OT Travel Itinerary: Your Two-Day Guide To MP's Orchha

From historical marvels to cultural experiences, Orchha in Madhya Pradesh promises an unforgettable journey through time
The Raja Mahal of Orchha
The Raja Mahal of Orchhathebioscopeguy/Pexels

Orrcha is a picturesque place by the Betwa River with many historical secrets to share. This mediaeval town in Madhya Pradesh takes you back to when kings ruled our country and technology did not exist. It was built in 1531 by Rudra Pratap Singh and has a plethora of historical monuments, grand palaces, intricate temples and imposing forts.

If you're planning a two-day trip to this breathtaking town, here's a guide to maximising your experience.

Day 1

Morning 

The Jahangir Mahal
The Jahangir MahalSuyash Dwivedi/Wikimedia Commons

Have a hearty breakfast before getting ready for a day-long journey through history. The first place that you should visit is the Orchha Fort, where you can hire a guide for a more knowledgeable experience. It was built by the aforementioned Rudra Pratap Singh, a Bundela Rajput king, in the 16th century. The palaces and temples within the fort complex were built over time by successive maharajas of Orchha State. The fort palaces showcase a supreme display of Mughal-influenced Rajput architecture. Raja Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, Rai Parveen Mahal, Phool Bagh and Sheesh Mahal are some of the structures you can gaze at.

Raja Rudra Pratap started the construction of the Raja Mahal, or King's Palace, but Madhukar Shah completed it. Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo built the Jahangir Mahal in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jahangir to Orchha, while the Rai Parveen Mahal—another imposing structure in the fort complex—was constructed in 1618 by Indrajeet Singh. Sheesh Mahal is flanked on either side by the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. This was built for King Udait Singh and has now been converted into a hotel. Phool Bagh is an elegantly laid out garden in the fort complex with a line of water fountains. Below this garden is an underground structure that was used by royalty as a summer retreat.

Timings: 9AM-6PM 

Ticket prices: INR 10 for Indians | INR 250 for non-Indian nationals

Afternoon 

Mawa bati
Mawa batigastronome___/Instagram

Have lunch at one of the local eateries where you can have Orccha's famous kebabs and mawa bati. Afterwards, leave for the Sundar Mahal. According to legend, Prince Dhurbhajan, the son of Raja Jhujhar Singh, fell in love with a girl from a Muslim family. Facing strong resistance from his family, he turned to deep meditation and religious prayers for peace, and left the palace to live as a hermit. Admired as a saint among local Muslims, Prince Dhurbhajan eventually married his lover and built the magnificent Sunder Mahal.

Timings: 8AM-6PM

Ticket prices: INR 10 for Indians | INR 250 for non-Indian nationals

Evening 

The Ram Raja Temple
The Ram Raja Templemptourism.com/Website

Visit the Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial. This monument honours one of India's greatest freedom fighters and is a powerful tribute to Azad's unwavering spirit and revolutionary legacy. The memorial features a striking life-size bronze statue which captures the essence of his bravery.

Before concluding your first day, immerse yourself in the spiritual ambience of the Ram Raja Temple. The temple's origin story has a beguiling legend involving King Madhukar Shah Ju Dev (a Krishna devotee) and Queen Ganesh Kunwari (a Rama devotee). The temple's marble courtyard and colourful walls are a visual feast.

Timings

The Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial is open from 6AM-10PM

The Ram Raja Temple is open from 8AM-12:30 and 5PM-10PM 

Ticket price

Chandrashekhar Azad Memorial - INR 5

Ram Raja Temple - Free 

Day 2

Morning

You can see peacocks at the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary
You can see peacocks at the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuarytiwarishivam24/Unsplash

Begin your second day by heading to the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary. You will easily spend three to four hours here looking for tigers, leopards, peacocks and swans, all while being entranced by the greenery. The sanctuary was established in 1994 and covers an area of approximately 46 square kilometres. Unlike other vast wildlife sanctuaries, the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary is only around 25km long and 15km wide.

Timings: 7AM-6PM (check with the locals for the latest timings as they are subject to change)

Ticket price: INR 30 

Afternoon 

The Chhatris Cenotaphs are magnificent memorials dedicated to the erstwhile rulers of the Bundela clan
The Chhatris Cenotaphs are magnificent memorials dedicated to the erstwhile rulers of the Bundela clan halyzia/Unsplash

Try out Orccha’s famous bhutte ki kees, khoprapak and malpua for lunch at one of the local eateries. Afterwards, step back in time as you explore the Chhatris Cenotaphs. These magnificent memorials are dedicated to the erstwhile rulers of the Bundela clan and date from the 16th to 18th centuries. Standing on the banks of the serene Betwa River, the cubical structures with temple-like spires create a mesmerising sight. Constructed in the intricate Nagara architectural style, each cenotaph features a central chamber surrounded by four smaller chambers at the corners of a courtyard. They are all crowned with elegant shikhars (spirals) that resemble traditional temples. 

Timings: 8AM-7:30PM

Ticket prices: INR 250 for adults | INR 100 for children

Evening 

The Chaturbhuj Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu
The Chaturbhuj Temple is dedicated to Lord VishnuCopyright: CHETAN SONI for mptourism.com/Website

Wrap up your Orchha visit with a pinch of spirituality by visiting the Chaturbhuj Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The name "Chaturbhuj" combines chatur meaning "four" and bhuj meaning "arms," thus symbolising Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. The temple is open from 5AM-12PM and 4PM-9PM.

Next, spend the rest of your evening wandering about the vibrant local markets, collecting souvenirs like Dhokra handicrafts, wrought iron articles, and gift items such as showpieces and mementoes. 

Getting There 

Take a train to the Jhansi Junction Railway Station (VGLB), where a short taxi ride will whisk you away to the historic charms of Orchha (16km). For those travelling by air, the nearest airport is Gwalior’s Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Terminal (GWL), 120km away. From there, enjoy a drive through the heart of Madhya Pradesh to the town of Orchha.

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