Raja Mahal :
The Raja Mahal (King’s Palace), where the kings and the queens had resided till it was abandoned in 1783, was built in the early part of 16th century. Its exterior is simple without any embellishments but the interior chambers of the palace are elaborately royal in its architectural design, decorated with murals of social and religious themes of gods, mythical animals and people. In the upper floor of the palace there are traces of mirrors in the ceilings and walls. It’s windows, arcaded passages and layout plan are designed in such a way that the “sunlight and shadow create areas of different moods and temperatures throughout the day”. The interior walls of the Mahal have murals of Lord Vishnu. The Mahal has several secret passages.
A part of this Mahal was converted into a temple and named Rama Raja Temple in honor of the god Rama. There is legend associated with naming it as a temple. According to a local legend, the temple was built following Rani Ganeshkuwari, the queen getting a “dream visitation” by Lord Rama directing her to build a temple for Him; while Madhukar Shah was a devotee of Krishna, his wife’s dedication was to Rama. Following this a new temple known as the Chaturbuj Temple was approved to be built, and the queen went to Ayodhya to obtain an image of Lord Rama that was to be enshrined in her new temple. When she came back from Ayodhya with the image of Rama, initially she kept the idol in her palace as the Chaturbuj Temple was still under construction. She was, however, unaware of an injunction that the image to be deified in a temple could not be kept in a palace. Once the temple construction was completed and the idol of the lord had to be moved for installation at the Chatrubhuj Temple, it refused to be shifted from the palace. Hence, instead of the Chaturbhuj Temple, the Rama’s idol remained in the palace where as the Chaturbhuj Temple remained without an idol in its sanctum. As Rama was worshiped in the palace, part of the palace was converted into the Rama Raja Temple; it is the only shrine in the country where Rama is worshiped as a King. The temple is guarded by a police force and the deity, Lord Rama, is considered as the king and is given a gun salute of honour every day.
Orchha Fort complex :
The Orchha Fort complex, which houses a large number of ancient monuments consisting of the fort, palaces, temple and other edifices, is located in the Orchha town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The fort and other structures within it were built by the Bundela Rajputs starting from early 16th century by King Rudra Pratap Singh of the Orchha State and others who followed him.
The fort complex, which is accessed from an arched causeway, leads to a large gateway. This is followed by a large quadrangular open yard surrounded by palaces. These are Raja Mahal or Raja Mandir, Sheesh Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, a temple, gardens and pavilions. The battlements of the fort have ornamentation. Notable architectural features in the fort complex are projected balconies, open flat areas and decorated latticed windows.
The fort was built following the founding of the Orchha State in 1501 AD by Rudra Pratap Singh (r. 1501–1531), a Bundela rajput. The palaces and temples within the fort complex were built over a period of time by successive Maharajas of the Orchha State. Of these, the Raja Mandir or Raja Mahal was built by Madhukar Shah who ruled from 1554 to 1591. Jahangir Mahal and Sawan Bhadon Mahal were built during the reign of Vir Singh Deo (r. 1605–1627). The features of “pepper pots and domes” seen in the fort complex are believed to have inspired Lutyens in the architecture of the structures which he built in New Delhi.
More photos of Orchha Fort Complex here.
Our group trip photos in Instagram.