Just beyond the bridge, the first building you come to across Orchha’s medieval granite bridge is the well-preserved ruin of the royal palace, or Raj Mahal. Of the two rectangular courtyards inside, the second, formerly used by the Bundela ranis, is the most dramatic. Opulent royal quarters, raised balconies and interlocking walkways rise in symmetrical tiers on all four sides, crowned by domed pavilions and turrets; the apartments projecting into the quadrangle on the ground floor belonged to the most-favoured queens. As you wander around, look out for the fragments of mirror inlay and vibrant painting plastered over their walls and ceilings. Some of the friezes are in remarkable condition, depicting Vishnu’s various outlandish incarnations, court and hunting scenes, and lively festivals.

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