A tale of two temples where the God turned King

 

 

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Orchha’s awe inspiring saga is told and re told in different eras with grandeur and enthusiasm. The cenotaph town has much more than what has been shared since centuries. If we talk about Ram Raja Temple and Chaturbhuj temple of Orchha, their marvelous architecture and intriguing story will amaze you.

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Although at first glance, the Ram Raja temple across the road from the Orchha fort complex appears a bit disappointing, with its plain, yellow and white painted facade but the interior is breathtaking. And, there is a charming legend attached to it which is more enticing. While King Madhukar Shah was a worshiper of Lord Krishna, his queen believed in Rama. Their devotional clash culminated in the king demanding that the queen go to Ayodhya and return with her preferred deity in tow. Touched by her plight, Lord Rama in reality appeared to her and agreed to visit Orchha in the form of an infant, but put forth the condition that he would remain in the spot where he was first set down. The king was in hurry to build a grand temple to enshrine the deity, and hence the Chaturbhuj temple, next to the Ram Raja temple was constructed.

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The massive citadel looks like a fortress with soaring spires and palatial architecture. It’s interior architecture represents a grand hall with a high-vaulted ceiling. Chaturbhuj temple is built upon a towering stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps.

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When the queen arrived in  Orchha, she took a halt in her palace before proceeding towards the temple. Stopping at the royal kitchens next door, she set down the little infant, and true to his word this is where the avatar of Lord Rama established himself, refusing to be moved.

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Thus, the former kitchen turned into the Ram Raja temple, while the Chaturbhuj Temple now houses deities of Radha Shyam. Even today, the Ram Raja temple is the focal point of the town. Here, Lord Rama is worshiped as a king and not as a God. In the evening, Orchha reverberates with the peal of the temple’s bells. Townsfolk gather in the temple premises, under a chhatri or the leafy canopy of a tree, to sing devotional songs.

Market near Raja Ram Temple

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