On our second day in Orchha, we spent the morning and the early afternoon exploring the fort and palaces while the latter half of the afternoon was dedicated to visiting the temples. The town of Orchha has three main historical temples – Chaturbhuj temple, Ram Raja temple and Lakshminarayana temple. The first two are directly across the main road from Orchha fort and these were the ones that we visited immediately after leaving the fort.
RAM RAJA TEMPLE
Ram Raja temple is a quite unique temple in many ways. It was originally a palace which became a temple by accident. According to legend, wife of King Madhukar Shah was a devotee of Lord Rama and thus got a statue of the god from Ayodhya which was to be placed in the magnificent Chaturbhuj temple that was being specially constructed next to the palace for enshrining this statue. Later she realized her folly when it dawned on her that according to a promise made by her, the god’s statue, once placed somewhere, cannot be moved to any other place. Thus the palace itself became the temple. Now, since Lord Rama was placed in a palace hence he is worshipped as a king rather than a god, which is unheard of anywhere else.
The problem we had with this temple was its colour scheme. Some devotees, in a display of faith, had paid for this temple to be repainted and they had chosen yellow and orange colours for the purpose. Anywhere else this wouldn’t have looked out of place; in fact it would have looked quite beautiful, but here, among the stark historical buildings of Orchha, it stuck out like a sore thumb. We just wished that those well meaning devotees had chosen to show their faith in some other way.
We did not actually enter the Ram Raja temple but went straight to the Chaturbhuj temple which was right next to it. It was immediately obvious that this temple was built for a special purpose (to house the statue of Lord Rama). Built on a massive stone pedestal and towering 105 m high from ground, this majestic temple was visible from most places in the town. The best spot to see this temple was the top of Raja Mahal which we had already been to earlier in the day. We climbed some steep stairs and reached the main hall of the temple but it was quite bare from inside. Someone told us that we could climb to the roof of the temple but we had done enough climbing for the day and were tired from all the activity so we came back to the main road without spending too much time in the temple.
Later in the afternoon we visited the Lakshminarayana temple. This temple was slightly far from the town centre hence we drove to the temple. It proved to be a good decision as the temple was built on a hillock and having a car saved us the climb. Lakshminarayana temple was built in 1622 AD by Bir Singh Dev and had a very unusual architecture structure which looked like an amalgamation of fort and temple architectures. Orchha certainly seems to have a fascination with unusual temples.
To enter the temple one needed a ticket which had to be bought at the fort. The temple also provided a superb view of the town centre but the best part of the temple wasn’t the views or its architecture. It was the extremely stunning murals and frescoes in the interior of the temple. Based on different themes, these exquisite paintings were some of the finest examples of Bundela art and had survived the ravages of time quite well. Here too, because of the unrestricted access, we climbed to the top of the temple and even went inside the temple tower after which we drove back to see the famous sunset of Orchha.