Saturday, July 24, 2010

MP Tourism - On Spiritual Quest

Though more popular for tiger safaris, Madhya Pradesh  is an emerging center for religious tourism in Central India. Diverse religious facets have left their impact on the state. Ancient Hindu Temples, Mosques, Jain Derasar, Churches, Buddhist Stupas, sacred rivers and ashrams are spread all over the state. The monuments date way back into history while some are of recent origin.

The centers of  pilgrimage are visited not only by the pious but the modern traveler as well.  Peripatetic travelers from foreign lands in search of spirituality and exploration visit Central India in large number.       

A spiritual journey in MP is influenced by one's inclination and purpose. Some of the prime destinations are:

Jabalpur: The cosmopolitan city lies in the center of India. Virgin River Narmada originates at Amarkantak Hills and traverse a long distance to reach city. The stepped embankments of Gwarighat and Lametaghat are the hubs of Hindu rites and rituals and abode of many temples and ashrams of the mystics and saints. A holy dip in the Narmada cleanses all sins away, it is one of the five holiest rivers in India. Must visit destinations are Dhuandhar Falls and Marble Rocks. 

Major places of worship at Jabalpur:

Tripuri Sundari                    
Radhakrishana Temple  
Gopalpur Temple
Pisan Hari Ki Madhyia Jain Temple
Badshah Halwai Mandir
Gauri Shankar Mandir
Church of England
Gurdwara Gwarighat Saheb
Bare Ganeshji Mandir
Mala Devi Mandir
Roopnath Temple

Well connected by rail and road Jabalpur is linked by Air with New Delhi!

Ujjain: About fifty km from Indore, the town lies on the banks of Shipra River. It is in this river the drops of precious nectar fell whence Gods and Daemons scramble for the vessel. The nectar was supposed to accord immortality on consumption. Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years to commemorate the battle for the nectar (amrit).

On the banks of Shipra lies the abode of the Lord Shiva Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga - one of the 12 in India. Hindu pilgrims visit the Shiva Temple on 13th night of the new moon during the month of Maagh. Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir is a temple devoted to Lord Ganesha situated in Ujjain. 

Omkareshwar: Situated on the banks of River Narmada is a Hindu Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated on island called Mandata or Shivpuri in Narmada River. Being one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Shiva it is an important pace of worship in Madhya Pradesh in India. There are two important temples dedicated to the Lord here.

Maheshwar: The name refers to Lord Shiva, the town is situated on Narmada Banks in Kharogne District of MP. The place is also called Maheshwari. It is famous spiritual destination as well center for Maheshwari Sari  made of cotton and silk. Maha Shivratri and many Hindu festivals are celebrated with aplomb at Maheswar along with gathering of many pilgrims. Mahamritujaya Yatra is organized every in the town  a day preceding Makar Shankranti for the welfare of the people.       

Chanderi: is a small town in Ashok Nagar District of MP. Many Jain and Hindu temples make it a significant religious town. Chanderi is more popularly for its weaving industry making hand woven sarees named Chanderi Saris after the town. Nearby places of religious significance belonging to Jain denomination are Gurilagiri Bhiyadant Bhamon, Khandargiri, Aamanachar, Bithala and Thuvanji.        

: is town of religious and historical importance. Tourists on spiritual and religious quest arrive here
during Ram Navmi, Amavasya, Som Vati Amavasya, Diwali, Sharad Poornima and Makarshankrati.

Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman stayed here for more than eleven years during their exile. Bharat Milap took place at Chitrakut whence Bharat came to meet Ram and requested him to return to Ayodhaya. Tulsidas, Rahim and many other Seers and Saints stayed here to meditate. The holy place is situated in Satna district and is 195 km from Khajuraho Temples. There are many ashrams and religious spots that one can visit with the help of a guide.

Sanchi: Famous destination for Buddhist Stupa containing relics of Lord Buddha lies in Raisen District of MP. Temples of Sanchi display Buddha's journey to salvation. Built during Emperor Ashoka's rule the stupas went through torturous periods of vandalism and loot. Three stupas and many temples remain at the site in Sanchi. Few km from Sanchi is Satdhara Stupa which contains relics in a glass container. Many Buddhist monks stay here and pursue religious studies.

The above places are most traveled destinations in quest for spiritual awakening. The pious on religious journeys in MP travel in groups in packages organized by tour operators. Such travel is  safer, affordable and comfortable.

All major towns like Gwalior, Bhopal, Indore have sacred Hindu shrines worth visiting. Smaller places like Pachmarhi, Hoshangabad, Orchha, Mandu, Shivpuri and many more have religious importance as well. They are more popular as holiday destinations.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tourism Madhya Pradesh - Wild Heritage

Madhya Pradesh or Central India is one of the finest tourism destination in India. Ensconced in the center of the country and land locked the large state has impressive forest cover. Known as tiger state of India, the state has much more to offer than tiger safaris. 

Green, beautiful and serene this is how the state appears to the tourists thanks to the forests that cover a large part of the state.  There has been a rapid development in road infrastructure and accommodation making tourism more viable. The state boasts of finest National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, hill retreats, pilgrimage centers and monuments temples, forts and places. 

The state is rich in ancient history and tell tale monuments with an architecture that bedazzles the visitor. The country's most sacred river Narmada originates in MP and Ujjain, Maheshwar and Jabalpur are most visited  pilgrimage centers. Earlier the state had a forest driven economy and relied heavily on minor forest produce for income. MP is now well industrialized with main commercial hub being Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur.    

Tourist Safari Destinations

Pachmarhi Hill Retreat: The rugged hilly terrain is in stark contrasts to the plain below. Undisturbed, unscathed and inviolate it is the post pristine eco belt in India. Rabid urbanization and expanding humanity has not affected the retreat. Pachmarhi is among few hill stations that have not been  taken over by marauding colonizers. This is where Capt James Forsyth set foot and went on pen down his experiences in his book on Highlands of Central India.        

Dazzling waterfalls, esoteric springs, serene pools; densely forested hills and valleys, ancient caves, and temples are enchanting ingredients of this picturesque hill retreat. Pachmarhi is a sanctuary to rare wildlife and amazing birds.

Satpura Tiger Reserve: On climb up the Matkuli Ghat resides Satpura Tiger Reserve a large National Parks home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and Central Indian mammals. Less seen, less known Satpura National Park along with Pachmarhi and Bori sanctuary holds lot of surprises. The wildlife and birds have yet to be properly check listed in this inaccessible and unexplored paradise.       

Kanha Tiger Reserve: Well known and popular tiger heaven the National Park is home to rare swamp deer adopted for hard ground survival. Best place to see the tiger in the wild there resides large number of deer, carnivores and herbivores. The park is populated by impressive number of bird species and reptiles. 

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Picturesque and enchanting this tiger haven surpasses all in terms of tiger sightings in the wilderness. The undulating terrain is dotted with a number of hillocks that accord Bandhavgarh with characteristic grace and charm. On park safari history unfolds ancient civilizations that found relief in the deep confines of Vindhya Hills. Tiger rules over the forests, hills and valleys, marshy grasslands and riverside habitats. The majestic Bandhavgarh Fort though in ruins glorifies the little paradise. Shesh Shaiyya is fairy tale abode of Lord Vishnu. The scattered remains, temples, caves, stables and zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishnu enthrall tourists on wild safaris. 

Pench Tiger Reserve: Kipling Country land of the tiger and Mowgli the wolf child. The enchanting characters  in this famous intrigue are right in their homes at Pench. Sher Khan, Baloo, Kaa, Bagheera, Colonel Haathi and the wolf pack now are targeted sightings for tourists on wildlife safaris in the preserve. Pench offers exciting sightings of Indian wolf, leopard, wild dog, bison and sloth bear besides the Bengal Tigers. Bird Life at Pench is worth a trip.

Panna National Park

About forty five km from Khajuraho Temples the park boasts of amazing Central Indian wildlife and fresh water crocodiles at Ken River Sanctuary nearby. It was once a good place to see tigers but the tigers have been poached to extinction. Tiger relocation program has been inducted and few tigers relocated from other reserves. Nevertheless Panna is good place for wildlife watching and birding in MP.      

Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary: The lesser known preserve differs with Kanha and Bandhavgarh in terms of habitat. Less seen animals of Central India are prominent in picture here. Indian wolf, chinkara, blue bull and common animals like sambar, spotted deer, wild boars and Hanuman Langurs can be seen in the sanctuary. Noradehi is the most promising  WLS in India for birding. Rare bird like Grey creeper make this sanctuary its home. Noradehi  offer both forest and wetland bird sightings. Find more information on Birding tour at Nauradehi  WLS.              

MP has large number of protected areas which are less visited and less known. Some of them are Sanjay National Park, Rani Durgavati, Sardarpur, Sailana, Ralamandal, Orchha, Gangau, Bagdara, Rata Pani, Panpatha, Karera, Phen, Ghatigaon, Gandhisagar, Karera, Ken Ghariyal, Kheoni, Narsinghgarh, Chambal, Kuno Palpur and Son Ghariyal.

The state can best be visited on MP tourism packages that are organized by many tour operators. Most of the packages cover popular wildlife tourism destinations besides sightseeing. Tour packages are also available for pilgrimages and monuments of Central India.    

Best season for touring Madhya Pradesh is winters. But journeys can be made during summers by those who can bear the heat. The month of November, December and January can be extremely cold.