Introducing Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh
Madhya Pradesh (MP) was India’s largest state until tribal Chhattisgarh broke away in 2000. It’s still a significant chunk of most train rides from Delhi to central India, yet many travellers see little more than its train tracks; a shame for more reasons than having to train it for two days.
Khajuraho, Mandu and Sanchi have some of India’s finest Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist monuments. A more lively form of religion is at the ghats (steps or landings) on the Narmada River, one of the seven sacred rivers. There’s also Ujjain, one of the seven holy cities, and the holy island, Omkareshwar. Historical sites include the millennia-old Bhimbetka rock paintings and Gwalior’s lavish Jai Vilas Palace. Among the temple towns, Khajuraho is famous for the erotic carvings writhing across its 10th-century temples. Another historical hotspot near the Agra–Varanasi route is secluded Orchha, where riverside cenotaphs and palaces exude a ‘lost world’ atmosphere matched only by Mandu’s plateau-top tombs.
For outdoor enthusiasts there are 1000m-plus peaks, forests and waterfalls at hill station Pachmarhi, and tiger-filled national parks. View the cats from an elephant at Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna (site of Kipling’s Jungle Book) and Pench. The distinctive craftwork and colourful markets in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region show tribal communities keeping tradition alive.