Dive Into the Heart of India at Jal Mahotsav

Madhya Pradesh is a treasure trove of culture and wildlife. Let the fun begin at Hanuwantiya Island.  
An aerial view of the festival.

One of the largest states in India, the heart of India, a place that appeals to the child in you—these are just some of the descriptions often associated with Madhya Pradesh (M.P.)— a state which is all this and more. From exquisitely carved stone temples, rich tribal heritage, mighty rivers, jungles teeming with life and character laden cities, the state has a lot to offer every kind of traveller. Be assured you will be spoilt for choice and a long vacation just might not feel long enough once you step foot into M.P.

The capital city Bhopal is a fascinating mix of a glorious Nawabi past and modernity. A pair of lakes separate the two parts while also forming the centre holding the city together. Indore, the state’s largest city is possibly India’s best street food destination and it’s cleanest too. In Gwalior, be ready to be swept off your feet as you set eyes on one of India’s most magnificent forts, known as the ‘pearl among fortresses in India’—no mean feat given that the country is home to hundreds of them. Watch the river Narmada flow gently from the ghats in Maheshwar, a temple town, well known for its heroic leader Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar as well as for the beautiful hand woven Maheshwari saris that are made there.

Get lost in the jungles of Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Pench and Rewa, home to the tiger and a myriad of other species of animals and birds. Marvel at paintings on the rock surfaces of the Bhimbetka caves dating back thousands of years. It’s no surprise then that it is the country’s only prehistoric site listed on the World Heritage List.

Among other activities, a leisurely cruise in the evening is a great way to relax. Photo Courtesy: M.P. Tourism

Among other activities, a leisurely cruise in the evening is a great way to relax.

Experience M.P. in an unique way by participating in the annual water carnival or Jal Mahotsav held in the picturesque Hanuwantiya island in the winter months of October to January. Located on the backwaters of the Indira Sagar Dam built on the River Narmada, once unexplored and unknown, today Hanuwantiya has transformed into an exciting hub of adventure activities. An artificial water body created because of the dam, experience being by the seaside and enjoy activities that offer the thrill of the ocean but without any saltiness.

  • Chaitali Patel is the former Associate Editor, Special Projects at National Geographic Traveller India. She's partial to nature, history and the arts. She believes that every trip is as much a journey within as it is one outside.

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