Reckoned as the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh (spoken of as MP) is home to an eclectic mix of tourism opportunities. There are so many Best Places to see in Madhya Pradesh that attracts the visitors right from architectural wonders across Khajuraho, Gwalior, Orchha, Sanchi and Mandu to exhilarating wildlife safaris in Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserves – Madhya Pradesh is an excellent tourist destination minus the mad rush.
Being the second largest state of India, Madhya Pradesh offers tourism left, right, center, spread across an area equivalent to that of Italy in size. As such, for the convenience of tourists, the entire state is often divided into four zones, viz. Central, Northern, Eastern and Western Madhya Pradesh.
Central Madhya Pradesh
The best famous places to see in Central Madhya Pradesh are situated in and around its capital city Bhopal. Tourism near Bhopal is mostly historical places in Madhya Pradesh.
A charming city sprawled along the banks of two placid lakes and cradled by seven hills, the capital city is famous for its lake sides, expansive Taj-ul-Masajid and unique Van Vihar Wild Safari Park. Besides, worth visiting are the Tribal Museum (showcasing the culture and traditions of seven tribes and sub-tribes that flourish in Madhya Pradesh), the open-air tribal safari park called Manav Sangrahalaya, and of course, the State Museum housing wonderful temple artworks and incredible instances of metal craft.
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The rock shelters of Bimbetka, located around 55 km away from Bhopal, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These rock shelters offer unparalleled insight into times around 10000 BC.
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46 Km Northeast of Bhopal lies Sanchi that is home to “The Great Stupa”. It is a world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, often considered to be the oldest stone edifices in India.
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(4) Udaigiri Caves
About 13 Km onwards from Sanchi rest Udaigiri Caves, which are popular for intricate Gupta period artworks, particularly sculpture of “Varah” (the wild boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu) in cave no. 5.
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Bhojpur city at 28 km South East of Bhopal is best known for the incomplete but exceedingly imposing Bhojeswar temple, sacred to Lord Shiva.
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Situated at about 11 km north of Bhopal, the region is famous for the Islamnagar fort, Chaman Mahal and Rani Mahal.
Pachmarhi near Bhopal is the only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, nestled amid forested Satpura ranges, cave temples, waterfalls and natural pools of water.
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55km drive away from Bhopal, Delavadi is very popular among tourists for bird watching, trekking and jungle camping. 03 km trek from Delavadi transports oneself to Ginnorgarh fort famous for its five-floor pond. The Ratapani Tiger Reserve is just 30 km from here.
(9) Mahadev Pani
Mahadev Pani (Lord Shiva’s water) is a tranquil picnic spot near Sehatganj – a small village barely 20 km from Bhopal – popular for a small waterfall flowing over a massive rocky surface.
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Northern Madhya Pradesh
The best famous places to see in Northern part of Madhya Pradesh stretches from Gwalior to Satna and home to some of the most important places in Madhya Pradesh, including Khajuraho and Orchha.
Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site world-famous for some of the finest erotic carvings and stunning sculptures enveloping the Hindu and Jain temples here.
Nestled in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh in a picturesque pastoral setting on boulder-peppered Betwa River, Orchha is a treasure trove of 16th Century regal palaces, temples and cenotaphs.
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Engaging en route stop – Gwalior tourism extends the 8th Century hilltop Gwalior fort, the imperial-style Man Singh Palace, the ornate Jai Vilas Palace and the awe-inspiring 15th Century Rock-cut Jain sculptures, including 17m tall standing statue of first Jain Tirthankar, Lord Adinath.
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Eastern Madhya Pradesh
Centered on Jabalpur – an industrial and military hub – the tourist places in Eastern Madhya Pradesh are three of the nine national parks in the state viz. Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park and Pench National Park.
The largest city of Madhya Pradesh and a center of all military and industrial activities in the state, Jabalpur for tourists is all about Marble Rocks gorge, Dhuandhar waterfall on Bhedaghat and Launchpad for Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench National parks.
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(14) Bandhavgarh National Park
Christened after the Bandhavgarh fort situated on an 800m high cliff, the relatively smaller national park offers riper chances of spotting a royal Bengal tiger in Tala range upon perseverance of two-three days.
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(15) Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is the most popular national park in Madhya Pradesh with vast meadows and long stretches of Sal forests. The park is home to more than 80 tigers, several leopards and at least 300 types of birds.
(16) Pench National Park
Pench Tiger Reserve is dotted with teak trees instead of Sal forest cover and has fewer tigers (about 33 of them as per last census undertaken in 2014).
Western Madhya Pradesh
Centered on Ujjain – one of the holy venues of Kumbh Fair every year – Western Madhya Pradesh welcomes you to more holiness in terms of small and spiritual riverside town Maheshwar and Om-shaped Omkareshwar Island on the sacred Narmada River. The most popular monuments of Madhya Pradesh at Mandu are also located here with a generous presence of scenic Baobab trees along the roads and beyond.
One of the sacred Hindu cities, Ujjain is frequented by traders and pilgrims because of the distinct ancient spiritual vibes spread across its temples, alleys and Ghats. Mahakaleshwar temple sacred to Lord Shiva is the highlight of Ujjain’s tourism as it is one of the 12 Shiva shrines where Shiva’s Jyoti Linga occurs naturally and derives power from within rather than through rituals and chants by priests.
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Maheshwar is a small riverside town situated on the banks of sacred Narmada River, finding mentions in Sanskrit Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata underlining its great spiritual significance. The city is dotted with several ancient temples testimonial to its timeless history, coupled with scenic Ghats and majestic palaces and cenotaphs, significant in terms of tourism.
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An Om-shaped island on Narmada River is a popular pilgrimage destination with a vibrant and authentic spiritual vibe. The pilgrimage point is best known for Shri Omkar Mandhata temple, Siddhanatha temple and Gaudi Somnath Temple, all sacred to Lord Shiva.
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Situated on the top of a verdant plateau of about 20 km in area, Mandu is a historical town in ruins strewn with UNESCO world heritage sites in the form of palaces, cenotaphs, and other monuments, including the most resplendent the Rupmati’s pavilion.
How to reach Madhya Pradesh
Closest international airports to Madhya Pradesh are Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, followed by Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport of Mumbai. Domestic airports are available at Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Khajuraho.
Important railway junctions in Madhya Pradesh are located at Bhopal, Gwalior, Ujjain, Jabalpur, Indore, Sagar and Satna, among others.
With a well-organized network of national highways and state roadways connecting Madhya Pradesh to its neighboring states and cities within its margins, travelling by road inside and through Madhya Pradesh via state roadways buses as well as hired private vehicles or own transport is quite convenient.
Best time to visit Madhya Pradesh
With tropic of cancer passing through it, the climate in Madhya Pradesh stays generally harsh. Horrid hot summer season begins from March till July. Though unbearable sun discourages tourists from visiting the state during the season, wildlife enthusiasts like to visit the national parks between March and May as dried up vegetation coupled with acute water shortage renders tiger sightings way easier than otherwise.
The best time to visit Madhya Pradesh starts from the end of July up to the end of March. October to February, in particular, offer the most moderate weather conditions in Madhya Pradesh.
December and January witness winters in Madhya Pradesh when it is the best time to explore the jungles for tiger/ wildlife sightings, as well as, bird watching.