The heart of India
Few regions in India are as fascinating as Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India. Intersected by rivers and dotted with hills and lakes, the state has varied landscapes, each more beautiful than the other.
To the state's north are the famous Khajuraho temples, while eastern Madhya Pradesh has two of India's finest game sanctuaries, Bandhavgarh and Kanha. The scenic Malwa plateau in the southwest has the great Buddhist stupa of Sanchi and the romantic ghost-town of Mandu.
, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is a sprawling and historic city. It is also a convenient base for visiting the stupas and abandoned monasteries of Sanchi, one of the most important Buddhist sites in India. Other places of interest are the cave shrines of Udaigiri and the prehistoric cave paintings of Bhimbetka.
The other major city of Madhya Pradesh is , situated a few hours drive south of Bhopal. There are some old palaces worth visiting in Indore but the city is more important as a gateway to the fascinating hill city of and the nearby temple towns of and .
Northern Madhya Pradesh also has a wide variety of diverse attractions. Foremost among them is the hill-fort at . In addition to the immaculately restored palaces and ancient Hindu temples within the fort itself, the old town of Gwalior also boasts of the kitsch 19th century Jai Vilas Palace belonging to the local ruling family, the Scindias.
En route from Agra to Khajuraho, is the tiny village of . During the 16th and 17th centuries this was the capital of the Bundela dynasty who built a fort palace on a small island on a bend in the river, later followed by other magnificent fortifications, palaces and temples. The deserted medieval town is an architectural gem not to be missed.
, a tiny village in the north of Madhya Pradesh, is world renowned for its temples representing the finest art and architecture of medieval India. These temples were built in a short span of a hundred years between 950 to 1050 A.D. They have achieved most of their fame for the erotic sculptures.
In addition to its historic sites, Madhya Pradesh boasts the finest wildlife reserves on the subcontinent. The National Park is one of the best places in India to spot a tiger but it also has a wide range of other game such as nilgai, jungle cat, wild boar, hyenas and many species of birdlife.
National Park is another reserve where you have a good chance of sighting tigers. Amongst the other wildlife you may see leopards, Indian bison, sambhar, blackbuck and wild dogs. Kanha has also a rich variety of bird life with 230 species recorded. You can explore this fabulous sanctuary by jeep and on elephant back.