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Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela chief Rudra Pratap, who became the first Raja of Orchha. In the early 17th century, Raja Jujhar Singh rebelled against the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, whose armies devastated the state and occupied Orchha from 1635 to 1641. Orchha was the only Bundela state not subjugated by the Marathas in the 18th century. The town of Tehri, presently Tikamgarh, about 40 miles south of Orchha, became the capital of Orchha state in 1783, and is presently the district town. Tehri was the site of the fort of Tikamgarh, and the town eventually took the name of the fort.

Hamir Singh, who ruled from 1848 to 1874, was elevated to the style of Maharaja in 1865. Maharaja Pratap Singh (born 1854, died 1930), who succeeded to the throne in 1874, devoted himself entirely to the development of his state, himself designing most of the engineering and irrigation works that were executed during his reign.

In 1901, the state had an area of 2080 sq. mi, and population of 321,634. It was the oldest and highest in rank of all the Bundela states, with a 15-gun salute, and its Maharajas bore the hereditary title of First of the Princes of Bundelkhand. Vir Singh, Pratap Singh's successor, merged his state with the Union of India on January 1, 1950. The district became part of Vindhya Pradesh state, which was merged into Madhya Pradesh state in 1956. Today Orchha is almost a nondescript town with a small population, and its importance is maintained only due to its rich architectural heritage and tourism.

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