Showing posts with label Palace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Palace. Show all posts

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

MP Diaries: Gwalior, The crown of Madhya Pradesh

A chilly Gwalior welcomed us after a hectic drive from Shivpuri. The temperature here was below 10 degree centigrade, typical of the Northern Indian climate in January. We checked into Hotel Ambassador and decided to rest for the day due to the weather and the temperature only kept going down, creating uneasiness to our little one. As he started to catch cold, he became more uncomfortable and woke up from his sleep crying loud. We tried to comfort him and gave him the required medicines. As the hotels there did not have a heater installed in rooms, we had no other choice but to request for a separate heater and only wished their response was positive. Fortunately, he obliged to the request and did the needful, which helped us much that night. Our little one felt much better after getting the room heater and slept peacefully for rest of the night. We woke up late the next morning only to realize it was totally foggy outside and decided to stay indoors until the situation improved. We stepped out at around 10.30 am to check out the town of Gwalior, though it remained foggy with a slight drizzle too.
Gwalior Fort
This is How Gwalior Fort Looked at Noon 
Gwalior always has been in our list of places to visit for various reasons, right from its role in India's first war of Independence to the Nanda dynasty rule of Pataliputra during early 6th century BC. The state of Gwalior rose to prominence with Chieftain Suraj Sen. He met saint Gwalipa who lived on the hilltop where the fort now stands and was cured of his disease by the saint. In return, Suraj Sen founded the city and named it after the saint. Thus Gwalior was founded. Man Singh Tomar, the great ruler of Tomar dynasty improved the fort here and built the most famous palace of Gwalior, the Man Mandir Palace. Later this fort was captured by the Mughals and remained under them for a long period, after which in 1810, it came under the control of the Scindia dynasty and finally the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, led by Tantya Tope and  strongly supported by Rani Lakshmi Bai. Both the brave warriors gave up their lives during the struggle for independence of this great country.
The Scindia Chhatris: The lesser known Chhatri complex of Scindia rulers stands mute in the busy lanes of Gwalior. This was the first place we visited in Gwalior and reaching this place was easy. We were greeted by two huge and magnificent cenotaphs. The larger Chhatri was built in 1817 to commemorate Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia and the smaller Chhatri was built in 1843 in memory of Maharaja Janakaji Scindia.
Scindia Chhatris of Gwalior
Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia Chhatri 
Gwalior Fort: This most impressive structure of Madhya Pradesh is built on a small hillock. Other monuments inside the fort are the Man Mandir Palace, Hathi Pol, Karn Mahal, Vikram Mahal, Gujari Mahal, Shah Jahan Mahal, Jahangeer Mahal and many such.
Gwalior Gate
Qila Gate/ Gwalior Gate 
Blue Tiled Walls of Gwalior Fort 
Man Mandir Mahal
Inside Man Mandir Palace 
Saas-Bahu Temple (Mother-in-law Daughter-in-law Temple): Built in the 11-12th century by Mahipala Kachhwaha, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Saas - Bahu Temple Complex, Gwalior
Saas - Bahu Temple Complex 
Chaturbhuj Temple: Here is the world's first written zero found! The inscribed slab is believed to be of a much earlier period than the temple which was built by Pratiharas in 9th century.
Chaturbhuj Temple 
World's First Written Zero
World's First Written Zero 
 Teli Ka Mandir: This 9th century temple built by Pratiharas is the tallest temple, with its unusual shikhara.
Teli Ka Mandir, Gwalior
Teli Ka Mandir 
Jain Rock Cut Temples:  These were built over 800 years, from the 7th century and are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankaras. The tallest murti (idol) here is that of the first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath.
Lord Adinath
Moti Mahal: This 19th century palace built by the Scindia kings was the Secretariat of Madhya Bharat government back then. There is a beautiful garden with a neatly done network of fountains in front of this palace.
Moti Mahal, Gwalior
Moti Mahal 
Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus: This huge building crowned with a large dome is dedicated to the 16th century Muslim saint Mohammad Ghaus.
Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus
 Tomb of Tansen: It is a small tomb dedicated to the greatest classical singer Tansen, who was the leading singer in Akbar’s court. He was also one among the navaratnas (nine gems). The tomb is in the same complex as that of the Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus and is much smaller in size. The tomb is located besides a tamarind tree, whose leaves were chewed by Miyan Tansen for a sweet voice.
Tomb of Tansen and Famed Tamarind Tree 
Light and Sound Show:  Every evening the MPSTDC runs an hour’s light and sound show at the Man Mandir Palace inside the fort in the two languages of Hindi and English.
Lit Gwalior Fort during Light and Sound Show
Lit Gwalior Fort 
Others Places to Visit: Jai Vilas Palace Museum, Nag Dev Mandir, various parks, and many more.
Entry Fee: The Entry fee collected for various sites are as below,
A. Man Mandir Palace - Rs 15/- for Indians and Rs 200/- for Foreigners
B. Royal enclosure - Rs 15/- for Indians and Rs 200/- for Foreigners
C. Gujari Mahal/ ASI Museum - Rs 5/- for all, Monday Holiday
D. Light and Sound Show - Rs 100/- for all
E. Jai Vilas Palace Museum - Rs 60/- for Indians and Rs 350/- for Foreigners
Accommodation:- We stayed for a day at Hotel Ambassador which offered very basic amenities and held a decent and friendly staff, though not very clean. Our second day accommodation was at Hotel Shelter, a bit upscale hotel with nice ambiance, centrally located, mid-range and friendly staff. Being a popular tourist destination, there are many options tailored to meet the varying budgets. Hotel Tansen Residency is another good one being maintained by MPSTDC.
Where to eat: Options are many. There should be no difficulty in finding a suitable place for meals.
 References:
1. RBS visitors Guide India Madhya Pradesh
2. DK Eyewitness Travel India

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