Five Reasons To Visit Madhya Pradesh

When I told my family and friends I would be visiting Madhya Pradesh, in India, they looked buffled. They didn’t even know where Madhya Pradesh is. Best yet, a friend of mine who’s spent 3 years in India on and off, suggested there really isn’t anything interesting to see in Madhya Pradesh and asked why would I even bother going when there are so many more interesting places to see in India.

Read more about the best places to visit in India

That was enough to actually convince me I’d want to visit Madhya Pradesh. I liked the idea of exploring a lesser visited part of the country and to start my exploration of India from there. I applied for a my India visa before going, and I was set.

Madhya Pradesh
The interesting Bhopal is Madhya Pradesh largest city – photo courtesy of Patrick M. Loeff (flickr)

So I landed in Bhopal, the capital – all in all a small city in Indian terms, with “only” around 2 million inhabitants, yet historically known for the gas incident (the Bhopal disaster) which in 1984 caused the death of thousands of people when gas leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant.

Bhopal was the starting point of my exploration, which made me discover an incredible State and its beautiful, genuine and welcoming people.

My advice to anybody visiting the country is to make sure to include Madhya Pradesh in their Indian itinerary, for at least five reasons.

Madhya Pradesh
To me, any place where there’s monkeys is worth visiting. And there’s many in Madhya Pradesh!

Five Reasons To Visit Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is the land of tigers

There are many national parks in Madhya Pradesh, and in each of them it is possible to admire the local wildlife. Among the animals to be sighted there is the spotted dear, the sloth bear, various species of monkeys, buffalos, various species of birds and snakes, and even leopards and tigers. A safari in the Satpura Tiger Reserve, located at about 4 hours drive from Bhopal and part of the Satpura National Park, is a great way of trying to see these mighty felines.

I wasn't so lucky to see one, but Satpura Tiger Reserve is one of the best places to spot tigers.
I wasn’t so lucky to see one, but Satpura Tiger Reserve is one of the best places to spot tigers.

There’s more than 40 tigers living in the reserve, but they are not easily sighted. The best months to see them are around the monsoon time, when they do spend more time hanging around by the water. In any case, even the attempt to spot tigers (and seeing all the other animals that live in the reserve) make the effort of going there worth it even during the dry season.

In Madhya Pradesh, nature is at its best

Madhya Pradesh is the second largest State in India, and there are incredible natural attractions. The Pachmari reserve is included among the UNESCO biosphere reserves for its flora and fauna. Here the weather is much more pleasant than in other parts of India – it is one of the few hill stations of the country. At night, temperature drops and it is nice to wear a jacket and sleep with a blanket, something which doesn’t go without saying in the South of the country.

Madhya Pradesh
Nature is gorgeous in Madhya Pradesh – there was nobody around at this viewpoint!

Close to Pachmari there are the Rajat Prapat waterfalls, among the highest ones in India. And the view of the surrounding mountains from Dhoopgarh is simply stunning. The highest peak here is the Hathi Shikhar, which is well above 1300 meters.

And what about the sunrise at Madhai? Seeing the sun rising above the forest here, while on a boat going to the Satpura Tiger Reserve, is an unforgettable experience. The sun rises slowly, and its paints the sky of colors which are gradually brighter, almost as trying to welcome visitors who are about to embark on a safari.

The people of Madhya Pradesh are welcoming

People in Madhya Pradesh are incredibly warm and friendly. From the ones working in the tourism industry to anybody I met in the street, to the ones who helped me through the incredible ordeal I went through in order to get a SIM card in India, I found everyone to be kind and curious towards the few travelers who visit their State, of which they are very proud. They think tourists are sacred, and they always help those in need.

Friendly faces at the market in Bhopal - photo courtesy of Ales Drainville (flickr)
Friendly faces at the market in Bhopal – photo courtesy of Ales Drainville (flickr)

It’s not invaded by tourists (yet)

I am hardly obsessed with off the beaten path places. After all, an unsuccessful backpacker like I am usually ends up there! Madhya Pradesh is a perfect place to visit for those who like to get a bit off the beaten path. It is as far as it gets from the traffic and pollution of Delhi and from the crowds of tourists of Varanasi. It is the best place to get to know the Indian culture and spirit more in depth, and to get closer to the locals and get that feeling of being one of the few privileged persons to experience something special.

Find out why I am an unsuccessful backpacker.

Madhya Pradesh
There’s still a few tourists in Madhya Pradesh – I was one of them

It’s a great introduction to India

Whether one likes to admit it or not, India is a difficult country to travel to – what with the infrastructure which are still lacking compared to those of Europe (although this is changing very fast thanks to the government efforts) which are often combined with very ling distances; or because of the crowds and the enormous cultural differences compared to the rest of the world. Madhya Pradesh is a gentle introduction to India: there’s less people, less traffic, less noise. It gives the chance of getting used to the country, to get to know the way of life in a more gradual manner.

Madhya Pradesh
A gorgeous sunrise on the boat on the way to Saptura Tiger Reserve

These are only five of the many reasons to visit Madhya Pradesh. I know I will want to visit it again, to explore more of this amazing State, starting from Khajuraho, a magnificent complex of Hindu temples which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, to the Buddhist Sanchi with its many stupas, to Madhu to explore the Jahaz Mahal and to Orccha, a historic town along the banks of the river Betwa.

Besides, I would want to have a second try at spotting the tigers!

Make sure to read my post “The Most Beautiful Temples In India.”

Legal Disclaimer: This article was written in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism of Madhya Pradesh as part of the #heartofindia campaign. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. The views expressed are honest and factual without any bias.

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Learn why you should visit Madhya Pradesh - via @clautavani

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