Rai Praveen Mahal
Built in circa 1618 by Maharaja Indrajit Singh, the three-storeyed fort is also variously recognized as the Anand Mandal Bagh and the Rai Praveen Manika Bhavan.
A lush garden, with shrubs and flowerbeds pruned in very many artistic shapes, surrounds the palace.Quite obviously, the art of topiary has been in existence in Orchha for centuries. The Mahal was built in honour of the 'Nightingale of Orchha', Rai Praveen, and the second floor is resplendent with scenes of Nritya Mudra, the poses and postures of Indian dance.
The Glorious Beauty of Rai
Rai Praveen was as well identified for her charming beauty as for her poetry and music. The paramour of Indrajit Singh, in whose court she performed, her fame inevitably spread far and wide and finally reached the Imperial Court of Akbar. The Mughal emperor was smitten by her, and he arrogantly summoned her to his durbar. Indrajit Singh, Rai Parveen's paramour, was too weak-kneed a ruler to defy the Imperial summons.
Moved By Charms of Poetess
So, Rai Praveen went to Akbar's court, where, accompanied by her tutor, Keshava Dasa, she regaled the court with her singing and dancing skills. A bewitched Akbar asked her to jilt the contemptible Indrajit (who had abandoned her to her fate in any case) and take up residence with him in his harem.
He enticed her with the fabulous treasures of the Mughal court, which, he told her, were more suitable for a lady of her accomplishments. However, Rai Parveen refused.
Akbar, finding all his inducements falling on deaf ears and touched by her loyalty, decided to restore her to Orchha. Rai Praveen returned to Orchha with both her dignity and that of her kingdom intact. The palace is a fitting memorial to this lady.
The fort also houses a Tope Khana (canon foundry) which kept a vigil around the clock, guarding against any exterior threat from the enemies of Orchha.