HISTORY OF ORCHHA
The historic town of Orchha was established by Rudra Pratap Singh after 1501 in the 16th century as the seat of the former princely state in the Bundelkhand region. The Bundela Rajput chief Rudra Pratap Singh was the first king of Orchha who also built the Fort of Orchha. The medieval city of Orchha is nestled on the banks of the Betwa River which seems to have frozen in time, with its’ palaces and temples, it still retains their original grandeur. The word ‘Orchha’ means hidden as when the Tughlaqs who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century pushed the Bundelkhand kings out of Garkhundar, they retreated to Orchha.
Orchha is filled with plenty of history and places to see in the city like the Fort of Orchha, The Ram Raja Temple, the Jahangir Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple etc. There is a spectacular light and sound show in the evening at Jahangir Mahal which displays the history of Orchha too.
NEARBY PLACES AROUND ORCHHA
Datia is an ancient town mentioned in the Mahabharata ruled by King ‘Dantavakra.’ It was formerly the seat of the princely state in the British Raj. Datia is situated near Gwalior and it in fact is on the way to Gwalior. It is 50 km from Orchha, near the border of Uttar Pradesh. Datia is famous for the seven-storey Palace built by Bir Singh which is an astonishing confluence of Mughal & Rajput architecture. The founder of the Datia state in Bundelkhand- Maharaja Birsingh Deo built as many as 52 monuments all around the country. This palace is the biggest and most famous of all the 52 palaces and can be seen easily from a long distance. This ancient town finds its mention in the Mahabharata by the name of ‘Daityavakra’.
Jhansi, also called the ‘Gateway to Bundelkhand’ is situated between the rivers Betwa and Pahuj. It is located 30 km away from Orchha. There are many places one can visit from Jhansi like Chanderi, Datia & Gwalior etc which are not too far off from Jhansi. The original walled city grew around its stone fort which crowns a neighbouring rock. The ancient name was Balwantnagar. From 1817 to 1854, Jhansi was the capital of the princely state of Jhansi which was ruled by Gurjar rajas. The state was annexed by the British Governor General in 1854; Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne was rejected but Rani Laxmibai ruled it from 1857 to 1858. The Jhansi Fort stands on a hill and was built by Orchha’s Raja Bir Singh Deo in 1613. It is a 17th century architectural monument that has undergone royal construction followed by massive destruction in the First war of Independence against the British East India Company.
Gwalior is a major city in Central India and since then it has housed successive lines of rulers that have appeared like comets, blazing briefly across the skies of our land. Gwalior is located 120 km away from Orchha and Datia is on the way towards Gwalior. One of the most beautiful and largest forts to see is the Gwalior Fort. The Gwalior Fort has been described as a hill fort which has existed at least since the 10th century and is described by the Mughal Emperor Babur as ‘ the pearl among the fortresses of Hind’. This Fort is a structure of imposing scale whose beleaguered history is etched on every surface. The Fort is built on an outcrop of Vindhyan sandstone on a solitary rocky hill called ‘Gopachal’ which is long, thin and steep. The inscriptions and monuments found within the fort campus depicts that the fort could have been in existence as early as the 6th century. The Fort has been host to various rulers like the Huns, Pratihars, Kacchwahs, Ghoris, Tomars, Mughals, The East India Company, and during the rebellion of 1857, the fort saw the great warfare- Rani Lakshmibai (the Queen of Jhansi) came fighting from Jhansi to Gwalior & sought shelter inside the Fort.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Khajuraho has the country’s largest group of medieval Hindu & Jain Temples. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 and is considered one of the ‘seven wonders’ of India. These temples were built by the rulers of the Chandela kingdom back in the 10th century. Over 85 temples are believed to have been built of which 20 remain standing today. Based on their orientation, the temples are categorised into three groups, Western, Eastern and Southern Group of Temples. These temples lay forgotten due to the decline of the Chandela Dynasty for many centuries, but were later rediscovered in 1830 by T.S. Burt who restored and cleaned the temples of Khajuraho that once again testify to a past glory.
The historical town of Chanderi located in Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by hills southwest of the Betwa River as well as forests and lakes spotted with several monuments of the Bundela Rajputs and Malwa Sultans. This town also finds mention in the Mahabharata and is also an important military outpost. Chanderi suffered a lot during the 1857 uprising as it was relentlessly plundered and partially burned down. Many rulers have controlled this town due to its attractive location on the trade routes to ports of Gujarat, Central India and Deccan etc. The many monumental wonders of Chanderi like Bada Mahal Gate, Koshal Mahal, Chanderi Fort, Raja Rani Mahal, Shehzadi ka Roza etc stand testimony to the fact that this ancient town was established in the 11th century.
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