Raja Ram's Humble Abode
Right in the heart of India is a charming little town centred around a fort, some temples and a treasure trove of stories
By Natascha Shah
When I saw Orchha in the itinerary I didn't know what to expect from this unassuming town drenched in a rich mix of history, architecture, art and literature. There is a glaring juxtaposition between the simplicity of its people and the grandeur of their legacy. It was once the town of the Brave Bundelas, who made it their capital in the 16th Century and added some magnanimities to its landscape; like the Jahangir Mahal, the Chattris, Raj Mahal with all it's graceful cupolas, and some other smaller temples.
Today, it is like taking a step back into time, in an era where life was slow and we had the luxury of enjoying stories, like ones about Bir Singh Deo and Jehangir's friendship, and about Lord Ram's decision to make this place his home and settle down permanently in the first temple he is placed in. Stories about Orchha being the only place where Lord Ram is treated as the King and his idol is in a sitting position. I used to set out to explore the by lanes with these stories buzzing in my head, walking across various sites I had read about and to my delight finding it exactly as it had been described..
The best way to explore the town is either on foot or on a cycle. We went on a morning cycling tour that began right outside our hotel-we stayed at the MPT run Betwa Retreat, right across the Betwa river. The property offers graceful rooms designed as individual cottages.
We cycled to Jahangir Palace, up to the old stables from where we saw the sun rise and the birds take their first flights off the cozy nooks of the fort. Crossing on to small paths between green fields dotted with ancient temples, which were now just monuments; each strikingly beautiful. Our tour ended by the river.
Some of the things one must do in Orchha
Give yourself three nights at least, to enjoy and soak in the soul of the place.
Do not miss the Sound and Light show that takes place at the Raj Mahal post sunset.
Visit the Jahangir Mahal, Raj Mahal, Ram Raja Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple, Hardol Palace, Lakshmi Narayan Temple and the Chattris.
We also recommend MPT Sheesh Mahal as a luxury stay option. It is a beautiful heritage hotel in the fort complex.
The best way to reach is to catch a train till Jhansi and then drive (30 mins) to Orchha.