“ORCHHA” – THE LOST HERITAGE
History is capable of surviving in different forms and shapes, sometimes can be seen as built-up structure while other times can be depicted in any form of art and architecture like paintings and murals. One such historical place is Orchha.
Orchha, an imperishable part of history, an incredible tourist spot that has History, Spirituality, and Nature’s beauty to its extent. A place where Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are parallelly worshipped. There’s a palace for Raja Rudra Pratap as well as Mughal emperor Jahangir. Even though the seat of power changed frequently in Orchha, the city flourished and grew under the leadership of Bundeli kings and became the inception point for a new style of architecture known as the Bundeli architectural style. The people have claimed their emperor as Lord Ram, also known as Ram Raja Sarkar. It is the 2nd place in India after Ayodhya where Lord Ram is not prayed for being God rather as the emperor of Orchha.
Orchha lies in Madhya Pradesh near banks of Betwa river, 15km from Jhansi, was under the rule of bundela’s and was ruled by Madhukar Shah. Orchha has a lot of historical buildings including palaces, mansions, temples, cenotaphs and gardens. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. The Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, founded the city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River, in the 16th century. The location and orientation of these buildings make them very interesting. The buildings are built on higher ground maintaining a visual axis. These structures are visible from every part of the city.
Orchha thrived to be an example and epitome of the Bundela dynasty to showcase their unique architectural style. The local geography aided to the incorporation of the various pragmatic planning principles in the historical town while the individual elements of architecture and gardens in various buildings and houses, borrowed from the several Rajput and Mughal traditions, gave a harmonious visual language to the settlement. In Orchha, the blending of the existing Raj put culture with the invading Mughal culture carne to an exquisite apogee.
The fortification, town planning, the garden design in Orchha evolved into a unique new form with amalgamation of Mughal style of gardens (cf. char Bagh), Rajput Fort gardens, Hindu sacred groves and evolved hydrology systems. These gardens were strategically located around area of dense activities to provide relief to the urban fabric and to enhance the views from the high stories of palaces and temples. Thus, Orchha houses a unique ensemble of monuments and sites to understand the organization of the 16th-18th century society in India
Orchha has a population of around 12000 people who are majorly dependent on tourism as their primary source of income. Around 1,20,000 tourists and pilgrims visit Orchha throughout the year. Recently, Orchha has been added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So, the tourist number is expected to reach 4,50,000 in next 5-7 years. Many cultural and religious activities like Krishna Janmashtami and Ram Navami are organized in Orchha that attracts tourists from all parts of the nation. One such new initiative “Namaste Orchha” was taken by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. And so, a lot of public and private projects are coming up in Orchha. One such project is The Ramgarh Palace.
“THE RAMGARH PALACE” – RECLAIMING THE LOST HERITAGE
The Ramgarh Palace is a luxury destination resort which is proposed to be built on the bank of river Betwa, on 60 acres of land with all the amenities like golf course, swimming pools, spa, sauna etc. and aims visitors to enjoy the Salient features of Bundela Architecture.
- To combine the warmth of traditional Indian hospitality, with modern systems and processes to create a truly contemporary, competitive and unique Indian hospitality brand.
- To create and sustain competitive edge over the competition in products and services through continuous quality improvement
- To create a responsive and market-oriented organization where everyone shares a common goal and values. An organization that can support vernacular architecture and locals.
What makes Ramgarh Place special is the idea of organizing destination weddings here. A common trend has come up to organize weddings at locations of heritage importance. And what makes a wedding truly special at Ramgarh Place is the range of specialized services. With so much to organize, you can relax in the knowledge that we will take care of your every need, ensuring that your wedding day is everything you want it to be. We offer a perfect destination that ensures a blend of traditional and exquisite modern luxuries, making your wedding a memorable one.
CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT
The planning on the entire site is based on a straight axis, a pedestrian pathway that stitches the entire site together, adding a lot of hardscape and softscape elements throughout. Vehicular access is restricted to entry and services. Providing a pedestrian route supplements the idea of improving the experience of the entire space. This boulevard leads towards the heritage hotel with the temple block at the front. This block has been designed with the elements of the temples within the city. The temple block houses 4 banquets of different sizes along with the outdoor mandaps and lawns. Each banquet has its Pre-function area as well. The temple block can withstand up to 7 events at the same time. To support this, a huge kitchen block has been built with all the modern machinery required. Separate storages are also provided for storage of raw materials and utilities.
A small market (Haat) has also been planned opposite to the temple block to incorporate the local culture and tradition and provide employment to the locals and promote their art, craft, clothing, food and other items. A route towards the golf course is also connected with this market.
The Heritage Hotel resembles the palaces of Rajputana era with some Mughal Architectural elements. The influence of Mughal architecture can be clearly seen in the city and so is depicted here. All the public spaces are kept at the front for easy access and circulation within the hotel block. The hotel has a grand entrance lobby with waiting area and an indoor café that extends to the all-day restaurant. The hotel has multiple restaurants to provide different cuisines to the users. For practical purpose administration is kept at the front side of the block. The reception continues towards the Heritage Display area which houses all the architectural accomplishments of the city along with the awards and events documentation of the resort. The seating for the restaurant has been divided into 2 levels, along with an outdoor deck to enjoy the views of the natural surroundings.
Semi-public spaces and amenities like Spa, Sauna, Hot water spring, swimming pool, bar, children play area etc are kept at the central part of the hotel. The Spa and sauna block has 2 levels and has views of pool, Betwa river and mountains at the opposite side. The massage rooms are on the upper level.
The hotel has 140 rooms of different categories ranging from deluxe to executive to suites and 22 villa cottages. Some hotel rooms have a view towards golf course and mountains, while others have the river and city silhouette. The cottages have been placed along with lush green gardens towards the river to experience nature and hidden mystery that Orchha is. The rear end of the site is the Ghats, that are organically built and elongated along the edge of the river. A lot of religious and spiritual activities such as evening aarti and pooja can happen at this place. A lot of water sports are also available at these Ghats. The river also acts as a transport corridor from resort to the city. Besides the golf course and along the Ghats is a huge vacant space that can be used for annual festivals and other events to promote the resort.
I believe a project like this will add to the heritage of the city and also respond to the demand for luxury stay at a place like this. This place has been designed after consideration of all users of different age groups and different lifestyles. Every space has been very carefully designed for a specific kind of experience for the user. Elements like water, material, play of light and shadow, change of scale etc Enhance the user experience and brings them closer to the hidden mystery that Orchha is.
Title of the Project – A Destination Resort
Location – Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India
Name of the student – Tushar Bajaj
Thesis Guide – Ar. Pardeep Singh
Thesis Experts – Ar. S. L. Kaushal & Ar. N. K. Sehgal
Name of the Graduating school: Chitkara school of planning and architecture, Chitkara University
Year of Graduation: 2020