Central India, the very heart of the sub-continent, is perhaps the least developed region of the country. The hinterland here is occupied by many tribal groups and comprises the last remaining dense forests of India. Several splendid tourist destinations abound in this region, such as the Bibi ka Maqbara, the palaces and fortresses of Mandu and Ahilya, the religious city of Ujjain and rock caves with ancient wall paintings along with other fascinating treasures waiting to be discovered.

Orchha

Orchha

  • Exquisite palaces & forts
  • Temples & cenotaphs
  • Rural countryside vistas

The city of Orchha was the fabled capital of the Bundela dynasty. Perhaps the most picturesque city of Central India, the city is now abandoned, but still a beautiful testament to the glory of its past. Established in 1531, Orchha has a beautiful palace complex of three elegant palaces and is home to several small temples, shrines and the cenotaphs of its rulers. The Chatrabhuj and Lakshmi Narayan temples as well as the Jehangir Mahal are monuments to be visited, and from where you can look out onto the untrammelled, beautiful countryside of Orchha. Located centrally between Khajuraho and Gwalior, Orchha is a perfect overnight stay when visiting Agra and Khajuraho.

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Bhopal

Bhopal

  • Historical palaces, mosques and bustling bazaars
  • Buddhist shrines & ancient cave art

Bhopal, the current capital of Madhya Pradesh was once called Bhojapal, a thriving, dynamic city named after its founder Raja Bhoj. Built around a series of lakes constructed by the raja, the city’s present layout was envisioned by Dost Mohammed Khan, a chieftain appointed by Aurangzeb, who later claimed Bhopal as his own kingdom. Even today the city displays glimpses of its royal past in its old city area, with crowded bazaars, places of worship and royal residences. The Buddhist town of Sanchi, with its Buddhist temples and Bhimbetka, famous for its cave paintings, are within easy driving distance of Bhopal.

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Pachmarhi

Pachmarhi

  • The only hill station in Central India
  • Walks and treks through the countryside
  • Historical rock paintings

Pachmarhi is the only hill station of central India. Located on the northern side of the Satpura mountain range, Pachmarhi is a relaxed town of forests, caves and water pools. The town became popular with the British in the 1850’s, later evolving into a sanatorium, and became the summer capital of the Central Provinces on account of its mild climate. Even today there is a distinctly colonial air about the town, though it has mostly been converted into a biosphere reserve. Treks from Pachmarhi take visitors into the Mahadeo hills, which hide an extraordinary profusion of rock paintings in their folds. The countryside is inviting and walking through it allows visitors a chance to encounter the tribal folk who have lived here for centuries.

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Indore

Indore

  • The famous Jain Kaanch Mandir
  • Jami Masjid mosque

Indore in Madhya Pradesh, located near the Saraswati and Khan rivers, was a town of significant importance under the Holkar dynasty. The credit for establishing the city belongs to its famous queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, who built it after the Maratha kingdom disintegrated. Today a vibrant, bustling city, Indore is the perfect halt before visiting Ujjain and Mandu, and offers visitors a chance to visit the famed Kaanch Mandir (Glass Temple), with floors and ceilings of glass, inlaid with mother of pearl. Ujjain is one of the seven holy cities of Hinduism, with temples and shrines dotting almost the entire city while Mandu is famous for its architectural excellence, with the Jami Masjid and Hoshang Shah’s tomb being the main attractions.

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Maheshwar

Maheshwar

  • Bathing ghats & temples along the Narmada
  • Maheshwar Fort

A pilgrimage centre from historical times, the fortress city of Maheshwar, situated along the river Narmada, is today famous for its ghats and ancient temples, with their ornately decorated doorways and balconies. The queen of Indore, Ahilyabai Holkar was instrumental in making the town a prominent destination, and had the Maheshwar Fort strengthened as well as having the ghats and temples constructed. She also encouraged the manufacture of handlooms and even today saree weaving remains a primary activity in Maheshwar.

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Aurangabad

Aurangabad

  • Bibi-ka-Maqbara & Daulatabad fort
  • The exceptional rock temples and caves at Ajanta & Ellora

Named after the last Great Mughal, Aurangzeb, the town of Aurangabad was the base of the Mughal campaign to invade the Deccan. The city has several sites of historic importance, such as Bibi Ka Maqbara and the Daulatabad Fort. Aurangabad is ideally located from where visitors can head out to the Ajanta Caves, the marvellous rock-cut Buddhist temples. Carved in a horseshoe shaped cliff, these cave temples and shrines are decorated with delicate paintings making them a truly marvellous achievement for their time. Lost for many centuries, the Ajanta Caves were rediscovered by a British soldier in the early 19th century. An equally magnificent site of great antiquity near Aurangabad is the Ellora Caves, built during the 6th and 10th century.

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