Madhya Pradhesh, in central India, draws visitors with well preserved remnants of its compelling history. Its many abandoned cities provide an intriguing window to the past, so different to the congested India of today. In further contrast, the national parks of Madhya Pradesh offer some of the best wildlife spotting opportunities in India.
Here are the top Madhya Pradesh tourist places.
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If you want proof that the Kama Sutra originated in India, Khajuraho is the place to see. There are over 20 temples abounding in erotic sculptures. However, more than that, they show a celebration of love, life and worship. The Khajuraho erotic temples are rated as one of the top historical destinations in India.
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Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks are among the top national parks in India
. Bandhavgarh, while being relatively difficult to reach and costly to visit, is the best place to see tigers in the wild in India. The park features dense green valleys and rocky hill terrain, with an ancient fort. In addition to tigers, the park has a large array of wildlife including sloth bears, deers, leopards, jackals, and birds.
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Kanha National Park has the honor of providing the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel, The Jungle Book. It’s rich in lush saal and bamboo forests, lakes, streams and open grasslands. As well as tigers, the park abounds with barasingha (swamp deer) and an extensive variety of other animals and birds. Rather than offering one particular kind of animal, it provides an all-round nature experience. The park is well regarded for its research and conservation programs, and many endangered species have been saved there.
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The great thing about Gwalior is that it's so accessible -- only two hours drive from Agra and the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh. The main attraction the massive hilltop fort that towers over the city. Reputed to be one of the most invincible forts in India, its history stretches back over 1,000 years. Inside the fort walls are a number of palaces and temples, the highlight being the Man Mandir Palace. At the bottom of the fort is the Old Town of Gwalior, brimming with history and fine examples of Mughal architecture such as the Tomb of Tansen. The Tansen Music Festival is held at the tomb every December.
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Orchha is located on the banks of the Betwa River, a comfortable hour and a half south of Gwalior. It's another relatively peaceful place, full of well preserved palaces and temples, with a distinctly medieval charm. Three main palaces are enclosed in Orccha's fortified walls. The Jahangir Mahal is the largest and most impressive, and its upper levels offer some arresting panoramic views. A stay inside the Jahangir Mahal, at the Hotel Sheesh Mahal, completes the experience. Being a government run hotel, it's not luxurious but it is full of character.
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Some of India's oldest Buddhist relics can be found at Sanchi, northeast of Bhopal. Most notable is the Great Stupa, built by Emperor Ashoka in 262 BC after he embraced Buddhism, as penance for the atrocities he inflicted on the state of Kalinga (in Orissa). You'll find a number of other stupas, temples, and monasteries there, along with an archeological museum. Sanchi can be visited on a day trip from Bhopal, but it's worth staying there its a convenient base for numerous other side trips.
Maheshwar, the Varanasi of central India, is a small holy town dedicated to Lord Shiva. Set along the banks of the Narmada river, it's said that only Shiva is worshiped where the Narmada flows, as he's the only god with the inner peace to calm her.
The abandoned city of Mandu was once the lavish home of the Mughals, who indulged themselves by its many lakes and palaces. Mandu's crumbling buildings, encircled by a long 45 kilometer (28 mile) stretch of wall with 12 gateways, still hint of its grandiose past. It's a superb place to retreat from the everyday chaos of India. Mandu, Ujjain, and Omkareshwar are all part of the Madhya Pradesh Malwa Region Golden Triangle
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Ujjain is a small town with a maze of alleyways and many temples. The most important of them is the Mahakaleshwar Temple, which houses one of India’s 12 sacred Jyotirlingams (Shiva shrines with naturally occurring, rather than man made, lingams). Ujjain is one of Hinduism's seven sacred cities, and one of the four locations of the Kumbh Mela.
The Tropic of Capricorn also runs through Ujjain. Head to Ram Ghat at dawn or dusk, when pilgrims ring bells and light candles by the water.
Omkareshwar, an island in the Narmada river, is said to appear like the symbol “Om” when viewed from above. It's another of the 12 Jyotirlingam sites, and this, added to the presence of the Holy Narmada, draws generations of devout pilgrims. It's popular with travelers too, as a place to chill out.