August to April
History & Architecture, Arts & Crafts
Nestled in the remote urban escapes and jungles of central India where mighty empires once ruled, Gwalior, Orchha and Khajuraho are an oasis of art and history. Time especially stands still at Khajuraho’s UNESCO World Heritage temples, where even the gods descend to indulge in human pleasures.
You can begin the tour with a visit to one of the country’s largest fort complexes, the Gwalior Fort. Built in the 9th century, the fort complex encloses several structures such as the ancient temples to Vishnu and Shiva called the Saas-Bahu Temples. Follow it up with the Surajkund Lake, the Gujari Mahal, the Gurudwara Daata Bandi Chhod and last but not the least, the Chaturbhuj Temple, a small rock-cut temple to Vishnu where the world’s first ever epigraphic record of the numeral ‘Zero’ is found carved.
You can go to Sonagiri, famous for its Jain temples from the 8th and 9th centuries. You can drive to Datia, where the Bir Singh Palace from the 16th century and a few ancient temples dedicated to the goddess dot the town. You can then proceed to Orccha. It is a sleepy hamlet, known for its fort, numerous cenotaphs and temples. Visit the Jahangir Mahal Fort, and take a bicycle tour of the village.
Drive from Orchha to Khajuraho, the ancient temple town. Head out to rediscover the beliefs of the ancient Rajputs. Most are drawn to Khajuraho for its famous, temples replete with erotic sculpture, known locally as the Kamasutra Temples.These temples, built between 950 and 1150 CE, are the pinnacles of the Tantric school of religious worship and leave no aspect of sexuality to the imagination. The temples are grouped in two, the Eastern and the Western Groups.
Drive to the Panna National Park, one of the five tiger reserves in central India. It is a fascinating biodiversity hotspot and was designated as Biosphere Reserve in 2011. Among the animals found here are the tiger, chital, chinkara, Nilgai, sambhar and sloth bear. The park is home to more than 200 species of birds including the bar-headed goose, honey buzzard, king vulture and blossomheaded parakeet.