Orchha is an abandoned 17th century city, located about 16km from Jhansi. It can be visited easily while going to and from Khajuraho. Orchha was the capital of the Bundela kingdom in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was eventually abandoned in 1783 after being attacked by the Mughals and the Marathas. What is left are ancient palaces and temples, untouched by time.
Orchha means “hidden.” Palaces Area The two biggest palaces are on either side of the Sheesh Mahal Hotel (also an old palace). On your right, as you walk out of the Sheesh Mahal Hotel is the Raj Mahal, built by Rudra Pratap, the first Bundela ruler. This was the king’s home. There is a room where he gave private audiences and several rooms for his queens. Some of the ceilings are painted with Puranic scenes and with floral patterns.
Temples and Royal Chhatris There are several interesting 17th century temples in the town area. The architecturally interesting, unused Chaturbhuj Temple has large towers and an arching hall. You can climb the stairs in the back to get a good view of the area. It was built to become a place to worship Lord Rama. Maharaja Madhukar Shah obtained a Rama Deity from Ayodhya (Rama’s capital) and carried it back to Orchha.
When he arrived, he set the Deity down in his own palace. When he tried to move the Deity again, it refused to move and so the palace became the Ram Raja Temple. Here, Rama is worshiped as king. It is pink and yellow.
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple is on top of a hill, a fifteen-minute walk west of the town. It is built like a fort with high walls surrounding it. There are well-preserved murals painted on the temple’s ceiling, some dating from the 19th century.
Travel There are regular buses (30 min, every half-hour) and tempos (Rs 8, 45 min) from the Jhansi bus stand traveling the 18km to Orchha. From the Jhansi railway station to Orchha by auto-rickshaw is around Rs 150 and by taxi Rs 350. If you are coming from Khajuraho, you can get down at the junction for Orchha and catch a tempo the rest of the way (7km).