Praise for Madhya Pradesh Tourism
My recent trip during the Commonwealth Games to the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India was a pleasure thanks to Madhya Pradesh Tourism. Madhya Pradesh is a primarily rural state, but it is chock full of medieval forts and temples from the 9th-12th centuries that any history, architecture, or art history buff would go gaga over. The Madhya Pradesh Tourism Office offers great packages for exploring these sites and catching glimpses of a more rural India that is missed if one only visits Agra and Delhi.
Our MP tourism taxis met us as soon as we exited the Gwalior train station. From there, they shuttled us to various forts, temples, and museums within each city, as well as between cities, and to and from our hotels and restaurants. We covered a lot of ground with these taxi drivers. Day one was spent in Gwalior visiting the cliffside Gwalior Fort and Temples, and the tomb of Muhammed Ghaus with its beautiful jalis (stone latticework screens). Day two we went to Orchha, stopping at the M.C. Escher-esque Datia Fort on the way. Day three we stopped at the Dubela museum to admire the yogini (feminine form of the masculine yogi) sculptures before traveling onward to Khajuraho. The next two days were spent in Khajuraho visiting the various temples, which are listed as World Heritage Sites, and are a must-see for anyone interested in Tantrism and symbolism in Hindu temple architecture.
MP Tourism has made all of these sites accessible, with only limited commercialization. The tourism scheme maintains and keeps clean many of the historic sites, and has helped to improve the quality of major roads, making it easier to travel from city to city. Knowledgeable taxi drivers also know the unmarked roads well, which meant that we reached all of our destinations in a timely manner, without having to stop and ask for directions. And at the end of the trip, the drivers didn’t try to take us to some store to buy tacky souvenirs so that they could get some commission off of our purchases. In fact, they helped to ward of the peskier merchants in Khajuraho, who would descend upon us as soon as they spotted us, trying to sell temple guide books, bronze sculptures of Gandhi, and even “erotic playing cards” depicting some of the racier images of the couples sculpted on the temple walls.
MP Tourism also has some great hotels. They’re clean, the staff is friendly, the beds are comfortable (a soft bed is a hard thing to find in India…), the food is good, and some of the hotels even have swimming pools! And, as an added bonus, a few bottles of beer can even be included in your meal plans.
Safe, knowledgeable drivers, inspiring sites and architecture, soft beds, good food and drink – who could ask for more? Well done, Madhya Pradesh Tourism.