Land of the Tiger and Temples
The vast central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is larger than many countries and would easily occupy a year or more of travel to see every corner. However the state's most well known centres for visitors are largely located in close proximity to one another in its northern part. Gwailior is often the first stopping point when entering Madhya Pradesh as it is just a short drive from Agra. The fort here is very impressive and dominates the city from its position high on a ridge. A more attractive place to stay is Orchha, a delightful town set on a promontory in a river and with a large fort and palace complex as its defining feature.
There are not many places in this part of India which afford excellent accommodation, interesting historical sites and a small, walkable village within close distance of one another, but Orchha is one of those towns and a place of real tranquillity.
A little to the east of Orchha is the famous town of Khajuraho, known the world over for the erotic carvings which adorn many of its beautiful temples. It is hard to believe that this entire site was lost to the world for several centuries until it was 'rediscovered' in the 1830s. Some 25 temples of different sizes and levels of carving still remain and those in the main (western) group are uniformly spectacular. Ample time should be allowed here as there is enough to keep the visitor occupied for many hours. A nightly sound and light show illuminates the temples and tells the story of their construction in an interesting manner.
Other places of interest in Madhya Pradesh include the state capital, Bhopal, which has a rich and vibrant history reflected in a series of major monuments, mosques and formal gardens. Madhya Pradesh is also famous for its National Parks- 3 of which, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench, offer probably the best opportunity to see tigers anywhere in India .