Plus pick: Madhya Pradesh.
Mahua Kothi, Bandhavgarh
In the heart of India's Kipling Country, this 40-acre camp with mud-plastered kutiyas is surrounded by meadows and sal and bamboo thickets. Solitude, privacy and the Bandhavgarh promise: the highest density of tigers in India. And Mahua Kothi is the best place to come back to after trailing the stripey beast.
Tel: (07627) 265 402/14; www.tajhotels.com
Ivy Suites, Bhopal
Overlooking Bhopal's glistening Upper Lake is this home turned hotel, offering hospitality that charms. Every window opens out to a fabulous view of the lake and minarets. Meals are served in a spacious dining-cum-sitting room with a marble floor and a fish tank bar. You can relax in the upstairs lounge or roof terrace, or take a stroll on the lakeside road, where the jetty has boat rides on offer.
Tel: (0755) 423 5508; www.ivysuites.in
Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
For an illusion of living in the distant past, there's no better place than Ahilya Fort, the palace-hotel within the Maheshwar Fort, once home to Queen Ahilyabai. Some old chambers have been converted into bedrooms, with magnificent views of River Narmada, ghats and temples. Standing on the river ghats, you can admire the soaring, golden spires of the several temples dotting the area.
Tel: (07283) 273 329; www.ahilyafort.com
Street Food in Indore
If spicy, savoury snacks tickle your palate, Sarafa Bazaar, Indore is the place to go. The street lined with small silver jewellery shops, transforms into a chaat bazaar after 10p.m. Sizzling tawas with sabut dana khichdi, dal kachoris, bhutta kis (a sauteed, grated corn snack), garadu (deep-fried sweet potatoes) and countless other delights, will make you forget all about diets and calories. For a more substantial treat, try bafla, a distinct Malwa speciality.
Nawabi Cuisine in Bhopal
In Bhopal, the aroma of kebabs wafts through bustling galis. Head to Chatori Gali, famous for its biryani, or the street across Moti Masjid which serves keema samosas and seekh kebabs. Head to a stall serving baigan ki boorani, achaari gosht and rogan josh, all flavoured with rich Indian spices. Fried fish coated with yoghurt and a chilli coriander paste is another must-try. Sample haleem for a non-vegetarian twist on the humble khichdi.
Namkeen and Jalebis in Gwalior
From dawn to midnight, the stalls of Naya Bazaar are packed with people clamouring for the favourite Gwalior breakfast of piping hot moong dal kachoris. Also a scrumptious favourite are the jalebis. Made of maida and sugar syrup, the orange swirls, deep fried in copious amounts of desi ghee, taste heavenly.
On the way to Mandu, Indore or Maheshwar, take a detour to the Bagh Buddhist rock-cut caves. In the town is an award-winning printing unit of Sulemanji Khatri, who has revived the art of block printing using vegetable dyes. You can pick up unusual bedcovers, table linen, saris and dupattas in the traditional black-and-red or earthy colours with geometrical and floral motifs.
Maheshwari and Chanderi Saris
Exquisite Maheshwari saris and dupattas, made from a unique blend of cotton and silk, can be bought straight off the Rehwa Weaving Society's looms in Maheshwar. The tri-coloured pallu features a reversible border, with floral motifs. This is not all. Silk and cotton are woven together to create gossamer-fine Chanderi saris. Available at Mrignayani showrooms in Bhopal, Jabalpur and Indore.
Madhya Pradesh has a history of turning stones into beautiful objects. When in Bhedaghat, pick up gifts of white idols or linga, jewellery boxes and animal-shaped curios, from stalls along the steps leading down to the Narmada Ghat. In Balaghat, an unusual green, jade-like stone is carved into delightful boxes, trays and images of deities. They make lovely gifts.
Sound and Light Show at Gwalior Fort
Come sundown and the ramparts of the fort complex come alive with renditions of dhrupad by Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Kumar Gandharva--a tribute to the legends of Tansen and Baiju Bawra. The baritone voice of Amitabh Bachchan tells the history of Gwalior. Held at Man Mandir Palace.
Heritage Walk in Bhopal
Begin your walk from the elegant Gohar Mahal, opposite the Upper Lake. From here, walk across to Moti Masjid, built in red sandstone. Opposite the mosque stands the 'royal ensemble', an intriguing concept of buildings. Around two courtyards--Sadar Manzil Maidan and Khirniwala Maidan--were constructed a group of palaces over a hundred years.
Madhya Pradesh is tiger country and Kanha and Bandhavgarh are its star attractions. Tigers live within the precincts of the ancient Bandhavgarh fort. Kanha is where sighting of tigers is a certainty. Evenings at Kanha are surreal with the occasional call of the tiger that reverberates through the park.
Reproduced From India Today Travel Plus. Copyright 2010. LMIL. All rights reserved.
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