Datia Palace-No Ruler Ever Lived

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Do you know what is the hardest thing to face when you plan a travel trip just after two vagabond breaks? Oh yes, obviously ‘approved leaves’ is the major issue but for me, even more difficult part is seeing the emotional face of my mom. The arcs of her eyebrows squeezed with separation anxiety and worry for me and my future. Her sad face with tears floating in her eyes and then the waterfall outbreaks. My passion for travel becomes oblivious and I wonder whether it is all worth it? Maybe someday I will be able to balance this sea-saw! But I wonder the palace which I am exploring in today’s blog post, was it worth 9 years of hardships? Why did it suffer a resident block? I am talking about the grand Datia palace which is 26 kilometres north of Jhansi, where no ruler has ever lived. Quirky? So let’s dig in.

Datia Palace - Madhya Pradesh - The Backpackers Group
While no ruler may have lived in Datia Palace, its shadow has always ruled the serene Betwa river- Image Source
A Hill En-route Gwalior To Jhansi

“Wo raha Govind Mahal”, my co-passenger pointed to me from the train window when I was coming from Gwalior towards the city. The grandiose of Datia Palace sitting atop the hill, couldn’t go unnoticed even from the train. But when I reached there, I couldn’t believe the facts which were told to me about the palace. How could this massive structure stand upright without iron, wood or cement? The alchemy of Indo-Islamic architecture was at its best. On one hand, there were arches, making you fall to believe that its Mughal, on another hand the building in complete symmetry with Swastik design, simply suggested the other way round. The Persian rooftop designing, the imposing paintings of Bundela art of school were all so exciting to see but telling you the truth I was not satiated when I saw all the five-stories of the palace. Any guesses why? I wanted to explore the two underground floors which are sealed for the visitors!

Datia Palace And It’s 440 Rooms

I don’t know why but when I got to know that Datia Palace has 440 rooms in which no ruler has ever lived, I remembered one song, “440 volts hai chuna hai mana.” (I know that’s insane!) However, it is ironical and unbelievable that a building so grand and so inspiring couldn’t serve the purpose it was made for. Yes, Emperor Jahangir never visited this palace and even its maker on whom the citadel is even named as Vir Singh palace also didn’t live here. But didn’t it bother you why I called this palace inspiring? Though the murals, sculpting and architecture are quite motivating for any of its spectators, it is this palace which roused Sir Edwin Lutyens who was the Chief architect of New Delhi to visit other Indian monuments and finally design Delhi. He also complimented it as, “One of the most interesting buildings architecturally in the whole of India.” That’s quite a story!

Datia Palace - No Ruler Ever Lived - Madhya Pradesh - Bir Singh Palace - The Backpackers Group
The exemplary architecture of Datia Palace has been a great motivator – Image Source
Datia Palace- The Beginning

Who would have thought that the person who had hard times remembering the Mughal ancestry spreading across 1526-1857 would someday spill out so much of history? (I could see the happy face of my history teacher) So it all started when Jahangir revolted against his father Akbar and his friend the Bundela Chief, Vir Singh Deo helped him in his procession by presenting to him the head of his enemy Abul Fazal. Later, when Jahangir was crowned as Emperor he gave the kingdom of Orchha back to him which was annexed by Mughals. Thus, Vir Singh Deo who had a great love for building thought to testify his friendship by laying the foundation of Datia Palace in 1614. The primal purpose of this seven-storeyed palace was to welcome Emperor Jahangir but he never came is a mystery which is yet not discovered.

The construction and the fate of Datia Place is what eventually is called Game of Thrones – Image Source
Though It Doesn’t End Here.

I wonder why the ruler of Orchha, Vir Singh Deo, built Datia Palace around 50 kilometres away from Orchha. Was there a space problem back then too? I was puzzled about this as Orchha is a beautiful city where history is at spree and adding Datia palace would be wondrous (and convenient too). Whether it is the love tale of Rai Parveen (this would be the first tale you would listen as you go and see Rai Parveen Mahal in Orchha) or the magnificence of Raja Ram palace or the fort looking Lakshmi Temple where the Idol of the God is missing, there is so much to see and heed in Orchha. However, if you seep through the bustling markets of Orchha you may notice the temple of Dinman Hardoul Singh, son of the hero of this blog post, Vir Singh Deo. Interesting? Father, a ruler and son, a living God!

The Story That Cannot Be Left Untold

It starts when under the political conspiracy, the mind of Orchha’s ruler, Jhujjar Singh (elder brother of Hardoul Singh), was corrupted by one of his ministers, projecting that his brother was having an illicit relationship with his wife. Thus, he doubted the celibacy of his brother and told his wife to poison Hardoul Singh to prove her virtuousness. Yes, Hardoul Singh died and wait this did not make him a God.

After his death, it is believed that their sister expressed her angst to King Jhujjar and earned his annoyance. So, when the niece of the King was getting married, Jhujjar expelled his sister from the palace taunting her to look for his dear dead brother to fulfil the duties. As Bundelas are known to keep their word, eventually, Prince Hardoul appeared and did everything befitting the role of mama at the marriage. And there started a ritual of offering the first wedding card to Lala Hardoul for shunning any mishappening in marriage.

Orchha – Where the silhouettes are as royal as the city and its deity Image Source

I feel Orchha town and its rulers have left us with the heritage of enchanting architecture, mythology and enticing history. Do you think that this should be left inherited?

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