I love legends and myths. And they add a charm to every destination. In today’s day and age, when we learn to scoff at beliefs and superstitions, when we are cynical about everything we hear, stories like these act as magic potion . They give a different dimension to the rock we see or a ruin in the corner. But most important – these stories are intrinsic to every destination and they are etched in people’s minds for generations. This April, I am going to tell you a bed time story every day and we start with the myths and legends of Orchha, where a dead prince still lives in the hearts of people.
In Orchha, there are stories everywhere – from palaces to cenotaphs. But the tale that fascinates me the most is the legend behind a melancholic yellow palace which is now morphed into a bazaar. This was the palace of Dinman Hardol, the brother of one of the kings, Raja Jhujjar. Next to the derelict palace is a small temple. “ Who Hamara Bhagwan hai, “ says a local lady. I peer inside the shrine and realize that they worship Hardol, the prince who they believe is very much alive.
Hardol, the popular prince was resented by Jhujjar who further suspected his wife of having an illicit relationship with him. Fuelled by rumours by Emperor Shah Jahan, Jhujjar ordered his wife to poison Hardol to prove her innocence and Hardol willingly accepted it. The story doesn’t end here. When Jhujjar’s niece was getting married, his sister asked the king to help; who sarcastically asked her to seek the dead Hardol. The dead prince apparently attended the wedding and served the guests as well. The local exclaimed that even today it is believed that Lala Hardol attends weddings he is invited to and most locals leave an invitation card for him and seek his blessings as well. “Woh Kabhi Bhi Zinda aayega, “ said the lady with a grim look, almost chastising me for not believing them.