For some strange reason, we had no expectations at all from Madhya Pradesh. It was just one of the states that was on our list. But our very first MP visit to Bandhavgarh National Park created a lasting impression. We loved the greenery and the mild-mannered people. And when we checked our guidebooks and notes, we realized that the state housed 3 of India’s World Heritage sites, including the famed Khajuraho temples. So after the national park visit, we immediately set off to tour the rest of the state.
MP has 3 well-known national parks – Panna, Kanha and Bandhavgarh. Conservation efforts haven’t gone well in Panna, leading to a massive decline in tiger population. So we skipped it. Kanha was on our list, but when we were in the area, it was raining and very cold with heavy fog. In such conditions, it’s very difficult to spot any wildlife, especially in a large park like Kanha. So we had to skip it as well. Hopefully, we’ll get to visit it someday in the future.
We spent a total of 21 days in Madhya Pradesh, starting at Gwalior in the north and finishing with Mandu in the south-west. Here’s what we loved most about the state:
- Bandhavgarh National Park: This wildlife reserve is absolutely gorgeous! The landscape is beautiful and varied with grassy meadows, rocky hills and densely forested valleys. But the best feature is, no doubt, its population of regal tigers. Since the Tala range, where most safaris take place, is small, spotting tigers is relatively easy.
- Orccha’s cenotaphs: When we visited Orchha the weather was fantastic; cold with fog in the mornings and evenings. This gave the place a fantastic feel. And the almost-unreal monuments made it an absolute treasure-chest!
- Khajuraho’s temples: A lot has been written and said of the beauty of Khajuraho’s temples. And they are all true! This was one place where we didn’t mind getting templed-out.
- Mandu’s ruins: Mandu has more ruins in one place than anywhere else we’ve been to. Even the guidebooks haven’t been able to cover it completely! Locals said that it’s best to visit during the rains when the place is absolutely green or in winters when it’s cold and foggy (like in Orchha). But we loved it in the spring heat as well.
- The relative cleanliness: MP’s towns and cities are much cleaner than what we saw in Gujarat and UP. We ate quite regularly from street-side stalls and never had any issues. Even the railway platforms seemed (comparatively) cleaner.
- MPTDC: Whoever is running MP’s tourism dept seems to be quite effective. The hotels we stayed at were well-run and the monuments we visited, were quite well-maintained; we were impressed!
- And most importantly, the people: We loved speaking to the locals here. They were all genuinely warm-hearted and friendly! As a woman, especially, I found the men to be relatively more respectful; I never felt unsafe.
The only negative I can think of, is transportation. One would imagine that top tourist towns like Khajuraho, Bhopal, Indore, Mandu would have tons of transport options between them. But that’s not how it is. The main problem seems to be that the roadways connecting these towns are not fully developed yet. So hardly any (private) buses ply between them. Trains don’t have the best connections either. I guess this is one state where having our own car would have made traveling a little more comfortable.
Our MP route and related blogs: