Road Trip Through Madhya Pradesh - Last Stop - Khajuraho and Panna National Park

Monday, January 15, 2018

Road Trip Through Madhya Pradesh - Last Stop - Khajuraho and Panna National Park

On the 6th day morning we started for Khajuraho around 10:15 am. The route that we took was through Barhi, Katni bypass, Pawai, Amanganj, Panna National Park, and Mandla.
A few kilometers before Amanganj on your right there will be a restaurant Narmada Highway Treat where you can stop for restrooms (not clean but your only option); it is right before the Bharat petroleum petrol station.

You will then pay a toll of Rs 20 at Katni followed by Rs 30 at Panna.

We stopped at the Madla gate of the Panna National Park to arrange tickets for the next morning safari. The online permit booking was not available - everything was fully booked but thankfully we could club with another two guys after pleading at the ticket counter.

Khajuraho

We then drove to Khajuraho city (30 minutes from the Madla gate of Panna National Park) and checked-in to Radisson Jass Hotel. Khajuraho has two sets of temples - the western side which has more of the Hindu temples and the eastern side which has the Jain temples. If you are looking for the much talked about architecture you need to head towards the western side.



We quickly freshened up and left for the western side of the Khajuraho temples. The entrance ticket is Rs 25 per person. The western set of temples are enclosed in a big complext which houses around 8-9 temples. As soon as you enter the complex the huge temples and their architecture put you in awe. They look magnanimous! The temples don't have active worship of the Gods but they do house some idol of the Hindu Gods so you are required to take off your shoes before you enter. The temples close at 5 pm and the guards on duty will push you out of the complex so make sure you enter by at least 4pm so that you can see all the temples inside. Each temple has carvings starting right from its base going all the way to the top. The insides are also carved with beautiful figurines. Once you enter I'm sure you won't get tired of clicking pictures at all.

The Scultptures Of Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh
The Scultptures Of Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh

Temple, Khajuraho
Temple, Khajuraho

Temple, Khajuraho
Temple, Khajuraho

Western Temples, Khajuraho
Western Temples, Khajuraho

Western Temples, Khajuraho
Western Temples, Khajuraho

There are a lot of explicit sculptures adorning the outside walls of these temples which is what Khajuraho is known for across the world. What people don't know (even I didn't before I went there) is that these temples actually depict four goals of life as described by Hinduism - dharma, kama, artha and moksha. The sculptures of kama are actually very few as compared to the other three goals.

After 5pm we were made to exit the complex. Outside the entrance is a small market. We had an interesting version of the tikki at a small road side stall called Jai Gurudev Chaat Bhandaar. It is opposite to the temple complex gates. If you don't get sick by eating outside food then definitely give this a try, the owner is a very polite gentleman who takes pride in the taste of his food and at Rs 20 a plate it is well worth a try. We actually came back the next day for another serving of his tikki!

Jai Gurudev Chaat Bhandaar, Khajuraho
Jai Gurudev Chaat Bhandaar, Khajuraho


Then we walked to the Shiva temple on the left of the Khajuraho temple complex. This houses a Shiva linga which is huge! I have never seen a structure like this before. We reached in time to witness the aarti going on inside. We were literally standing alongside the huge Shiva linga. After this we walked around in the area before having dinner at Raja Cafe (oven baked pizza! ) Raja Cafe has really good ratings on zomato but I must say its overrated. The ambiance is nice and it's located right outside the temple complex but other than that I found the food to be mediocre. Maybe the non-vegetarian options are better but I can't say.

Shiva Temple, Just Outside The Western Temple Complex, Khajuraho
Shiva Temple, Just Outside The Western Temple Complex, Khajuraho
Shiva Temple, Khajuraho
The Huge Shiva Linga Inside The Temple

Safari at Panna National Park

Next morning we had our safari planned for the morning. We had to leave our hotel at 5 am. It was extremely cold. I had 3 layers of clothing and still felt cold! Due to a heavy fog it took us over 50 mins to reach the Madla gate ticket counter from where the gypsy starts. You must be clothed well -  thick jackets, mufflers, warm caps and thick socks with shoes. If the safari is in winters (31st Dec) be prepared to still feel cold, a lot of tourists were carrying blankets from their hotel to keep warm. You can bring breakfast along as well. The initial part of the safari was taxing as the fog seemed to refuse to go away so sighting the tiger seemed impossible. We were taken to the Vulture view point where we spotted over 10 vultures. Make sure you carry a high zoom lens for photography or binoculars to spot the animals. After about 2 hours we finally saw the cub of the T1 tigress passing from one hedge of grassland to the other. It was a few seconds of sighting and I was hoping it would come back out - we waited for half an hour before returning. So yes, we did finally spot the tiger at Panna National Park but it did not give us an opportunity to click a picture to share with folks back home. Better luck than Bandhavgarh but I sure am hoping to get a better view in my next safari.

Panna Tiger Reserve
Panna Tiger Reserve

Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh 


Vulture Point, Panna Tiger Reserve (taken in extreme fog)
Vulture Point, Panna Tiger Reserve (taken in extreme fog)

We reached our hotel around 11:30 am and decided to have breakfast at a local eatery. We had Aloo Bhaji, Pooris and Parathas with ginger tea at a roadside cafe called South Indian Canteen Cafe. This is located on the road that goes towards the temples. The food was delicious and perfect to beat the morning chill.

South Indian Canteen Cafe - Khajuraho

We decided to spend the remaining part of the afternoon relaxing  at our hotel. We spent the day at the Temple Spa at Radisson which I'll describe in a separate post. Followed by that we enjoyed the new year eve party at the hotel before heading back the next day.

Khajuraho does have an airport with flights from Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Mumbai so you could go there over a weekend as well if you don't have time for an entire road trip.
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Back Home

We started at 8am for Greater Noida on the 1st of January. It was extremely foggy and Google took us through the Laundi-Chattarpur highway. Before this road, the route was through a village called Pay, the roads are non-existent here. It is under-construction for around 15 kms.
Once we hit NH34 there were a lot of trucks causing us to speed down until Chichara. We had to pay a toll of Rs 40 at Khanna toll plaza - after this the number of trucks reduced. The fog decided to stay longer making it very cold.

We stopped at Sameerpur for tea. There is no other proper place to stop ahead except for a small dhaba called Pooja Dhaba on your left before Aanupur Modh but this place has no restrooms and the people there can overcharge for the food you eat. There is another dhaba called Chandel Dhaba a little ahead, google shows it as a 4 star rated hotel but it is just a dhaba.
Later ahead you will have to shell out another Rs 40 at the toll at Aliyapur.

From NH519 when you turn left onto NH19/AH1 there is a decent Kanchan Dhaba where you can stop for food as well as washrooms. Followed by this you will go towards Etawah and pay a toll of Rs 80 at Anantram toll plaza. From Etawah you get onto the Taj expressway towards Delhi-NCR.
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To sum it all up our entire journey lasted 8 days. We stayed one night each in Gwalior, Orchha, and Bedhaghat followed by two nights each in Bandhavgarh and Khajuraho. All hotel bookings were done online almost at the last minute but we found some pretty nice places to stay (Radisson was booked a day before we started our trip so that was a week in advance) Safari bookings should be done in advance so that you get to do the safari in the core zone. Do multiple safari's if you have the time; it increases your chances of seeing the tigers.

Our road trip turned out to be a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed reading through the past few posts. Do let me know in the comments below if you would like me to share more such posts narrating my travel stories. Until next time....!

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14 comments:

  1. Sounds like an amazing trip! I've never been to MP. I had a penpal who used to send photographs of the wildlife park, and they looked stunning.

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    1. it was real fun Renu. And yes the wildlife parks are huge!

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  2. I could spend the entire trip in the temples alone!

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  3. Your pictures are amazing. This sounds like quite the trip.

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  4. The architecture and scenery are stunning! Thanks for bringing us along

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  5. I can't believe how beautiful the temples are - I could spend all day looking at them.

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  6. Such a beautiful road trip! We don’t see architecture like that in my area!

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