Updated: Sep 24, 2018
You've probably heard of Jhansi for the valiant queen, Rani Lakshmi Bai. It is place of importance in Maratha history, after gaining power on this city Peshwa Bajirao distributed it to his generals and since managing it from Pune (Maratha Empire Capital) was not feasible, Orchha gained much importance. Orchha is a medieval town on the banks of the river Betwa. The town is frozen in time with most of its temples and palaces still retaining their original grandeur.
I was on train from Khajuraho to Jhansi - Mail Express 19665 - no changes this time. It was a 4 hour journey to reach Jhansi at about 1330 hours. Since I was visiting in October, the weather here was cool, Jhansi is known for its extreme temperatures in the Summer. Right outside the Jhansi Railway Station you can choose from a taxi, rickshaw or a tempo (bigger version of the 3 wheeled rickshaw) I opted for a rickshaw as its cheaper than a taxi and a private ride unlike the tempo.
My crib for the next two nights was going to be the Jhansi Hotel, Opp Head Post Office. A 4-star hotel with a rich heritage and offering a outstanding experience to its guests as per online reviews.
The concierge offered me a refreshment drink while he made arrangements for my room, in a matter of minutes I was escorted to my room. It looked cozy, neat and smelled perfect. I unpacked most of my stuff as I was going to be here for two nights. After freshening up I had lunch at their in-house restaurant - Lazeez - hindi for delicious. The tandoor indeed was lazeez!
I checked with the concierge if they could arrange transport for the next morning to visit Orchha. He said he can and will let me know in a couple of hours. I told him I was heading to Rani Mahal for now and will be back by dusk. He said he will include a visit to the Jhansi Fort for me in the morning so I need not visit today.
This former palace was one of the residences of Rani Lakshmibai. The Bundelkhand architecture style is evident in this palace. The Palace walls are beautifully decorated with paintings in bright floral, faunal and geomertrical motifs and the arches are embellished with peacock and rosette patterns. It is currently restored and as a museum. Its a small place and doesn't take much time to look around. I spent some time nearby looking at artifact shops.
Next morning, I was at the reception around 9 AM after a scrumptious Indian breakfast. The concierge informed that my cab was arriving in 5 mins. I was happy it was a cab so I wouldn't be sweating while I travel all the way to Orchha. I was on my road to the first stop:
Situated on a hill top this fort was of great importance during the chadela dynasty. Earlier the fort wall encircled the entire city of Jhansi with 10 gates, although most of these gates vanished over time, the areas around these gates are still know by the name of the gates.
Next up I was on my way to Orchha, its about 15 kms away from Jhansi Fort and we reached there in 45 minutes. The cab driver informed me that he was taking me to a place called Barua Sagar which was next to Orchha, where I could have lunch at a hotel there and then head to the banks at Orchha.
Barua Sagar Fort & Lake
This small city has its name for the Lake that it surrounds, known as the Barua Sagar Tal (Lake) There is a small fort next to the lake with a good view. The dam like area of the lake is fairly crowded with locals and tourist enjoying the waters.
I was guided to a dhaba (hotel) nearby that served the most amazing seekh kebabs and biryani. After feasting on the mughlai main course I topped it off with Mawa Bati, an oversized crisp cousin of the Gulab Jamun.
It was around 1430 hours and the dry heat was at its peak. We were off to our final destination of the day - Orchha.
Orchha lies on the banks of the river Betwa, 15 kms away from Jhansi, it was founded in the 16th Century by King of Bundelkhand - Rudra Pratap.
It all looked picturesque and I wandered on into these complexes one at a time. You would definitely feel like time has stood still for all these years on these river banks. Each of the 14 chhatris on the banks of betwa are cenotaphs constructed in honor of Orchha's erstwhile rulers.
This was built for the warm reception of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir on his first visit to Orchha. It is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture, the front wall is marked by a traditional gateway. It is decorated with hanging balconies and porches.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Much like a fort, this temple has a unique architectural style. Its high walls are decorated with mural paintings, which show compositions of mythological themes.
Ram Raja Temple
This is the only place where Lord Rama is worshiped both as King and a God. This was initially the queens residence, but later when the idol of Lord Rama was brought in here, it seemed to be immovable and thus it became the Ram Raja Temple.
The Raj Mahal built by the successor of Rudra Pratap Singh houses two rectangular courtyards that were used by the Bundela Queens. The entire structure is marked by towers, domed pavilion and elevated balconies. The interiors are lined with mirrors and animated paintings all over the walls and ceilings.
Remember the Lord Rama Idol residing in the Queens palace? The Queen built this temple to move the idol here, but the idol refused to move and the King then placed an idol of Lord Vishnu in these premises.
I spent some more time walking around the chattris on the riverside and watched the sun set over these monuments.
Orchha can definitely paint a picture full of melancholy, you can feel how these temples and forts have stood there for all these years as if patiently waiting for the return of their glorious days.
How to reach Orchha?
Orchha is accessible from Jhansi by Rickshaw or shuttle buses. If you are coming from Delhi/Agra/Gwalior you can get down at Jhansi and take a rickshaw or bus. If you are coming from Khajuraho, there is a Khajuraho Jhansi Passenger that stops at Orchha station. There are very few trains that lead to Orchha station so your best bet is Jhansi.
How many days/nights in Orchha?
If you wish you can stay here a night.
Where to stay in Orchha?
If you wish to stay in this gorgeous town by the river, there are super cheap homestays to hotels that can let you splurge in style available to suit your travel taste.
How to reach Jhansi?
Jhansi is well connected to major Indian cities by direct trains.
How many days/nights in Jhansi?
Two nights are optimum. You can explore Jhansi on Day 1 and Orchha on Day 2 and not be in a rush.
Where to stay in Jhansi?
There are affordable options for a good night sleep or you could splurge a little and enjoy comfort at its best like at Jhansi Hotel.
I was back to my hotel for dinner, I tucked in for a good night sleep as I had to board a 0630 train to Gwalior the next morning.
Delhi Via-Agra | You're in Jhansi
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