MADHYA PRADESH TOURISM ---The temples of Khajuraho are India’s unique gift to the world--Pleasure resort and capital of the Gond kings during the 12th century Jabalpur--Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh, combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning--Ujjain is the modern name of Ujjayini. Today Ujjain abounds in temples--Kanha’s sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams stretch over 940 sq km in dramatic natural splendour--
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The temples of Khajuraho are India’s unique gift to the world, representing, as they do a paean to life, to love, to joy, perfect in execution and sublime in expression. Life, in every form and mood, has been captured in stone, testifying not only to the craftsman’s artistry but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose rule the temples were conceived and constructed.
The Khajuraho temples were built in the short span of a hundred years, from 950-1050 AD in a truly inspired burst of creativity. Of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to constitute one of the world’s great artistic wonders.
What to See
Kandariya Mahadeo: The largest and the most typical of the Khajuraho temples, it soars 31 m high. Dedicated to Shiva, the sanctum sanctorum enshrines a lingam. The main shrine is exquisitely carved and features in delicate details, gods, goddesses, celestial maidens and lovers. Particularly noteworthy are the entrance arch, the ceilings and pillars of the interior compartments.
Chaunsath Yogini: The only granite temple and the earliest surviving shrine of the group (900 AD), it is dedicated to Kali. Only 35 of the original 65 shrines remain. Another Kali temple (originally dedicated to Vishnu) is the Devi Jagdambe Temple.
Chitragupta Temple: Facing eastwards to the rising sun, the temple is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. The image of the deity in the inner sanctum is particularly imposing: five feet high and driving a horse-drawn chariot.
Vishwanath Temple: A three-headed image of Brahma is enshrined in this temple. The approach is equally impressive, with lions flanking the northern and elephants the southern steps that lead up to it. A Nandi bull faces the shrine.
Lakshmana Temple: The lintel over the entrance of this beautiful Vaishnavite temple shows the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort.
Matangeswara Temple: Still a living place of worship, the temple is dedicated to Shiva, has an eight feet high lingam and is outside the precincts of the Western Group.
Parsvanath Temple: The group’s largest Jain temple and exquisite in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are particularly noteworthy. The themes depict, in charming detail, everyday activity. Within, a throne faces the bull emblem of the first tirthankara, Adinath. The Parsvanath image was installed in 1860.
Ghantai Temple: This Jain temple has a frieze, which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira’s mother, and a Jain goddess on a winged Guruda.
Adhinath Temple: Dedicated to the Jain saint, Adinath, the temple is lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, including yakshis.
The three Hindu temples of the group are the Brahma, containing a four-faced lingam, the Vamana, which is adorned on its outer walls with carving of apsaras in a variety of sensuous attitudes; and the Javari, with a richly carved gateway and exterior sculptures.
Duladeo Temple: Dedicated to Shiva the apsara and ornamented figures are the temple’s most striking features.
Chaturbhuj Temple: This temple has a massive, intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum.
Sound & Light Show: This fascinating Son-et-Lumiere spectacle evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and traces the story of the unique temples from the 10th Century to the present day.
State Museum of Tribal and Folk Arts: A fine collection of masterpieces of tribal and folk arts and artifacts from all over Madhya Pradesh is on display at the Chandela Cultural Complex.
New Temples Excavated: In recent excavations at Bija Mandal, located 3km south-east of the western group of group temples, remains of several temples even older than the originally known 85 have been found.
Panna National Park: Panna National Park 32km away and a mere 30-minute drive from Khajuraho spreads along the river Ken. The jungles today harbour many species of wildlife. The tiger can be glimpsed here, with other rare species such as the leopard, wolf and gharial. Herds of blue bull, chinkara and sambar are a common sight. On the road to Panna are the spectacular Pandav Falls. Alternate picnic sites are Benisagar Dam, Raneh Falls and Ranguan Lake, while interesting trips can be made to Rajgarh Palace, now being converted into a Heritage Hotel, and Dhubela Museum. Further away is Bandhavgarh National Park and tranguil Chitrakoot.
How to Reach
By Air: Regular services link Khajuraho with Delhi, Agra and Varanasi.
By Rail: The nearest railheads are Harpalpur (94km) and Mahoba (61km). Jhansi (172km) is a convenient railhead for those traveling form Delhi and Chennai, Satna (117km) on the Mumbai-Allahabad line of the Central Railway for those coming form Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi.
By Road: Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.
Best Season: July to March
Pleasure resort and capital of the Gond kings during the 12th century. Jabalpur was later the seat of the Kalchuri dynasty. Today Jabalpur is an important administrative center, a bustle with commercial activity.
What to see
Madan Mahal Fort: Built by the Gond ruler, Raja Madan Shah, in 1116 atop a rocky hill, the fort dominates the skyline and provides a panoramic view of the town and the countryside around it.
Rani Durgavati Memorial and Museum: Dedicated to the memory of the great Queen Durgavati is her memorial and a museum, which hoses a fine collection of sculptures, inscriptions and prehistoric relics.
Tilwara Ghat: From where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed in the Narmada and venue of the open session of the Tripuri Congress in 1939; the 12th century Mala Devi Mandir, Pisan Hari Jain Temples and Roopnath are some of the other places in and around Jabalpur which merit a visit En route Kanha and Bandhavgarh.
Jabalpur is the most convenient base for visits to the famous Kanha (165km) and Bandhavgarh (164km) National Parks.
Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh, combines scenic beauty, historicity and modern urban planning. It is situated on the site of an 11th century city, Bhopal, founded by Raja Bhoja. The founder of the existing city was, however, an Afghan soldier of fortune, Dost Mohammed (1708-1740).
Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile, the old city with its teeming marketplaces and fine old mosques and places. Equally impressive is the new city with its verdant, exquisitely laid-out parks and gardens, board avenues and streamlined modern edifices.
What to see
Taj-ul-Masjid: Said to be the largest mosque in the country, the building of this towering edifice was begun by Shahjehan Begum (1868-1901). The most striking features of the mosque are the impressive main hall with its inter-arched roof, broad façade, spacious courtyard and smooth marble floors.
Jama Masjid: Gold spikes crown the minarets of this beautiful mosque, built in 1837 by Kudsia Begum.
Moti Masjid: Architecturally akin to Delhi’s Jama Masjid, this imposing mosque was built by Sikander Jehan, daughter of Kudsia Begum, in 1860.
Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil: Situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city, Shaukat Mahal is an architecturally curiosity.
Gohar Mahal: Situated behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake is Gohar Mahal. The Mahal is a magnificent expression of the fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
Bharat Bhawan: One of the most unique national institutes in India, Bharat Bhawan is a center of the performing and visual arts.
Tribal Habitat (Museum of Man): An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located on Shamla Hills, the Tribal Habitat is a presentation of actual-size dwellings typical of contemporary tribal cultures in various States of India.
Government Archaeological Museum: A fine collection of sculptures is on display here from various parts of Madhya Pradesh. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Laxminarayan Temple and Museum: This beautiful temple on the Area Hills has a museum attached to it which houses a collection of sculptures from Raisen, Sehore, Mandsaur and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Van Vihar: The Safari-park is located on a hill adjacent to the Upper Lake, with an area of 445 hectares. In these natural surroundings, wildlife watchers can view a variety of herbivorous and camivorous species.
Regional Science Center Upper and Lower Lakes: The Upper Lake is divided from the lower by an over-bridge and is six sq. km in area. Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s Boat Club on the Upper Lake provides facilities for exciting trips by sail, paddle and motorboats.
Aquarium: Facing the Lower Lake, the fish-shaped aquarium houses a number of fascinating species of fish in all shapes and sizes.
How to Reach
By Air: Regular flights connect Bhopal with Delhi, Indore and Mumbai.
By Rail: Bhopal is on the main Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through Bhopal.
By Road: Regular bus services connect Bhopal with Indore (186km), Mandu (285km), Ujjain (188km), Khajuraho (383km), Pachmarhi (195km), Gwalior (423km), Sanchi (46km), Jabalpur (295km) and Shivpuri (311km).
Best Season: July to March.
Ujjain is the modern name of Ujjayini. Today Ujjain abounds in temples. The temples form an integral part of the city and contribute to the continuity of Ujjain’s tradition of greatness.
What to see
Mahakaleshwar The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour, reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions.
One of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (shakti) from within itself.
Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir This Temple, situated above the tank near the Mahakaleshwar temple, enshrines a huge artistic sculpture of Ganesh, the son of Shiva. The middle of the temple is adorned by an idol of the panchamukhi (five-faced) Hanuman.
Chintaman Ganesh This temple is built across the Shipra on the Fatehabad railway line. Worshippers throng to this temple because the deity here is traditionally known as Chintaharan Ganesh, meaning the assure of freedom from worldly anxieties.
Pir Matsyendranath This is an extremely attractive spot on the banks of the Shipra, quite close to the Bhartrihari Caves and the Gadkalika Temple. It is dedicated to the memory of one of the great leaders of the Nathan sect of Saivism – Matsyendranath.
Bhartrihari Caves These caves are situated just above the bank of the Shipra near the temple of Gadkalika.
Kaliadesh Palace Situated on the banks of the Shipra, the island-like site immediately conjures up the natural beauty of ancient Ujjain which poets down the ages have waxed lyrical.
Durgadas Ki Chhatri This distinctive monument glows like a small in the surrounding lush landscape. Vir Durgadas earned a secure niche for himself in the history of Mar wad by his undaunting, selfless service to the state.
Harsiddhi Temple This temple occupies a special place in the galaxy of ancient sacred spots of Ujjain.
Siddhavat This enormous banyan tree on the banks of the Shipra has been vested with the same religious sanctity as the Akashyavat in Prayag and Gaya, Vanshivat of Vrindaban and the Panchavata of Nasik.
Kal Bhairava The worship of the eight Bhairavas is a part of Saivite tradition and the chief among them is Kal Bhairava, believed to have been built by king Bhadrasen, on the banks of the Shipra.
Sandipani Ashram: Lord Krishna and Sudama received regular instruction in the ashram of Guru Sandipani. The numerals 1 to 100 found on a stone are believed to have been engraved by Guru Sandipani.
Gadkalika Situated about two miles from the present town, the deity in this temple is believed to have been worshipped by Kalidas. The legend goes that he was an idiot and it is by this devotion to the Goddess Kalika that he acquired great literary skill.
Vikram Kirti Mandir Established on the occasion of the second millennium of the Vikram era as the cultural center to perpetuate the memory of Vikramaditya the Vikram Kirti Mandir houses the Scindia Oriental Research Institute, an archaeological museum, an art gallery and an auditorium.
Gopal Mandir This huge temple is situated in the middle of the big market square. It is a beautiful example of Maratha architecture.
Navagraha Mandir (Triveni): This temple, dedicated to the nine planets, attracts large crowds on new moon days falling on Saturday.
Panchakroshi Yatra Also known as the Pancheshani Yatra, it is a grand tour of Ujjain in which thousands of people join in every year.
Vikram University A famous center of learning in the past. Ujjain continues to uphold that tradition. The establishment of the Vikram University in 1957 was an important landmark.
Kalidasa Academy, Ram Janardan Temple, Ram Ghat, Harihara Teertha, Mallikarjuna Teertha, Ganga Ghat, Bohron Ka Roza, Begum Ka Maqbara, Bina Neev Ki Masjid, Maulana Rumi Ka Maqbara and Digambara Jain Museum are some other prominent places of interest in Ujjain.
Kanha’s sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams stretch over 940 sq km in dramatic natural splendour. This is original Kipling country, of which he wrote so vividly in his Jungle Book. The same abundance of wildlife species exists today in Kanha National Park, which forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1947 under Project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hard ground barasingha (Cervus Duvaceli Branderi).
What to See
Forest Department guides accompany visitors around the park on mapped-out circuits, which enable viewers to see a good cross-section of Kanha’s wildlife. The best areas are the meadows around Kanha, where blackbuck, chital and barasingha can be seen throughout the day.
Bamni Dadar: Known as Sunset Point, this is one of the most beautiful areas of the park from where a spectacular sunset can be watched.
Mammalian Species: Kanha has some 22 species of mammals. Those most easily spotted are the striped palm squirrel, common langur, jackal, wild pig, chital or spotted deer, barasingha or swamp deer, sambar and blackbuck.
Less commonly seen species are: tiger, Indian hare, dholes or Indian wild dog, barking deer and Indian bison or gaur.
Very rarely seen are: Wolf, which lives in the far east of the Park chinkara, to be found outside the park’s northern boundary, Indian pangolin, the smooth Indian otter and the small Indian civet.
Avian Species: Kanha has some 200 species of birds. Watchers should station themselves in the hills, where the mixed and bamboo forests harbour many species, and in the grassy forest clearings.
Jeep and Elephant Hire
MPSTDC jeeps are available on hire for touring the park. Elephants are used for tiger tracking and should a tiger be located, the elephant can take visitors to the site.
For jeep hire, see the MPSTDC Manger, at the Baghira Log Huts, Kisli. Bookings for a morning run should be made the previous day. Please bear in mind that jeeps are not always available during peak visiting periods.
February to June, although the cool season is much more comfortable and still very good for wildlife. (The park is closed from July 1 to October 31 because of the monsoon).
For those planning a visit, a stay of at least three nights is recommended in order to have a good chance of seeing the more elusive animals – although, of course, a brief visit will also be very interesting.
What to Wear
Cottons, but bring woolens as well as early mornings and evenings can be chilly, especially in a moving jeep and in the cool season. Try not to wear loud colours.
Kisli has a restaurant and a canteen. The restaurant serves both Indian and western food. The canteen is cheaper, serving reasonably priced table d’ hotel meals and snacks.
If boiled water is required, please ask for it specially (water served at the MPT units is filtered). Cool drinks and beer are usually available.
How to Reach
Khatia (3km from Kisli) and Mukki are the two main entry points to the Kanha National Park. From Jabalpur, Kisli is 165km via Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 203 km via Motinala and Garhi. For travelers from Bilaspur (182km), Raipur (213km) and Balaghat (83km), Mukki on State Highway No. 26 is more convenient. From Nagpur, Kisli is 259km via Nainpur and Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 289km via Balaghat.
By Air: Nearest airports are at Jabalpur, Raipur and Nagpur. However, Jabalpur Airports is currently not operational.
By Rail: Most convenient railheads are at Jabalpur and Bilaspur.
By Road: There is a daily bus service available for Kisli and Mukki from Jabalpur and back. Taxis are available for hire from Jabalpur, Bilaspur and Raipur. It is advisable to reach Kisli before sunset, as vehicles are not permitted within the park after dark. For assistance at Jabalpur, contact MPSTDC’s Tourist Office at the railway station or Hotel Kalchuri.
MARBLE ROCKS AT BHEDAGHAT
Soaring in glittering splendour, the Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat rise to a hundred feet on either side of the Narmada. The serene loveliness of the scene is one of cool, quite, the sunlight sparkling on the marble white pinnacles and casting dappled shadows on the pellucid waters.
What to see
Marble Rocks: The perpendicular magnesium limestone rocks fringe the crystal clear placid waters of the Narmada providing a fascinating site. Boating facilities are available between November-May.
Dhuandhar Falls: The Narmada, making its way through the Marble rocks, narrows down and then plunges in a water-fall known as Dhundhar or the smoke cascade. So powerful is the plunge that its roar is heard from a far distance. The falls and the breaking of the volume of water at the crest present an awesome spectacle of Nature’s power unleashed.
Soapstone Artifacts: The soapstone revealed by the Narmada provides occupation to families of carvers of gods and goddess, lingas, crosses, Madonnas, ashtrays and trinked boxes.
How to Reach
By Air: Jabalpur (23km) is the nearest airport. However, it is currently not operational.
By Rail: Jabalpur, on the Mumbai-Howrah via Allahabad main line, is the main railhead. All mail, express and passenger train halt here.
By Road: Frequent buses, tempos and taxis are available from Jabalpur.
Best Season: October to May.
A World Heritage Site
Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhyan ranges, Bhimbetka lays 46km south of Bhopal. In this rocky terrain of dense forest and craggy cliffs, over 600 rock shelters belonging to the Neolithic age were recently discovered. Here, in vivid, panoramic detail, paintings in over 500 caves depict the life of the prehistoric cave dwellers, making the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure, an invaluable chronicle in the history of man.
This is a small National Park compact; Bandhavgarh is this is also White Tiger country. But it is densely populated with other species like sambar and barking deer, nilgai are to more open areas of the park.
What to See The Fort
No records remain to show when Bandhavgarh Fort was constructed. It is through, however, to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad-Panch Ratra and the Siva Purana.
Flora and Fauna
The forests of Bandhavgarh can be classified as moist deciduous and the National Park holds all those animal species, which are typical of this habitat in Central India.
There are more than 22 species of mammals and 250 species of birds.
How to Reach
By Air: The most convenient route to Bandhavgarh is by air to Khajuraho from where it is a five-hour drive (237km).
By Rail: The nearest railway stations near Bandhavgarh are Jabalpur (164km), Katni (102km) and Satna (120km) on the Central railway and Umaria (35km) on the South Eastern Railway.
By Road: State/private transport buses ply between Katni & Umaria and from Satna & Rewa to Tala (Bandhavgarh). Taxis are available at Satna, Jabalpur, Katni, Umaria and Khajuraho.
Best Season: November to June.
The Park is closed from 1st July to 31st October.
Founded by the legendary Parmar king of Dhar, Raja Bhoj (1010-53), and named after him, Bhojpur, 28 km from Bhopal, is renowned for the remains of its magnificent Shiva Temple and Cyclopean dam.
The temple, which has earned the nomenclature of the Somnath of the East, is known as the Bhojeshwar Temple. The richly carved dome, though incomplete, has a magnificent, soaring strength of line and is supported by four pillars.
How to Reach
By Air: Bhopal (28km from Bhojpur, and 46km from Bhimbetka) is the nearest airport. It is connected with Mumbai, Delhi and Indore.
By Rail: Bhopal, on the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai mainline is the most convenient railhead.
By Bus: Both Bhojpur and Bhimbetka are connected by bus with Bhopal. Bhopal is also the most convenient base for visiting Sanchi.
Best Season: July to March.
Madhya Pradesh is a haven for tourists. Apart from the above, one can visit Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Orchha, Pachmari and Chitrakoot.
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