Central India, also known as the ‘Heart of India’, comprises of two states- Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. With a rich culture, fascinating history and excellent architectural beauty, Central India presents an interesting blend of religions, ethnicities, and lifestyles. This mystic land holds marvels of our History- temples, majestic forts, monuments, caves, statues- that have endured the ravages of time and are a testament of our glorious past. Central India is sprinkled with sites of tourist attraction, bringing you one step closer to India’s vivid history and unceasing beauty. You must visit the following places for a spiritually rewarding experience.
1. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
Bhimbetka Rock Caves are a priceless chronical of our past. They incorporate over 500 pre-historic rock caves, surrounded by lush green forests and breathtaking natural beauty. The cave paintings date back almost 30,000 years, giving us a taste of our great past. Rich in its flora and fauna, this place has served home to humans for several millennia.
2. Temples of Khajuraho
The Khajuraho Temples were built under the Chandela Kings between 950 and 1050 A.D. Built of sandstone in shades of pink and pale yellow, they are amongst the finest temples in India. Intricate carvings of dance sculptures and artworks depicting the spiritual teachings of the Chandela Dynasty adorn the temple walls. Every year, this place attracts thousands of tourists from around the world, the main attraction being the Annual Khajuraho Dance Festival.
3. House of the Gods- Dewas
Dewas, a popular town in Madhya Pradesh, is located on the Malwa plateau. It is renowned for the ‘Dewas Tekri’, which is a pious temple situated on a 300ft hilltop. A broad flight of steps leads to the temples of Chhoti Mata- Chamunda and Badi Mata- Tulja Bhawani. The images of the goddesses are carved into the rocks. One can have a fascinating view of the entire town from the hilltop. Dewas also houses the Bank Note Press, where currency notes are printed, and it has the largest Kaila Devi Mandir in M.P., with a 51ft statue of Hanumanji!
4. Land of Holkars- Indore
Indore also referred to as ‘Mini Bombay’, is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. It has been awarded as the cleanest city of India for the past two years and is evolving very rapidly. The people in Indore are so warm and friendly, it instantly makes you feel like home! The city is adorned with lots of temples, palaces, museums, and parks. It offers a perfect blend of historic and modern life. The Khajrana Temple, constructed by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar is a ravishing temple of Lord Ganesha. Other places worth visiting are the Lal Bagh Palace, Rajwada Palace, Annapurna Temple, Choki Dhani, Kaanch Mandir, etc. If you’re a big-time foodie, then you must make sure to check out the 56 Dukaan and Sarafa Bazaar, famous for their mouth-watering delicacies.
5. City of Temples- Ujjain
Ujjain is an ancient city situated on the banks of river Kshipra. It is believed to be the holiest city and is an ideal spiritual retreat for anyone seeking the mysteries of this world. The whole place is bathed in peaceful and serene vibes. Ujjain is one of the seven famous pilgrimage points of Hindus. It is also among the four venues of the world-famous Kumbh Mela- the largest peace gathering on the entire planet, where over a hundred million people visit Ujjain to enjoy the holy ambiance. The most famous temples to visit in Ujjain are the Shri Mahakaleshwar Mandir, Kal Bhairav Mandir, and Chintaman Mandir.
6. City of Buddhist Fascination- Sanchi
Sanchi, a small village near Bhopal, is a must-visit place for the followers of Buddhism. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The city reflects the Buddhist culture with the monasteries and monuments dating back to the 3rd century B.C. and is renowned for the ancient Sanchi Stupa. The Buddha Temples here are the oldest stone structures in India. Some very popular Buddhist spots to visit are the Udayagiri Caves, the Gupta Temple, the Eastern Gateway and the Ashoka Pillar that are by far the finest examples of the development of Buddhist art and architecture.
7. Glorious Forts of Gwalior
Gwalior is a historic city dotted with beautiful temples, colossal forts, monuments, palaces, etc. It has a majestic charm and is the best destination for architectural sightseeing. The Gwalior Forts are deemed as the best fortresses in India. Their colourful history goes back to over a thousand years. Within the fort walls are several temples and ruined palaces that give us a glimpse of our heroic past. One should visit Teli Ka Mandir, Man Singh Palace, Gujari Mahal, Assi Khamba ki Baoli, and Sahastrabahu ka Mandir inside the Fort complex.
8. Central India’s Treasure- Mandu
Mandu is the finest example of architectural excellence in the country. Situated on the Vindhyachal Mountains at over 2000ft, it’s an ancient fort-city known for its Afghan architecture. Mandu is fondly referred to as ‘Malwa’s Heaven’. It is surrounded by stone walls, dotted with huge darwazas and draped all over with greenery, like a vast green quilt! Mandu is of great historical significance as it is the testament of Rani Rupmati’s and Badhshah Baz Bahadur’s eternal love. Landmark buildings to visit inside are Hoshang Shah’s tomb, Jami Masjid Mosque, and the monumental Jahaz Mahal that proudly stands between two lakes.
9. Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is the largest park in Central India. It is spread over an area of 940km² and is ranked as one of the best parks in Asia. It is a haven to over 300 species including local birds, migratory birds, and wild animals, like the majestic Bengal Tiger, leopards, sloth bears, deers, wild cats, etc. This place truly offers breathtaking natural beauty that cannot be found anywhere, with its meadows, open forests and lush green grasslands.
10. City of Lakes- Bhopal
Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is also the greenest city in India. Bhopal has two main lakes- The Upper Lake and the Lower Lake, including several natural and artificial lakes scattered all around the city. Bhopal is of great historical significance. The enchanting Bhojtal Lake is one of the most ancient lakes built by humans. The Taj-Ul-Masjid is the largest and the most distinguished mosque in India. One might also visit the Van Vihar National Park, the Raisen Fort, Birla Temple, and Bharat Bhawan, which is a Multi-arts Centre and Museum.
11. Queen of Satpura Ranges- Pachmarhi
Situated amidst the Satpura Ranges, Pachmarhi is the only hill station in Madhya Pradesh. It is a complete package of scenic vistas of valleys, mountains, lakes, waterfalls and lush forests. A wide variety of wild plants and animals are found here. The main attractions include the Pandava Caves, the Catholic Church, and the ancient Cave Shelters at Mahadeo Hills. One of the best experiences would be watching the sunset in this heavenly land, and just relaxing in the peaceful surroundings.
Central India is a land gifted with such precious gems of extravagant monuments, palaces, forts, temples, and whatnot. These were some of the most eye-catching and spiritually calming places that one must visit in Central India.
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