The states of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are at the heart of India. Two hilly ranges, the Satpura and the Vindhya along with the Narmada River, make-up the central geographic features.
Beautiful Buddhist monuments at Orchha, Khajuraho, and Sanchi represent ancient civilisation. Bhimbetka is an old prehistoric Hindu site.
Three national parks and 11 nature reserves provide habitats for wildlife. Central India has an impressive array of mammals with eight cat species including tiger and leopard; four dog species, sloth bear, hyena, ungulates and the Indian pangolin. The critically endangered Gangetic River Dolphin is present but rarely seen. Also 400 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and dragonflies.
Tigers are of course the star species of Indian wildlife, and Bandhavgarh and Kanha Tiger Reserves are famous for viewing the Bengal Tiger. Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve is a preferred park to spot tiger, and also Indian Fox, Jungle Cat, Sambar Deer, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Striped Hyena, Golden Jackal, Blue Bull Antelope, Chital Deer, honey badger, and Indian Gazelle. If you’re fortunate, you could spot an Indian Pangolin.
Satpura National Park is a magical off beat park to visit. This is not the place to go for tiger, but the old storybook scenery of India. Langur monkeys flit between the branches — Samba deer and giant squirrel busy themselves amongst the grass and trees.
Situated above the Satpura Plains is a pretty Victorian hill station. Captain James Forsyth built a beautiful colonial church, with a tall spire and exquisite stained glass windows. British colonial houses are now guesthouses. Local attractions focus on caves and rock paintings, the jungle and visiting the Adivasi tribal people.
Most of the rain falls in south-west monsoon season from July to September. During this time the forests are thick and green. The winters are cold, and the summers hot. The driest period falls over January and February when the woods are brown and leafless.
Central India is the Hindi heartland. The cuisine is salty-sweet, influenced by the neighbouring states. Lentils, wheat, rice, bajra and jowar form the base to many meals. Music, art, dance all contribute to a colourful mixture of culture. Various dialects of Hindi such as Bundeli, Malvi, Nimadi, and Bagheli are spoken here followed by Dakshin Kosali and some tribal languages.