Khajuraho is often said to be the most popular historical site in Madhya Pradesh tourism. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khajuraho is home to groups of architecturally brilliant temples and a delight for history lovers and photographers. The temples are famous across the globe as examples of art and architecture and are visited by thousands of travellers. If you are planning to include a trip to Khajuraho in your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary, ensure that you keep aside at least two to three days.
The temples were built between 950 and 1050 AD by the rulers of the Chandela dynasty. Depicting most facets of life including spiritual teachings, erotic art, kinship and spiritual pursuit, the temples are designed with the Nagara style of architecture and promise a mesmerising experience. The geographical location of the temples puts them in three different groups – eastern, western and southern. It’s best to explore the temple complexes with the help of a guide since that will give you more information on the history of the temples and the architecture. The western group of temples sees more visitors owing to the presence of the largest temple in the complex – Kandariya Mahadeo Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the largest and tallest temple dates back to 1050 BC. It was built by Raja Dhandadeva. The most striking feature of the temple is the shikhara or spire that represents Mount Kailash. The temple has 646 statues along the boundary and the view of the temple from a distance is quite breathtaking. You will need at least an hour to explore the temple so ensure that you aren’t hurrying through your trip. Other temples that should be part of your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary are Dulhadev Temple, Lakshman Temple, Parsvanath Temple and Javari Temple.
There are numerous hotels, hostels and guesthouses in Khajuraho that offer a luxurious experience. In fact, the heartwarming hospitality of locals in the city is one of the biggest attractions for travellers exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism. You can find a few of the best ones mentioned below in this Madhya Pradesh travel guide.
Sanchi is among the top destinations for travellers who want to explore Madhya Pradesh tourism and features in all Madhya Pradesh travel guides. Home to the Great Stupa that is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in the country, Sanchi is a delight to explore if you are interested in history and architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Besides the Great Stupa, Sanchi should be on your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary owing to numerous monasteries and other significant remains from the bygone era.
Sanchi Stupa is among the most-visited historical sites of Madhya Pradesh tourism. The hemispherical dome of the stupa is 54 feet high and has an inner chamber. Visitors are not allowed to enter the stupa but you can pay your respects by walking in a clockwise direction around the structure. Buddhists from around the world visit this mesmerising structure. There are four gateways that face different directions and support striking carvings on the walls. The carvings depict the life of the Buddha, his incarnations and various significant life events.
It will take you around an hour to explore the stupa and we highly recommend exploring this world-famous site with the help of a guide. The best time to plan your trip to Sanchi is between November and March when the weather is comfortable for sightseeing. Sanchi is situated close to Bhopal so you can plan a short day trip or choose to stay for a couple of days depending on your interests.
Besides the Great Stupa, we recommend saving sufficient time for the Sanchi Museum, The Great Bowl, Ashoka Pillar and Udaygiri Caves.
Until recently Orchha was a hidden gem in Madhya Pradesh tourism and most Madhya Pradesh travel guides missed mentioning this beautiful place. The historical town is situated on the banks of the Betwa River and offers history lovers, photographers and artists an experience of a lifetime. Fondly referred to as the ‘City of Palaces’, Orchha takes you away from the hustle and bustle of cities into a world of art and beauty.
Orchha wasn’t always an obscure town. In fact, it was the erstwhile capital for the Bundelas dynasty – traces of which are still visible in the grand monuments spread across town. Orchha aptly translates to ‘a hidden place’ and you’ll know how well the name suits the town when you visit. You can expect a busy itinerary in Orchha when you are exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism so ensure that you stay here for at least two to three days.
Jehangir Mahal is a popular tourist attraction in Orchha. It was built as a garrison for the Mughals so they could establish greater control over the region. With typical Mughal architecture, the palace is a delight to explore. We recommend booking guided tours for all historical sites in Orchha as this is the only way to explore this beautiful town. The stories, legends and historical tales surrounding the many sites in Orchha are best told by locals.
You must also add rafting to your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary when exploring Orchha. Rafting in the Betwa River will give you the opportunity to tackle Grade 1 and Grade 2 rapids and will also offer you beautiful views of the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary. Rafting will take three to four hours so make sure that you begin your tour in the morning. It’s also recommended to book your rafting tour in advance or else you might have to wait an extra day.
Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers must also make time for the Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary. Situated around the Betwa River, this beautiful sanctuary should be a part of your itinerary when exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism. Besides an enthralling safari, you can enjoy camping, canoeing and trekking here. As is with all places in Orchha, we recommend booking a guided tour for your visit to the sanctuary.
Enveloped in serenity and history, Ujjain is among the holiest cities in India. Every 12 years, the city comes alive as thousands of pilgrims come together for the Kumbh Mela. Situated along the Shipra River, Ujjain is home to one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga and sees a steady stream of visitors throughout the year.
If you plan to add Ujjain to your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary, we suggest keeping aside two days. Ujjain is known as the ‘City of Temples’ so expect your itinerary to be dominated by temple tours. You must visit popular temples including Mahakaleshwar Temple, Harsiddhi Temple, Sri Radha Madan Mohan Temple and Chaubis Khamba Temple. The Shipra aarti that takes place at Ram Ghat is another unmissable activity in Ujjain as is a boating tour in the evening. The views of the sunset whilst boating in the river are awe-inspiring. There are many hotels, ashrams and guesthouses in Ujjain and depending on your budget, you can choose one for your stay.
History, grandeur and art come together to offer you a memorable vacation in Gwalior. A gem that is part of Madhya Pradesh tourism, Gwalior is among the most visited cities in the state. And rightly so. Gwalior Fort is the most significant historical site here with Jai Vilas Palace claiming the second spot. Gwalior also promises adventure and nature in equal measure. It’s best to hire a travel guide for the entire duration of your trip to Gwalior while exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism.
Gwalior Fort is often referred to as one of the most beautiful forts in India. Perched on a craggy mountain, the fort should be on the top of your list while exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism. The fort includes temples, gardens and numerous smaller monuments inside and we suggest keeping aside three to four hours to explore the fort. The most striking part of the fort is Man Mandir Palace – also the site of the charming light and sound show that takes place every day. Man Mandir was built using blue ceramic tiles and is a gorgeous site till date. Teli-ka-Mandir is another sought-after attraction in the fort. Built in the 9th century, the Dravidian-style temple is a blend of South Indian and North Indian architectural sensibilities and you must pay a visit when exploring the fort.
Your visit to Gwalior will be incomplete without visiting Jai Vilas Palace. Built by the Maharaja of Gwalior, Jayaji Rao Scindia, it serves as the residence of the Maratha Scindia family as well as a museum that takes you back to the bygone era. With 35 rooms that have been converted to a museum, you can expect an informative and learning tour. Chitrangada Raje Art Gallery shouldn’t be missed when exploring the palace and neither should the Durbar Hall. Home to a hand-crafted carpet and intricately made chandeliers, the grand hall is larger than life and transports visitors back in time.
A few places in Gwalior that you can consider for your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary from this Madhya Pradesh travel guide are Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum, Tomb of Tansen, Saas Bahu Temple and Surya Mandir.
Visit national parks
Madhya Pradesh tourism is a treasure for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. If you are one of those people who can’t imagine a trip without an exciting jungle safari, then Madhya Pradesh is the perfect holiday destination for you. There are numerous national parks in the state and each is an important part of Madhya Pradesh tourism.
Bandhavgarh National Park is arguably the most popular national park of Madhya Pradesh tourism and a visit to the state is incomplete without reserving at least two days here. Bandhavgarh has the highest population of Royal Bengal tigers in the world which implies that you have a good chance of spotting a tiger. Besides the Bengal tiger, wildlife enthusiasts can hope to catch a glimpse of nilgais, wild boars, leopards, jungle cats, Asiatic jackals and striped hyenas. The jeep safaris in Bandhavgarh are extremely popular and it is suggested that you book your tour well in advance. If you wish to embark on an elephant safari, you must book your spot the moment you arrive because the safaris are in high demand. During the safari, you'll be accompanied by a naturalist and a tour guide. Elephant safaris take place only in the morning whereas jeep safaris are available in two shifts.
Panna National Park, Satpura National Park and Kanha National Park are other tiger reserves that should be a part of your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary. However, it’s important to plan your trip keeping in mind the monsoon season in Madhya Pradesh.
Go boating in Bhedaghat
What can be better than a boating tour amidst surreal natural beauty in a small serene town? Not too many things, we think. Bhedaghat is often referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon of India’ and a boating experience here is a delight. A boating session can take between 45 minutes and an hour but you can extend this time period if you inform the tour guide beforehand. What makes a trip to Bhedaghat better is the gorgeous Dhuandhar Falls. The falls cascade from a height of 98 feet and the sight will surely take your breath away. This is also one of the biggest reasons that boating in the moonlight is a preferred activity among tourists who are exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism. Boating is allowed only till 7:00 pm so ensure that you plan your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary accordingly.
The best time to plan your visit to this beautiful town according to this Madhya Pradesh travel guide is between November and May. Summers here are not harsh and you can enjoy relaxed sightseeing trips till May-end. However, monsoon isn’t a great time to plan your Madhya Pradesh tourism itinerary if Bhedaghat is on your list. The area receives heavy rainfall and boating is closed during these months.
Madhya Pradesh is home to numerous cities and if you are planning a long trip to the state, it’s important to map out your accommodation options. Depending on the budget of your trip and travel style, you can choose from luxury resorts, homestays, hostels and guest houses. Let’s take a look at some of the places to stay that are part of Madhya Pradesh tourism.
Luxury hotels in Madhya Pradesh
Lavish rooms, picturesque views and customised travel itineraries are a few things that luxury resorts and hotels offer you. If you have the budget, we suggest living like royalty in this gorgeous state. Here are a few resorts that are part of Madhya Pradesh tourism.
Mid-budget hotels in Madhya Pradesh
Owing to the popularity of Madhya Pradesh tourism, there are a number of budget hotels in the state that offer travellers a memorable vacation. You can expect comfortable rooms, efficient service and delicious local food. Some of the mid-budget hotels that are part of Madhya Pradesh tourism are:
Budget hotels and hostels in Madhya Pradesh
The most helpful tip for budget travellers planning a trip to explore Madhya Pradesh tourism is to make your booking in advance. This will not only help you get good deals, but it will also make it easier for you to plan your trip hassle-free. Let’s take a look at some of the best budget hotels that are part of Madhya Pradesh tourism.
Some of the hostels in Madhya Pradesh are:
If you thought history and natural beauty are all that Madhya Pradesh tourism offers, wait till you explore the local cuisine. A delight for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, the food in the heart of India is influenced by its neighbouring states as well as it's location.
Poha, biryani pilaf, malpua, dal bafla and seekh kebabs are a few dishes that are available across the state. Bhopal is a favourite for non-vegetarians and you can try an assortment of chicken and mutton dishes here. Bedai, maande, mawa jalebis, bhutte ka kees, kachori and sabudana cutlets are staples in most local joints. What makes the culinary experience in Madhya Pradesh more special is that the cost of food is extremely reasonable and you can enjoy a lavish meal without making a dent in your budget. The locals really value their food and most conversations take place over namkeen and hot tea.
Every city mentioned in this Madhya Pradesh travel guide has something special to offer and it's up to you to explore the local joints and scout for famous poha sellers. However, to make your culinary experience easier, some restaurants that you must visit when exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism are Under the Mango Tree and La Kuchina in Bhopal, Mediterra in Indore, and Imperial Restaurant and Modak in Ujjain. You must also head to the night market in Indore called Sarafa Bazaar. You can try a range of local delicacies here including tikki, kachori, bhutte ke kees, egg benjo and ratalu.
Exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism is an experience that will surely leave you mesmerised. Madhya Pradesh is among the largest states in India and boasts numerous breathtaking destinations. Travelling through the state is becoming easier day-by-day. The state has a strong network of rail and roadways along with two international and three domestic airports. The rail network in Madhya Pradesh is well planned and widespread, offering convenient options to travel across the state. All major cities have railway stations or junctions, making city-hopping convenient.
The roads in Madhya Pradesh are among the best in the country. National highways and state highways are multi-lane and well maintained, which ensures a hassle-free experience. The State Road Transport buses and privately run buses are another convenient means of transport, especially if you are on a budget trip. You can choose from local buses, semi-deluxe buses and deluxe buses for your tour. The buses run at regular intervals and are an economical option for travellers. If you are exploring places within a short distance or are planning intra-city travel, consider taking taxis as they are fast becoming the preferred choice. Major cities such as Bhopal, Indore, and Gwalior have private taxi services along with local taxis.
Bhopal and Indore are the two cities that are home to international airports in Madhya Pradesh. These two airports offer great connectivity to the rest of India and a few international destinations. The state has domestic airports in Gwalior, Jabalpur and Khajuraho so if you are looking for luxury travel options, then booking flight tickets in advance is a great idea.
The amount of money spent on a trip completely depends on how you travel. Travellers who would like to explore the state can easily plan their trip with the help of this Madhya Pradesh travel guide regardless of their budget since the state welcomes all kinds of travellers.
Luxury travellers who would like to explore Madhya Pradesh tourism can expect to spend between Rs.3000 and Rs.4500. This cost includes travel, food and activities.
Mid-budget travellers exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism should keep aside between Rs.2000 and Rs.2500 for their per day cost. If you travel by local transport, this cost can drastically reduce.
Budget travellers should keep aside between Rs.500 and Rs.1000 while exploring Madhya Pradesh tourism. If you opt for local food and transport, this cost can further reduce.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.