Sometime in November it dawned upon me that I am left with lot of leave and at least half of it will lapse in March unless consumed. The choice of the holiday destination was easy as Bandhavgad (Tiger Sanctuary) and Jabalpur (Bhedaghat) have been recent favorites of many of my colleagues and photographer friends and the decision was kind of already made in my mind. The earliest availability of railway tickets and leave decided the time of my tour which happened to be January.
Right at the outset I was aware that winter is not the right season for tiger sighting and therefore I decided to add Khajuraho and Amarkantak to my itinerary. We finalized on the round trip road journey from Jabalpur to Jabalpur via Khajuraho, Bandhavgad, Amarkantak and Kanha. Jabalpur has famous marble rocks at Bhedaghat. Khajuraho is the famous tourist and archaeological site known for its 9th to the 11th century AD sculptured temples dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Jain patriarchs. Bandhavgad and Kanha are the wildlife sanctuaries. And Amarkantak is a great pilgrim centre for the Hindus where the rivers Narmada and Sone originate.
Economy of Madhya Pradesh is an agro-based economy. Located in central India, Madhya Pradesh (MP) has the largest area covered by forest among all the states in India, with a share of nearly 13 per cent of the total forest area of the country. Forest-based industries are key contributors to the economy of the state and also provide employment to a large part of the population.
The fresh, winter-crisp and probably one of the purest weather in India made our 1300 KM of road travel very pleasant. Seated next to driver I had my camera ready for the shooting interesting sites, even at the cost of some blur due to car movement and camera shake, while on the move.
As soon as we drove out of Jabalpur city we came across this farmer eating his breakfast while driving his loaded bullock-cart to the market.
The roads were straight and wide. Many of them were toll roads. Thin vehicular traffic would have made it easy to achieve 60-80 kmph speeds within no time.
However the local population of all living beings – humans and animals – appeared still not accustomed to give due respect to vehicular traffic and refused to budge from their positions which happened to be right in the middle of the road. So the effective speed was around 50 kmph and a 250 km journey took us around 5-6 hours from one point to the other. All our destinations were roughly in the range of 200-250 km from each other.
The roads traversed through the lush green flat land and skirting the hills in the distance.
As soon as we started our road journey the various shades of green seen all around started cooling my eyes that were still fixated on my blackberry. I was amazed by the effortless availability of mobile connectivity to phones, blackberry and internet throughout the route. Yet it took another 2 days for my brain, still filled with work related details, to become completely relaxed and start ignoring the blackberry. Only thereafter, listening to the bird-calls became the prime occupation and blackberry a pastime.
The temperatures hovered between 0०C to 10०C while we were there. We often encountered fog and overcast skies on the roads and in the wild-life sanctuaries.
I found the people in the region easy-going and leading a laid-back lifestyle, yet receptive of tourists. That still remains my first impression of Madhya Pradesh.
. . . . . . Stay tuned for more photo-blogs on individual places that I visited in eastern Madhya Pradesh.
Read next part of Madhya Pradesh Travelogue at: