Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh

At a Glance
Capital City
308,245 sq.kms
Geo Location
Central India
Average Climate
25°c - 38°c
Best time to visit
October to March

Madhya Pradesh, which means the Central Province, was India's largest state before Chhattisgarh was carved out of it and has a population of 8 crore. Starting from the North, it is surrounded clockwise by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

The Vindhya and the Satpura hill ranges dominate the physical aspect of the state, with the rivers Chambal, Betwa, Sindhu, Narmada, Tapti, Mahanadi, and Indravati flowing through it. Madhya Pradesh had the largest number of tribal before its division.

The finds along the Narmada Valley and cave-paintings of Hoshangabad, Panchmarhi, Chhatarpur and Raigarh suggest that the area seems to have been the cradle of pre-Neolithic and Neolithic civilizations.

Ashoka the Great, in his youth, was stationed at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, as the viceroy of the Maurya dynasty over the region. Later as the illustrious promoter of Buddhism, he laid the foundation of Sanchi Stupa, one of the most impressive Buddhist sites.

However in the twilight of history we see the legendary King Vikramaditya of the Gupta dynasty ruling from Ujjain. His glorious court had great poets and scholars: Kalidasa, Bhava-bhuti, Varahamihira.

The Gupta Empire slowly waned chiefly because of the attack from the Huns. They were repulsed by King Yasodharman of Malwa early in the 6th century. Inscriptions on the two columns of victory he erected at Mandasor showed that he ruled over a large territory.

From the famous Buddhist Stupa of Sanchi and the temple of Khajuraho to smaller shrines-Madhya Pradesh has many monuments and sites of historical importance, associated with various dynasties.

Madhya Pradesh is picturesque. Apart from its classical culture, its tribal population has varied cultural strains of its own-unchanged over thousands of years.

Madhya Pradesh earlier used to be the largest state of India but after dismemberment of Chattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh made it the second largest state of India. It lies in the very heart of India and hence has been named as Madhya Pradesh. Extremely fertile Malwa plateau with black cotton-soil, fertile plains interspersed with hill of the Vindhya range, river valleys-prominently of the holy River Narmada and dense jungles of Bandhavgarh, Panna and Shivpuri make Madhya Pradesh tremendously rich in terms of natural resources. Its vastness begets various shades of culture.

Specimens of mediaeval architecture can be seen in large cache of monuments of that duration. Apart from a number of interesting monuments such as the beautiful Men Sight Place (perched on the very

edge of the front), the Teli Mandir and the exquisitely carved Sas Bahu Temple (dedicated to 'Sahastrabahu', 'the thousand-armed' Lord Vishnu), the fort also houses one of India's leading public schools, The Scindia School, which celebrated its centenary in 1997. Jai Vilas Palace, built in 19th century and residence of royal Scindia family, houses the Durbar Hall which is famous for a pair of the world's biggest chandeliers- 3 tones in weight and 12.8 feet in height. Three elephants had been taken on the roof of the Durbar Hall to ensure that the weight of the chandeliers (3 tons) can be withstood by the roof. The Jai Vilas Palace, a fort palace, houses a museum of family memorabilia.

Gwalior, like many other prominent medieval cities of India, had an uninterrupted tradition of classical Hindustani music. Famous singers and composers like Baiju Bawra (Raja Man Singh Tomar in the early 16th century) and Tansen (King Akbar in 16th century), V.D. Paluskar, Sarod maestro Hafiz Ali Khan and his son Ustad Amjad Ali Khan etc have their roots here.

Bhopal, situated around lakes and on the hilly plateau of Vindhya, is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. It is famous for its lesser population density, modern infrastructure, scenic beauty and medieval era monuments like the Taj-ul-Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid and Moti Masjid. There are many historically vital monuments in Madhya Pradesh like Bhimbetka, Sanchi, Mandu, Orchha, Khajuraho and Ujjain. Bhimbetka, home to more than 700 rock shelters of Neolithic Age and inhabited by diverse people for a longer period from the Upper Paleolithic to the Early Historic periods, has more than 500 caves with wall paintings of pre-historic era depicting the lives of the cave dwellers-huge figures of bison's, mother and child, honey collection and so on. This archaeological treasure, known as Bhimbetka and preserved in dense forest , is merely 40 kms south to Bhopal.

Sanchi is famous for the world's oldest Buddhist stupa, gardens, temples and pillars which were constructed over a period of 1500 years (300 BC to 12th century). Great Stupa and Four Pylon Gates, great example of Buddhist architecture were built by Maurya Emperor Ashoka. Ashokan pillar and Gupta period temples are also valuable architectural treasures.

Capital of Bundela rulers, Orchha was established as capital of Bundela kingdom in 1531 AD by Rudra Pratap Singh. Orchha, situated on the banks of river Betwa, is famous for Bundela Gharana of painting style, cenotaphs, Jahangir Palace (built by king Bir Singh Deo), Raja Mahal (built by Madhukar Shah), Raja Ram Temple (here Lord Ram is worshipped as a king), Phool Bag and Laxmi Narayan Temple.

Mandu, famous for various monuments built by Parmar kings and Afgan ruler Baz Bahadur, is a fortress town strategically perched at the edge of the Malwa plateau and protected by massive forty-five-kilometre-long fort walls. The most prominent monuments are Asharfi Mahal (located in front of Jami Mosque, the most magnificent building, built on the line of Damascus mosque's map), Jahaz Mahal (Ship Palace), Hindola Mahal (resembles a swing) etc.

Khjauraho, a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, was capital of Chandela dynasty. The erotic temples of Khajuraho are grouped mainly into three clusters- Western Group of Temples, Eastern Group of Temples and Southern Group of Temples. Khajuraho is a must-see during any North India Tour itinerary.

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