Cult following

Orchha's marvellous architecture and the intriguing story of the Ram Temple draws Meera Yoga into exploring the path of devotion.

Cenotaphs in Orchha

Early this year, a friend talked me into visiting Orchha, a small town in northeast Madhya Pradesh, close to Jhansi, on the banks of the Betwa River. This town was the capital of Bundelkhand in the 16th century and for over 300 years was an important town in Central India, exhibiting grand Indo–Islamic architecture. A huge fort stands on an island on the river with numerous majestic buildings adjutant to it, including the Raja Ram Temple. All very grand, but for me, it was an unusual story of devotion that drew me here, utmost devotion like that of Meera Bai and Andal. 

Orchha Palace
Orchha Palace

 

Legendary tales

Rani Kamala Devi was a staunch devotee of Lord Ram. She was the wife of Madhukar Shah, the Raja of Orchha. While the king was a devotee of Lord Krishna and made an annual pilgrimage to Mathura and Brindavan, his queen was an ardent devotee of Lord Ram. Before one such pilgrimage, the king asked the queen to get ready to go to Mathura but the queen wanted to go to Ayodhya instead and the annoyed king agreed and joined her on the grounds that she would bring her Ram to Orchha. The queen took up the challenge, vowing to return only with her Ram.

On reaching Ayodhya, she started praying fervently to the lord and did so for a month, after which, in sheer despair, she jumped into Sarayu River. At this moment Lord Ram appeared on her lap in the form of a a little child. The overjoyed queen asked the lord to accompany her to Orchha and he readily agreed, but with two conditions, that the first spot she places him in Orchha will be his resting place and his temple would be that of a king. The queen readily agreed and started her long journey to Orchha. In the meanwhile, King Madhukar Shah, on learning of the likely arrival of Lord Ram, started building a beautiful temple in his honour.

After a long and tedious journey, Lord Ram and Rani Kamala Devi reached Orchha. The queen went to her palace with Ram, retiring for the night and with intentions of taking the lord the next morning to the beautiful new temple built for him. But surprisingly the next morning, she was unable to move the lord from his overnight resting place in her palace. As told by the lord before leaving for Orchha, he was transfixed to the spot where he was first placed, right within the Rani’s palace, and to this day, the lord continues to bless his devotees from the palace, and not from the grand Chaturbhuj temple built for him.

Chaturbhuj Temple of Orchha
Chaturbhuj Temple of Orchha

 

Festive fervour

Lord Ram of Ayodhya is worshipped as a king, with a daily guard of honour, very much in the manner of a reigning monarch. Queen Sita accompanies this grand deity on the left, with Laxman on the right. Hanuman is also present in this durbar.

This story of Raja Ram has spread far and wide with devotees thronging the temple, especially during the festivals of Ramnavami, Sankranti and Durga puja. In fact, it is said that more than 6.5 lakh devotees seek the blessings of this form of Lord Ram every year. Aarti is performed twice a day. King Ram is given a “gun-salute guard of honour” right after the aarti and devotees throng to witness this unique spectacle. After this, the pilgrims queue up for a close darshan of the lord. Here, the pilgrims try to look for the lord’s left foot’s big toe, and if seen, it is said that the devotee would be showered with unimaginable bounty. I, for one, ardently looked for the toe, seeking a peaceful world for one and all, apart from a very personal little blessing. Spotting the toe is at times difficult but the local priest would be more than happy to help.

This story of utmost devotion is superbly narrated in the sound and light show held at the magnificent Orchha fort every evening. The shows are both in Hindi and English and take us back a couple of centuries, into the lives of the royalty of yore when Bundelkhand was a rich kingdom. The land is seeped in history, with Prince Salim (the young king Jahangir) taking refuge at Orchha from his father King Akbar’s anger.

After the blessings of King Ram, we spent a couple of hours taking in the historical sites of Orchha, the grand fort, and the numerous cenotaphs and spectacular palaces picturesquely dotting the riverbank, all very lofty structures reminiscent of a majestic past. There are 14 cenotaphs in number, with the unique cenotaph of Maharaja Vir Singh Deo being the most visited. The Chaturbhuj Temple and the Laskmi Narayan Temple with its beautiful murals are both worth a visit. Moreover, a visit to Orchha can be clubbed with visits to the Jhansi fort, the magnificent Khajuraho temples and the grand Gwalior fort.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on Deccanherald.com/news/lok-sabha-elections-2019 


Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

Cult following

0 comments

Write the first review for this !