Our route to Delhi led us to a stop in Orchha. The medieval city seems to be frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur…located in the Northern state of Madhya Pradesh. A former capital of the mighty Bundela Rajput Kings. Established in the early 16th century and each of the area monuments were constructed over a period of time by successive Maharajas. Our train was behind schedule and we arrived just before dusk and raced to the Royal Chhatris on the outskirts of the town. We pulled up just before closing. I had another opportunity of greasing the palms of the attendant who was packing up his bicycle.
With time limited we split off to take some photos, Chelle, as usual chatted up the only other visitors, a small group of Sikh tourists who as it turned out were from Toronto…small world. The fourteen memorials or Cenotaphs to glorify the contributions of the rulers of the mighty Bundelkhand dynasty, which are grouped along the Kanchana Ghat of the Betwa river. Chhatris (canopy) are elevated domed shaped pavilions which are elements of Indian architecture. The word is used to refer to two different things. The usual and more widely understood meaning is of a memorial, usually very ornate. It is also used to refer to the small pavilions that mark the corners, roof of entrance of a major building. Both are on display in Orchha.
Our guesthouse had river views of Orchha Fort which was great when the sun rose and set. Located at the center of the city, the massive fort covers an area of 49 acres. It ranks amongst the best fortified areas in India. It goes by several names Jhangir Mahal, Orchha Palace, and Mahal-e-Jahangir Orchha. The fort was built in ind0-islamic styles and contains over 100 rooms and balconies. From the outside this palace is majestic with its rugged domed buildings, rusted to photographic perfection and the few small blue stones that still cling to the old walls, giving a glimpse of what is was like centuries before.
A short distance from Jhangir Mahal is Chaturbhuj Temple. Built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps, the temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that remained in the Ram Raja Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Within the sanctum is chastely plain with high, vaulted walls emphasizing its deep sanctity.Like several other experiences around India we had a key holder attempted to sell entry to the hidden stairwell leading to the roof. We scrambled up on our own for a short time but had a deaf mute accomplice attempt to quicken our pace. Unfortunately I was trailing the Chelle and the young fellow. I moved through the tunnel too quickly in the dark and slammed my forehead on the arch. I inadvertently scared the young kid and he ran down the stairs. I found him later and tried to convey my apologies. Verbal communication was impossible but I shook his hand and gave hime a small tip.