Orchha State, a princely state of Bundelkhand region, in present Madhya Pradesh state, India, was founded in the 1501 AD, by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha, (r. 1501-1531) and also built the Fort of Orchha. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built, during the time of Akbar, by the Queen of Orchha, while Raj Mandir was built by 'Madhukar Shah' during his reign, 1554 to 1591. During British Raj, it became part of the Bundelkhand Agency within the Central India Agency in 1811, and eventually post-independence of India in 1947, it acceded to Union of India, in 1950.
During the rule of Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, his ally, Bir Singh Deo (r. 1605-1627) reigned here, and it was during this period that Orchha reaches its height, and many extant palaces are a reminder of its architectural glory, including Jahangir Mahal (b. ca 1605) and Sawan Bhadon Mahal.
In the early 17th century, Raja Jujhar Singh rebelled against the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, whose armies devastated the state and occupied Orchha from 1635 to 1641. Orchha and Datia were the only Bundela states not subjugated by the Marathas in the 18th century. The town of Tehri, presently Tikamgarh, about 52 miles (84 km) south of Orchha, became the capital of Orchha state in 1783, and is presently the district town; Tehri was the site of the fort of Tikamgarh, and the town eventually took the name of the fort.
Hamir Singh, who ruled from 1848 to 1874, was elevated to the style of Maharaja in 1865. During his reign the allied forces of Orchha and Datia invaded Jhansi in 1857 intending to divide the Jhansi territory between them. However they were defeated by Rani Lakshmibai's army and her allies in August 1857. (She intended at this time to hold Jhansi on behalf of the British who had no forces there at the time.) Maharaja Pratap Singh (born 1854, died 1930), who succeeded to the throne in 1874, devoted himself entirely to the development of his state, himself designing most of the engineering and irrigation works that were executed during his reign.
In 1901, the state was within the Bundelkhand Agency and had an area of 2,000 sq mi (5,200 km2), and population of 52,634. It was the oldest and highest in rank of all the Bundela states, with a 15-gun salute, and its Maharajas bore the hereditary title of First of the Prince of Bundelkhand. Vir Singh, Pratap Singh's successor, merged his state with the Union of India on January 1, 1950. The district became part of Vindhya Pradesh state, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh state in 1956.
Today Orchha is almost a nondescript town with a small population, and its importance is maintained only due to its rich architectural heritage and tourism.
Books on the rich history of Orchha are available in local shops, mostly in the Hindi language. Only a thorough reading of some of this material will tell about the rich and varied history of this place.
Postage stamps of this feudatory state were prepared for use in 1897 but were never issued. The first Orchha State stamps were issued in 1913 (half anna and one anna); in 1914 there was another issue of four stamps (half anna to 4 annas). The third issue was in 1939 when a range of stamps bearing the maharajah's portrait were issued which included stamps of half anna to 8 annas and one rupee to 10 rupees. Separate stamps were discontinued on 30 April 1950 after the state was merged with the Union of India early that year.
- Orchha Tikamgarh district Official website.
- Mausoleum of Raja Rudra Pratap British Library.
- Orchha British Library.
- Genealogy of Orchha
- Raj Mandir British Library.
- Swan Bhadon Palace, Orcha British Library.
- Orchha state The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, vol. 19, p. 241.
- Edwardes, Michael (1975) Red Year. London: Sphere Books, p. 117
- Stanley Gibbons Ltd. Stanley Gibbons' Simplified Stamp Catalogue; 24th ed., 1959. London: Stanley Gibbons Ltd. p. 1063
- "Orchha Town". The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. 19. Oxford at Clarendon Press. 1909. pp. 247–248.
- "Orchha State". The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. 19. Oxford at Clarendon Press. 1909. pp. 241–247.
- "Bundelkhand Agency". The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. 9. Oxford at Clarendon Press. 1909. pp. 74–77.
- "British Bundelkhand". The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. 9. Oxford at Clarendon Press. 1909. pp. 68–74.
- Sir Roper Lethbridge (1893). The Golden Book of India: A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary of the Ruling Princes, Chiefs, Nobles, and Other Personages, Titled or Decorated, of the Indian Empire. Macmillan And Co., New York.
- "Discovery of monuments at Orchha". Economic Times. September 20, 2009.
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- Documentation of orchha buildings by IIT Roorkee
- Genealogy of the ruling chiefs of Orchha
- "Orchha Journal; See the Ruins (Before They Vanish)". New York Times. January 18, 1992.