Orccha, India
Adventure Travel Ideas Asia India

India: Ruins and romance in Orccha

Orccha is a tiny village in central India that has been overwhelmed by history. We travelled there by train, stopping in between Agra and Varanasi.

The ruins of the Bundela Kingdom extend along the lush, green riverbank and include substantial palaces and a string of royal chattris.

The Bundelas were a Rajput clan that established themselves in the 16th century in what is now Madya Pradesh state .

Orccha, India

The best time to explore the Jahangir Mahal (palace) of Orccha is in the late afternoon, lingering until the sunsets and trying to avoid the keepers wanting to kick you out.

There is tier after tier of narrow walkways and balconies; through each new archway a new view of the Betwa River. To the west the sun sets behind the soaring spires of the Chaturbuj Mandir (temple).

Orccha, India

That night in the village square of Orccha a rakishly pink and yellow coloured temple is garishly lit up with chandeliers.

This is the Ram Rajah Mandir, built as a palace for a new wife by Madhukar Shah but converted to a temple when the Rama icon she brought with her from Ayodhya could not be moved from where she placed it.

Orccha, India

The people of Orccha have gathered expectantly for a hindu ceremony and as we watched from the rear the doors opened to the shrine of the Rama icon, which was colourfully painted and flower bedecked.

A saffron -turbaned priest waved a gold instrument in the air and threw holy water on the upturned faces of the crowd. Their eagerness was palpable and those with space immediately flung themselves on the floor. The men were prostrated, the women on their knees with foreheads pressed to the ground.

Orccha, India

The Raj Mahal is another part of the huge palace-fort complex and its dimly-lit rooms are covered with colourful wall paintings in remarkably good condition.

Fluted domes and delicately carved balconies mark the Persian-style windcatcher towers designed to cool the palace.

Orccha, India

Back in Orccha village we’re definitely in rural India now: the only restaurant has us dining with livestock nosing about our plates, giving new meaning to ‘al fresco’.

The milk arrives in a milk can, fresh from the cow. A few metres away a wrinkled old woman stoops eagerly to scoop up a recently-deposited cowpat with her hand. She puts it in her sack and moves on.

Orccha, India

By Natasha von Geldern

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  1. One of the things I love about India is the road trips you make to travel from one place to the other. How else do you see some of these fascinating old palaces, forts and temples like you found at Orccha. Being at the temple for the ceremony would have been a bonus. I also love the image you create of your dinner with the livestock!!

  2. Gorgeous photos – what a fascinating place to explore!

  3. India, a massive, fascinating place which I hope to visit in the not too distant future. Love the photos 🙂

  4. You seem to come up with the most “less” visited destinations and I am truly intrigued (as well as thankful). Yet another place that has so much potential. I never would’ve believed it is in India!

  5. Great photos 🙂

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