The establishment of the
Jehangir Mahal dates back to the 17th century A.D. when the then ruler
of the region named Bir Singh Deo built the structure as a symbol of warm
reception of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, during the latterís first visit
to the city. The entrance of the Jehangir Mahal, Orchha is marked by an
artistic and traditional gateway. The front wall of the structure faces
to the east and is covered with turquoise tiles. Jehangir Mahal is a three
storied structure that is marked by stylishly hanging balconies, porches,
and apartments. Like other Palaces in Orchha the Jehangir Mahal, Orchha
has and a number of domes that are shaped like onion. These domes cover
the central courtyard of the palace. Thus without visiting the Jehangir
Mahal as well as other Monuments in Orchha, the Tour to Orchha is incomplete.
An elegant 17th century
mansion, Jahanghir Mahal in Orchha is a remarkable structure. The most
admired palace in Orchha, the Jahangir Mahal was constructed to commemorate
the visit of Jahanghir to Orchha. A three storied building, which is a
harmonious blend of Indo-Islamic architecture, with hanging balconies,
topped domes, marvelous sculptures, delicate chhatris and trellis, Jahanghir
Palace presents a superb architectural grandeur.
The ceremonial gateway
of this palace leads to the east-facing facade, which is covered with turquoise
tiles and the arrival of Raja was announced by the ringing of bells of
the stone elephants that guards the stairway.
The most imposing monument
of the Bundela reign, Jahanghir Mahal is a magnificient memento of the
past, which forces the visitor to come back again.
As the very name of the
monument suggests, it was built in honour of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir,
by the Orchha ruler, Vir Singh. The friendship between the two went back
a long way, much before either of them became monarchs.
Before he became Maharaja,
Vir Singh owned the fief of Badoni, situated midway between Orchha and
Gwalior. Meanwhile, in the Mughal Court, the relationship between Emperor
Akbar and his eldest son, Salim (later to be known as Jahangir), was always
a tempestuous one. Prince Salim was a bit too susceptible to affairs of
the heart, and his dalliance with Anarkali had riled the emperor no end.
Abul Fazl, one of the
Navratnas, or Nine Jewels, in Akbarís court thrived on the rift and persuaded
Akbar to forfeit Salimís heirship to the Mughal throne. Inevitably, Salim
revolted against this, and Akbar deputed none other than the Machiavellian
Abul Fazl to quell the rebellion.
Fazl began a march to
Agra to meet Salimís army in battle, but first he had to travel through
Badoni, which was en route. At this crucial juncture, Vir Singh decided
to help his friend Salim in his hour of trial by attacking Fazlís army
and vanquishing it. Not content with that, he chopped off Fazlís head and
presented it to Salim.
This was in 1602, and
three years later when Akbar died and Jahangir replaced him as the emperor,
it was time for him to repay the favour to his old friend.
Accordingly, he bestowed
the whole of Bundelkhand to Vir Singh and even attended his coronation
in 1606. It was on this occasion that Vir had the Jahangir Mahal built
to receive Emperor Jahangir when he visited Orchha. The palace today stands
as a memorial to the great friendship between the two erstwhile rulers.