Orchha, the Jewel of Bundelkhand

What’s an India holiday without catching up with at least half a dozen remarkable heritage structures, and a lot of colour! I was able to pack in quite a few on the too-short stay at Jhansi, in which we spent half a day exploring Orchha. Just a 30 minute drive on good road, and we entered this historic town built by the Bundelas, now situated in Madhya Pradesh. Our first stop was the Ram Raja Mandir, and I had an eyeful of holy men and all that’s clichéd about India.

Reva, Sara & I went further into the Chaturbhuj Mandir next door, while the oldies and the baby opted out. The legend is that this temple was built for Rama, but the queen had a dream that Rama did not wish to reside there. Hence Chaturbhuj is empty, and Rama is worshipped as a king at the Ram Raja Mandir. Chaturbhuj offers very interesting views of the fort complex, particularly the Jehangir Mahal. It’s an arduous climb to the top, through narrow, dark and steep stairs, but so worth it.

The sun beating down at midday makes it very uncomfortable to be outdoors. Our family, by this time, gave up all pretence of being adventurous, and left it to Reva and me to traipse through the very elegant Jehangir Mahal, while they relaxed in the cool restaurant, enjoying their lassi. The palace was built by the king to impress Jehangir, son of Mughal Emperor Akbar, since flattery and sycophancy was the norm in those days, as it often is now! No denying the beauty of the building though.

We missed visiting the Laxminarayan Mandir, but did stop at a smaller temple and the Chhatris by the riverbank.

There’s so much more to see in Orchha. We just have to go back there!

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