Madhya Pradesh: The heart of India!

Madhya Pradesh is my native state, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is Bhopal and largest city is Indore. The Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, corresponds to ancient Indian Mahajanpada of Avanti with its capital at Ujjain.

Reasons to visit

1. Evolution of mankind

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

These cave paintings date back to approx. 30000 years. Bhimbetka is located about 45 km from Bhopal. These shelters are UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka provide rare glimpses into human settlements and cultural evolution.

A human being hunted by a horned boar
A possible depiction of a tiger

2. Ancient architecture

Monuments of Khajuraho

These are a group of Hindu and Jain temples in the city of Chhatarpur. These temples are UNESCO World Heritage Site. A sound and light show is held here every evening. Khajuraho Dance Festival is organized in February month.

Vishwanath Temple (Image credit: incredibleindia.org)
Parshvanath Temple (Image credit: incredibleindia.org)

Orchha

This historic town on the banks of Betwa river was established by the first king of Orchha – Rudra Pratap Singh. The Betwa river splits here into seven streams. The monuments here include temples, chhatris and palaces.

Chhatris of Orchha (Image credit: mptourism.com)
Ram Raja Temple (Image credit: mptourism.com)
Laxmi Narayan Temple (Image credit: mptourism.com)

Bhojeshwar Temple

Designated as a monument of national importance by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). This temple site is located in the Bhojpur village – close to Bhimbetka. This incomplete Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The construction of this temple dates back to the 11th century AD.

Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple

3. Fix your date with the Shere Khan

Madhya Pradesh has 10 national parks and an abundant wildlife. Madhya Pradesh offers best chance of seeing a tiger in its full glory in the natural habitat. Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Satpura and Pench National Parks are managed as Project Tiger areas. The Barahsinga is a hallmark of Kanha. The other animals that can be seen are leopards, bison, wild boar, sloth bears, and spotted deers. Jungle safaris when operational are in huge demand. It is always a good idea to book your safari first. The national parks remain closed for monsoon from June to October. The summers are a better time for sighting of the wild animals as they tend to converge towards to water sources to beat the heat.

Video of a close encounter with a tiger and a leopard from an open vehicle
An encounter with a tiger in an open Jeep (Kanha National Park)
Matted wood owl (Kanha National Park)

4. Food

Madhya Pradesh has vibrant cuisine that has regional and interstate influences. The region of Malwa is an agricultural area with abundance of dairy products as well. The cuisine around Bhopal is influenced by Mughlai style of cooking. Some of the must try food items if you are in Madhya Pradesh

  • Poha and Jalebi: Poha is made with flattened rice and cooked with onions, potatoes, green chilies, coriander and curry leaves. Jalebi is a sweet made by deep frying maida batter in circular shape and then soaking in sugar syrup.
  • Seekh Kebab: Best of kebabs and mughlai food in Bhopal.
  • Dal Bafla: Influenced by dal baati of Rajasthan – baflas are wheat balls cooked on charcoal fire, dipped in ghee (clarified butter) and then eaten with spicy dal (lentils) and pickles.
  • Bhutte ka Kees: Best of Indore and street food. Bhutte ka Kees is made by grating corn kernels and then cooking them with spices and green chilies.
  • Dahi vada: Dahi vada is a type of chat. Must be tried at Joshi Dahi Bada House, in Sarafa Bazar, Indore.
  • Hot Dog: Must try the veg / non-veg variety of hot dog / omelette at Johny Hot Dog, Chhappan Dukan in Indore.
  • Shahi Shikanji: This is drink made from milk and sugar and sprinkled with dry fruits. It is served chilled.
Shahi Shikanji (Photo Credit: zaykarecipes.com/)

5. Spirituality

  • Ujjain: The spiritual capital of the state. The major attraction in Ujjain is the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga. World’s largest religious gathering of Simhastha Kubha Mela is held on the banks of the Shipra river every 12 years.
  • Omkareshwar: Located on the banks of the Narmada river, Omkareshwar is one of the Jyotirlingas. It is about 80 km from Indore.
  • Amarkantak: A Hindu pilgrimage center. It is meeting point of Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges. Amarkantak is surrounded by dense forest with a rich variety of plants with medicinal value. Amarkantak is significant from ecological perspective as well. This is the origin point of rivers Narmada and Son.
  • Maheshwar: This town located on the banks of the Narmada river has a number of temples. It is a center of handloom weaving and Maheshwari sarees and fabric are famous.
  • Jabalpur and Muktagiri: Pisanhari ki Madiya is a Digambar Jain temple in Jabalpur, believed to be 500 years old. The Jain temples of Muktagiri or Mendhagiri are located on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and are a pilgrimage center for Jainism. These temples are believed to be built in 13 – 14th century. A collection of 52 temples.
  • Bhopal: A number of beautiful mosques in India. Taj-ul-Masajid, Moti Masjid, and Jama Masjid are the well known ones. Visiting during Ramzan, helps one to understand the religious significance of the festival.
The Narmada Temple, Amarkantak
Origin of the Narmada River, Amarkantak
Dense forest of Amarkantak
Pisanhari ki Madiya, Jabalpur
Jain Temple, Muktagiri
Jain Temples, Muktagiri

6. Festivals

  • Jal Mahotsav: An 8 day long festival of food, nature art and adventure. Held at Hanuwantiya Tapu (island). Good to enjoy retreating backwaters at the largest reservoir of Indira Sagar Dam, in the Khandwa district.
  • Khajuraho Dance Festival: Held every year at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Khajuraho.
  • Tansen Samaroh: 5 day festival of music is celebrated in the city of Gwalior every year in the month of December. This festival pays tributes to Indian musical maestro Tansen (born Ramtanu Misra).
  • Lokrang Samaroh: This festival is celebrated over 5 days in the capital city of Bhopal. It celebrates the tribal and folk traditions with exhibitions of art and dance, performing arts and classical dances.

7. Natural beauty

  • Pachmarhi: This hill station is popularly known as the Queen of Satpura. The elevation of Pachmarhi is 1100 m.
  • Bargi Dam: This serene place is located 40 km from the city of Jabalpur. Basically a dam and it’s reservoir on the Narmada river, this place provides you solitude and isolation.
  • Bhedaghat: Location of Dhuandhar waterfall on the Narmada river, a 98 ft. drop. A unique experience to see natural marble rocks on the banks of the Narmada river. The colors of the rock vary. A boat ride on a full moon night makes the experience and the aura magical.
  • Lakes in Bhopal: The city of Bhopal is called “City of Lakes” as it has a number of lakes.
Dhuandhar Waterfall, Bhedaghat, Jabalpur
Marble rocks, Bhedaghat, Jabalpur
Marble rocks, Bhedaghat, Jabalpur
Sunset on the Narmada at Bargi Dam
Lower Lake, Bhopal

8. Activities / Water sports

  • Watersports: At Hanuwantiya, Khandwa and Bargi Dam near Jabalpur. Some of the activities that can be tried are speed boat, motor boat, jet ski and a cruise in the Narmada river. Another location where some of these can be tried is Boat Club, Bhopal.
  • Camping: Multiple sites are available close to Bhopal, Indore, Hanuwantiya, Pachmarhi and Jabalpur
  • River rafting: At Orchha on the Betwa river.
Jet Ski at Bargi Dam

9. Motorcycle riding

  • Several people undertake Mumbai – Indore motorcycle ride on the Agra – Mumbai National Highway.
  • Many options can be considered within the state
    • Indore – Omkareshwar – Mandu -Maheshwar – Ujjain – Indore
    • Orchha – Khajuraho – Panna National Park
    • Bhopal – Jabalpur – Kanha National Park – Pachmarhi – Bhopal
    • Jabalpur – Amarkantak – Jabalpur can also be considered

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