The Palace of Dinman Hardoul (Phoolbagh), Orchha
Dinman Hardoul’s Melancholy Palace
North of the temple of Ram Raja in Orchha stands a structure with mossy towers, thin pillars, and domes in different sizes. Its soft yellow walls lend a melancholy air to the palace. At the entrance to Dinman Hardoul, the visitor will encounter an enormous stone vessel. Local folklore has it that in the olden days’ people visited Orchha in such vast numbers that the vessel had to be refilled with sandalwood or Chandan paste each morning since the people using it as tilak finished it all within a day.
The Sad History of Dinman Hardoul
Bir Singh Deo’s son Hardoul served as prime minister while Raja Jhajjar, his brother ruled. Hardoul’s popularity with the citizens irked his brother and his anger was inflamed even more when rumors of a relationship between his wife and prime minister reached his ears. Apparently, Shah Jahan was responsible for the evil gossip; he installed two spies in the king’s court to weaken Orchha by causing a breach in the relationship of the brothers.
Eventually, the ruler accosted his queen and subsequently commanded her to poison Hardoul as proof of her innocence. The queen was helpless and on informing Hardoul of her impossible situation, he himself drank the poison to protect her honor. After his death, he was considered a hero and martyr. During a peculiar incident at his niece’s wedding, his deification was expedited.
According to legend, his sister Kunjawati sought the assistance of their elder brother, Jhajjar for the wedding of her daughter. In a sarcastic manner, he referred her to her favorite brother, Hardoul. She was desperate and approached Hardoul’s Samadhi. During her prayer, the deceased man gave her the assurance that she will be helped. When the day of the wedding celebration arrived, Hardoul not only leaned his assistance, he even served the bridegroom.
Dinman Hardoul was honored with the title Lala and his platform shrine or chabutra was worshipped in most villages right through the region. Even today people seek his blessing to deter hunger, bad weather, or ill luck during weddings. He is often invited to wedding ceremonies by parents and is also known as Dinman Hardoul, simply Hardoul or as Lala Hardoul.
Dinman Hardoul’s Cultural Heritage
In 1989 Deep Shikha Manch, an organization that strives to preserve Bundelkhand culture, literature, and folk art, was founded. Koria Panda, a group of professional singers traditionally kept Hardoul Katha alive but now this organization helps to carry forward the Hardoul Katha Gaayan tradition. Together with musicians of traditional instruments, they would perform their music at festivals and special occasions. They have performed as far as Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Delhi.