Awe-inspiring Chaturbhuj Temple at Orchha, MP - architecturally a unique temple complex

Chaturbhuj Temple at Orchha, MP

Chaturbhuj Temple at  Orchha (Tikamgarh district), Madhya Pradesh dedicated to Vishnu, is architecturally an inspiring place of worship. It is a  unique complex that one can seldom see, consisting of multi-storied structure that includes a fusion of temple, fort and palace  all rolled into one place, a sight that may hold the visitor  in awe. The name Chaturbhuj (in Sanskrit; chatur  meaning "four" and 'bhuj'  meaning "arms") literally refers to Lord Sri  Rama, an important  avatar of  Sri Vishnu.

Chaturbhuj Temple at Orchha, MP
Located outside the limits of the Orchha Fort complex, to the south of the Rama Raja Temple, it is in an island formed by the Betwa River.  The Bundela Rajputs of the kingdom of Orchha were responsible for building this temple and the work had begun during the rule of Madhukar Shah. He wanted to build a temple to fulfil his wife  Rani Ganeshkuwari's  desire. As he could not complete the temple work during his period, his son Vir Singh Deo successfully completed the construction of the temple in the early 16th century.
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 According to the legend the queen had a vision in her dream that Sri Rama himself wanted her to have a temple built in her place. Accordingly, the ruler  Madhukar Shah had already begun the work on the temple. As for the queen, she went to Ayodhya to get an image of Lord Rama  to be installed in her new temple (Chaturbhuj Temple). Temple work being incomplete, upon her return from Ayodhya, the queen temporarily kept the idol of Sri Rama in her palace - Rani Mahal,  As per Agama Sastras, the idol of a deity to be consecrated in a temple, should not be kept in any other place, in this case the palace. The queen was ignorant about the  Agamic tradition  that did not permit the shifting of the idol to the newly completed temple.  This is the reason why there is no idol of Sri Rama in the garbagriha (sanctum) at  the Chaturbhuj Temple. As Rama  had been worshiped in the palace for some time, it was converted into the Ram Raja Temple. A fascinating fact is it is  the only shrine in the whole of India where Sri Rama is  worshiped as a king and he is blessing the devotees as such.

Any visitor to the temple can not miss the imposing tall spires built in the shape of pine cones on a 4.5 meter high  platform. The overall height of the temple is 105 metres (344 ft) high and the  layout  is set as to  resemble the four arms of Vishnu for whom it was built. The imposing  temple includes  multi-storied palace with arcaded openings, a very large entrance, a large central tower and fortifications. To access the temple facade you have to  climb steep
and narrow steps numbering 67, forming a winding stairway. Inside the temple there are  many halls and the main one is in the shape of  a cross or cruciform - a mix of Māru-Gurjara architecture. It is said that the temple towers when built, were gold plated and in the later period it had been   pilfered. 

At present an image of Radha Krishna is worshiped in this temple as the Rama Raja Temple in the fort complex has the idol of Sri Rama  brought all the way from Ayodhya by then queen Rani Ganeshkuwari.