Offbeat Tourist Places of Madhya Pradesh
Hidden Gems In Madhya Pradesh We Bet You Didn’t Knew Existed !
From fascinating old forts and majestic palaces to sites of immense natural beauty, Madhya Pradesh offers tourists a host of captivating experiences. But in a state equally vast in size and beauty, there is no dearth of surprises lying in wait. Here are the destinations that might force you to take a little detour here and there.
Raneh Falls, Khajuraho
The state owes two of it’s wonders to the Ken River-the Raneh falls and the Ken Gharial Sanctuary.
The Grand Canyon of Madhya Pradesh – Raneh Falls
It doesn’t matter how many waterfalls you have seen before.
The spectacular Raneh Falls in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district will simply blow you away. With a series of rock formations leading to a 30 meter high natural fall over the Ken River with a deep canyon below, the Raneh Falls are picture perfect.
What makes the Falls so special is that they are formed as a result of volcanic eruptions centuries ago. It is marvelous treat to see the deep blue waters of the bubbling river falling over the red rock structures.
The rocks or a canvas in themselves, painted in intense hues from right red to dull maroon and charred black. Birdwatchers will enjoy studying the water fowl in their natural surroundings beside the gigantic sandstone boulders along the river. Located around 20 km from Khajuraho, the Raneh Falls are the perfect getaways spot for a leisurely picnic amid a stunning landscape.
The tiny town of Bateshwar, around 25 km from Morena, is something of an archaeological marvel. It is home to around 200 ancient shrines, build of sandstone and dating back to the 10th century or before. All archaeological gems that were built during the reign of the Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty and, as a statement to their antiquity, are actually 300 years older than the famed Khajuraho temples.
The architecture of each temple differs, reflecting domes and arches typical of different type of Indian architecture – a small shrine with a flattened dome as commonly seen in Bengal stands below a shrine with a typical Islamic dome and another with a pointed Hindu spire. Some of the shrines have beautiful frescoes paintings on their interiors. Interestingly, despite the influence of Islamic architecture, a majority of the shrines are dedicated to Lord Shiva, and there are a hand full of shrines built for Lord Vishnu as well. Additionally, Bateshwar is also famous for its annual cattle fair, held around November, which attracts visitors from across the country.
PADHAVALI & MITAWALI
A beautiful set of historic structures dating back to the Gupta dynasty is the archaeologically rich complexes of Padhavali and Mitawali in the district of Madhya Pradesh.
The Padhavali fortress was built by the in the Jat Ranas in the first half of the 18th century. The majestic fort is, relatively unexplored and off the beaten path, offers some stunning views of the landscape around it.
The beautiful Chausath Yogini temple in Matwali is one of the oldest heritage site in the country. With its circular design and architectural detailing, the temple is a sight to behold interestingly, The design of this temple is believed to have inspired the construction of the Parliament House in New Delhi.
The village of Islamnagar is a valuable testament to Indian history – it was here that the Mughal General Dost Mohammad Khan founded the Bhopal state in 1723.
The palaces and other buildings here provide an interesting study of the synthesis of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The Chaman Mahal, so named as it houses a charbagh at its centre, is the most striking building. Built of red sandstone, it has a pillared baradari, rooms with open courtyards and arches decorated with floral motifs. A Sheesh Mahal is located near the entrance and there is a hammam to its north. The Charbagh is one of the few such gardens left in Central India. Islam Nagar is located 11 km out of Bhopal on the road to Berasia.
National Fossil Park, Ghughwa
Over 600 million years ago, India was part of the monster continent, Gondwanaland – a landmass formed when the Pangaea split up – and was made of Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, the Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent. For those interested in geology and palaeontology, the National Fossil Park in Mandla district holds incompatible treasures from those times.
One of the few plant fossil parks in the world, Ghughwa is spread over seven villages in the district. The Park has plant fossils that are between 40 and 150 million years old. These include long extinct pteridophytes and gymnosperma. Visitors will have to make full use of their imagination as many of the fossils look like mere rocks to the untrained eye. Ghughwa is best accessed from Jabalpur, around 90 km from the park.
The village of Pranpur in the Bundelkhand district has a rather beautiful claim to fame – it is the home of the famed Chanderi silk sari.
Visit the village and let the rhythm of the looms create magic for your eyes and ears while you interact with diverse and design your own drape or try your hand at weaving. Apart from weaving, traditional crafts such as bamboo weaving, stone cutting and pottery are also practiced here. Located 110 km from Jhansi, Pranpur is an interesting place to visit as it provides a true experience of rural life relaxed, pure and in touch with nature. The people of Pranpur will win you over with their work.
MADAN MAHAL FORT
Situated on a hilltop on the outskirts of Jabalpur, the fort is an enchanting place to visit. Dating back to the 11th century, the fort was built by the Gond ruler Raja Madan Shah. It allows a panoramic view of the landscape around
The path up to the fort is nestled amid trees and rocks, with an old Shiva Temple en route. Although the fort is partially in ruins, it still packs in the quiet charm of its own. Visitors will love hearing stories about the fort’s history, specially the attack on it by the mughals in the 16th century. The fort gives visitors a glimpse into medieval warfare – the war rooms and stables are interesting records of history.
Do not miss the Balancing Rock too.
Dhubela, located in the Chhatarpur district, is home to the Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum. Housed within the old palace of Dhubela, the museum provides a fascinating look at the history of the state on display are inscriptions, copper plates, sati pillars, lingas and inscribed images of the Gupta and Kalchuri periods. The museum houses a wide range of sculptures of the Shakti cult and a significant collection of Jain images. It also displays the garments, weapons and paintings of the Bundela Kings. Is located 16 km from the town of Chattarpur.
Vidisha or Besnagar, 10 km from Sanchi, occupies an important place among the ancient city’s of India. The ruins of the Brahminical shrine at Vidisha are what remains of possibly the oldest known Brahminical stone structure, dated not later than 2 BC. The Lohangi Rock, Gumbaz-ka-Maqbara and Bija Mandal mosque are also worth a visit. A must visit site is that of the Heliodorus Pillar, also known as Khamba Baba, possibly erected in 140 BC.
Architecturally, the pillar, with its bell capital carrying a figured super-structure, resembles the Ashoka Pillar but is smaller in size.
Located 41 km north-east of Sanchi, Gyaraspur was the place of considerable importance in the mediaeval period. Here, in the ruins called Athakhambe – Eight Pillars and Chaukhambe – Four Pillars are what remains of the column halls of two temples belonging to the 9th and 10th century AD. The faceted shafts of Athakhambe with their extremely delicate carvings stand testimony to the high degree of craftsmanship during the period. Other monuments of interest at Hyaraspur are of the early 10th century – Bajra Math and the Mala Devi temple, the latter distinguished by its calf pillars with foliated motives, representative of the rich post Gupta style.
A group of rock-cut caves sanctuaries dating back to the 4th and 5th century A.D., the Udaygiri caves are located 13 km from Sanchi and 4 km from Vidisha. The caves possess all the distinctive feature that gave Gupta art its unique vitality, vigour and richness of expression The beautifully moulded capitals, the treatment of the intercolumnisation, the design of the entrance way and the system of continuing the architrave as a string course around the structure.
Udaipur is situated 90 km from Bhopal via Vidisha and Ganj Basoda. The colossal Neelkanteshwara Temple here is an outstanding example of Paramara art and architecture of the 11th century AD. Built of fine red sandstone and standing on a lofty platform, the temple consists of a Garbha Griha -shrine room, a Sabha Mandap – meeting hall and three Pravesha Mandaps – entrance porches.
Shahi Masjid and Mahal, Sher Khan ki Masjid, Pisannari ka Mandir and Ravantol are some of the other monuments in Udaipur. And on your way don’t forget to stop at Manalidevi Temple and Kherapati Temple.
Located in the Malwa region, Dhar was a Maratha princely state ruled by the Puars or Pawars. At 1834 feet above sea level, it is picturesquely situated among lakes and trees. The famous Bagh cave paintings are proof of the regions rich cultural heritage. The Dhar Fort, a sandstone fortress, is said to be built by Delhi Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq in 1344 AD. Kharbuja Mahal and Sheesh Mahal are some of the important buildings in the fort. Lat Masjid, Bhojshala and Jheera Bagh are other places of interest in Dhar.
Burhanpur, barely 20 km from the Maharashtra border in western Madhya Pradesh, is a hidden jewel in the annals of medieval Indian architecture and could have even housed the Taj Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died in 1631 and her body rested here for several months before being taken to Agra to her final resting place.
Asirgarh Fort, on the outskirts of the town, was known as Dakkhan ka Darwaza – Gateway to the Deccan. The beautiful Jama Masjid is located at the very centre of the town in Chandni Chowk. About 3 km from Gandhi Chowk is the Dargah-e-Hakimi, a sacred pilgrimage site for Muslims. The Sikh connection to Burhanpur dates to the early 16th century when Guru Nanak visited the town. The 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, is said to have visited Burhanpur in 1708. Bari Sangat is built on the site and enshrines a handwritten copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, with an inscription by Guru Gobind himself.