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Madhya Pradesh is called the “Heart of India” because of its location in the centre of the country. It has been home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces are dotted all over the state.
The temples of Khajuraho are world-famous for their erotic sculptures, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gwalior is famous for its fort, Jai Vilas Palace, the Tomb of Rani Lakshmibai, Md. Ghaus & Tansen.
Madhya Pradesh is also known as Tiger State because of the tiger population. Famous national parks like Kanha National Park, Bandhavgadh, Madhav National Park, Shivpuri, Pench are located in Madhya Pradesh. Kuno Palpur national park is getting African cheetas and is expected to become only reserve having four species of big cats (lion, tiger, leopord and cheetah).
Spectacular mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles and miles of dense forests offering a unique and exciting panorama of wildlife in sylvan surroundings. Madhya pradesh is very much known for Narmada river, is the oldest known holiest and worshiped as a river goddess in Hindu religion. Narmada originates from Amarkantak, a wild reserve is known for its natural beauty, and it is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Another great tourist destination is Bhedaghat Falls in Jabalpur. The river Narmada takes the form of massive falls here. The place is surrounded by marble of various colours. The sight is a visual treat in itself. The prime attraction includes boating in the river with amusing commentary by the rower.
Places of attraction are,
1.Wildlife – Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park(website), Pench Tiger Reserve.
2.Heritage – Khajuraho Temple Group,Orchha, Bhimbetka Rock Shelters Caves.
3.Worship – UjjainUjjain,Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Maihar, Sanchi .
4.Water Bodies / Lakes/ Dams – Bhojtal “Upper Lake- Bhopal”, Gandhi Sagar Dam, Indirasagar Dam, Pipliyapala, Tawa Reservoir, Bhedaghat.
If you want proof that the Kama Sutra originated in India, Khajuraho is the place to see. Erotica abounds here with over 20 temples devoted to sexuality and sex. These sandstone temples, which date back to the 10th and 11th century, are the only ones remaining out of 85 temples constructed during this time.
There are 3 groups of temples — Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Kandariya Mahadeo Temple.The Eastern Group contains a number of exquisitely sculptured Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group.
Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh is best known for its spectacular setting, as well as having the highest concentration of tigers at any park in India. It’s relatively difficult to reach but it offers the best chance of seeing tigers in their natural habitat.The park features dense green valleys and rocky hill terrain, with an ancient fort built on 800 meter (2,624 foot) high cliffs. It’s a relatively small park, with an area of 105 square kilometers (65 square miles) that’s open to tourists.In addition to tigers, the park has a large array of wildlife including sloth bears, deers, leopards, jackals, and birds.
Kanha National Park has the honor of providing the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel, The Jungle Book. It’s rich in lush saal and bamboo forests, lakes, streams and open grasslands. The park is one of the largest national parks in India, with a core area of 940 square kilometers (584 square miles) and surrounding area of 1,005 square kilometers (625 square miles).
Kanha is well regarded for its research and conservation programs, and many endangered species have been saved there.As well as tigers, the park abounds with barasingha (swamp deer) and an extensive variety of other animals and birds. Rather than offering one particular kind of animal, it provides an all-round nature experience.
Ancient and imposing Gwalior Fort, one of the must see tourist places in Madhya Pradesh, has a very long and turbulent history.The Fort’s initial construction dates back as far as 525 AD. Over the years, it was subjected to many attacks and had many different rulers. It wasn’t until the reign of the Rajput Tomar dynasty that the Fort really rose to prominence, and was built to its current scale and grandeur.During this time, ruler Man Singh constructed one of the Fort’s main highlights, Man Mandir Palace, between 1486 and 1516. Its outer walls are distinctively decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks.Later on, the Mughals used the Fort as a prison during their rule.
There’s a lot to see inside the Fort. It’s spread over around three square kilometers (so it’s useful to have your own transport) and contains a number of historic monuments, Hindu and Jain temples, and palaces (one of which, the Gujari Mahal, has been converted into an Archeological Museum).The Fort’s most dramatic entrance, known as Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate), is on the eastern side and leads into Man Mandir palace. However, it’s only accessible on foot and requires a steep climb through a series of other gates. The western gate, Urvai Gate, is conveniently reachable by vehicle, although it’s nowhere near as impressive. There are some intricate Jain sculptures cut into the rock on the way up though, which shouldn’t be missed.
During this time, ruler Man Singh constructed one of the Fort’s main highlights, Man Mandir Palace, between 1486 and 1516. Its outer walls are distinctively decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks.Later on, the Mughals used the Fort as a prison during their rule.
There’s a lot to see inside the Fort. It’s spread over around three square kilometers (so it’s useful to have your own transport) and contains a number of historic monuments, Hindu and Jain temples, and palaces (one of which, the Gujari Mahal, has been converted into an Archeological Museum).
The Fort’s most dramatic entrance, known as Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate), is on the eastern side and leads into Man Mandir palace. However, it’s only accessible on foot and requires a steep climb through a series of other gates. The western gate, Urvai Gate, is conveniently reachable by vehicle, although it’s nowhere near as impressive. There are some intricate Jain sculptures cut into the rock on the way up though, which shouldn’t be missed.
Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain
The Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain, in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, is an important pilgramage place for Hindus as it’s said to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingams (most sacred abodes of Shiva). It’s also regarded as one of the top 10 Tantra temples of India, and has the only Bhasm-Aarti (ash ritual) of its kind in the world. However, does it live up to its hype? Sujata Mukherjee tells us about her experience at the Mahakaleshwar temple.The first thing you hear when you tell locals that you’re planning to visit the Mahakaleshwar temple is that you must ensure you attend the “Bhasm-Aarti”. The Bhasm-Aarti is the first ritual conducted everyday at the temple, which is to wake the God Shiva up, perform “Shringar” (anoint and enrobe him for the day) and offer the first aarti (an offering of fire to the deity by circulating lamps, incense and other items). The unique thing about this aarti is, however, the inclusion of “Bhasm” or ash from funeral pyres as one of the offerings. Mahakaleshwar is a name for the God Shiva, and means the god of Time or Death. This may be one of the reasons of the inclusion of the funeral ash. You will be assured that this aarti is something that you shouldn’t miss, and that until fresh ash is not brought in the aarti cannot start.
Omkareshwar, an island in the Narmada river, is said to appear like the symbol “Om” when viewed from above. It’s another of the 12 Jyotirlingam sites, and this, added to the presence of the Holy Narmada, draws generations of devout pilgrims. It’s popular with travelers too, as a place to chill out.