Madhya Pradesh Destinations:-

Due to its location, in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh means ‘middle land’ and despite its size, it remains relatively untrodden by tourists. Prime forests cover vast swathes of land, but there are plenty of reasons to visit. Go now, as this is likely to be the next ‘hot’ destination in India.

Top of the list should be the temples of Khajuraho – some of the finest temple art in the world, the next must-visit site is Penchtiger parkwhich offers good chances of spotting an elusive tiger while Gwalior has a majestic hill-top fort and the famous Jai Vilas Palace.

Quirky fact: the local (potent) tipple here is sourced from the flowers of the mahuwa tree – only brave souls have more than a sip.

Bandhavgarh National Park

One of the three better known national parks of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh is relatively small,  with just  450 square kilometres of mixed forest.  However it does have a high very density of tigers amongst other wildlife which includes, sloth bear, leopard and wild dog, making this one of the more popular parks as sightings tend to be very good.  It connects with Panna National Park/Khajuraho (approx. 5 hours) and Kanha National Park (6 hours).  Bandhavgarh is also distinctive due to the fort located within the park and it is possible to arrange walks up to see the monuments.

Due to the increasing regulations for the parks in Madhya Pradesh, numbers of jeeps are restricted and must be booked as far in advance as possible (full passport details required) in order to guarantee them.  Park opening dates are from 16th October to 30th June (though temperatures are very hot from April onwards) and they are also closed on Wednesday afternoons.


The city of Bhopal is said to have been founded by King Bhoj, (1000-1005 AD), on the Malwa Plateau in Central India. It is also famous for having had women rulers, the Begums of Bhopal who built and developed the Old City.  Not many people take time out to visit Bhopal which is a shame as a walking tour around its old city provides a fascinating insight into these woman rulers together with its Muslim and French influences from the past.  The City also houses the Museum of Man, probably the only one of its kind in the world. It is a post-colonial museum which studies communities rather than objects.

Bhopal is also a good base from which to explore two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Sanchi and Bhimbetka.  Sanchi houses a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries) all in different states of conservation most of which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India until the 12th century A.D. The Bhimbetka Caves are famous for their ancient cave paintings which exhibit the earliest signs of human life on the Indian subcontinent.  A two night stay at the Reni Pani Jungle retreat or Jeehan Numa Palace hotel gives plenty of opportunity to explore what Bhopal has to offer and it is a great stopping off point between our two favourite places in Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwar and Satpura.


Bhoramdeo is situated in the rural heartland of central India, home to indigenous tribes and a rich wildlife offering a very rustic, rural and real insite into this beautiful region. Close byis the 7th – 11th century Bhoramdeo temple complex with beautiful carvings and a lotus filled lake that draws worshippers for morning and evening puja when the air is filled with the smell of incense and the sound of chanting. The hills beyond are home to a rich bird life and guided walks from the lodge offering sightings of the paradise flycatcher, scarlet minivet, collared scops owl, golden oriel and red crested pochard among others. Wildlife species that have been observed in the area include the wolf, nilgai, dhole, hyena, leopard, porcupine, jungle cat – and even tigers. Accommodation is in simple but airy, comfortable traditionally built rooms, with ensuite bathrooms and shady verandas overlooking the garden


Situated at the northern tip of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior is a busy town which is dominated by a thousand-year-old sandstone fort which sits majestically high on the cliffs above. Within the walls of this magnificent structure are palaces, temples, gateways and water tanks which help to bring alive the stories you will hear of its fascinating and turbulent history. It is easy to spend half a day exploring the fort whilst listening to its stories from ancient times. For a different perspective, you can also revisit in the evening when it is illuminated by a son-et-lumière show.  After the fort, visit the Muslim Old Town at the bottom of the cliffs which has a fine mosque, the 16th-century Mughal Tomb of Ghaus Mohammed with beautiful pierced stone screens (jaalis).  We also recommend a visit to the outrageously over-the-top (and still part-occupied) Jai Vilas Palace, with its Scindia museum.  The palace was stocked with antiques and furniture imported from Europe in the mid 19th-century. It is famous, amongst other exhibits, for having the largest pair of crystal chandeliers in the world and a solid silver, working train built to travel around the dining table to carry condiments.

Kanha National Park

One of the three better known parks of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park (it’s the one in the middle!) and connects well with Bandhavgarh (6 hour drive) and Pench (5 hour drive).  Kanha is one of the larger parks and is made up of sal forest and open grasslands or maidans. It is difficult to capture the beauty of the park in a few sentences and a visit here is highly recommended. It is the only park in India to have Bharasingha or swamp deer which have been brought back from near extinction.  There is also a healthy tiger population and, harder to see are its leopard and sloth bear.  Recently devised to enhance the safari experience and also to benefit the local community, are half day to 3 night cycling trips, through the villages in the buffer zone and camping out in the villages overnight.  The accommodation is simple but provides one with a unique insight into tribal communities and village life around the park. Must be booked with at least three weeks’ notice.

Due to the increasing regulations for the parks in Madhya Pradesh, numbers of jeeps are restricted and must be booked as far in advance as possible (full passport details required) in order to guarantee them.  Park opening dates are from 16th October to 30th June (though temperatures are very hot from April onwards) and they are also closed on Wednesday afternoons.


Khajuraho is predominantly known for its temples which are widely acknowledged as having some of the most exquisite temple art in the world.  They are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and are considered among the seven wonders of India.

The artwork is beautiful and executed with a lack of inhibition that is rarely to be found in modern India and although these erotic sculptures have, in modern times, given these temples their fame, they are so much more.  The Western Group of temples, in particular, contain some extraordinary sculptures. Exclusively carved out of sandstone, many of the carvings vividly depict couples in courtship, royal scenes, battles, marriage, meditation, and other daily life rituals as well as sexual intercourse. The intricacy of the tantric poses beg appreciation and offer a unique history lesson about the way of life in ancient India. One of the most striking aspects, perhaps, is how the women are skilfully and beautifully defined–strong, voluptuous, and idealistic.

In February/March, the Western Group of temples becomes the stage for the weeklong Festival of Dance.


Maheshwar, located in south western Madhya Pradesh, must be one of the most atmospheric and magical villages in India. The fort and many-tiered temples situated on the banks of the sacred Narmada River are stunning.  Views from the fort extend for miles over the impressively wide water course and the endless plains beyond. A walk through the fort and temples down to the river takes you down to the ghats, akin to the French ‘quai’. The temples along the ghats are dedicated to the avatars of Lord Shiva, and people of all faiths are welcome to enter any of the temples in Maheshwar, and participate in age-old rituals. Early morning and late evening are the best times to witness the ways of life and rituals of this ancient culture and not forgetting the daily sunsets which are invariably spectacular.

Arrange a late afternoon boat ride to the Baneshwar Temple in the middle of the river. Ancient texts tell that this is the centre of the Universe, the axis that connects the earth with the polar star. The river is calm and peaceful, except during the monsoon. Also worth visiting are the nearby destinations of the island temple of Omkareshwar and the deserted city of Mandu.


Like something straight out of an Indiana Jones film, this sleepy village has much to show of its glorious past. Once a thriving city and the capital of the Bundhela kingdom from 1531 to 1783, Orchha is now a small village located amongst huge crumbling temples and palaces which rise out of the surrounding jungle and overlook the undulating hills and the wide boulder-strewn Betwa River.  It really is quite extraordinary. Explore some of the many temples and palaces spread along the river and surrounding countryside, including the town’s imposing 17th century fort and palace on an island reached by a causeway, the Chaturbhuj Temple built on a vast platform of stone, and the numerous cenotaphs that dot the landscape.

We also recommend a visit to Tarragram, a unique paper making plant, set up to assist tribal women from the area. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp.  Also make time for the puja ceremony between 7pm and 8pm – at the Ram Raja Temple.


A virtually undiscovered gem and one of Indian wildlife’s success stories. All the tigers were poached from this park leaving it with none, however, due to a successful relocation project, the park now has a population in the region of 30.  The park is also adjacent to the Ken River and therefore also offers wonderful birdlife and the opportunity for boating safaris. Being close to Khajuraho it is possible to combine a cultural visit to the temples with a wonderful wildlife experience. All National Parks in MP remain closed on a Wednesday afternoon.

Pench National Park

The area that  is now Pench National Park was the main region of jungle which inspired Kipling’s jungle book and has also been featured in the BBC series,  ‘Tiger-Spy  in The Jungle’.

One of the three better known parks of Madhya Pradesh, Pench Tiger Reserve connects well with Kanha National Park (5 hour drive) and is just two hours from Nagpur, though this does mean that it gets very busy on weekends with local tourists.   Pench is relatively small, a core area of 229 square kilometres in a total area of 750 km of sal and teak forest which makes it a different visual experience from the neighbouring Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks.   It is also a lush forest with many water bodies and it has the highest concentration of herbivores of any of the parks. There is a healthy tiger population here and the beautiful Indian wild dogs are also often sighted. However, what we are particularly excited about is the newly opened Jamtara Lodge. This is located on the northern edge of the park in an area where there are no other lodges, making it a unique Indian wildlife experience.  They have also introduced the African concept of ‘star beds’ enabling you to sleep out under the stars and wake up to the sounds of the jungle, priceless!

Due to the increasing regulations for the parks in Madhya Pradesh, numbers of jeeps are restricted and must be booked as far in advance as possible (full passport details required) in order to guarantee them.  Park opening dates are from 16th October to 30th June (though temperatures are very hot from April onwards) and they are also closed on Wednesday afternoons.


Sanchi, A UNESCO world heritage site, just an hours’ drive from Bhopal is one of the most extensive and well-kept Buddhist sites in India. Built in the 2nd century it is dominated by the Great Stupa and its four magnificent and intricately carved gateways, and within the enclosure are several further monasteries to be explored. Further north from Sanchi lies Udaygiri, home to the beautiful 5th century AD rock cut caves carved into the hillside.

Satpura National Park

Satpura is a wonderful park in Madhya Pradesh. Until five years ago it remained virtually unknown and even now has only three lodges. A wildlife experience here is like going back to Kanha and Bandhavgarh twenty years ago.  The main park is surrounded on three sides by water which has protected its forest from being decimated by the villagers, ensuring that its woodland and therefore the wildlife of the area has remained pristine.

Being that the villagers live at one with the forest and that there are few lodges here, the buffer zone is also healthy and houses a wide variety of animals, it is not uncommon for leopard and wild dog to be seen at the edge of the lodge grounds. Now that the naturalists are getting to know the park and the animal territories a lot better, tiger sightings are definitely improving but wild dog, leopard and bear sightings are wonderful. It is also the only park in India where canoeing, boating and elephant safaris are possible as well as walking safaris through the core area. It is also possible to enjoy a 2 night 3 day trek through the buffer zone of the forest to the old hill station of Pachmarhi. This is an excellent way to be at one with nature in an unspoilt forest and to experience India’s varied bird life.