The Magnificent Sawan-Bhadon Pillars, Orchha
The Two Tall Pillars of Sawan Bhadon
Amid the soaring temple steeples, expansive palaces and impressive forts of Orchha stand two tall, plain pillars. Sawan-Bhadon looks rather out of place but has its place in the history of the city. Located beside Dinman Hardol Palace, facing the Phool Bagh, these columns are symbols of Bhadon and Sawan, the two rainy months of the Hindu calendar. Their title was bestowed on them by the local populace.
Allegedly the columns were erected to honor two important historical figures, namely Bir Singh Deo’s son Bagh Raj, and a venerated saint of ancient Orchha Mahatma Anup Giri.
Pillars Infused with Legend
The legend goes that prince Bagh Raj got lost during a hunting excursion. As he struggled through the thick forests, he saw Mahatma Anup Giri meditating. Inquiring from him in which direction the deer disappeared, he was met by silence. Bagh Raj made the naïve assumption that that meant he should continue in the same direction he was headed. Bagh Raj soon realized his mistake and angrily plodded back where he felled the saint. According to the legend, Bir Singh Deo who was a just and fair king, and when he learned of his son’s felony, he had him sentenced to death.
Popular memory says that the columns were erected in honor of the two men who both came to such a dramatic end. It is interesting to notice that other Orchha kings and rulers were interned in imposing and embellished chhatris while the only structure these men received was a plain pillar each.
Sawan Bhadon’s Mysterious Underground Halls
It seems that Singh Deo loved taikhanas or underground chambers since he had built at Jahangir Mahal, the Datia palace, and Sawan-Bhadon. In some instances the underground structure duplicated the halls and chambers above ground; they extended several stories down into the rock bed. It is presumed that they were used as retreats from the heat during the summer months.