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Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is famous throughout the world for the temples of Khajuraho built in the 10th and 11th centuries, whose internal and external walls are embellished with exquisite stone carvings which portray every facet and mood of life, from the erotic to the divine, the commonplace to the sublime. A week-long Festival of Classical Dances is held at Khajuraho in February/March every year in which India's foremost exponents of dance perform against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit temples.

However, the State has much more than just khajuraho. With almost a third of its area covered with forests, it has as many as 11 National Parks and 31 Wildlife Sanctuaries (including the Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Parks, Asia's largest wildlife sanctuary and tiger reserve). Apart from panthers, gaur (Indian bison) and a variety of deer, these Parks between them are home to one-sixth of the world's tiger population. Little wonder then that Madhya Pradesh wears the mantle of "Tiger State".

Gwalior, in North Madhya Pradesh, is dominated by massive hilltop Fort, one of the best specimens of medieval architecture. Apart from a number of interesting monuments such as the beautiful Mansingh Palace (perched on the very edge of the fort), Teli MandirMadhya Pradesh Architecture, Gwalior Fort and Palace and the exquisitely carved Sas Bahu Temple (deciated to 'Sahasrabahu', 'the thousand-armed' Lord Vishnu), the Fort aslso houses one of the India's leading public schools, The Scindia School which celebrated its centenary in 1997.

The Durbar Hall of the 19th century Jai Vilas Palace, residence of the Scindia family (the former rulers) located in the city, has a pair of chandeliers reputed to be the largest in the world. Each is 12.8 m high and wighs 3 tonnes. it is said that before installing them the Palace roof was tested by hoisting 3 elephants onto it! A part of the Palace now houses a museum of family memorabilia. The show-piece here is a model railway which carried cigars and brandy around the dining table!

Gwalior has had a very strong tradition of Hindustani classical music from medieval times. Baiju Bawara, the composer-singer at the court of Raja Man Singh Tomar in the early 16th century, 'Sangeet Samrat' (king of music) Tansen, one of Mughal Emperor Akbar's 'nine jewels', and in more recent times, classical singer V.D.Paluskar and 'sarod' maestro Hafiz Ali Khan, all had their roots here (sarod= a string instrument without frests). Tansen's Tomb in Gwalior is the venue for an annual music festival. And Hafiz Ali Khan son and celebrated disciple, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, still mesmerises audiences throughout the world with the lilting notes of his magical 'sarod'.

Bhopal, the capital, is spread out on 7 gentle hills and around two pretty lakes. It is an amalgam of scenic beauty, evocative monuments (such as the Taj-ul-Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid and Moti Masjid), and contemporary buildings.

Just 40 km South, amidst rocky terrain and dense forest, lies the archaeological treasure Bhimbetka. The world's largest group of rock shelters (nearly 700) belonging to the Neolithic age was found here recently. more than 500 of these shelters have pre-historic paintings on their walls depicting the lives of the cave dwellers-huge figures of bisons, tigers and rhinoceros, hunting scenes, communal dances, mother and child, honey collection and so on. And it has been found that the caves were used by different people over a long period of time from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Early Historic periods.
Sanchi Stupa, Oldest Buddhist Stupa
Sanchi, renowned for the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world, build by Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC); Orchcha, the capital city if the Bundela rulers (16th and 17th centuries), famous for its grand palaces and temples; Mandu, a fortress town strategically perched at the edge of the Malwa plateau and protected by massive 45 km long fort walls; Shivpuri, the summer capital of the former Scindia rulers; and Chanderi, famous for its fine sarees and brocades, are some of the other places where M.P.'s archaeological treasures are worth exploring.

The holy city, Ujjain, lies 188 km West of Bhopal on the banks of the Shipra river. It is one of the four cities in india where the Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years in rotation (each city getting its turn after 12 years). During the Mela, millions of Hindu devotees come for a purifying dip in the river. The city abounds in temples, and the spire of the Mahakaleshwara Temple ( dedicated to Lord Shiva) dominates its skyline.

Panchmarhi is a pretty hill station about 190 km South-East of Bhopal. Its cascading waterfalls, deep blue pools, ravines and a maze of gorges sculpted in red sandstone offer a quiet escape into nature.

Shopping - Maheshwari sarees renowed for their novel weave, colour, patterns and reversible border; Chanderi sarees and brocades; finely ornamented Dhokra metal castings of animal figures, votive lamps etc; gold & silver work and leather toys are the specialities of the State.

Indian States:

» North India - Jammu and Kashmir - Himachal Pradesh - Punjab - Uttaranchal - More...
» West India - Rajasthan - Gujarat - Goa - Maharashtra - Madhya Pradesh - More...
» East India - Sikkim - Assam - West Bengal - Arunachal Pradesh - Orissa - More...
» South India - Karnataka - Andhra Pradesh - Kerala - Tamilnadu - Pondicherry - More...