Great things come in small packages! A phase that’s so true for this tiny yet interesting town in Madhya Pradesh. Welcome to Orchha, the former capital city of the most powerful kingdoms of Central India, and the formidable Bundela kings. Today this city is known to captivate tourists for its 16th / 17th century temples, forts and palaces.

Founded in 16th century by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap, this town is known for its rich stone sculptors, ancient monuments and forts. A tour to this city enables tourists to not only explore the town’s rich and splendid architecture but also cultural heritage.

Meaning ‘hidden’, it is said that when the Bundelkhand Rajas were forced to vacate Garkhundar, by the Tughlaqs who ruled Delhi in the 15th century, they retreated to distant Orchha. Situated on the banks of the River Betwa, while this town is dotted with numerous forts, palaces and temples, one of the major attractions here is its extravagant 17th century palace-fort, which comprises of several constructions built over time.

Built by Madhukar Shah in the 17th century, the Raj Mahal, is a royal residence known for its rich interior and bold, colorful and exquisite murals of spiritual themes. Also built in the early 17th century by Bir Singh Deo to mark the visit of the Mughal Emperor, the Jahangir Mahal, is another significant monument of this fort, known for its intricate work on its delicate chhatris, while the Rai Parveen Mahal, is dedicated to the 17th-century poetess-musician Rai Parveen, the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani.

A temple devoted to Lord Ram, it is said the Ram Raja temple was formerly a palace. Legends have it that Chaturbhuj temple was the original destination for the idol of Lord Ram, which was bought by the then ruler, Madhukar Shah, after Lord Ram appeared to him a dream. However once the idol was kept on the ground it refused to move, thus converting this palace into a temple, one that is known for its majestic courtyard and bright look.

Another palace here though smaller and in a state of ruins today is the Sunder Mahal, a pilgrim site for Muslims, it was here Dhurjban, son of Jhujhar, today honored as a saint; spent the latter years of his life praying and meditating.

While havelis (palatial mansions) are most common in Rajasthan, Orccha is known also to house some beautiful havelis.  Replicas of palaces, these havelis are known for their remarkable collection of murals & paintings that adorn their walls. The Dauji-ki-haveli is a perfect example of some of these exquisite works of art that cannot be missed while touring the city.

A rare mix of a fort and temple architecture, the Laxminarayan temple is a beautiful shrine, known for its exquisite murals showcasing mythological themes. Not only is it a temple worth visiting for its interesting amalgamation of a fort and temple, but also for its well preserved exceptional paintings.

Other important religious sites here include the Janki Mandir, Jugal Kishore, and the Hanuman Mandir, Siddh Baba Ka Sthan and the Chaturbhuj Temple the original temple meant for the idol of Lord Ram, which is today housed in the Raja Ram temple, this temple is known for its various lotus emblems and symbols of different religious significance.

Another must visit of Orchha is its 14 chhatris or marvelous memorials for its rulers, situated the banks of the River Betwa. Supported by pillars and placed on an elevated platform, what adds to its beauty is the full reflection one gets of these magnificent monuments on its river waters.

Phool Bagh,  the beautiful summer retreat of the Bundela Kings, is another must visit attraction, known for its beautiful fountains and ingenious water ventilation system.

Do take time out to visit the Shahid Smarak, a full sized bronze statue, a monument commemorating the martyrdom of Chandrashekhar Azad, the Indian freedom fighter.

Also attracting tourists here are  the Sheesh Mahal, (the Palace of Mirrors), Dinman Hardul’s palace, etc.that reflect the rich architecture of the place.

Though Orchha is not known to have any local specialty, it is a perfect place to pick up some wonderful souvenirs! From the exquisite crafts of Bastar to Dokra metal crafts or other artifacts made of wrought iron, one can find some spectacular showpieces here.

One of India’s most interesting destinations, this medieval city known for its temples palaces and forts, is today gaining popularity with those touring Madhya Pradesh. Looking at visiting it? While the nearest airport from Orchha is Khajuraho, and nearest railhead is inJhansi, this city is connected by road to almost all major cities across Madhya Pradesh.

A place known for its outstanding forts, imperial palaces, exquisite monuments, temples and more this beautiful town situated in Madhya Pradesh is not only a delight for photographers visiting it but also tourists for some aesthetically remarkable monuments seen nowhere else in India.