When you think of Madhya Pradesh, you’ll probably recall the nostalgic MP tourism songs of the 90s that showcased the beauty of the incredible heart of India. It was visible that the state has plenty to offer starting from UNESCO World Heritage sites to national parks where you could actually set your eyes upon the magnificent beast, the tiger! After all, it does have the highest number of tiger reserves in the country.
Besides the natural landscape, you also have impressive architectural structures to obsess over when you visit here. Being the second-largest state of India, there’s plenty of ground to cover. So let’s just get straight to it and go over the top 7 things to do in Madhya Pradesh.
The state of Madhya Pradesh is dotted with impressive architectural structures that still have a strong presence in some of the busiest cities here such as Indore, Gwalior and Bhopal. Below we’ve gone back to even older and timeworn towns where you can stand in front of irreplaceable structures!
Filled with clusters of architectural gems, Mandav is an ancient city that cannot be missed especially if you’re a history buff. Keep in mind that locally the place is also referred to as Mandu or Mandavgad. This historic town is situated just 2 hours away from Indore, making it easy to get here by car or local transport.
Mandav has a mix of Jain temples and mosques but is popularly visited to reminisce over the love story of Baz Bahadur (the last ruler of Mandav) and Roopmati. Some architectural sites that shouldn’t be overlooked when you visit here are Jami Masjid, Jahaz Mahal, Rani Roopmati Pavilion, Hoshang Shah's tomb, and Baz Bahadur Palace.
The city of Gwalior is extremely famous for its glorious fort that is described to be ‘the pearl amongst fortresses in India’. If you’d like to delve more into the history of this fort make sure you catch the light and sound show that takes place every evening at the site. There’s plenty of history and mystery that’s waiting to be unraveled here at sites like Gujari Mahal, Jai Vilas Palace, Sas Bahu temple, and Tomb of Tansen.
If you love squinting your eyes to look at intricate details on temples, then Khajuraho is the town to target. The group of temples you’ll see here is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in India.
When you Khajuraho, you’ll see a mix of the finest Hindu and Jain temples. While the origins of the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho are debated, there’s still a consensus that they depicted the tolerance and acceptance of beliefs by both faiths. If you’re intrigued, then make sure to read everything about Khajuraho in our Khajuraho Travel Guide.
Also if possible, consider planning your trip in the month of February to capture celebrations of the Khajuraho Dance Festival.
Situated between Khajuraho and Gwalior lies the beautiful unexplored town of Orchha. If you want to see India through the lens of its glorious past then this little region will do the job. The best way to spend your time here is to traverse through Jahangir Mahal, Raja Mahal, Laxminarayan temple, and finally, wind down at sunset at the Betwa River. Time your day so that you’re on the riverside by sundown because the view of chhatris (cenotaphs) that are dotted around the Orchha Fort Complex will be truly spectacular.
What’s so special about Orchha? Find all about it here!
If you’re the curious type and love visiting sites to reimagine what civilization looked like before skyscrapers and commercial buildings, then you’d have a great time checking out these wonders in Madhya Pradesh.
This is a massive fort that stands at a height of 71 meters above the small and quaint little town of Chanderi. Mughals and rulers from the Bundhela kingdom have largely contributed to the architectural style of the fort.
The place is not crowded with too many tourists and from here you can get panoramic views of the town while you peacefully explore the impressive 11th-century fort. To learn more about the tales of invasions from all the eras bygone, you should hire a guide from the fort entrance itself.
You’d probably recognize a depiction of this significant structure on the reverse side of the newly-printed 200 Indian Rupee note. The Great Stupa is truly ‘noteworthy’ and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built all the way back in the third century BCE, making it one of the oldest stone structures in India. The stupa was asked to be built by Emperor Ashoka, one of the first Indian kings to embrace Buddhism and its non-violent practices.
Now this is a really cool site that should ideally be one of the Seven Wonders of India. 500 of the rock shelters here are adorned with cave paintings and carvings from the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. In other words, you’d actually be walking into the abode of a caveman all the way back from the Old Stone Age period when you visit here. How mindblowing is that? This is again one of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Also Read: Madhya Pradesh Travel Guide
Looking for a real-life Jungle Book-like experience? Believe us, Madhya Pradesh has got you covered. It is the hub for wildlife enthusiasts and if you consider yourself one, here are your options.
Bandhavgarh is one of the top choices for visitors looking to get a chance to see a tiger in the wild. It used to be a hunting ground for maharajas but today is a place that wildlife enthusiasts choose to photograph the large cat of the jungle. This park has the highest density of Bengal tigers in the whole world, roughly speaking it’s reported that you could spot 1 tiger every 4.77 km. Keep in mind that Tala and Magadhi zones are the most popular zones to explore when you go on a jeep safari.
Did you know that Pench national park is actually the forest that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book? So if you ever want to reimagine the adventures that Mowgli had in the forest, this is the one place you should visit. There are six safari zones part of the park that falls in Madhya Pradesh and the Touria Zone is the most preferred one for animal sighting.
By area, this is the largest national park in the state of Madhya Pradesh and is one of the prime protected areas to visit to see a tiger and other animals in the wilderness. It is truly a luxury to come and witness the dense forest and the Bengal tiger in its habitat. The BBC documentary Land of the Tigers was also shot here. Mukki, Sarhi, and Kisli are some of the best zones to choose for a safari.
12 years ago, there were zero tigers in Panna Tiger Reserve. But thanks to the forest department, today the tiger population has grown to 50. We chose this national park because it could benefit from funds received from tourists to preserve the tigers here. Another reason is that it is an hour away from Khajuraho, making it easily accessible.
When you visit, remember that only 20% of the forest is open for safaris due to which there are no safari zones but just two entry gates namely Hinauta and Madhla. The latter is the one that the majority of visitors pick for sightseeing.
Can’t get enough of the big cats? Stay in a forest lodge in the Jim Corbett National Park!
Madhya Pradesh has no shortage of beautiful places of worship and here are a few that attract the most pilgrims and travelers. Surely, these can fit into your list of places to visit in Madhya Pradesh.
Amarkantak is a pilgrimage site that is referred to as ‘Teerthraj’ which translates to ‘King of pilgrimages’. So it’s common to see many devotees making a trip to this holy site in India. It’s also popular because the river Narmada, which is believed to be one of the holiest in the country, emerges from here. It’s a peaceful must-see for the spiritually inclined traveler.
Chitrakoot is another cultural site that holds cultural and religious significance in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The entire place is home to many important temples and small shrines at Ram Ghat. It is essentially recognized to be the forest where Lord Ram and Sita spent their time in exile. Deep Daan festival that takes place during the celebrations of Diwali is considered to be a joyous occasion to attend here.
Most people travel to Maihar during Navratri to worship, seek blessings, and pay their respects at Maa Sharda Devi temple. To reach this beautiful temple, every devotee must climb a staggering amount of steps (1063 to be exact) and the climb is all part of the experience. The cultural and creative center ‘Art Ichol’ situated here is also not to be missed since the exhibitions and workshops offered here are pretty inviting to artists from all over the country.
After a lot of sightseeing, you’d probably want to balance things out by isolating yourself and making the holiday light, that’s where island hopping comes in!
Now if you want to lay low, have a picnic, and just relax after a day or two of heavy sightseeing, you can consider visiting Sailani Island and watch the Narmada flowing by serenely. The location is neat and you can actually get here within two hours from the city of Indore.
Located in the reservoir of the Indira Sagar Dam, Hanuwantiya Tapu is another destination that you should pick if you’re looking for a luxurious getaway. The region is draped with greenery and you’d have clear waters to revejunate by. The place remains busy because of the variety of water sports offered for tourists like banana boat riding, jet skiing, parasailing, and speedboat riding. But if it’s relaxing by the waterfront you desire, you can camp out here too!
Situated 1.5 hours away from Jabalpur, this virgin island is the perfect spot to hit if you wish to camp or simply go on a hike. This is one of the off-beat islands which is quieter with little crowds and barely any urban chaos.
While planning your itinerary to Madhya Pradesh if you’re specifically looking to dedicate a few days to hiking, trekking or simply camping these are the best places to consider:
Known as ‘The Queen of Satpura’, Pachmarhi is a stunning hill station situated within the Satpura range. It’s the destination to be if you wish to sit with a cup of tea and finish reading a book. You’ll have a view of hills, pleasant weather, and pristine water.
Situated just 10 km away from Sanjay Dubri National Park, Parsili is the place to be if you truly would like to be in the heart of nature for a little longer. If you ever visit Parsili, we highly recommend that you try a barefoot trek which is a pretty unique experience and possible here because of how soft the sandbed is.
Tamia remains to be one of the lesser-traveled hill stations and is ideal for those of you who prefer not to be disturbed by other tourists while you go camp or go on a trail. There are a good number of houses from the British era here and luxury resorts that you can book if you feel like it’s been a while since you last splurged.
Most travel goals tend to include that one riverside visit where you just put up your legs and treat yourself by doing nothing. This is exactly the kind of experience that’s encouraged at this picturesque haven. This slice of paradise is situated within the forests of Satpuras, so it’s also great for bird watching.
Just like when you travel anywhere in the world, each state and region has its own specialty dishes that must be tried. So, we’ve picked out the food in Madhya Pradesh that will grab your attention!
Meat minced, packed with spices, and cooked on skewers, this is a dish best had right off the grill.
Originally a Kashmiri dish, Rogan Josh is a flavorful lamb curry that is a signature meal to have for your main course.
Bhuttey Ke Kees is a whole intense version of plain white popcorn. Instead of just putting the corn kernels in a pot, in this dish it is grinded into a paste and then garnished with some spices.
Looking for a quick crunchy snack? Then you’re in for a treat with these fried fritters.
The state being so vast makes it difficult to know what you should cover but our top picks skim through all the popular sites to consider seeing. All in all, Madhya Pradesh has a tremendous concentration of cultural opportunities for a traveler, so make sure you set a comfortable pace for your trip.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Madhya Pradesh?
Any time from the month of October to March is a good time to visit the state of Madhya Pradesh. But for spotting tigers, April and May are when you could have better chances of spotting a big cat.
What Is Madhya Pradesh Famous For?
Madhya Pradesh is recognized for having the highest number of tiger reserves in India and 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites namely the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, and the Rock Shelters at Bhimbetka.
Which Is The Most Beautiful City In Madhya Pradesh?
Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh is also considered the most beautiful because of the iconic architectural sites like Taj-ul-Masjid and scenic views created by the Upper and Lower Lakes. Indore is the next city that you should definitely explore in this state.
What Are The Two Tourist Places In Madhya Pradesh?
The top two tourist places visited in Madhya Pradesh are Bandhavgarh National Park and Khajuraho. Other famous sites you can explore are Orchha, Indore, and Pachmarhi.
Who Should Visit Madhya Pradesh?
Travelers that love ancient architecture and old towns would ideally love excavating their way through all the brilliant pieces of history that stand in Madhya Pradesh. Another reason most tourists visit the state is to get a glimpse of the national animal (the tiger) in the wild.
What Is The Culture Of Madhya Pradesh?
Madhya Pradesh is a land of rich cultural heritage and the time-bound architecture in cities like Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, and Ujjain are proof of the same. Few festivals that represent the culture of Madhya Pradesh are the Kumbh Mela and Khajuraho Dance festival.
What Is The Official Language Of Madhya Pradesh?
Hindi is the official language of Madhya Pradesh.
Which Sweet Is Famous In Madhya Pradesh?
Mawa bati is a speciality, which can be solely found in Madhya Pradesh.