Madhya Pradesh, a state in the heart of India, largely unexplored by many but on my recent visit there I found it to be a buried treasure waiting to be discovered and experienced. So much so that I am addicted to Madhya Pradesh now and can not wait to visit this beautiful part of Incredible India again and again.
This experience popularly known as ‘From Temple to Tiger’, takes you from the ancient 10th century Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to the fastest ‘recovered’ national park in India – Panna. Panna National Park lost it’s entire tiger population at the turn of the century to poaching and disease. However, over the past decade, it has made a spectacular come back with the fastest growing tiger population in India and is home to more than 55 tigers today.
Besides Khajuraho, this region has several stunning off-the-beaten-path historical monuments. If you have time, I highly recommend you not miss visiting these sites. Read on below to know more about these historical places.
Winter Jeep Safaris
Ken River – the life life of Panna National Park
Other optional activities and attractions in the vicinity of the Park include, night jungle safari, boating on the Ken (Karnavati) River, visit to waterfalls and canyons and day trips to lesser known monuments.
Panna National Park is also a paradise for birdwatchers (over 200 species recorded) and has several species of migratory and resident birds, including mottled wood owl, several species of vultures, painted francolin and many more. So if you’re a birdwatcher, you’re at right place.
Indian Vultures basking at Vulture Point in Panna National Park
For this experience you can do a combination of both – visit temples when not doing safaris or if you’re a hardcore wildlifer then you can also do back to back safaris in Panna National Park. In my opinion, it would be a shame if you come all the way to Khajuraho and don’t visit the temples. Khajuraho is adjacent to Panna and is usually 15-30 minutes drive from your hotel.
To get to Panna can be a bit cumbersome but it is absolutely worth the effort if you plan ahead. You can either fly in to Khajuraho which is the most expensive option as the air tickets tend to get very steep for reasons beyond my understanding.
Morning Jeep Safari in Panna
The Grand Khajuraho Temples
Other options are to fly in to Jabalpur and then a four hour taxi to Panna. A third option is to take the overnight train from Delhi to Khajuraho. Tickets in this train sell out very fast as well so you must plan and book 2-3 months ahead of your visit.
Other places to visit when in the region are the magnificent Raneh Falls. The massive canyons formed by the Ken river are mostly different colors of granite from pink to grey. It is a seasonal waterfall and other than in the monsoon when it is gushing with water, shallow emerald color pools are what give a contrasting look to the granite rocks of the canyon.
Raneh Fall Canyons
If you have an extra day or two you can also drive to Orchha, famous for its temples, forts and chattris. Established by the Bundela kings in the early 16th century, Orchha is a place to behold. The grand temples and other historical monuments draw millions of people from all over the world. From Khajuraho, Orchha is a three hour drive but Gwalior airport is an hour drive away making it the preferred place to exit from your tour should you decide to combine Panna and Khajuraho with Orchha.
• It is recommended to wear dull color clothes (brown, grey, olive green, khaki) during nature walks and safaris.
• There is no guarantee that you will see the above wildlife. Your naturalists / guides will do their best to show you all there is to see.
• Carry photo identification submitted during safari booking, camera, binoculars, warm clothes (in the winter), backpack, sun glasses, cap, vizer, sun block, cash as there may not be functioning ATMs in the area and bottled drinking water.
• Smoking and drinking alcohol is strictly not permitted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
• Please do not throw trash on the floor even if you don’t see a trash can as you will be fined. Please ask your guide to dispose it off properly.
• To prevent disturbance to wildlife, it is recommended not to use call playback to attract birds, feeding or baiting of wildlife.
• Due to the remoteness of the location, you may not have access to the kind of amenities, facilities and services that you typically are used to / get in big cities. Please ask me if you have any questions about what or what not to bring with you on this trip. Cell phone network and power supply may be erratic too.
Panna Khajuraho Temple Tour