16 NIGHT TIGERS AND FORTS OF CENTRAL INDIA & THE TAJ – A PRIVATE JOURNEY

Delhi – Maheshwar – Pench – Satpura – Bhopal – Agra – Chambal – Delhi

Madhya Pradesh is the true centre and heartland of India. Its forests were made famous by Rudyard Kipling and many have subsequently been turned into National Parks in order to preserve their unique, rich and varied wildlife. Its better known parks of Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh protect tiger, leopard, wild dog, gaur (Indian Bison), monkey and deer as well as many reptiles and birds, though not to be missed are the relatively recently discovered parks (in terms of tourism at least) of Panna and Satpura.

Part of the beauty of Madhya Pradesh is its lack of infrastructure, meaning that this is one of India’s most enchanting states and remains virtually unspoilt by mass tourism. Its sites are treasures are varied and captivating. Close to Bhopal are the two UNESCO world heritage sites of Sanchi and Bhimbetka and Maheshwar on the banks of the Narmada River is a hidden gem with a glorious, quirky palace hotel, Ahilya Fort. It is close enough to be able to visit the holy town of Omkareshwar and the deserted monuments at Mandu.

However, although the roads in Madhya Pradesh are not the widest there doesn’t tend to be as much traffic and the drives are quite scenic. One of the things we love about this state is that much of it really does seem like the rest of India used to be one hundred years ago and when driving between destinations one is privileged to witness this. Drives go through forested areas and past villages where most of the population still live in mud and thatch houses which they repaint every year, after the monsoon, in a vivid indigo blue. During November when the mustard crops are ready the brilliance of the yellow against the blue houses is wonderfully eye catching. Madhya Pradesh changes with the seasons, its population is largely unaffected by tourism and by and large one can be at sites as impressive as the ones seen in Rajasthan, but without the crowding. One of our favourite tips – sundowners whilst enjoying the sunsets on the Narmada River are not to be missed.

Best time to travel: November – February

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