I had always wanted to see Madhya Pradesh since the time I started travelling. So when I got an opportunity, I couldn’t resist visiting the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh.
It is one of the largest states of India, thus a perfect itinerary which covers all the important landmarks need to be designed if you have a fixed number of days in hand. I was lucky enough to be able to travel in Madhya Pradesh on the perfect itinerary and not miss any important spots.
Day 1 – Arrive in Bhopal, explore Bhimbetka and Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhopal being the capital city of the state is very well connected from the other parts of the country and also has an international aiport Raja Bhoj which connects the state with the whole world.
As soon as you arrive in Bhopal, you can head to one of the amazing properties the city has, like Jehan Numa Palace or Jehan Numa Retreat, freshen up and head out to explore the places which are in close vicinity of Bhopal.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter
These ordinary looking caves and rocks from a distance have the most iconic stories ever. The paintings, carvings, depressions on the rocks are as old as 100,000 years. Can you believe that! The stories from those times were carved by firsts of humankind on those rocks. It’s a must visit if you are as inquisitive about our ancestors as I was when I visited this archaelogical site.
An incomplete temple but houses the tallest Shivalinga of the world. Astonishing, isn’t it? The temple is perched on a hill top overlooking the town called Bhojpur. Rich in history and architecture, the temple although incomplete is considered a holy place of worship by Hindus. The temple dates back to 11th century and sees a lot of tourists and locals every day.
Day 2 – Explore Taj-ul-Masajid in Bhopal , explore Sanchi Stupas in Sanchi and Udaigiri Caves
The iconic mosque with gorgeous pink facade topped by two tall minarets floored with magnificent white marbles from the era of 19th century is definitely a must visit while in Bhopal. The construction of Taj-ul-Masajid was initiated by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum and then the construction was continued by her daughter Sultan Jahan Begum, still the mosque couldn’t get completed due to lack of funds. The mosque talks about the reign of Begums in Bhopal and how they took upon themselves to get the mosque constructed. Don’t miss the blue colored doors of the madrasas in the courtyard which will give you a sneak peek in the local’s lives.
Travel to Sanchi and explore the popular Stupas there.
Sanchi Stupas are almost synonymous to Madhya Pradesh tourism, so it has to be on travel itinerary for MP. The iconic and historical Sanchi Stupas stand tall on a hilltop in the city of Sanchi. These stupas hold very significant value for Buddhists, but did you know that Buddha never visited this place and Ashoka got the popular Great Stupa built in 3rd century BC.
These caves are only about 10kms away from Sanchi Stupas and upon reaching there, it truly felt that I could get lost in the stories of the caves. These caves are popular for the sculpture of Lord Vishnu in his Vraha avatar to rescue Bhudevi by his tusk. These rock cut caves are a must visit if you are planning to visit Sanchi.
Stay in Sanchi overnight.
Day 3 – Reach Chanderi, explore Archaeological Museum Chanderi , Kati Ghati, Chanderi fort , Badal Mahal and Handloom park in Chanderi and then leave for Orchha
Start your day early and leave for Chanderi which is around 170 kms from Sanchi. You will be surprised to know that there is so much more to Chanderi than the famous Chanderi Sarees.
Archaeological Museum Chanderi
Visiting Chanderi museum and hearing the rocks speak to you will set the tone right for you to experience Chanderi. The incharge of the museum, Kalley bhai is a local there and a true storyteller. You can’t miss to meet him if you really want to see Chanderi and know about the tales of trade routes of Central India. It is quite intriguing to hear that a lot of artifacts, sculptures were contributed to the museum by locals of the town.
A very interesting place to spend a few minutes and observe the passage which was built by a mason on the orders of the then governor of Chanderi. The passage had been made by cutting a huge rock and making a gate to pass through. But the mason couldn’t figure out how to put the door to the passage and committed suicide because of the fear of the then governor. Some popular movie shots from movie like Stree also has been shot at this gate.
You will immediately be in awe of this place for its well manicured gardens and a tall symbolic gate of Badal Mahal. The fort’s walls are so beautifully maintained that it clearly gives an impression of what the fort was actually built for. It was said to be built to welcome the esteemed foreign dignitaries. A lot of local stories prevail around this gorgeous palace as well.
Chanderi fort is also known as Kirti durg, named after the king Kirti Pal. The fort is perched on the top of a hill and is the close vicinity of a nice resort called Kila Kothi from where you can have a bird’s eye view of the entire city.
Chanderi fort although not too well maintained but houses some important spots like Jauhar Memorial and Baiju Bawra Memorial. The stories around these iconic spots intrigued me more than the fort, thus I spent my time listening to the stories and imagining myself in the bygone times.
Most of us know that Chanderi sarees are popular, look exquisite and are almost weightless. So, when you know that these sarees are made right in the vicinity, how can you skip visiting this handloom park where you can see how the famous sarees are made. Ofcourse, you can also splurge your heart out and make the most of your visit to Chanderi by buying those gorgeous looking sarees.
Head to Orchha which is around 120kms from Chanderi and stay overnight in one of the most beautiful hotels of the city.
Day 4 – Witness the beautiful sunrise in Orchha, explore the chatris and forts of Orchha and leave for Khajuraho
Sunrise in Orchha
If you are a sunrise lover, you can’t miss the sunrise in Orchha. Sit by the Betwa river and watch the famous Chatris of Orchha against the rising sun. The locals doing their own things in the mornings and the lanes of Orchha during the early hours of the day make for the most beautiful photographs as well.
Raja Ram Mandir
It’s a popular Hindu pilgrimage and sees a lot of devotees every single day. This is the only temple in India where Lord Ram is worshipped as a king and that too in a palace. A lot of tourists also throng at this temple especially on the festivals. Another important thing to note in this temple is that Lord Rama, like a king is holding a sword in one hand and a shield in another. A bunch of shops pave the way to the temple and saffron color is spotted everywhere around the temple.
Chhatris in Orchha
It’s hard to believe that the spectacular chhatris or cenotaphs in Orchha were built as memorials for the departed Bundelkand royal family members. The architecture is so mesmerizing that you’d want to keep staring at those. Also, the pictures of these chhatris from across the Betwa River are so instagrammable that you wouldn’t want to miss the photo opportunity.
Leave for Khajuraho which is around 200 kms from Orchha and stay overnight there.
Day 5 – Explore Khajuraho group of Monuments
Khajuraho is a town full of UNESCO heritage monuments which are so talked about for its Hindu and Jain temples. The temples are popularly known for their nagara style architecture and their erotic sculptures. Most of the Khajuraho temples were built between 950 AD to 1050 AD.
Start your day with the popular Jain temples of which two, Adinath and Parshavnath temples are well preserved. Also, the stories around architecture of these temples make them so interesting, so don’t forget to ask for a guide! I was lucky enough to hear all the tales from Mr. Anurag Shukla who is an expert guide there.
Head to explore the Hindu temples of the western group of temples and appreciate the architecture which is rich and one of its kind. Almost all Hindu temples there follow a grid geometrical design called vastu-purusha-mandala, meaning dwelling structure, universal essence of Hindu tradition and Circle. The temples are made of sandstone and look so glorious. I highly recommend taking a guide there to understand the intricacies of the architecture of these famous temples.
Stay overnight in Khajuraho in one of the beautiful properties of the city.
Day 6 – Leave for home with abundant memories.
Khajuraho has an international airport which makes it very convenient for people to fly back from there. So, it’s advisable to head out via Khajuraho airport.