Madhya Pradesh – Overview
Madhya Pradesh, the geographical heartland of India, was once the biggest state of the country by area. The state got its current shape on 1st November 2000, following its bifurcation to create the new state of Chhattisgarh. Due to its location in the centre of India, Madhya Pradesh has faced the historic currents from all arounf – north, south, east and west. Experts believe that Madhya Pradesh occupies the oldest part of the Indian subcontinent and is also one of the earliest dwellings of human beings.
Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by five Indian states, to the north by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to the south by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, to the west by Rajasthan and Gujarat. The state with a population of 60,385,118 covers an area of 308,144 sq. kms. Majority of the population is contributed by Hindus (90%), Muslims are around 6% and rest are Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Hindi is the main language of the state, apart from it, several other regional languages are spoken.
Madhya Pradesh is bestowed with natural jewels like rich and diverse forest areas, a number of nature preserves including Bagh Caves, Chambal and Panchmarhi, wildlife sanctuaries and parks like the world famous Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park and rivers including Narmada, Sone, Tapti, Chambal, Mahanadi, Betwa, Indrawati and Shipra.
Apart from these, Madhya Pradesh is home to several magnificent forts, palaces and monuments which are known for their architecture or scenic beauty. Moreover, three ancient sites in the state have been designated as UNSECO World Heritage sites such as the Khajuraho Group of Temples, Buddhist Stupas at Sanchi and the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.
Madhya Pradesh – History
Madhya Pradesh has an old history which dates back to pre-Christ era, to the time of Ashoka, the great Buddhist emperor whose Mauryan empire was powerful in Malwa. The Mauryas were followed by the Sungas who were replaced by the Guptas. In the 4th century A.D, the Guptas came to Madhya Pradesh and the emergence of golden era of Indian history took place. With the decline of power, the Guptas lost the kingdom to Huns. In the first half of the 7th century, Harshvardhan ruled over Madhya Pradesh.
In the 9th century, the Chandelas came into power who left behind hundreds of unparalleled temples and monuments at Khajuraho. In the 10th century during the Chandela regime, several small kingdoms also came into existence namely – the Kachhwaha in Gwalior, Kalchuri in Narmada Valley and Parmar kings throughout the west. After the fall of Chandelas the Pratihara and Gaharwar Rajput dynasties occupied the kingdom. Parmars are remembered for Raja Bhoj, who gave his name to the city of Bhopal.
Further, the historical scenario underwent continuous changes as the invaders attacked Madhya Pradesh again and again. A series of war were fought between the Hindu kings and Muslim rulers. In the 11th century, Gwalior and its surrounding areas went under Muslim control and in the 13th century Malwa was captured by the Khiljis. In the middle of the 16th century, Mughal Emperor Akbar took over the control of this region.
With the decline of the Mughals, the Marathas came into power. During their rule, the Marathas extended their empire from Chambal to Narmada, by guerrilla warfare under the supervision of great warrior Shivaji. But after the death of Scindia Madhoji of Gwalior, Maratha empire broke into places and various independent states came into being.
Next, the Marathas were replaced by the British in 1817-18, who took control of the Sangor Nerbudda. The British expanded their area in 1860 and created the Central Province, with their central office at Nagpur and summer office at Panchmarhi. In post-independent India, Barer was added with British Central Province. The independent states of the British era were also merged with the Central Province and renamed as Madhya Pradesh on 1st November, 1956.
Madhya Pradesh – Tourist Destinations
Blessed with pristine natural beauty, Madhya Pradesh offers several awesome surprises like the picturesque mountain ranges, meandering rivers and lakes, wildlife sanctuaries and endless miles of dense forests. In addition, the exquisite forts, palaces and monuments still narrates the tales of their glorious past. Madhya Pradesh, the cultural and religious hub of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Jainism, boasts of a rich folk culture, holy pilgrimage centers and interesting tribal traditions. The colourful people of the state celebrate several fairs and festival with a riot of colour and song. Some of the famous tourist destinations of Madhya Pradesh include Bhopal, Gwalior, Khajuraho,Indore,Orchha, and Jabalpur.
Madhya Pradesh – Temples
Madhya Pradesh is renowned for its temple art and architecture and the temples in the state deserve a visit. Even today, after several years of their construction, the temples of Madhya Pradesh will not fail to amaze you with their picturesque beauty and charm. Khajuraho Temples are excellent example of outstanding human creativity in the form of sculptures. Apart from Khajuraho temples, Madhya Pradesh has several other temples namely – Omkareshwar Temple, Neelkanteswara Temple, Mahakaleshwar Temple, Orcha Temple, Sanchi Stupas, Teli Ka Mandir, Satianusuya Temple, Badeganeshji Ka Mandir, Deogarh Temple and Bhojeshwar Temple.
Madhya Pradesh – Forts & Monuments
In olden days, Madhya Pradesh was ruled by several rulers, who built a number of forts as a part of defence mechanism to keep their enemy at bay. Now, those rulers are no more, but we can still see several forts in different cities and towns of Madhya Pradesh. Each fort is unique in its architecture and offers its own distinctive charm. Most of the forts in Madhya Pradesh have magnificent temples and monuments. Some of the popular forts and monuments are Gwalior Fort, Bandhavgarh Fort, Chanderi Fort, Madan Mohan Fort, Sanchi Stupas, Khajuraho Temples, Jehangir Mahal, Jahaz Mahal, Hathi Mahal, Dil Ka Mahal, Raj Mahal, Hindola Mahal, Man Mandir Palace, Jai Vilas Palace, Lal Baag Palace and George Castle.
Madhya Pradesh – Wildlife
With one-third of its land area covered with forests, Madhya Pradesh offers a unique and wonderful panaroma of wildlife. Madhya Pradesh has 9 National Parks and 25 Wildlife Sanctuaries, spread over an area of 10,862 sq. kms. In this true haven for wildlife, you can see more than hundred bird species and wild animals like the Tigers, Spotted Deer, Barasingha, Sloth bear, Blue-Bull and Gaur roaming freely. Kanha National Park was one of India’s first nine Protected Areas selected under Project Tiger. Apart from Kanha, Madhya Pradesh has other four Project Tiger areas namely – Panna, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Satpura. Most popular wildlife parks are Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park.
Madhya Pradesh – Resorts
Of course, the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho, lure millions of tourists to Madhya Pradesh from across the world, but the state is also known for many other attractions. For the tourists visiting the state, Madhya Pradesh offers plenty of resorts which provide world class facilities to guests. Prominent resorts of Madhya Pradesh are Tiger’s Den Resort, Tiger Trail’s Safari Lodge, Nature Heritage Resort, Ken River Lodge, Lawania Jungle Resort and Jass Trident Hotel.
Madhya Pradesh – Arts & Culture
Because of its central location, Madhya Pradesh has derived the cultural elements from different parts of the country. Boasting of a rich art and cultural heritage, Madhya Pradesh offers a unique charm which attracts the attention of visitors. In this beautiful land of contrasting variety, arts and crafts provide a fine glimpse of master craftsmanship. Handicraft items like delicately woven silk or cotton blended sarees, block printed fabrics, stuffed leather toys, folk paintings, woodcraft, stonecraft, ironcraft, metalcraft, terra-cotta, pappier mache, gold thread embroidery, ornaments etc. are enough to sweep you off your feet in Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh is home to around 40% of India’s aboriginal tribes, like the Bhils, the Baigas, the Maria and the Murias. Culturally, Madhya Pradesh is India’s one of the most happening places, where a stage play, a dance festival or a poetry recital always keeps on happening.
Madhya Pradesh – Cuisine
Madhya Pradesh is not confined to a particular type of cuisine, in fact, the cuisine in the state varies from region to region. The southern and eastern parts are rice and fish dominated, while the people in north and west like wheat and meat based cuisine. Milk and milk-based preparations are more commonly used in Gwalior and Indore. Apart from these, the people of Madhya Pradesh are also fond of sweets and namkeens. Some of the specialties which will pamper your taste-buds include Kusli, Lassi (Buttermilk), Lavang Lata, Cashew Barfi, Jalebi, Khurma, Shikanji, Sabudana ki Khichadi, Moong Dal Ka Halwa and meat products like spicy Rogan Josh, Korma, Keema, Biryani and Kababs.
Madhya Pradesh -Fairs & Festivals
Almost all the religious festivals of the Hindus, Muslims and other religions are celebrated in Madhya Pradesh with great enthusiasm. Apart from these, the tribal fairs and festivals of Madhya Pradesh are major attraction. Tribal fairs and festivals are a celebration of the ethnic lifestyles of the colurful tribes of the state. Among the tribal festivals, the Jhabua festival is marked by interesting revelry, drinking bouts and exhilarating entertainment like cock-fighting, dancing, music etc. In addition to tribal festivals, cultural festivals are also celebrated in the state, popular among them are Khajuraho Dance Festival and Tansen Music Festival in Gwalior.
Madhya Pradesh – Hill Stations
Panchmarhi, the only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, attracts large number of tourists every year. Situated at an altitude of 1,067 metres, Panchmarhi is flanked by the lofty peaks of the famous Satpura range. With a landscape characterized by rugged hills, thick forest and deep ravines, Panchmarhi offers a visual treat for you. Amongst the major attractions of Panchmarhi are the fantastic views at the time of dusk and dawn, which will leave you completely spellbound. Other nearby attractions are Bee Falls, Chauragarh Dhupgarh, Jatashankar, Mahadev cave, Pandav caves and Tamiya.
Madhya Pradesh – Shopping
Madhya Pradesh, a land of crafts and craftsmen, promises you an exciting shopping experience. In fact, when you visit the state, you can’t return without doing some shopping. Madhya Pradesh is known for its textile products and traditional handicraft items. You can shop in a government Emporia, named as Mriganayani, or head for the bustling streets and narrow lanes for shopping in Madhya Pradesh. Specialty of Madhya Pradesh include Zari work, Zardozi embroidery on lehengas and sarees, Beaded Purses, Iron Craft & Metalcraft, Carpets, Folk Paintings, Silver and Brassware, Stuffed Leather and Velvet Toys, Jute Crafts, Bamboo work, Cane work and Wood work.
Madhya Pradesh boasts of a typical tropical climate. Summers are hot and humid in most of the regions, while the winters are cool and comfortable. Summer season spreads from April to June, when the maximum temperature soars up to 44°C at certain places. Monsoon arrives the state in late June and remains till September, with the average rainfall of 1000m to 2000m. Winter begins in late November and reaches to its peak in the month of December and January. During winters the temperature varies between 27°C to 10°C.
Best Time to Visit
November to February
Madhya Pradesh – Transportation
Airlines: Madhya Pradesh is well-linked by airways with major cities of India. Several airports are located within the state, major ones are Bhopal, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Indore and Jabalpur. A number of public and private airlines operate frequent flights from important places of India to the airports of state.
Railways: Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is the main rail head of the state. A number of important trains connect Bhopal with the other cities of the state and rest of the country.
Roadways: Good network of National Highways and State Highways connect the cities and towns of Madhya Pradesh with other cities and towns of India. Bhopal is the ideal base to visit Madhya Pradesh as most of the tourist destinations are located at a convenient distance from the town.