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IN PICS: Travelling to the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh

Last updated on: December 22, 2012 09:54 IST

IN PICS: Travelling to the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh

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Harnoor Channi-Tiwary

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary travelled to Madhya Pradesh and returned with these memories.

If you ever feel like getting away from the crowds, feel like going someplace pristine and unadulterated with tourism and its chaos, think of a trip to Madhya Pradesh. At the heart of our country, lies a raw diamond.

Whether it is the beauty of cascading waterfalls or wildlife parks with tigers you can actually spot (unlike Jim Corbett), Madhya Pradesh has it all. You might be aware that MP is home to the most famous erotic sculptures in the world, but could you have guessed that it also has the oldest cave paintings in the world or the oldest Buddhist Stupa in the world or even the largest wildlife sanctuary in Asia.

Madhya Pradesh does offer its popular spots like Khajuraho and Gwalior. But the real beauty of the state lies in the interiors. We have identified 4 offbeat spots for you to cover.

Jabalpur may seem like another bustling small town but don't be fooled. Merely 25km away from the town lies a little known secret of India -- The Dhuandhar Falls.

The majestic horseshoe shaped falls may even be termed as India's Niagara Falls. Literally meaning mist (smoke) from the stream, be ready to be drenched with the mist rising from the falls.


Image: Dhuandhar Falls
Photographs: Rohan Tiwary/for Rediff.com

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IN PICS: Travelling to the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh

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A 5-minute drive from here will take you to Bhedaghat, another little gem. Bhedaghat is known for its marble rocks. Hire a boat for 50 minutes and enjoy the peaceful ride through these beautiful gorges made of variety of colored marble. Gorgeous as it is by day, the night boat ride on a moonlit night is even more enjoyable as it seems almost like something out of a film like Avataar. This is also the place that the song Raat ka nasha abhi from the film Asoka was shot.  

Away from the bustle, Pachmarhi is a quiet nook to lose yourself in. Greenery all around and the sound of water flowing by calms frayed nerves. Forest paths through bamboo groves with Jamun and Sal trees all around, this is the perfect place to just put up your feet and relax. But if you prefer to sightsee, it offers a variety of options:

Explore the caves around here. Most of these go back to the period 500-800 AD, but the earliest paintings are an estimated 10,000 years old. The Pandav Caves are five ancient dwellings excavated in the sandstone rock in a low hill. According to legend, the pandavs took sanctuary in these caves.

You can enjoy picnics at any of the popular waterfalls here including Jamuna Prapat, Apsara Falls, big fall, Dutchess fall etc.

Gaze in awe at the beauty of nature at Handi Khoh, Pachmarhi's most impressive ravine which has a 300 feet high precipice and dramatically steep sides.


Image: Bhedaghat
Photographs: Rohan Tiwary/for Rediff.com

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IN PICS: Travelling to the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh

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If you're close to Bhopal, the Bhimteka caves are must-dos. They are fast becoming a tourist hot spot but are still far removed from the commercialization that accompanies it. Situated just 46 km from Bhopal, these hills got their name after Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers.

There are more than 600 caves that have the collection of oldest Prehistoric paintings in India. The unique feature in these caves is that been used as a shelter by people from the earliest of periods, you will find paintings of all periods starting from Paleolithic era to Medieval era.

This interesting array of paintings, act as a synopsis of the evolution of humanity through time. Each period has its own distinctive style. The caves can be visited any time of the year but are best enjoyed in March and July. As there are not too many places to stay near the caves, you can visit them as a daytrip from Bhopal.


Image: Bhimbetka
Photographs: Rohan Tiwary/for Rediff.com

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A little known fact about MP is that it is home to three of India's best Tiger Sanctuaries. Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh are all just a few hours from each other.

If you must pick one, the Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the largest national parks in India and yet is relatively unknown. Spread over a total of 437 sq km, the park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by lord Rama to his brother Laxman to keep a watch on Lanka.

The park has one of the highest density of the tiger population in India. The park has a large breeding population of leopards, panthers, bisons and various species of deer as well.

It was once populated with white tigers, and the last known one was captured by Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa in 1951. Try to make a pre-booking online for the entry through Gate 1. Park entry fee for Indian nationals is Rs 500 per trip/Gypsy for a maximum of 6 Persons and guide fees are Rs 150 per trip.

The nearest airports are in Khajuraho (210 km away) and Jabalpur. Buses from Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh do the trip in about five hours.

The closest railhead is the town of Umaria, which is 30 km from Bandhavgarh. Bandhavgarh National Park too closes for visitors during the monsoon months, July to October.

It's best to stay in the park where the Madhya Pradesh Tourist department has a forest lodge. The PWD and the Forest Department also have guest houses within the park for budget travelers. Rooms range from high end luxury tree houses to basic MP Tourism rooms.


Image: Bandhavgarh


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