Showing posts with label Bundela. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bundela. Show all posts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MP Diaries - The Palaces of Orchha, A Medieval Legacy in Stone

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha
A View of Sheesh Mahal
The Bundela Rajputs built many palaces in Orchha which today stand tall, giving testimony to their amazing construction skills. Our guide was explaining various stories/legends associated with the Bundela kings and the many palaces. The most interesting one is of king Madhukar Shah, who was a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna and Rani Ganesh Kunwari, who was a staunch devotee of Lord Rama.  Differences cropped up between the king and queen due to the gods they believe in and despite the king's tremendous effort to convince the queen that both gods are one and they are just different avatars of Lord Vishnu, she remained skeptical.  The royal priest Pandit Hariram Vyas also tries to pacify the queen, but in vain. In anger, the king tells his queen to leave to Ayodhya and only return with her Lord (God Rama). The queen promises the king that she would return only with Lord Rama and leaves to Ayodhya.
A Painted Hall of Raja Mahal
She does rigorous penance to impress Lord Rama which goes in vain, and  in anger shouts that she would drown herself in the river Sarayu if he did not turn up. Finally being impressed with her devotion, Lord Rama gives her his darshana and appears in front of her. She narrates her story to the Lord and pleads him to accompany her to Orchha. He agrees to accompany her, but sets in 3 conditions; that he would travel only by foot, his journey from Ayodhya will only start once the Pushya star sets in and would continue till that star remains in the sky, and the final condition being that he would reside in the first place and would be the only king there. During this time, king Madhukar Shah constructs the Chaturbhuj temple to house the Lord in alignment with Raja Mahal. Upon reaching Orchha, it was evening and as the Lord was hungry, they decided to stay in the Rani palace. The Lord thus remains here as per his condition which is how the palace  came to be known as Rama Raja Temple. The Lord Rama here is worshiped as a king.
Raja Mahal: The king's palace was one among the earliest of buildings in Orchha, built in 1538 A.D by Maharaja Rudra Pratap. This palace was inhabited for more than 200 years and has undergone various additions and alterations during the reign of various kings. This palace has fortress-like walls for maintaining the privacy and also for security. The Raja Mahal has many miniature and large  paintings on its walls and ceilings.
Raja Mahal, Orchha
Raja Mahal
Water Fountain of Raja Mahal
Jahangir Mahal: As per legend, Jahangir Mahal was constructed for Jahangir by Vir Singh Deo and Jahangir stayed here only for a single night. Indo Islamic architecture specialist Percy Brown says that, this palace fulfills all the conditions to be called as Classic Indian Medieval Castle as it is picturesque, artistic and romantic. The welcome gateway of this palace is a marvelous piece of art work.
Domes of Jahangir Mahal
Richly Carved Doorway of Jahangir Mahal

Sheesh Mahal: Formerly a glass palace, this is now converted into a heritage hotel by the MPTDSC and was built post the downfall of Orchha as a retreat for the Royal Family. At the top are the remains of shimmering tile work that once adorned the entire facade which gave it the name Sheesh Mahal.
Hotel Sheesh Mahal, Orchha
Hotel Sheesh Mahal

Rai Praveen Mahal: This palace was built by Prince Indrajit Singh for his beloved Rai Praveen. It is a three storeyed palace surrounded by gardens on all sides, popularly known as the Anand Mahal Bagh. Akbar was impressed by the voice of Rai Praveen and wanted her to stay in his court but she refused to do so and returned to prince Indrajit Singh. This palace has some beautiful paintings of Rai Praveen in different moods.
Rai Praveen Mahal
Dasiyo Ka Mahal: This is the best surviving example of Jain Bhavan built in the late 17th century. It is known to have been the residence of a minister in Royal court.
Dasiyo Ka Mahal
There are many residences spread across Orchha such as the Ohja's House, Shyam Daua ki kothi, Daroga ki kothi, Dauji ki kothi, Himma - Hamir ki kothi and many others.
Dauji Ki Kothi
Himma - Hamir Ki Kothi
Ohja's House
Shyam Daua Ki Kothi
Rasaldar Ki Kothi

Continued here

Thursday, July 27, 2017

MP Diaries - The Temples of Orchha, A Medieval Legacy in Stone

Orchha - The Land of Palaces and Temples
Orchha - The Land of Palaces and Temples
 We had to drop our plan of visiting Naresar as it was late in the evening and already dark. We bade goodbye to Bateshwar and moved ahead towards our next destination of Orchha. A long drive of about 3 hours during a winter evening in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh was quite challenging! We reached Orchha and zeroed in on a hotel to rest for the night.  Orchha seemed very calm and quiet during the night and we were pretty sure of an exciting day ahead. We woke up to chilly morning and had to wait for quite some time for the fog to clear off to start exploring Orchha. Orchha is a small historical town situated on the banks of river Betwa and is about 130 km from Gwalior
Good Morning Orchha
Chaturbhuj Temple Engulfed by Fog
Orchha was the capital city of Bundela Rajputs and was founded by Maharaja Rudra Pratap in 1531 AD. The Bundelas migrated from Varanasi to Garh Kurar and then to Orchha and were considered to be great builders, strong warriors and patrons of art. The Bundelas had to deal with Mughals who were in great command especially in the mainland region of India. Sometimes they fought against the Mughals, and sometimes they expressed great friendship with them, and such behavior always ensured that the Mughals were constantly alert and vigilant. The histories of the opposition towards Mughals by Champartai, his son Chhatrasai, Diman Hardaul, Vir Singh Deo and others deserves mention and have been successful at times in keeping the opposition at bay. The Bundelas kings were great builders with remarkable acumen and foresight.  Among the Bundelas, Vir Singh Deo built the maximum number of temples and is considered to be the best among them. The temples built by them today stand as a testimony to the skill they possessed and their devotion towards religion. The legends of Rani Ganesh Kunwari and Madhukar Shah, and Hardaul to this day are impregnated in the walls of Orchha and capture every traveler’s imagination. In this post we make an attempt to list all the temples we visited here.
Chaturbhuj Temple as Viewed from Raja Mahal
Chaturbhuj Temple: Chaturbhuj temple is one among the grandest temples built in India post 16th century when the Mughals were ruling the larger part of India. This temple was initially built to house the murti of Lord Rama that Rani Ganesh Kunwari bought from Ayodhya, but Lord Rama remained in Rama Raja Temple. This temple stands on a huge stone platform and currently houses murtis of Radha and Krishna.
The Mighty Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha
The Mighty Chaturbhuj Temple
Chaturbhuj Temple
Rama Raja Temple: This could be the only temple where Lord Rama is worshiped as a King and not as a god, and also can be considered to be one among the unusual temples of India. This palace turned temple has an interesting legend associated with it. It is the most lively temple in this historical town and is a must visit to every tourist visiting Orchha. 
Ram Raja Temple, Orchha
Rama Raja Temple
Shiva Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and may have been built during the 17th century on the basis of its architecture features. The temple is located outside the fort complex near the river Betwa. The Shivalinga and the images of Shiva have been shifted to Rama Raja temple. 
Shiva Temple, Orchha
Shiva Temple
Vanvasi Rama Mandir: This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and was constructed during the reign of Maharaja Vir Singh. Like that of the Shiva temple, murti of Lord Rama has been shifted to Rama Raja temple. The Shikara of this temple is of Bhumija style of temple architecture.  
Vanvasi Rama Mandir, Orchha
Vanvasi Rama Mandir
Radhika Vihari Temple: This temple is dedicated to Radhika Vihari and was constructed during the reign of Maharaja Vir Singh. The Garbhagriha of this temple has panchrathi projections and a spire decorated with urushringas (subsidiary towers) of Khajuraho Style. This beautiful temple is the one of the best specimens of Bundela architecture.
Radhika Vihari Temple, Orchha
Radhika Vihari Temple
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir: This temple is located inside a fortified square courtyard. This temple also can be dated to 17th century AD based on its architectural features. The temple architecture is representative of the Astabhadra (octagonal) plan of Bhumija style of Architecture.  The other temple in this complex is of a similar plan, but of a smaller size. 
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir, Orchha
Panchmukhi Mahadeva Mandir
Lakshmi Temple: This beautiful temple is rectangular in plan and was built by Vir Singh in 1622 AD. The inner walls and hemispherical ceilings of this temple are profusely decorated with paintings depicting lives of the kings and queens and stories from the epics of Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita.
Laxmi Temple, Orchha
The Grand Lakshmi Temple
Krishna and Gopikas
Painted Walls of Laxmi Temple, Orchha
Beautifully Decked Up Wall of Lakshmi Temple

 To be continued…

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