Set in the very heart of India, Madhya Pradesh (which means ‘centre state’) fills one with an immense sense of the past, as it bears testimony to all the phases of Indian history. One can trace its glorious lineage through majestic monuments that tell tales of empires and kingdoms, kings and warriors, poets and philosophers. A land of natural grandeur, its vast plateau is broken up by the mighty Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges and streaked with the numerous rivers that flow through.
MP, as it is commonly known, also showcases the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces are some of the sights on display. Once the largest state in the country (before Chhattisgarh was carved out of it), here, size does matter; be it Asia’s biggest tiger reserve or the world’s largest chandeliers or the greatest collection of Neolithic rock shelters.
At the renowned, 10th century Khajuraho temples, the superb stone carvings portray every facet and mood of life, from the commonplace to the divine, from the erotic to the sublime. With miles and miles of dense forest, the state also has some of the finest game reserves on the continent (including Kanha and Bandhavgarh); stocking everything from big cats to exotic birds and bisons to antelopes.
The state capital, Bhopal, sprawls picturesquely around two artificial lakes, on gently rolling hills. In 2012, Madhya Pradesh was given the tourism award. The state possesses three World Heritage Sites, declared by UNESCO – the Khajuraho temples, the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi and the rock shelters of Bhimbekta. Besides the famed dance festival at Khajuraho, several others are also hosted each year.
State capital: Bhopal
Of tourist interest: Khajuraho temples, Kanha & Bandhavgarh sanctuaries, Buddhist stupas, Pachmarhi hill resort, Mandu fort, Bhimbekta rock shelters, Jai Vilas palace, Gwalior fort, Shaukat Mahal, Sadar Manzil, Taj-il-masjid, Moti Masjid, temples (Omkareshwar Mahakaleshwar, Kandariya Mahadeva, Lakshmana, Varaha, Chaturbhuj, Javari, Devi Jagadambi, Duladeo, Parvati, Vamana)
By air: linked by air
By rail: Bhopal lies on the Delhi-Chennai line
By road: well connected
Official website: www.mptourism.com