MUSBA HASHMI brings you a report on must-visit places this summer vacation in the bountiful yet under-exploited State of Madhya Pradesh
If you are a lover of art, culture and heritage and want to experience all at once, a visit to Madhya Pradesh makes for an interesting one.
Some of the places that make for a visit are the Satpura National Park, Orchcha and Khajuraho.
To get to Satpura National Park, book yourself a cab from Bhopal and you are ready to go. Though the journey is of five long hours but it is worth it.
Situated in Hoshingabad district of Madhya Pradesh, Satpura National Park provides you with a sure shot rescue from the outside world. The park is spread over an area of 524 sq km and is rich in biodiversity.
On your way to the safari, you cross Denwa river which takes you through the uneven, rugged path and get to the safari.
The dense forests surrounding the park can be easily seen from quite a distance. Bison Resort is the best area to put up in the region. You get to stay in cozy rooms and see the not-so-aggressive river from your balcony.
The park offers a wide variety of flora and fauna including 62 species of trees, 30 small tree species, 58 shrubs species and almost 64 grass species. The highlight of the flora is the American Lady (white coloured tree) that stands high and tend to shine in the moon light. Other varieties include teak tree, sal tree, mahua tree and a lot more.
On your visit to the park, the most common animals to spot during the safari are bison, sambar deer, barasingha, spotted deer, barking deer and nilgai. If you are lucky enough you can also get face to face with a tiger or a leopard or both, though the chances are less. Flying squirrels, pythons, whistling birds are also found in abundance in the area.
One round of the safari will take you almost two to three hours. The best time to visit the park is during the early morning hours as the chances of spotting more and more animals are relatively high.
The place often becomes quite scary when it rains during the dark. It is not a good idea to visit the park during bad weather conditions because you surely don’t want to get stuck and get your shoes dipped in thick wet mud. But if the weather is pleasant, the place is no less than heaven. So, if you have not visited the place yet then, your upcoming summer vacations are sorted.
A trip to Orchcha also makes for a stop over. The place is just half an hour away from Jhansi. The place is a true beauty and away from all the hustle and bustle of the metros. Clear skies, beautiful weather, no pollution and light breeze makes this place a must visit.
The highlight of this place is the Orchcha Palace Fort and the Shri Raja Ram Mandir. Visit the fort for a taste of history.
Something which you should not miss while in Orchcha is the magnificent Light and Sound show, which happens at the Orchcha Fort Complex. The show narrates different stories from the past and takes place both in Hindi (8:45 pm to 9:45 pm) and English (7:30 pm to 8:30pm).
If you’re a chaat lover, then stop by this small thela of a local vendor at the bus stand and treat yourself with some spicy pani puri and aloo tikki, on the go.
From Orchcha to Khajuraho — a distance of 172 km — is another stop where one can experience the country;s rich art and culture.
The main highlight of the place is its annual, week long Dance Festival that takes place in February. The festival attracts people from all over India. The festival shows different dance forms and performances by some brilliant dance groups. Do not miss the festival if you are a classical dance lover.
You can also shop from the local sellers at the festival that bring you handicrafts from the heart of Khajuraho. From shawls, sarees to home decor and artifacts, you can get them all.
Not to forget the famous temples of Khajuraho with the erotic sculptures on them. Though the group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religions — Hinduism and Jainism. The reason being showing acceptance and respect towards the views among the people of the two religions.
These temples are situated in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, about 175 km away from Jhansi.
The name Khajuraho is derived from the Sanskrit word khajuravahaka, a combination of khajura which means ‘date palm’ and vahaka which means ‘the one who carries’.
There are a total of 21 temples, which are divided into three parts — Eastern, Southern and Western. Some of them being Chausath Yogini, Lalgun Mahadev, Brahma, Lakshmana and Varaha. The temples offer a variety of art work, out of which 10 per cent is erotic art, both inside and outside the temple.
The temples have several thousand statues and art works, with Kandarya Mahadeva Temple alone decorated with over 870. The core Hindu values are expressed in the temple in multiple ways.
In several ways the MP Toursim tagline — The Heart of Incredible India — is truly showcased in abundance. If you are a travel geek then this place serves your purpose.