Friday, 26 February 2016

Exploring Orcha and Khajuraho

Having recently visited the towns of Orcha and Khajuraho I wanted to share this article exploring these fascinating destinations which both feature in our Ancient India in Style tour itinerary.

Both Orcha and Khajuraho are small towns with a wealth of stunning architecture to offer.  Situated in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh these two towns lie at the very heart of India.

On arrival in Orcha you can immediately see the palace and temples and due to the size of the town everything is easily accessible on foot.  The palace complex is split into three comprising Jehangir Mahal, Maharana Mahal and a third palace now converted into a hotel.  Jehangir Mahal is a beautiful palace offering stunning views of the Betwa river and surrounding countryside.  The building has a mix of Hindu and Mughal architecture which can still be seen by the green and blue tiles and painting.  In the centre of the main courtyard is a tub for bathing surrounded by four heated water tanks making it a very early example of a hot tub.

Jehangir Mahal

Maharana Mahal is situated slightly lower on the hill and one of its most impressive features is the Maharana chambers with a number of original fresco paintings which are surprisingly well preserved due to the lack of natural light in the room.  Built on the same level of ground as the Chaturbhuj temple it is possible to see straight into the temple from the maharanas bedroom window, allowing him to worship without ever leaving the Palace.

The temples of Orcha are also well worth a visit.  The Laxmi temple situated on a hill contains further fresco paintings as well as a number of etchings depicting scenes from the Ramayana.  The Chaturbhuj temple is a large building showing a fusion of Hindu, Mughal and Christian architecture.  The Rama temple at the centre of the town was originally the maharanis palace which can clearly be seen from the beautiful inner courtyard.  This is the only temple in India where lord Rama is worshipped as a king.  The best time to visit the temple is in time for the evening prayer ceremony where the inner doors are opened to reveal lord Rama inside.

Chaturbhuj Temple

Orcha is also famous for its cenotaphs built for the ruling maharanas.  In total there are 15 cenotaphs all of different sizes depending on the length of the maharanas reign.  The best place to view the cenotaphs is from a small garden where the green grass and the colourful flowers make a perfect picture with the stone buildings.


A short distance from Orcha is Khajuraho a UNESCO world heritage sight featuring a collection of temples built during the Chandella dynasty.  Temple building was a tradition of Chandella rulers and the ornate temples were designed to bring spiritual peace through eroticism.  Originally there were 84 temples surrounded by dense jungle.  Each temple sits on a base of granite with the upper made from sandstone allowing the many intricate carvings.

South Group of Temples

There are thousands of carvings on the upper parts of the temple buildings showing women in many different poses dancing, singing and playing and also of some of the many Hindu gods.  The Khajuraho temples are most well known for the erotic carvings depicting scenes from the Kama sutra.  These carvings are mixed in with the women and the gods and it can take a minute before you realise what you are looking at.  It is said that the carvings were intended to discourage the bachelor lifestyle and encourage a family life.

Carving Examples

South Group of Temples

In the evening time there is a light and sound show at the southern group of temples which is very interesting if you want to know the story of the temples.  It's tells how the temples were built then fell in to disrepair and were rediscovered in the thick jungle to become the beautiful sight they are today.

Visit for a closer look at our Ancient India in Style itinerary.