Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Orchha: New Found Bollywood Destination

Orchha literally means “the hidden place” or  “hidden treasure”. Its grandeur has been captured in stone, frozen in time a rich legacy to the ages.  On the banks of river Betwa in MP, Orchha, is a charming village. The temple town of Orchha has become a hot destination for Bollywood stars and filmmakers.
Orchha Monuments

High spires of Chaturbhuj temple at Orchha
 My introduction to Orchha happened just that way. It was not a place I had heard about in text books, glossy tourist brochures or magazine covers. Last year, I had seen a picture of Orchha in one of the photo contests which made me to pause and take a second look. It appeared so attractive and amazing that it remained on the back of my head since the day I first saw the photographs.
Orchha
This year, I finally got the chance to visit Orchha. It was a conventional little town in the middle of the forest – one of the places where life goes at its own pace without worrying about what is happening in rest of the world. Orchha has an array of surprises for pilgrims and also the vacationers alike. This small size town allows all the ancient structures – the palaces in the fort, the very tall Chaturbhuj Temple and the cenotaphs of the kings to dominate the landscapes.


View from Lakshminarayan Temple

Orchha
Climb up on one of these buildings and you see the other structures standing so high that they make everything else in the vicinity look like miniature models. The views suddenly give the idea of being in a lost country ruled by kings living in a magical, opulent world .Orchha is known for its elegant architecture and its unique sequential development of domes, brackets, pillars, arches and ledges. Exteriors & interior of Orchha Fort, temples and cenotaphs is a remarkable example of Bundela art, which is reflected in the gently flowing water of the Betwa River.
The unspoiled beauty of this small town by the Betwa stems from its eclectic mix of nature, history and architecture and is only now being widely recognized.
A couple of years ago, star couple Abhishek Bachchan and wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan visited Orchha for a film shoot. They had stayed in the town for about two weeks for the shooting of important portions of Mani Ratnam's Raavan.



A scene from song 'Kata Kata' with Chaturbhuj Temple of Orchha in the backdrop

A scene of Song 'Kata Kata' over the low bridge on Betwa River with the Chhatris in the backdrop in Orchha.

Yet another film, Singularity, by noted Hollywood director Roland Joffé was shot here. The shooting was cancelled midway over a row over vulture deaths in the region. It was alleged that the crew violated the rules and regulations of the permission they had received from the State archives department.

A Still from Singularity which has been shot in Orchha
 


A few months ago, Katrina Kaif shot for Slice commercial in Orchha, which is still quite unknown to Bollywood filmmakers and commercial ad film companies.

The Orchha Fort is one of India’s most spectacular. Orchha fort is pretty huge with amazing architecture and views. Orchha use to be main center and capitol of the mighty Bundela dynasty during 15-16th century. The Orcha Fort is the primary attraction that has spectacular palaces like  Raja Mahal, Raja Praveen Mahal and Jehangir Mahal that is built with an open quadrangle.  Jahangir Mahal, is a fine example of perfect symmetry, it provides a breath taking view of the river side and the chattris. There are various fine paintings on walls and ceilings using vegetable colors. Next to Jahangir Mahal, is the Raj Mahal (King and Queen’s Palaces).

Jahangir Palace



Open Court of Jahangir Palace

Ramayan Scene Painted on walls
The entrance of Raja Mahal shows fine stuccowork and stone designs and carvings .These have some fine paintings of Hindu Gods, including Lord Vishnu and His 9 avatars, exquisitely done on the ceilings of the halls inside the palace. The palaces here stick out in the others for getting fortress-like walls. Now, area of the structure has become been changed right into a Heritage Interpretation Centre’.

LaksmiNarayan temple
The town is also famous for temples like the Raja Ram Temple, the Chaturbhuj temple and the Laxminarayan temple. The Raja Ram temple and the Chaturbhuj temple are associated with the legend of Lord Rama. The Laxminarayan temple is popular for its temple and fort architecture. There are frescoes in the temple depicting various aspects of human life. The interesting thing about it is that the color of these frescoes is still there.
Also interesting may be the prominent cenotaphs of Orchha around the river banks. The cenotaph of Jaswant Singh, who ruled the city from 1675 AD to 1684 AD is of prominent importance. The sanctum sanctorum, placed using the rectangular passage with arched doorways, decorated shikars and also the inverted lotus on top of the domes are typical options that come with Bundela architecture.
History:
Orchha was founded in the 16th century A.D by Bundela ruler king Rudra Pratap. The Bundelas were a warrior tribe who traced their ancestry to a medieval Rajput prince who sacrificed his life for the mountain goddess, Vrindavasini. In return, the goddess proclaimed that the prince and his descendants would be known as ‘Bundelas’, literally means ‘who gave blood’. The Orchha Bundelas are said to be chiefs of the Bundela clan settled all over the plains of North India.
For me journey to this amazing place can not be described in words. I felt like I have reached to medival era where Mahals (palaces) and chhatris are spread all over the region. Its a worth visitng place.


Reaching there
Located 460 kilometres from Delhi on the Agra-Khajuraho route on national highways 25 and 26, Orchha, is approximately an eight-hour drive from Delhi. The area is a half hour's drive from Jhansi, which is well connecting with the rail network. Since, Jhansi is centrally located; people may visit the place on a short journey plan only. From Jhansi, Orchha is only 15 km, which can be travelled by taxis, auto-rickshaws or other local transport. Though Orchha has a railway station, it is not well-connected. The nearest airports to Jhansi/Orchha are located in Gwalior and Khajuraho.

18 comments:

  1. Nice post Ruchita..a great collection of facts and pictures.

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  2. Interesting place. Great architecture. It IS a great place for bollywood numbers.
    Good one Ruchita.

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  3. it looks so beautiful..almost every indian architectural site is..

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  5. Excellent pictures and interesting writeup, Ruchi.

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  6. Thanks Everyone!!!! I was just in love with this place... A must visit place

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  7. Thats really a fascinating place. Pity, its so far away from Bangalore.

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  8. This is awesome ! I need to make a trip to Orchha and Jhansi now :)

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  9. wow it is an amazing place. In fact I never heard of it myself!!!

    Cool, would certainly want to visit it soon :)

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  10. very well articulated... Orchha is certainly a hidden treasure in the heart of India... Gorgeous photographs...

    Vishnu

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