Orchha- A tiny township, but has volumes to tell of the bygone era. Betwa’s water slips through carpeted boulders encircling the hamlets, making Orchha an island during monsoons. The land is at the juncture of Uttar Pradesh, just 15 km from Jhansi in Madhya Pradesh. The place truly represents an amalgam of culture, caste and communities. In 1501, Vaishnav Raja Rudra Pratap Singh had Rani who was a staunch devotee of Lord Ram. She brought God’s idol from Ayodhya and waited for a night to place it next morning in a magnificently built temple. But miraculously, the statue remained stuck at a place; nobody could move it. That place is now Chaturbhuj temple.
This place celebrates the combination of two architectural styles, Bundelkhand such as ‘unt or camel shelter’ and the Mughal style in Jahangir Mahal, built by the son of Rajput queen, Jodha Bai and Akbar. Just next to it, is the threshold kingdom of Raja Chhatrasal, Chhaterpur whose daughter was Mastani of Bajirao Peshwa, which again sings the saga of inter-religion relationships.
The whole place is marked with canopies, chhatris, domes, tombs and temples. Wonderfully, it has more fortification than the dwelling places. The entire area is covered with dense dynamic deciduous forest, that is why it was also a hide-out for our great freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad in 1783. Orchha attracts thousands of domestic and foreign tourists to visit and explore Gwalior, Jhansi, Chhaterpur, Khajuraho and Panna along with it. Really, this short distance sojourn gives unlimited and immense pleasure. Panna wildlife sanctuary is the perfect place to wind-up your tour. It is situated on the Karnavati river, the name might be a tongue twister for the past British rulers who interestingly called it river Ken. In this scintillating place with beasts and the beauty of nature, tigers, leopards, bears, spotted deer, sambars, and feathered creatures – vultures, eagles, hawks, kingfishers, and our own MP state bird, paradise flycatchers, are in abundance.
Dr Monica Saxena