The Story of Orchha Is The Story Of Brave Men And Women Who Believed In What They Stood For

In this blog post, I cover Orchha, a quaint lil town tucked in the sprawling wilderness of Bundelkhand.

A princely state, known as the capital of the Bundela kingdom in the 16th century, Orchha is now recognized as a pilot city by the state government of Madhya Pradesh.

Orchha has been chosen for the Historic Urban Landscape program and survey that UNESCO New Delhi will jointly undertake with the Tourism Department of Madhya Pradesh.

Trying to retain its regal heritage by drawing attention to its beautiful forts and palaces, the Royal Chhatris (Cenotaphs), and historic temples, Orchha came across as a revelation. And while Orchha was not included as a UNESCO world heritage site, I am convinced that this program will serve as a boilerplate for heritage-based urban development of Orchha.

A hurried tour to Orchha was probably in contrast to my best interests, given that I promote slow travel. Even then, Orchha managed to impress me through its lore of brave men and women who believed in what they stood for.

As you set foot in Orchha, the erstwhile grandeur and magnificence become more and more apparent; what stays with you, though, is even more remarkable.

The heroic tales of few good men and women of Orchha is such a powerful narrative, truly characteristic of a city that was once in the seat of power.

And one such tale is that of Lala Hardaul.

The tale of Hardaul's Sacrifice

The Sound and Light show at the Orchha Fort Complex takes place every day from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm in English and from 8:45 pm to 9:45 pm in Hindi. Wish to take a glimpse into the life of the people of Orchha back then? Then this is the show you must attend.

Fifteen minutes into the show, I was introduced to Lala Hardaul, a man whose extraordinary tale of sacrifice has earned him iconic status in Orchha.

The story goes back to nearly 409 years ago. Steeped in history and replete with pain and suffering is the legendary tale of Rani Champavati of Orchha and her brother-in-law Prince Hardaul. It is said that the Rani poisoned Hardaul to prove innocence to her husband.

In the 17th century, the fifth king of Orchha, Vir Singh Deo, was blessed with eight sons. Vir Singh was an accomplice of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who had hired him to assassinate Abul Fazl. As he grew older, he handed over the reins of his royal kingdom to Jhujhar Singh, his eldest son. 

Hardaul, the youngest son of King Vir Singh, was born in Datiya. Hardaul was just 24 when his stepbrother Jhujhar Singh accused him of having an illicit affair with his then-wife Rani Champavati. The seeds of suspicion were planted by Jhujhar's own real brother, Pahad Singh, who was eyeing Orchha's royal throne. Pahad had falsely implicated Rani and Hardaul of adultery. 

The credulous king ordered Rani to prove her allegiance by poisoning his 'son-like' brother-in-law. Hardaul was aware that his kheer was laced with poison, yet he chose to sacrifice his life. After Hardaul's death, the king realized that Hardaul was innocent. 

Hardaul's relationship with Rani was sacred, and to date, the motherly love of Rani Champavati towards her brother-in-law Hardaul gets talked of in Orchha. In fact, the first invitation of every wedding ceremony in Bundelkhand is sent to Hardaul only.

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  1. A very well written blog. I loved how you cover every single aspect fluently. Orchaa will be on the top of bucket list for my next vacation

  2. I belong to MP but still I have not visited Orchha yet. your post has given me all detail insight about the place and its history. will surly love to visit this when plan my next India visit.

  3. Such a poignant tale that captures the spirit of Orchha. It is a beautiful town where such stories from the past still echo. We were there a couple of years ago and absolutely loved the place.

  4. My in-laws are from MP . I have heard of Orchha but never visited this place. In my next India trip, I am make sure to visit Orchha.

  5. Orchha has so much of historical importance inspite of that didn't hear much of it before. This place is worth a visit.

  6. Orchaa looks great through your lens thanks for the virtual tour and loads of information on its history


  7. Wow such amazing stories. I came to know about Orchha when I realised they have river rafting. And it is so good to know that Orchha is beyond that and has so many things to do.

    1. Also, just love those tales behind Orchha. I also realised that there is light show which is so cool. Love it. Book marking this for future.

  8. We are going next month to visit this place and this post is really going to help me a lot. I am going to bookmark this.

  9. Honestly, I've only heard Orchha's name in passing and didn't know about it's historical significance. Your flying visit has motivated me enough to add this to my MP must-visit places list!

  10. I've never been to MP but have heard it's beautiful. Although never heard of Orchha as well but the tale was wow. I love historical places so I'll put it on my must visit places in April.

  11. These are some really stunning captures! I have never been to Orchha but your article makes me believe that I should put it high on my list.

  12. I've never been to MP and never knew it is so beautiful. Our history is laden with amazing stories of love and sacrifice and it was a wonderful read to know about the Rani and Hardula.

  13. Orchha has been forever on my travel bucket list. But there must be something about that place. We have traveled around that area ourselves or on assignments but Orchha always eluded us :(

  14. Well Informed article. I have visited entire India but Orchaa is having a special place....recommend all as a must visit place as a perfect weekend gateway


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