The word Bundelkhand was not used until modern times. Throughout its history, the region was ruled by accomplished rulers. Most of the rulers were of Chandravanshi dynasty. The kingdom of Chedi can be considered as Ancient Bundekhand.
Mayakal: The third ruler of Maurya dynasty, Ashoka, built monasteries, guest houses in this region. Gurgi (Golaki Math) was the biggest monastery during his time. Southern Bundelkhand was ruled by Ashoka, which is quite evident when one stays in Ujjain and Vidisha. The preceding rulers of Maurya dynasty however did not have a strong hold on the kingdom and hence lost it to the Shudgh dynasty.
Gupta Dynasty: Kalchuri Dynasty: Chandela dynasty
During the reign of Kshatriya Khangar rulers, Tikamgarh was made capital and they ruled from 1180 A.D. to 1347 A.D. Old fort of Kundar town famously known as Garh Kundra was built during this period. Soon Bundelas took over the whole kingdom.
During the 16th century, it became a part of the kingdom of Orchcha, ruled by the Bundeli chief Rudra Pratap who was the first king of Orchcha.
During the reign of Mughal remperor Jehangir, his ally Bir Singh Deo reined in this region (1605 - 1627) and Orchha reached to prosperity. Still many architectural works of that period depict that glory, like the Jahangir Mahal and Sawan Bhadon Mahal.
During early 17th century, Raja Juhar Singh rebelled against Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the mughal army occupied Orchha and ruled from 1635-1641. In 18th century, Orchha and Datia were the only states in Bundelkhand which were not subjugated by Marathas. In 1783, emperor Vikramjit (1776-1817), shifted the capital from Orchha to Tehri and renamed it Tikamgarh. The place was called Tehri, meaning triangle; as it comprised of three suburb clusters forming a triangle. Fort of Tikamgarh was constructed at Tehri and even the place was known by the name of Tikamgarh.
Chatrasal contributed greatly in claiming the freedom for Bundelkhand from Aurangzeb. Chatrasal took Kalin on his side. After the death of Aurangzeb, Bahadurgarh claimed the throne. Chatrasal and he got along quite well. Marathas were also gaining prominence during this time. Chatrasal was also a good poet; he used to encourage local artists. One of the regional poets Kavi Bhushan has writing these lines in the honor of the emperor:
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After the death of Chatrasal, Bundelkhan splitted into smaller kingdoms.
Raja Hamir Singh (r 1848-1874) attained a position of Maharaja in 1865. After his death Maharaja Pratap Singh succeeded the throne in 1874, he was a devoted emperor and did major developments of the state, he himself designed several irrigation systems. In 1901, his state area amounted to 2000 square meter, with the population of 52634. Pratap Singh's successor merged his state with Union of India on January 1, 1950. Then in 1950, the region was merged to Madhya Pradesh.
According to a legend, once Emperor Hemkaran tried slitting off his neck with a sword to sacrifice him in honor of Devi, but the goddess stopped him. Still the sword's sharp edge touched Hemkaran's neck and 5 drops of blood touched the ground. Because of this Hemkaran was known by the name of Pancham Bundela.
Tikamgarh was earlier called Tehri, meaning a triangle. This was because it comprised of three hamlets forming a rough triangle. The early history of Tikamgarh is not chronicled much, but the studies from the ruins in the city indicate the various dynasties which have ruled. Tikamgarh was part of vast empires, successively ruled by the Mauryas, the Sungas and the imperial Guptas. In the beginning of the 9th century A.D, Nanuk founded the Chandela dynasty here. Along with Khajuraho and Mahoba, Tikamgarh formed part of the extensive Chandela kingdom.
The Kshatriya Khangar rulers made Tikamgarh their capital, and ruled from 1180 A.D to 1347 A.D. They built the old fort of Kundar town, famously known as Garh Kundar. They were soon taken over by the Bundelas. During the 16th century, it became a part of the kingdom of Orchcha, ruled by the Bundeli chief Rudra Pratap who was the first king of Orchcha. In 1783, the ruler of Orchha Vikramajit (1776 to 1817) shifted his capital from Orchha to Tehri and renamed it Tikamgarh. Post independence, on 1st January 1950, the district was merged with the Indian Union. It became a part of the Vindhya Pradesh state. In 1956, it was merged to the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Tikamgarh lies to the northern part of Madhya Pradesh and the northwestern part of the Sagar district. The city lies 80 kms south of Jhansi and 40 kms north - east of Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh. The state capital Bhopal is 320 kms away. The city lies on the Bundelkhand plateau between tributaries of Betwa and Dhasan rivers. It has an average altitude of 337 meters above sea level.
By Air : The airports closest to Tikamgarh are Gwalior (201 kms) and Khajuraho (125 kms).
By Rail : The train from Jhansi goes to Tikamgarh via Lalitpur. The Lalitpur station is 55km from Tikamgarh. Another railhead is at Mauranipur at Jhansi, connecting the Delhi - Mumbai and Delhi - Jhansi mainlines.
By Road : Tikamgarh is well connected by both state and inter - state buses. The daily bus services connect the city to the neighboring cities like Orchcha, Lalitpur, Nagpur, Indore etc.
The city is flanked by rocky terrain and specked with many small lakes. The land slopes towards the south. The land is fertile and suitable for agriculture. The main crops grown here are Jowar, Wheat, Urad, Till, Soyabean and Sugarcane.
Tikamgarh faces extreme weather conditions. The summers, from March to mid June, have temperatures soaring up to 45 degrees Celsius. The winters, from December to February are cold with the lowest temperatures reaching 2 degrees Celsius. Monsoons, from July to September come with an average rainfall of 1000 mm.
The wind direction changes seasonally in Tikamgarh. The north - westerly winds set in during the winter months and the south - western winds during monsoon. Winds blow from west to east during the summer months.
Tikamgarh is equipped with basic infrastructure. It has hospitals (both govt. and private) as well as primary health centers. There are many schools in the city which provide education up to senior secondary level and a few colleges too. The city also holds many agro - based industries and small industries like wood work units, handloom weaving, pottery, brick making, utensil making and gold, silver and Lac ornaments making.
Water supply for domestic use and irrigation is derived from the river and ground-water resources.
Tikamgarh is known for its fort, palaces and old buildings. They are, however, in ruins and steps are being taken to conserve them. The monuments and ruins are surviving evidences of the various rules Tikamgarh was under. For example, the Garh Kudar is a famous fort built by the Khangars and later seized by the Bundelas. It houses a temple and a tank. The Umri temple is a 9th century temple of the Pratihara period.
The dwellings in Tikamgarh are of both the Kachcha and Pakka type. Brick wall constructions with flat roofs or asbestos coverings are commonly seen now-a-days. These are low rise buildings. The development of newer residential areas is seen along the northern parts of the city, towards the road leading to Niwadi, along the SH-10. The housing clusters are fragmented due to the existence of chunks of agricultural land.
Tikamgarh is steeped in Bundelkhand culture. Hindi and Bundeli are the locally spoken languages of Tikamgarh. People also speak Dravidian, Devanagari and Bharia languages. Hinduism and Jainism are the prominent religions here. There is a substantial Muslim population. All the major festivals like Eid, Holi, Diwali, Mahavir Jayanti, Ramzan etc. are celebrated together. The Jain Community also celebrates the 10 days Paryushan Parv. There are a few tribal festivals also, for example Madai, Bhagoria, Dusshera and Karma. A large number of people participate in the grand Bundeli Utsav held in Chhatarpur, where the local songs and dances are featured.
The commonly seen attire of the people of Tikamgarh are Sarees or Salwar Kameez, worn by women, and the men wear dhoti-kurta with or without turbans. The younger generations have moved onto pants and shirts or t-shirts.
There is also a considerable tribal population in Tikamgarh. The occupational structure shows that people are mostly engaged in service sectors and agricultural practices. They are either earning their livelihood through tourism or from services within or in the nearby cities like Jhansi, Gwalior etc. Others are engaged in handicrafts like lost - wax casting. The new generation is more interested in the tourism industry since it earns them more money in less time and also opens up possibilities of interaction with diverse people from across the world. It is also a source of income while not having to leave their native place.
Garh Kundar is the fort situated at a distance of around 22 kms from Tikamgarh, on the Niwari-Senderi road, on a hill. It was built by the Khangars and then seized by the Bundelas. The fort's administration has changed hands over the different rules, each one leaving behind certain elements.
Achroo Mata Temple is famous for its 'Kund' or well, which never dries up. During the Nav Durga festival every year, there is a fair organized here.
Baldeogarh is another fort situated on the Tikamgarh - Chhatarpur road at a distance of 26 kms from the city. The fort is situated about a beautiful tank called Gwal Sagar. It houses the temple of Vindhya Vasini Devi, which is famous for the annual seven - day fair in the month of Chaitra. The area around the fort is also known for its betel - leaf cultivation.
Tikamgarh is also famous for its lost-wax casting. Beautiful products are crafted out of this method, where the wax of the mould is melted out and replaced with bell metal.