Orchha Fort Niwari


Orchha Fort Niwari: History

Orchha Fort was built by the Bundela Rajput chief Rudra Pratap Singh in 1531, Who became the first King of Orchha. He has also establish Orchha city. The fort complex is located in the Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh in the erstwhile state of Orchha. The fort complex is within an island formed by the confluence of the Betwa River and Jamni River in Orchha town. Here, the river Betwa splits into seven channels, also called the Satdhara. Legend goes that this is in honour of the seven erstwhile Chiefs of Orchha. Approach to the complex from the eastern part of the market in the town is through a multiple arched bridge with 14 arches built in granite stones. The ancient town seems frozen in time, with its many monuments continuing to retain their original grandeur even to this day. Here you will find some of the most fascinating temples and palaces. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, by the Queen of Orchha Ganesh Kunwar, while Raj Mandir was built by 'Raja Madhukar Shah' during his reign, 1554 to 1591.

Orchha Fort Niwari: Palaces in the Orchha Fort complex

The fort complex leads to a large gateway followed by a large quadrangular open space which is surrounded by palaces such as Raja Mahal or Raja Mandir, Sheesh Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, a temple, gardens and pavilions. Notable architectural features seen in the fort complex consist of projected balconies, open flat areas and decorated latticed windows.

Orchha Fort Niwari: Sheesh Mahal

Sheesh Mahal is flanked on either side by the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. This has royal accommodation, which was built for king Udait Singh. It has now been converted into a heritage royalty hotel.

Orchha Fort Niwari: Phool Bagh

Phool Bagh is an elegantly laid out garden in the fort complex which has a line of water fountains that terminates in a "palace-pavilion" which has eight pillars. Below this garden is an underground structure that was used by royalty as a cool summer retreat. This cooling system consists of water ventilation system that is linked to an underground palace with "Chandan Katora", which is in the shape of a bowl from where fountains of droplets trickle through the roof creating rainfall.

Orchha Fort Niwari: Ram Raja Temple or Raja Mahal

The Raja Mandir or Raja Mahal was built by Madhukar Shah. The Raja Mahal (King’s Palace), where the kings and the queens had resided till it was abandoned in 1783. It 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.

In the upper floor of the palace, there are traces of mirrors in the ceilings and walls. Its 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".

It is the only shrine in the country where Rama is worshipped 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 Niwari: Jahangir Mahal

Jahangir Mahal and Sawan Bhadon Mahal were built during the reign of Vir Singh Deo in 1605 to humor the Mughal emperor Jahangir who was a guest of the Maharaja for one night only. The palace is built in four levels with elegant architectural features of both Muslim and Rajput architecture. Its layout is a symmetrical square built in the inner courtyard of the fort and has eight large domes.

The building is a double-storied structure built with bricks, rising to the height of the trees in the well-tended garden called Anand Mahal. The garden is laid out with octagonal flower beds and has good network of water supply. There are niches in the Mahal which permit natural light to the main hall and smaller rooms.



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