November 28, 2014

Orchha, India

The outside of Jahangir Mahal.
The outside of Jahangir Mahal.
Inside Jahangir Mahal.
Inside Jahangir Mahal.
Another view inside Jahangir Mahal.
Another view inside Jahangir Mahal.
Looking at Raja Mahal (and Chaturbhuj Temple in the background) from Jahangir Mahal.
Looking at Raja Mahal (and Chaturbhuj Temple in the background) from Jahangir Mahal.
The stairs leading up to the second level in Jahangir Mahal.
The stairs leading up to the second level in Jahangir Mahal.
Rai Praveen Mahal and the Betwa River.
Rai Praveen Mahal and the Betwa River.
The many domes of Jahangir Mahal.
The many domes of Jahangir Mahal.
Raja Mahal.
Raja Mahal.
Corner-view of the inside of Jahangir Mahal.
Corner-view of the inside of Jahangir Mahal.
Structures on the top floor of Jahangir Mahal.
Structures on the top floor of Jahangir Mahal.
Looking through arches in Jahangir Mahal.
Looking through arches in Jahangir Mahal.
Inside Raja Mahal.
Inside Raja Mahal.
Fresco in Raja Mahal.
Fresco in Raja Mahal.
Looking at Jahangir Mahal from Raja Mahal.
Looking at Jahangir Mahal from Raja Mahal.
Corner-view in Raja Mahal.
Corner-view in Raja Mahal.
Looking at the opposite side in Raja Mahal.
Looking at the opposite side in Raja Mahal.
Looking at Chaturbhuj Temple and Ram Raja Temple, with Lakshmi Temple  far in the distance, on the right.
Looking at Chaturbhuj Temple and Ram Raja Temple, with Lakshmi Temple far in the distance, on the right.
Fresco on the ceiling in Raja Mahal.
Fresco on the ceiling in Raja Mahal.
Jahangir Mahal.
Jahangir Mahal.
The garden in Rai Praveen Mahal.
The garden in Rai Praveen Mahal.
Jahangir Mahal seen from Rai Praveen Mahal.
Jahangir Mahal seen from Rai Praveen Mahal.
Frescoes inside Rai Praveen Mahal.
Frescoes inside Rai Praveen Mahal.
Monkey on the wall of Orchha Fort.
Monkey on the wall of Orchha Fort.
The entrance to Ram Raja Temple.
The entrance to Ram Raja Temple.

I woke up just before 05:00 to urinate and could not believe that there was still music blaring from the city center (talk about partying all night). I then properly woke up after 08:00, got ready (tried to shower but only got my hair done before the hot water ran out and I was left with just cold water), grabbed my camera equipment, and walked to Orchha Fort, crossing the Betwa River on the stone bridge leading to the fort’s entrance, Kanteela Darwaza. Next, I entered inside Jahangir Mahal, which was built as a garrison and citadel, completed in 1598 AD, to allow the Mughals more control over the region; I explored the various levels and rooms that were open to the public (which was surprising quite a lot, given that young kids could fall to their deaths in various spots through out the structure – no safety railings) and found walking around the building rather fun, discovering various rooms and staircases, not quite sure where I would end up next; overall, this building was beautifully crafted in the Mughal-style and I liked all the domes on top and parapets on the sides. After spending a good deal of time inside  Jahangir Mahal, I walked to the adjacent structure, Raja Mahal, which was completed in 1539 AD in the reign of Bharti Chandra (although some alterations were made later); the palace is divided in to two wings with five storeys on one side and four storeys on the other; I walked around both sides of the Raja Mahal and up to the top level, which gave great views of the town of Orchha, the Chaturbhuj Temple, and the Jahangir Mahal. After exploring the inside of the Raja Mahal, I walked outside and around the Jahangir Mahal, to the Unth Khana (the “camel house”), which, from its rooftop, had a great view of Jahangir Mahal. Then I walked past some more ruins to Rai Praveen Mahal, a palace constructed by Prince Indrajit Singh for his beloved Rai Praveen; the palace has two gardens, divided by a wall, and a three-storey palace; also, when I visited, there were many Boy Scouts from Jhansi having a picnic. After exploring this much smaller palace, I walked back to the entrance of Orchha Fort, exited the fort, and walked to the Ram Raja Temple (the only temple in India where Lord Ram is worshiped as a king); inside the temple, there were many worshipers sitting on the ground and wearing all the colors of the rainbow (seriously, the dresses and clothes everyone was wearing really added to the colorful, festive atmosphere) and there was a man singing next to a lady dancing; I observed the goings-on inside the temple for a short period before exiting and walking westward to Lakshmi Temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lakshmi Temple.
Lakshmi Temple.
Inside Lakshmi Temple.
Inside Lakshmi Temple.
Stairs leading up to the top inside the central tower of Lakshmi Temple.
Stairs leading up to the top inside the central tower of Lakshmi Temple.
Fresco inside Lakshmi Temple.
Fresco inside Lakshmi Temple.
Another fresco inside Lakshmi Temple.
Another fresco inside Lakshmi Temple.
Phool Bagh.
Phool Bagh.
Walkway and wall in Phool Bagh.
Walkway and wall in Phool Bagh.

After walking for about one kilometer, I reached Lakshmi Temple (up on a small hill), which was built in 1622 AD by Vir Singh Dev Bundela and renovated by Prathvi Singh in 1793 AD; the temple is built like a fortress and also has five towers (four on each corner and a larger one in the middle), just like many of the Hindu temples at Angkor. Inside the temple, on the ceilings and walls of the corridors are frescoes depicting various episodes of Ramayan and Shrimad Bhagavatageeta. I walked around inside and climbed the steps up to the top of the tall tower in the center, but there was no view up there, just a dark room. After exploring the temple grounds, I walked back to the festive center of Orchha and walked through the Phool Bagh, a garden with a number of water taps for locals and a small palace that looks more like an elaborate multi-storeyed pavilion. I then walked back to my hotel room and relaxed for a while before venturing out to eat dinner at a local restaurant; I ended up having beer, cheese stuffed spring rolls, and spaghetti with cheese, tomatoes, and garlic; during dinner, I watched part of the Hindi light and sound show at Orchha Fort from the rooftop restaurant. After dinner, I returned to my hotel room and had a nap before my early morning train ride.

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