni rivers. The sprawling fort complex contains several palaces inside, of which the Jahangir Mahal, Raj Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, and Rai Praveen Mahal are very popular. Raj Mahal exhibits some fantastic murals. Jahangir Mahal exhibits a mix of Mughal and Bundela architecture; note the delicate latticework throughout the courtyard. Sheesh Mahal has been converted into a flagship hotel by the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC).

Check at the box office if the brochure on the heritage walk is available. That will help you enjoy the many attractions of the fort. Entrance to the fort premises is allowed from 9 am to 5 pm Ticketed entrance. Sound and Light Show Hours: March-October: 7:30-8:30 p.m. in English and 8:45-9:45 p.m. in Hindi; November to February: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in English and 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in Hindi.

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Dauji Ki Haveli
If you have extra time available, you can visit this 17th-century structure near the Rai Praveen Mahal. Although in ruins, its arched doorway and ceiling and murals are reminders of its former glory. Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple
This ancient temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi was built in the 16th century. However, he is devoid of an idol. Don’t miss the murals inside the temple. Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chhattris along the bank of the Betwa River
Chhattris along the bank of the Betwa River Shutterstock.com

Chhattri
Shot against the horizon, the group of 14 chhatris or cenotaphs along the Betwa River’s Kanchan Ghat look magnificent when viewed from a boat. Monuments to ancient rulers, they reflect beautiful architectural styles. Ticketed entrance.

Chaturbhuj Temple
Chaturbhuj Temple Shutterstock.com

Chaturbhuj Temple
This 9th century temple, identified by its tall towers, was built to house a statue of Ram. But due to some divine intervention, the idol, which was temporarily installed in the queen’s palace (Rani Mahal), could not be moved to the newly built temple. The Rani Mahal was converted into the Ram Raja Temple and an image of Vishnu was installed in the new temple. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb to the roof of the building to enjoy a panoramic view of Orchha. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

phool bagh
A summer retreat for ancient rulers, this beautiful garden with fountains, underground rooms and the unique Badgir Sawan Bhadon Towers built to catch the wind and cool the place is a popular attraction. It is open from 8 am to 8 pm.

canoeing and rafting
Depending on the water level in the Betwa River, you can go boating or even rafting along it. A walk along the river in the late afternoon can be fun. Usually the monsoon is the best time to go rafting. Check with MPSTDC tourist lodges for details.

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safari in the forest
The Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1994, is located opposite the royal cenotaphs along the river. The best thing is to do a safari by car inside. The nature reserve, known primarily for housing common birdlife, has received mixed reviews from visitors. The best time to visit is between November and March. The sanctuary is open from 7 am to 6 pm. Ticketed entrance.

food trail
Try some of the typical Bundelkhand dishes in Orchha. Like Kodu Til ka Bhaat (the variety of kodu rice cooked with black sesame), Bundeli Gosht (meat cooked in a clay pot with spices and boiled chickpeas), ras kheer (where the rice is cooked in sugar cane juice), etc. The area around Ram Raja Temple is worth exploring for its street food and local restaurants.

Information: Gwalior is the closest airport to Orchha, about 130 km by road. The nearest railway departure point is Jhansi, about 10 km by road. It is also possible to drive to Orchha from Khajuraho. MPSTDC operates the MPT Sheesh Mahal heritage and the MPT Betwa Retreat. There are also some private hotels and hostels. You can also opt for homestays registered with state tourism. The best time to visit Orchha is between November and March. If you are interested in rafting then monsoon is the best time.

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