Madhya Pradesh is called the "Heart of India" because of its location in central India and its cultural heritage. The area is steeped in history with 12,000 year old rock paintings at Bhimbetka to a 5,000 year old stupa at Sanchi.Madhya Pradesh has abundant natural beauty found in the spectacular mountain ranges, winding rivers, dense forests and panorama of wildlife. The sal and bamboo forests along with the National Parks and Sanctuaries contain hundred species of birds and many species of wildlife.UNESCO has declared three sites in Madhya Pradesh World Heritage Sites: the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi and the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.
Bhimbetka has some of the earliest known traces of human life in India including Stone Age rock shelters and paintings dating back 9,000 years.Bhimbetka is also one of the oldest sites in the world where petroglyphs have been found. The colors have been well preserved because of the natural red and white pigment. It appears that the paints were made of colored earth, vegetable dyes, roots and animal fat.The rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka feature interesting paintings that vividly depict the way of life of people living in the caves and the natural environment around them. Massive sandstone outcrops contain five clusters of natural rock shelters.The Zoo Rock Shelter is famous for the various animal paintings. Pictures of elephants, sambhar, bison and deer are found on one rock while a peacock, a snake, a deer and the sun are on another.The oldest paintings are approximately 12,000 years old and feature large animals painted in white, as time goes on the paintings feature hunting tools, trade with other communities and tree gods.Bhimbetaka was first discovered in 1888 and since then more than 700 similar shelters have been identified; 243 are in Bhimbetka group and 178 in Lakha Juar group.
The Udaigiri Caves are cut into a sandstone hill and feature 20 Gupta cave shrines. Two are Jain and the rest are Hindu. Buddhist monks also inhabited these caves in 2 BC.Cave 1, the Rani Gumpha or "Queen's Cave", is tucked away around the corner. The best sculpture is found on the pillars, arches and to the rear of the courtyard on the lower level. On the back wall of the upper story, a long frieze shows rampaging elephants, panicking monkeys, sword fights and the abduction of women.Caves 3 and 4 are double-storied caves that contain sculptures of a lion holding its prey, elephants with snakes wrapped around them and pillars topped with peculiar winged animals.Cave 5 has an impressive image of Vishnu as his boar incarnation with a frieze of gods above.Cave 20 has detailed Jain carvings and Cave 9 contains pillars in its hall.
Bhojeshwar Temple, Bhojpur, India
Bhojpur is a town of historical and religious importance in Bhojpur. The legendary Parmara king, Dhar Raja Bhoj, founded the town. The Bhojeshwar Temple, named for the king, is a simple square with a carved dome supported by four pillars.The Bhojeshwar Temple was never completed, and the ramp used to raise the dome-level still stands. Although not completed, it remains on of the best examples of temple architecture from the 12th and 13th C.Nearby, and also incomplete, is a Jain shrine. Highlights include a colossal statue of Mahavira and two of Parswanat.
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is one of India's largest national parks. There is sal forest, wooded grassland, rivers and streams.This region of Kanha National Park inspired Rudyard Kipling to write his classic story, Jungle Book.Due to wildlife management there has been a notable increase in the tiger and leopard population. Other wildlife found in the park include sambar, spotted deer or chital, mongoose, hyena, wild pigs, and guar or Indian bison. Over 175 varieties of birds have been recorded in Kanha, making it an ideal spot for bird lovers.
Panna National Park
Panna National Park is home to many species of wildlife including tigers, leopards, wolves, gharial, herds of bluebull, chinkara and sambars. The variety of animals makes it an ideal location for wildlife watchers.Pandav Falls is a major attraction with the lake fed by a waterfall. The falls are on the road leading to Panna National Park.Located along the Ken River, both of the major Indian species of crocodiles - the mugger and long snout gharial, can be seen while visiting Panna National Park.
Islamnagar was the palace of Bhopal's Afghan rulers, established in the early 18th C by Dos Mohammed Khan. Formal gardens and a pavilion with a mix of Hindu and Islamic decorative art surround the palace at Islamnagar, and columns embellished with floral motifs.The Chaman Mahal has a formal garden inside with channels and fountains that are still working. Next door is the 19th C Rani Mahal, a two-story building with iron treasure chests located outside.
Jabalpur is located in the geographic center of India. Dating from the 19th C, Jabalpur is considered to be a "cultural center".It is well known for the Marble Rocks gorge on the Narmada River. Nearby, the Bhedaghat is a famous waterfall (also known as Dhuandhar from the word 'Dhuan' a Hindi word for smoke) because the water droplets at the falls create the illusion of vapors.Travelers use Jabalpur as a starting point for travels to Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park.
Rani Durgavati Museum
The Rani Durgavati Museum is dedicated to the memory of the great Queen Durgavati as her memorial and museum. A collection of sculptures, inscriptions and prehistoric relics are on display - many from the 10th and 11th C. A sandstone idol of Durga and the sculpture of Saraswati is also on display in the museum.The second level of the Rani Durgavati Museum has letters and photographs relating to Mahatma Gandhi.