Shri Ram Raja Temple in Orchha - Where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king



Ram Raja Temple in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

It is the stories that differentiate between everything existing around us. So is the distinct story of the famous Ram Raja Temple of Orchha. A layman looking at the temple may notice that its structure doesn't resemble other typical Hindu temples. This is because it was originally the palace of Queen Ganeshkuwari, wife of King Madhukar Shah, and this magnificent temple was formerly known as the Rani Mahal.

Legends of the Temple

As per the legend, the King of Orchha Madhukar Shah Ju Dev was a devotee of Lord Krishna, and his wife, Queen Ganesh Kunwari was a devotee of Lord Rama. Once, the King asked the Queen to accompany him to Braj-Mathura but the Queen wanted to visit Ayodhya. The King was adamant and asked her to join him. The Queen refused. This annoyed the king and he instructed the queen to return to Orchha only when she had lord Rama with her. On reaching Ayodhya, the Queen started praying to Lord Rama but Lord Rama did not appear. Eventually, in despair, she jumped into the river Saryu at midnight. Happy with her prayers and devotion, Lord Rama appeared in the lap of the Queen in child form. Lord Rama agreed to go forth on three conditions, "I will travel only in Pukh Nakshatra so that he reaches Orchha with sages. Secondly, Once we reach Orchha, I will be the King of Orchha. Thirdly, the first place you seat me will be my final place to stay."

On hearing the news of the queen's return to Orchha with Lord Rama, the King started building the temple. Returning from her long journey, the queen was tired and she sat with Lord Rama in her palace and decided to retire to her room for the night. But according to Lord Rama's conditions, he took the first place where he was seated. Hence, to this day, the queen's palace is known as Ram Raja Temple. 

What is special about the temple?

Rama Raja Temple also known as Orchha Temple is the only temple in the country where lord Rama is worshipped as the King and not as a deity. The structure is painted with hues of white, pink, and yellow. The Imperial Gazetteer delineates it as one of the finest buildings of Orchha. Apart from the architecture, the customary values of the temple are also very distinct. The god is given a gun salute by the guards during the evening aarti. After the aarti, Lord Ram is taken to a temple from where Lord Hanuman takes him back to Ayodhya. It is said that when notable guests visit, they are greeted with paan (betel nut) and ittar (perfume), in contrast to the usual distribution of sweet prasad in other temples.

Diwali at Ram Raja Temple

Shri Ram Raja Mandir hosts the annual Ram Vivah Festival of Orchha in Kartik month. This prestigious event is attended by thousands of devotees from all over the country. Instituted to commemorate the wedding of lord Ram and goddess Sita, the festival is marked by exceptional performances by trained horses. The decoration of the temple with lights and diyas during Diwali looks spectacular and picturesque.

The temple houses a courtyard stretched at its entrance, where many shopkeepers and vendors sell handmade products like toys, pieces of jewelry, and sacred items. When in Orchha during Ram Vivah you can also enjoy heritage walks, and village tours and participate in exhilarating activities like river rafting as well.