Madhya Pradesh (MP) is nicknamed as 'Hindustan Ka Dil' or the 'Heart of India' because of its geographical location. The state covers the major part of central India and is blessed with ample forest cover and dazzling natural beauty. The region was officially declared as an autonomous territory under the Union of India in 1956. Bhopal is the capital city and the region is divided into 50 districts. It houses several world heritage sites and has a good collection of leading national parks and tiger reserves in India.
MP is one of the two states covering the central region of India. Chhatisgarh, an another central state, was a part of MP prior to November 2000. It is currently the second largest state in the country with regards to geographical area. It borders the five major Indian states of Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat. The region is abundant in diamonds and copper and ranks first in India in this segment.
It has a dense forest cover with more than 30% of the land occupied by greenery. The trees of teak, sal, and bamboo form a major chunk of the forests here. Most of the area composes tropical dry, subtropical broadleaved hill, tropical moist, and tropical thorn forests. Medicinal plants form a substantial part of the state's flora. There are more than ten major national parks and biosphere reserves in the area. Banyan is an important tree while Palash is an important flower of the state.
Narmada and Tapi are the prime rivers flowing through the territory and providing water to more than a quarter of the land. Some other major water sources include the rivers of Kali, Sone, Chambal, Shipra, Sindh, Betwa, Parbati, Dhasan, Kuno, Rihand, and Ken.
The climate here is quite similar to rest of the country. Winters start in the month of October and can last up to March. Summers occur from April to June, while the monsoons are experienced in the period of July to September.
Madhya Pradesh is a highly populated state and ranks 6th in the country with regards to population. The average population density is 240 people per sq km. More than 92% of the people here follow Hindu religion while 6% are tied to Islam. Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Sikhs also form a small part of the population. More than half of the people reside in rural areas and around 20% of the overall people is tribal. The important tribes here are Gond, Baiga, Bhil, Bhadia, Malto, Mandla, Sahariya, Korku, Jabhua, and Kaul.
The main language spoken in MP is Hindi. People also speak Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Gondi, Kalto, Nihali, and Korku. The state has a fair literacy rate of 74%. The sex ratio is around 930 females per 1000 males.
UNESCO World heritage sites in MP
There are three important heritage sites in the state. Each one is unique and represents the culture and traditions of ancient era.
Khajuraho Temple and group of monuments was recognized as a heritage site in 1986 and is also included in the list of the 'Seven Wonders of India'. The architecture is located in the town of Khajuraho. The construction started in 950 AD and was completed around 1150 AD. There were as many as 80 temples built during the era of which only 25 could be preserved till date and are open for tourism. The monuments are made out of sandstone and are a fine example of the precise construction methods incorporated in those times. Most of the carvings on these temples depict the art of sex and are closely related to the changes taking place in human bodies. Few carvings also display the life of a common man of those times and the scale of activities he performed.
Sanchi Stupa was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1989. It is located in a small village of Sanchi. The monument is the oldest known stone erection in the country and one of the oldest in the world. It dates back to third century BC and is a major pilgrimage center for Buddhists . Apart from Stupa, there are many other Buddhist temples in the area. \
Bhimbetka rock shelters are the third one in the list of important sites and were granted the status of heritage monument by UNESCO in 2003. Located in the district of Raisen, the site gives knowledge about the earliest existence of human being in Indian Sub-continent. The art here also exhibits the style and scale of dances practiced during the era. The shelters are more than 30,000 years old. The paintings here are still visible and talk about the pattern of living in those times. Common activities like childbirth, religious rites, and burial are depicted through the pictures. The art belongs mainly to the chalcolithic, mesolithic, and upper paleolithic period. The images of several animals like elephant, peacock, tiger, dog, crocodile, lions, sambar, wild boar, and antelopes are painted using colored earth, vegetables colors and dyes, and animal fats.
Other popular tourist attractions in MP
The hill ranges of Satpuras and Vindhyas give an enriching experience of splendid natural beauty of the state. The rich forest cover accompanied by free flowing rivers of Narmada and Tapi in between the hills add to the delight.
Some of the renowned sites in MP are Ujjain, Amarkantak, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Mandleshwar, Indore, Chanderi, Sonagiri, Gwalior, Shivpuri, and Bhopal. Amarkantak is a Hindu pilgrimage center while Chanderi is famous for Jain temples. Ujjain is a major place of worship and is one of the four sites of Kumbh-Mela. It is known for Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Mandir. Gwalior Fort in Gwalior is highly appreciated by tourists and the city is also a big hub for music and other forms of Indian art. Bhopal is renowned for the culture of 'paan eating'. It is a mouth freshener wherein a betel leaf is filled with various ingredients including supari and kattha.
Omkareshwar is known for the temple of Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The sites of Maheshwar and Mandleshwar carry religious value and are a home to several ancient temples. Shivpuri is popular for Madhav National Park while Sonagiri has a good collection of unique Jain Temples.
The noted national parks and tiger reserves in the state include Bandhavgarh (Umaria), Van Vihar (Bhopal), Mandla Plant Fossils and National Park (Mandla), Panna (Panna Chhatarpur), Kanha (Mandla), Satpura (Panchmarhi), Sanjay (Sidhi), Pench (Chhindwara), and Madhav (Shivpuri). There are more than 20 sanctuaries in MP. Some of the prominent ones are National Chambal Sanctuary (preserves River Dolphin, Gharial, turtle, and Mugger), Ghatigaon (preserves Great Indian Bustard), and Sardarpur (house to Lesser Florican). The sites of Kanha, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, and Pench are a part of Project Tiger Reserve.
Madhya Pradesh offers a wide variety of tourist attractions to choose from. It is one of the best destinations in the country for wild-life lovers. Summer and winter season is the most appropriate time to visit the state. The tourism industry here is picking up fast and can offer you the best of the facilities at reasonable rates.
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