Madhya Pradesh is well known for its traditions, monuments and wildlife. Located at the center of the country, this landlocked state is popularly called the Heart of India. Commonly known by its initials, M.P. has cities like Gwalior, Ujjain, Bhopal and Jabalpur that are soaked in their glorious pasts and are included in the top travel destinations in India. While planning your travel to Madhya Pradesh, you can see some of the best sightseeing attractions in India, like the Khajuraho Temples, Sanchi Stupa, Bhimbhetka Rock Shelters and the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Forest. You can find peaceful pleasure in the hill station of Pachmarhi in the Satpura Mountains, and feel the energy in the Jawara tribal dance of Bundelkhand. Whether you are bird watching or walking among 300 years old musical instruments, Madhya Pradesh offers varied experiences to tourists from all parts of the country and the world. Know more about the state in the Madhya Pradesh Travel Guide.
Best Time to Visit Madhya Pradesh: October to March
How to Reach Madhya Pradesh
By Air: Madhya Pradesh has domestic airports in major tourist destinations – Gwalior, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Khajuraho. Flights of all major public and private airlines fly from cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hyderabad. Airports in Indore and Bhopal also operate flights for Haj pilgrims. Here is a list of the important airports in Madhya Pradesh:
By Rail: The best way to travel to Madhya Pradesh is by boarding a train from anywhere in India to one of the 623 railway stations in the state. Here are the important railway stations and their location:
By Road: Being located in the heart of the country many of the national highways in India go through Madhya Pradesh. This makes the state well connected with all parts of the country. Major national highways connecting Madhya Pradesh are NH – 3, 7, 12, 12A, 25, 26, 26A, 27, 59, 59A, 69, 75, 76, 78, 79, 86, 86A, 92.
Offering several reasons for exploration, Madhya Pradesh attracts local and global travelers all year round. Historically famous destinations of Khajuraho, Bhopal, Ujjain, Gwalior and Jabalpur boost Madhya Pradesh tourism. Wildlife enthusiasts can visit the forests of Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna and Orchha. Panchmarhi, a famous hill station makes travel to Madhya Pradesh in the summer season a treat. Amarkantak, Sanchi, Omkareshwar and Shivpuri sees thousands of pilgrims visit the religious sites. Along with these places, the natural beauty of several other tourist destinations in Madhya Pradesh like Chitrakoot, Pench and Bhedaghat offer experiences worth a lifetime.
Like most parts of India, Madhya Pradesh also has its fair share of palaces, forts, mosques and temples with historical significance. These heritage buildings are some of the most visited sightseeing attractions in Madhya Pradesh. The Rajwada and the Lalbagh Palace in Indore, Sheesh Mahal in Orchha, Hindola and Jal Mahal in Mandu, Bandhavgarh Fort in Bandhavgarh, and Dhar Fort in Indore are some of the popular palaces and forts in Madhya Pradesh. Other well known monuments include:
Showcasing the rich heritage of Madhya Pradesh, major tourist destinations have museums in the fields of art, history, archeology and anthropology. The museums in Madhya Pradesh that are worth a visit include:
Madhya Pradesh has a forest spread of about 77,700 sq km, which is the largest among all the states in the country (according to the Forest Survey of India Report for year 2011). The state has about 9 National Parks and 25 animal, reptile and bird sanctuaries that conserve some of the endemic and endangered wildlife species like Tiger, Chital deer, Sambhar deer, Barasingha, Black Buck, River Dolphin, Paradise Flycatcher, Gharial, Smooth Coated Otter and the Great Indian Bustard. Here are some of the popular National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh:
The dynamic cultural scene of Madhya Pradesh complemented by the fairs and festivals held in various parts of the state. These vibrant ‘utsav’ or celebrations are ideal occasions to experience the rich traditions followed by the people of the state. Here are some of the popular fairs and festivals of Madhya Pradesh:
Khajuraho Dance Festival – This festival is a treat for every dance enthusiast in the world. Khajuraho Dance Festival features traditional dance performances by some of the top dancers in the country and the world against the backdrop of the Khajuraho Temples. This Dance Festival is held every year during the month of February or March.
Bhaghoria Haat – Held about 8 days before Holi (an Indian festival of color in March), in the West Nimar and Jhabua districts, Bhagoria Haat features a harvesting as well as marriage festival. It acts as a platform to get boys and girls together and allow them to choose their life partner themselves, after which they elope from the venue (Bhag in Hindi means to run).
Tansen Musical Festival – Organized by the state’s Department of Culture, Tansen Musical Festival is one of the most prestigious festivals in the field of classical music. It is held in Gwalior in the month of December annually to remember Tansen, one of the best musicians of all times. Several Indian and international musicians participate in this 5 day long festival.
Nimar Utsav – This 3 day long festival is held in the small town of Maheshwar during Kartik Purnima (October or November). You can enjoy folk music, dance and drama. As this festival is organized on the banks of the Narmada River, you can also enjoy boat rides.
The history of Madhya Pradesh begins in the prehistoric period. The earliest evidence of human life in India is found in the Bhimbhetka rock shelters. Through the years, the area that is now Madhya Pradesh saw the rise and fall of several empires from both South and North India like the Mauryas, Satvahanas, Chandelas and Guptas. Ujjain, Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior were important cities. In addition, giant and impressive monuments were built like the Khajuraho temples in the Bundelkhand area. When British landed in India and began expanding their control over the country, they brought all the princely states in the region under their domination through annexation and alliances. After India attained independence, all the princely states were combined to form the largest state in the country with Bhopal of the administrative capital. In the year 2000, the eastern part of the state was divided and this led to the formation of Chhattisgarh.