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Khajuraho Group of Monuments- The land of Kamasutra!

Built between 950 and 1050 CE by the Chandela dynasty, Khajuraho, one of the top tourist attractions of India, has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples. The group of monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and The Archeological Survey of India has ranked Khajuraho temples as the best preserved monuments of antiquity. You can see profusion of sculptures with symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art. Well-known for the erotic sculptures and intricate details, one can visit Khajuraho and simply say that Kama Sutra was originated in India! Earlier, there were about 85 Hindu temples at Khajuraho, out of which only about 22 Hindu temples are left now. Also, The Khajuraho Dance Festival in the month of February is something which cannot be missed!

By Rail– Approximately 630 kilometres from Delhi and 280 kilometres from Gwalior

By Air– Easily reached by flight from Delhi, Mumbai or Gwalior

Orchha Fort- The architectural splendour!

Orchha, the erstwhile capital city of the Bundela rulers, is located on the banks of the Betwa River and in the vicinity are around 14 remarkable chhatris or cenotaphs which are architecturally splendid, mostly built in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is full of well preserved temples and palaces, with a medieval history. There are various temples and tombs all around the town which are truly remarkable and have their own historical importance. There are great opportunities to enjoy the surrounding countryside, with cycling, walking and rafting. Orchha fort complex is the main attraction,located on an island on River Betwa, which has a number of palaces to visit within it.

By Air– Nearest Airport – Gwalior (115 kilometres) or Khajuraho (175 kilometres)

By Rail- Nearest Railway Station is Jhansi (18 kilometres)

Bandhavgarh National Park- Land of the enormous Bamera

Bandhavgarh, one of the places with highest density of tiger population in India, is also a place with the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world. It is home to more than 300 species of birds, about 80 species of butterflies, sloth bears, deers, leopards,jackals, a number of reptiles and also some famous named individual tigers. Every guide will tell you the story of Charger and Sita! Almost all the tigers of Bandhavgarh today are descendants of Sita and Charger. Charger, a tiger so named because of his habit of charging at tourists and elephants, is living in Bandhavgarh since the 1990s.Female Sita, who appeared on the cover of National Geographic, also considered the most photographed tiger in the world, was also to be found in Bandhavgarh for many years. Out of the four zones, Tala is the most demanded and richest safari zone in Bandhavgarh in terms of tiger population. Don’t miss the famous fort with 39 caves, The Bandhavgarh Fort, which is believed to have been gifted by lord Ram to his brother Lakshman (leading to the name Bandhavgarh, meaning ‘brother’s fort’), and is thought to be around 2000 years old.

By Air: Nearest Airport – Jabalpur, approximately 200 kms, has good air connectivity with major cities of India.

By Rail: Katni and Umaria are both major nearby railway stations with good train connectivity across India.

Kanha National Park- The Home of Mowgli

Kanha, one of the best havens of the national animal, is the largest national park inCentral India. The lush grassy ravines and meadows of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel Jungle Book. It has a significant population of Gaur, the largest wild animal in the park, the mighty Royal Bengal Tiger, the powerful Barasingha, the sloth bear, the muscular leopard and many many more! It is also home to over 1000 species of flowering plants. Out of the three entrances here, The Kisli gate leads into the park’s premium Kanha core zone, the most popular zone,
as tiger sightings are more frequent here.

By Air: Jabalpur, approximately 130 kms, has good air connectivity with major cities of India.

By Rail: Jabalpur, major railway station with good train connectivity across India.

Bhimbetka rock shelters- Welcome to the Paleolithic age

Bhimbetka, one of the 32 sites from around the country that have been added to the UNESCO’s prestigious list of world heritage sites, has 700 rock shelters, out of which 500 of them contain some of the world’s oldest prehistoric paintings, all depicting stories of humankind in
the Palaeolithic age. The entire landscape has a strong appealing natural and aesthetic quality, as the rock formations are believed to have been under water at a time, by the archaeologists. Accompanied by densely wooded vegetation and lush greenery, the place has a ‘timeless’ quality of its own. Some rock shelters are also considered to be 30,000 years old. The colours are remarkably well preserved due to their natural red and white pigments.

By Air– Nearest Airport- Bhopal, which is directly connected to all the major cities in India.

By Road– 45 kilometres from Bhopal

Image Source: wikimedia

Sanchi Stupa- The Life of Buddha

Sanchi Stupa, another UNESCO declared heritage site in India, is an outstanding specimen of Buddhist art and architecture which was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC. It is the oldest and one of the best preserved stone structures of ancient
India. The outstanding Stupa, which is surrounded by four gateways, ornamentally depicts and symbolises the life of Buddha and his previous incarnations, the cycle of birth and rebirth (Moksha) from the Jataka tales. The Buddha has been shown symbolically and dramatically in the form of tree and also several inanimate figures. The national emblem of India was also derived from one of the pillars of Sanchi Stupa- The Ashoka Pillar.

By Air– Bhopal is the nearest airport and is directly connected to all the major cities in India.

By Road– One hour comfortable drive from Bhopal.

Maheshwar Ahilyabai Ghats- Take a dip in the Holy Narmada

Maheshwar, an old and picturesque little town on the banks of Narmada, is an important pilgrimage destination, and thousands of people visit the town for this reason. The astounding temples and beautiful ghats of Maheshwar have together given the town a unique identity. The ghats are also named after the dynasties such as Ahilya Ghat, Peshwa ghat and Fanase ghat. The famous Ahilya Fort stands majestically by the river, giving the visitors an exceptional view from above. The main wing of AhilyaBai’s Fort near the ghat, has now been converted into a boutique luxury hotel, frequently visited by famous personalities all over the world.

On the river banks, you can see the daily customs, practices, quaint culture and religious life of the local people, the Stone memorials of the satis of Maheshwar, who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands. You will also witness holy men and pilgrims sitting here in silent meditation; loads of villagers bathing in the sacred water and women with gleaming pots of water.

By Air: Indore is connected to all major cities of India, such as Delhi and Mumbai.

By Road: 95 kilometres from the nearby city of Indore.

Image Source: krishoonetwork

Omkareshwar Temple- Sanctum Sanctorum

Omkareshwar, one of the 12 worshipped Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva mentioned in the Shiv Purana,is a Hindu temple dedicated to God Shiva. The reason behind the name Jyotirlinga is, that Lord Shiva is said to have revealed himself to his devotees in the form of Jyoti (light). The River Narmada is one of the most sacred rivers in India and is now also home to one of the world’s biggest dam projects.The shape of this island on the Narmada River is said to be like the Hindu Om symbol. Even today devotees are said to have got his darshan in the form of light at these places.

Air: Nearest Airport –Indore, 77 km, has good air connectivity with major cities of India.

Rail: Mortakka railway station is 13 kilometres. But the major nearest railway station connected to Delhi and Mumbai is again at Indore (77 km).

Gwalior Fort- The marvel of Medieval Architecture

The marvellous Gwalior Fort, built by Man Singh Tomar, is an 8th-century hill fort near Gwalior. It is the most magnificent monument in Gwalior and it dominates the city, standing on a steep mass of sandstone. The two main palaces in the fort are -Gurjari Mahal and Man Mandir. The 15th century Gujari Mahal was built by Raja Mansingh Tomar for the love of his Gujar queen, Mrignayani. She demanded a separate palace for herself with regular
water supply. The interior of Gujari Mahal has been converted into an Archaeological Museum.You can see rare artefacts at the museum, Hindu and Jain sculptures dated to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, replicas of frescoes seen in the Bagh Caves and beautiful Terracotta items.Man Mandir is again a beautiful structure with intricate detailed art and architecture. A place not to be missed for sure!

By Air: Gwalior is connected to major cities in India. It is 119 kilometres from Agra.

By Road: Two hour drive from Agra.

Jahaz Mahal, Mandu- Jewel in the midst of water

Jahaz Mahal or Ship Palace situated between two artificial lakes; Munj Talao and Kapur Talao, was built by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din-Khilji. This two storied architectural marvel is so named, as it appears as a ship floating in water. Jahaz Mahal, with its cascades and fountains, is a jewel built somewhere around 1436-1439, which is brilliantly carved from some expert craftsmen in Delhi.

By Air: Indore is well connected with the major cities in India, having numerous daily direct flights.

By Road: Hardly two hour drive from Indore.

Tanushree Patwa

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