Here’s a detailed look at my journey from Mumbai to Madhya Pradesh, and everything you need to know to plan a fun-filled trip to the heart of India.
If you love long drives to travel, a road trip to Madhya Pradesh is long overdue. Madhya Pradesh, ‘Heart of India’, is the second-largest state by area in the central region of India.
Our itinerary looked something like this:
- Day 1 – Mumbai to Indore
- Day 2 – Explore Indore
- Day 3 – Indore to Bhopal
- Day 4 – Bhopal to Khajuraho
- Day 5 – Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh
- Day 6 – Tiger Safari at Bandhavgarh
- Day 7 – Bandhavgarh to Jabalpur
- Day 8 – Jabalpur to Bhopal
- Day 9 – Bhopal to Mumbai
Unexpected delay on the way from Mumbai to Indore
Is it just me, or do all your trips also begin with a lot of chaos? I was swarmed with work just like the beginning of any other trip. I did not sleep the whole night because of other commitments and had to leave early in the morning for my 600 KMS drive from Mumbai to Indore.
People say you should be prepared for unforeseen circumstances when you’re travelling. I have travelled enough to expect the unexpected. And in our story, it happened just that. If you have watched our vlog, you will know about the unexpected incident on the way to Indore.
We had hardly crossed half-way and our car broke down. Apparently, we didn’t notice the ‘warning’ sign on our meter and kept driving for hours. After struggling for 2 hours and calling 4 service guys, we finally resumed our drive. Not even 5minutes back on the road again, we were stopped by cops.
After sorting our scene with the cops, we tried to cover as much distance as possible before the sunset. At around 5 pm we stopped in the middle of nowhere for lunch, took a nap before we continued to end our day 1.
It took us approximately 18 hours to get to Indore, while it usually takes merely 7-8 hours. Since the trip began with such a dramatic start, we couldn’t expect anything less from our Madhya Pradesh Road Trip.
A day in the cleanest city of India – Indore
Spending a day in Indore was not a part of the plan, but we took this day to rest because of the long drive to Indore. We didn’t keep a lot of activities planned for this day and decided to keep it lowkey.
We decided to explore the cleanest city in India. Indore in Madhya Pradesh has been awarded as the cleanest city in India for the fourth time in a row. The award is declared by the Union Minister of the State.
We went to the C21 Mall to buy a few things for the trip. Then we went to Rajwada Palace. The place was crowded, with hawkers and mostly locals. The roads are narrow, so you will have to find a place to park your car somewhere and walk to the palace. Also, preferably visit the place before sunset to enter the palace and see what’s inside.
The palace was lit with colourful lights, but there were reinforcements on the exterior walls. It was getting renovated. Usually, tourists are allowed to enter the palace, which is like a museum with historical artifacts. Unfortunately, by the time we reached, it was way after dark, and the palace was being renovated.
During my stay in Indore, I received a lot of comments and messages asking me to visit Chappan Dukaan. It is a long stretch of 56 shops next to each other.
Chappan Dukan in Indore is a famous food street with every possible variety of food from India. Chaat, North Indian, South Indian, Gujarati, Chinese and Italian presented to you at one place.
Our next stop for our circuit was the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal. It is also known as the City of Lakes. In the 1700s, the Nawabs of Bhopal used to rule the princely state of the British.
The city was struck by one of the world’s worst industrial disasters in history in 1984. Also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant. Over 5,00,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas. The highly toxic substance made its way into and around the small towns located near the plant.
The road from Indore to Bhopal was beautiful. The route was straight with no speed bumps, or potholes. Well maintained roads with panoramic sunset views.
Since the roads were good, it seemed like we reached Bhopal in no time. For dinner we went to The Public House, a quirky small joint with good ambience and food.
Upper Lake, Bhopal
The next morning, we left for Khajuraho. When the rest of the country was celebrating Diwali, we were packing our bags and getting ready for our next stop.
Before venturing out, we took a quick stop at the very famous Upper Lake in Bhopal. A well organized and maintained promenade by the lake. Hawkers and food stalls stood by the roads waiting for customers.
They made arrangements to show the INS Shivalik ship – the lead ship of stealth class for the Indian Navy, a train engine from the 1800s which used to run on coal, and a lot of other artifacts to remind us of our history. They also had boat and jet ski rides.
Khajuraho – World Heritage Site
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This group of Hindu and Jain temples are famous for their architecture and erotic sculptures. I had heard a lot about the Khajuraho Temples, but you have to see it to believe it.
The magnificent temples are still standing tall ever since 950 AD. The carvings and fixtures are interlocked. History suggests that the site had 85 temples spread across 20 square kilometers. Out of which only 18-20 temples have survived.
The guide took us across the following temples – Vishvanath Temple (Harmony Temple), Mahadeva Temple, Kandariya Mahadev, Lakshmana Temple, Varaha Temple and Vamana Temple.
Tropic of Cancer
On the way from Bhopal to Khajuraho, you will cross Sanchi Stupa (another World Heritage Site) and the Tropic of Cancer which runs across Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chattisgarh among other states and countries of the world.
We were so thrilled to see the line running through the road, and imagine the line running through the world.
Bandhavgarh National Park
We had to choose from 5 unique wildlife heritages such as Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satpura, and Panna National Parks. Bandhavgarh Reserve has some beautiful resorts. We stayed at Maharaja Kothi, they had great food and impeccable service. The rooms were huge with good facilities.
The ticket booking process for this safari is tedious and tiring. Make sure to hire an authorized agent to book a safari for you. We had a terrible experience with both the booking procedure and the safari.
However, driving through the deep forests, seeing tiger claw marks on barks of trees, their paw prints on muddy roads were very exciting. We can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like to see a tiger just wandering through the jungle with our bare eyes.
We stayed at Jabalpur for our visit to Bhedaghat. Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh is a well-developed city with a lot of hotels and military headquarters. Narmada River flows near this city, and around the river are the very famous tourist destinations; the Dhuandhar Falls, Marble Rocks.
Sailing on the Narmada River with marble cliffs surrounding us was a super cool experience. The guys oaring the boats were funny and very entertaining. The 30 minutes boat ride felt like 5 minutes. The boat ride does not happen during monsoons, as the water levels are high.
After Jabalpur, we took a stop at Bhopal once again before heading back to base. Anyone who loves road trips should definitely hit the route to Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the most underrated travel destinations in India.