On the weekend, I visited Jhansi for a day. I stopped through the same places I did the last time I was here, plus visited a few new ones. I also travelled to the nearby town of Orchha.
Rani Mahal, Jhansi – This palace is located in the heart of the city of Jhansi in a busy market place. It was the palace and former residence of Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi who fought against the British in the Revolt of 1857. Rani Mahal has arched rooms that are set around a square courtyard with gardens and two fountains. The colourful paintings on the wood panels of the Darbar Hall on the first floor are truly exquisite. On the ground floor, nude statues and other artifacts of the Buddha in various poses are displayed. These archaeological remains date from the 9th to the 12th century. Photography is strictly prohibited here. However, I managed to get a few snaps with my cellphone, much to the consternation of the lady caretaker who kept yelling at me to stop.Panch Mahal, Jhansi - This is a five story palace located within the Jhansi Fort. Rani Laxmi Bai used to reside here with her husband Raja Gangadhar Rao before his death. Later on, she shifted her residence to Rani Mahal in the main city. Here is a photo on the right.
The driver of the autorickshaw charged Rs.100 for taking us sightseeing around Jhansi. He told us about the nearby town of Orchha which he said would cost us an extra Rs. 350 to visit. We kept putting off the decision to visit Orchha because we were unsure about the time it would take to reach there and we did not want to miss the 5.50 train back to Delhi. Finally, the autorickshaw driver managed to convince us that it would take us 35 minutes at the most to get to Orccha. We set off at 3.30 pm.
Orchha is around 18 kilometers from Jhansi. The road to the town was quite empty and the auto rickshaw sped through easily. The only obstructions were a railway crossing where we waited ten minutes and the construction of a road for which we had to take a detour through a bumpy track. We reached the town at 4.15.
Orchha, comes from the word meaning a ‘hidden place’ and is situated amidst a forest on the banks of the bubbling Betwa River. The fort at Orchha, which comprises many palaces and temples, was built by Raja Rudra Pratap Singh and Raja Bir Singh Deo of the Bundela Dynasty. Here are some monuments I visited in Orchha -Jahangir Mahal – This palace was built as a welcome gift for the Mughal emperor Jehangir who visited Orchha in the 17th century. We had to climb steep steps that took us to a landing on the upper floor. Looking through the latticed windows, we had a magnificent view of the foam and emerald waters of the Betwa River in the distance. We also saw the spires of old temples and Chattris constructed alongside the Betwa River. Sheesh Mahal – This was built in the 18th century, much later than the other palaces of Orchha. It stands in between the Raj Mahal and the Jehangir Mahal, at the far end of a courtyard. Today, it has been converted into a government run hotel and restaurant. We didn’t enter it cause we didn’t want to spend any cash, plus, we were running out of time.
Raj Mahal – This palace has two courtyards and many ornate balconies and windows. The chowkidar (guard) offered to show us around for Rs.20, but we had just 5 minutes left till 5.00 pm. We sent him away and hurriedly took some photographs in different areas of the palace before rushing back to the waiting autorickshaw.
We reached Jhansi railway station at around 5.45 pm and learned that our train to Delhi was late by an hour. In hindsight, maybe we could have hung around at Orchha longer, but hey, we did have a wonderful time. The village scenery, fresh country air and the fragrance of wild flowers helped us forget the stress of city life for a while. One day, I plan to stay a bit longer in Orchha. The Betwa River looked simply amazing. Plus, I’d like to check out some of the other monuments I missed out on. Have you ever visited Jhansi or Orchha ??