Rural Central India

Rural Central India

In the heart of Madhya Pradesh, in a predominantly rural environment, there are many testimonies of the evolution of Hindu architecture and iconography from the 5th to the 12th century, when dynasties often competing from Rajput clans, restored preeminence to the Vishnouite and Shaivite deities, or Jains, after centuries of triumphant Buddhism.

Rural Central India

This tour is for tourists who have already had a first approach to India and who are interested in the development of the architecture and iconography of Hindu temples.

Tour Highlights

  1. The visit of the districts of Nimuch, Mandsaur and Ratlam.
  2. The fortified monasteries of the gurus-soldiers Mattayamura.
  3. The landscapes of the Vindhya Mountains.
  4. The excavated temple and Buddhist caves of Dharmarajeshwar.
  5. Sultan Garhi’s site in Delhi.


Delhi – Gwalior – Datia – Chanderi – Shivpuri – Jhalawar – Gandhi Sagar – Neemuch – Mandsaur – Ratlam – Dhar – Indore – Delhi 

Day 01: Arrive in Delhi
Airport welcome and transfer to your hotel.
Day 02: Delhi
Breakfast at hotel. This morning you will be introducing the children to Delhi in style, on a morning's private bicycle rickshaw tour. Your rickshaw driver/guides will cycle you through the winding alleys of the markets of Old Delhi where you and the children will witness Indian city life up close as you pass street barbers and stall keepers selling colourful garments, spices and sweets. Hop off whenever you want a closer look, lunch and visit to the white marble Gurudwara Sikh temple which has a community kitchen as well as a very interesting museum on the history of the Sikh community. After lunch, it is time for an introduction to Indian history and architecture with a visit to Humayun's Tomb, also in New Delhi and somewhere for the children to run around in the shaded formal gardens surrounding the elegant tomb of a Mughal king.
Day 03: Delhi – Mathura (185 kms – 03 hrs)
After breakfast leave by road to Mathura, visit of the interesting archaeological museum of Mathura which presents a rich collection of sculptures (mainly) dated between the 3rd century BC and the 12th AD, and in particular works from the Kushane and gupta from the School of Mathura.  During afternoon walk on the ghats and in the bazaar.
Day 04: Mathura – Morena (140 kms – 02½ hrs)
After breakfast leave for Morena, it is in Morena that one finds the largest number of peacocks in India. Morena has been named after the bird which is called 'mor' in Hindi. The prime attraction is the Sabalgarh Fort, which is a formidable structure perched on a large rock. It was built in the 17th century by Gurjar sardar, Sabal Singh, who was a noble in the court of the rulers of Karauli. A beautiful set of architectural structures are located in the Morena district of Madhya Pradesh that need to be seen by the discerning traveller. Dating back to the Gupta and Gurjar-Pratihara dynasties; they’re defined by the mastery of a historic era. The marvels of Mitawali, Padavali, and Bateshwar temples, these old structures tell us stories of the time long gone by, and their timelessness is what makes them such a wonder. Mitawali is where the popular Chausath Yogini Temple lies; perched atop a hill surrounded by the lush greenery. They say, the Parliament House in New Delhi is believed to have been inspired from the circular design and architectural intricacies of the Mitawali temple. A climb of a 100 steps will take you to this splendidly round temple.  Studying the temple structure can be a wonderful lesson in rain-water harvesting and engineering.
Day 05: Morena – Sihoniya – Gohad – Aiti – Gwalior
Departure in the morning towards Sihoniya and visit the ruins of the Kakanmath temple, dedicated to a form of Shiva, dated from the beginning of the 11th century (Kachchhapaghata dynasty of which Sihonya was temporarily capital) but partly destroyed during the 14th century by an earthquake. Also visit the temple dedicated to Ambika Devi (Protective Mother Goddess of the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminath), reconstituted at the beginning of the 15th century by a monarch Tomar from parts of temples dating from the 9th to the 12th century (Pratihara and Kachchhapaghata dynasties ). Continue to Gohad, a small town founded in 1505 by a Jat warrior, Rana Singhandev II, who created a small kingdom there. In the heart of its capital, the Fort built the same year was the first in a series of 360 forts erected to defend its state. Protected by four lines of defense, it was enlarged and completed by the successors of Rana Singhandev II.   Afternoon, short drive to Dang and visit of the Pratihara period temple dedicated to Shiva, then continue to Bhensora where a temple dedicated to Shiva has a very beautifully crafted style dating from the Kachchhapaghata. Among the beautiful sculptures adorning the base of the temple, scenes with musicians.   A short detour through the village of Aïti will finally allow you to visit two small temples from the 10th-12th centuries, one dedicated to Surya, sun god, the other to Vishnou. By evening reaching Gwalior.
Day 06: Gwalior - Excursion to Naresar
In the morning, excursion to Naresar where a set of 22 temples in a pretty site on the wooded hillside (moderately easy to access, small walk necessary) presents interesting architectural. These temples were built between the late 8th and 12th centuries, a major period in the evolution of religious architecture in North India. By afternoon return to Gwalior and  visits to the Sarod Ghar, museum of the sarod, a lute of mixed Iranian-Indian origin that has become a classic instrument of Hindustan music.
Day 07: Gwalior
Today first half is free and post lunch  visiting Gwalior Fort – a fort that is considered as a pearl among the fortress of India, Tomb of Rani lakshminai the famous freedom fighter, Jai Vilas Palace – similar to the style of the ‘Palais de Versailles’ in France which has a mix of Tuscan, Italian and Corinthian styles of architecture, and Tansen’s Tomb – the world-famous musician’s tomb.
Day 08: Gwalior - Amrol - Sonagiri – Chandewa Baoli – Datia
After breakfast travel Datia by countryside road allowing to discover in Amrol two small temples dating from the initial period of Pratihara art, the temple dedicated to Rameshwar Mahadev and the Dane Baba temple. These two temples preserve beautiful sculptures which have the shaping of the iconographic programs of medieval temples in North India. Continuation to Sonagiri, a hill covered with 77 Jain temples which has become a major center of pilgrimage due to its frequentation by many Jain saints since the founding of the first temples in the 9th century to commemorate the coming and meditation in this place of Chandraprabha , the eighth Tirthankara of Jainism. A little further on, stop at Chandewa to visit a pretty baoli, a monumental reservoir accessible by wide flights of steps. Originally built in the 11th or 12th century, it was restored and enlarged in the 16th century and then, finally, in 1618 by Bir Singh Deo, Rajput chief of the Bundela of Orchha. In the afternoon, visit the Govind Palace in Datia. Built in 1620 by Bir Singh Deo, this impressive seven-story palace proudly towers over the small town and Lake Karna with its composite Indo-Muslim architecture.
Day 09: Datia – Deogarh – Chanderi
Morning after breakfast drive to Chanderi will take about 2.5 hourson the way we will visit Dashavatara Temple, Deogarh. The Dashavatara Temple is an early 6th century Vishnu Hindu temple located at Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh which is 150 kilometers from Datia. And 60 K M from Chanderi. Then drive to Chanderi for night stay.
Day 10: Chanderi – Behti Math – Shivpuri
Today, after breakfast, start your journey towards Shivpuri. on the way visit Rannod ( monestry ans Wawri), Terahai Maguea ( Temple and Monestry), Kadwaya ( Mathadhees Mahal) 9th century 16 Temple Group. After lunch drive to Shivpuri for night stay.
Day 11: Shivpuri – Exucrsion to interesting places around

Departure in the morning for a short trip to Surwaya (monastery). Continue a small local road to Ranod where there is an interesting monastery of the ascetic Shiva sect Mattamayura, whose influence on architecture and iconography. The Mattamayura are one of the few sects in India to have built veritable monasteries. Then continue to Sesai which has small temples dedicated to Shivaite deities, but also to the Sun.


Return to Shivpuri for overnight

Day 12: Shivpuri - Munkundara - Jhalawar
Early departure for a long drive towards eastern Rajasthan through Shahbad, Baran and Sangod before arriving for lunch at a local restaurant in Mukundara, in a small gorge of the Vindhya Mountains which commands the road from Kota to Bhopal.   In the early afternoon, visit the ruins of the temple of the Gupta period known as Bhim-ki-Chauri - the marriage palace of Bhim, the second of the Pandava brothers - which present some beautiful floral decorative motifs, then of the small fortress of Shikargah. Continue to Jhalawar for overnight.
Day 13: Jhalawar - Jhalrapatan – Chandravati - Bhanpura - Gandhi Sagar
Today we will come back to Madhya Pradesh while visit to Jhalrapatan of the Padam Nath temple dedicated to Surya. Built at the end of the 10th century by the Paramara Rajputs - and restored in the 19th century - it appears as an imposing mass ready to fly under the effect of the lightness of the iconography, whose sculptures are a real lace of stone . Also visit, nearby, the Jain temple dedicated to Shantinath.   Short drive to reach Chandravati, on the banks of the Chandrabhaga, where stands a flat-roofed temple dated 689 and dedicated to Shiva Chandramaulishwara (Moon Bearer) but considered on the spot as Sitaleshwara, the patron of Sitala, the goddess who protects and cures smallpox.   Return to Madhya Pradesh through Bhanpura to visit the museum which preserves many Paramara sculptures from the Hinglajgarh Fort, but also some dating from the Gupta period. Also visit the funeral chhatri of Yashwant Rao Holkar. Died in 1811, it was one of his wives who had him build this sumptuous chhatri in the form of a real temple.
Day 14: Gandhi Sagar - Hinglajgarhfort - Kedareshwar - Rampura - Neemuch
Morning excursion to Hinglajgarh Fort, lost ’atop a ridge overlooking the wooded valleys of the Vindhya Mountains. Accessible by a bumpy track, this fort which seems isolated in the middle of nature for more than a millennium.   Return to Gandhi Sagar.   In the afternoon, continue to Nimuch. Stop at the Kedareshvara temple (18th century), near Amarpur, built in the crevice of a cliff in memory of  the five Pandava brothers and their common wife Draupadi made there during their exile according to the Mahabharata.   Walk in Rampura, a small town with winding streets where there is a palace reminiscent of the style of the presence of the Chandrawat Rajputs then the Holkar Marathes at the head of the region.
Day 15: Neemuch - Jiran - Mandsaur
Departure in the morning for Jiran and visit of the ruins of the Fort whose construction dates back to the 15th or 16th century when the Guhilla Rajputs of Chittorgarh took control of the region, then visit the small temple dedicated to Shiva. Continue further to Mandsaur. This city, known in ancient times as Dashapura, was mentioned in the Ramayana and, according to local legend, was the birthplace of the great poet Kalidasa of the Gupta period. In the afternoon, visit the Museum, preserves sculptures ranging from the Gupta period to the 14th century, then Fort Dashapura and finally the Pashupatinath temple dedicated to a rare form of Shiva represented in the form of an atmukhalingam.
Day 16: Mandsaur – Sondhni – Hussain Tekri – Sailana – Ratlam
Short trip in the morning to visit an archaeological site in Sondhni where one of the columns still stands to commemorate the victory of King Yashodharman (last Aulikara monarch of Malwa).   Drive further to Hussain Tekri, holy place born of a miraculous vision when in 1882 a Nawab (Muslim) from Jaora, who on the occasion of two concomitant pilgrimages favored his Hindu subjects, dreamed of a holy man who urged him to treat Hindus and Muslims equally. Since then, the holy place has been frequented by Hindus as well as Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis, although the mausoleum is dedicated to Imam Hussain.   Arriving in Ratlam, continue to Sailana to visit the Cactus Garden of the Jaswant Niwas Palace, a garden with more than 1,200 species of cacti, including about fifty of local origin. Return to Ratlam and visit (outside) of the Palace of the Rajput dynasty of Ratlam from Ratan Singh, a younger family of the Rathore of Jodhpur who received a princely right from Shah Jahan himself. Part of the Palace is now occupied by the Central Office of Narcotics, this region of western Madhya Pradesh providing a significant portion of Indian opium production (for medical use). The facade is nicely decorated with jharokha - oriel - shaped chhatri and balconies and terraces with finely chiseled columns. Also visit the Gulab Chakkar, a princely rose garden where sculptures from the surrounding area are exhibited today, dating from the 11th to the 14th century).
Day 17: Ratlam - Bhilpank - Dharad - Bhadnawar - Dhar
Day drive through the countryside and the Vindhya Mountains to reach Dhar, the ancient capital of Malwa. En route, stop in Dharad and visit the somewhat isolated Mahakal temple in the middle of the fields. From the Paramara period, it retains a beautiful finely carved tower - shikara - and has the originality of having two shrines - garbhagriha - superimposed. A little further on, the temple of Virupaksha Mahadev in Bilpank is a very beautiful main temple complex surrounded by four templions bordering the sacred space. Built at the beginning of the 12th century by Siddharaja Jai ​​Singh, a Chalukya monarch opposed to the Paramara, it stands on the site of an ancient building from the Maurya period of which only one column remains in the mandapa. Before arriving in Badnawar, a short ascent on foot will allow you to visit the temple of Kanwalka Mata, an ancient temple completely repainted in red, blue and yellow and very popular among the local populations who quite frequently bring live chickens or fish there. 'alcohol. From the top of the hill, panoramic view of the region. Arrive in Dhar at the end of the afternoon after a beautiful hilly journey through the Vindhya Mountains.
Day 18: Dhar - Indore
Morning devoted to the visit of Dhar, former capital of Malwa which, already mentioned in an inscription from the 6th century, experienced its real development from the 10th century under the leadership of the Paramara, before being conquered by the Chalukya around 1050, then by the Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate at the beginning of the 14th century. At stake in rivalries between Marathas and Mughals, then between Marathi clans, the city came under British control in 1857 in the form of a vassal princely dynasty. Then drive in the afternoon to reach Indore, the economic capital of Madhya Pradesh.
Day 19: Indore – Delhi - Departure
Morning flight to Delhi. In the afternoon, visit the site of Sultan Garhi, an interesting archaeological complex which, after being a Hindu Pratihara temple, was transformed in 1231 by Sultan Iltutmish into a mausoleum for his eldest son, who conquered Bihar and Bengal on behalf of the Sultanate. The site, a fine example of Indo-Muslim art, is still considered sacred by both Hindus and Muslims from the surrounding villages who come there to pray, especially on Thursdays. In the evening transfer to the airport for return flight
  • Best Season: September – April
map of Nawabs of Lucknow

The highlights of this trip

Remote Places of Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in the country with archaeological structures, countless monuments, forts and handicraft market. We have ensured that every tourist once visits The Heart of Incredible India. There’s something special about going to these unexplored locations that few travelers venture to.  Madhya Pradesh has few secret places where you can enjoy the fascinating landscapes and witness our rich history.

Architectural & Cultural Marvels

Madhya Pradesh is arguably India’s finest repository of architectural monuments, some of which are known while many are absolutely untouched. History buffs flock to the three sites at Morena, Datia and Chenderi in Central India.


Chanderi is a small town in Madhya Pradesh, which is celebrated for its prominence in Indian history and age-old weaving tradition of Chanderi fabrics. It’s one of the biggest weaving industry which was patronised by the royal family of Gwalior who setup up a training centre to train and empower locals. With its beautiful colours and zari work, Chanderi weaves never fail to impress the ethnic fabric lovers. Every day a new story is weaved in the quaint town of Chanderi where every fourth house in the street is lined up with a loom.

  • Monuments 95% 95%
  • Art & Architect 90% 90%
  • Village Life 85% 85%
  • Landscapes 90% 90%

A true Rural Experience.

“This was our 10th visit to India, this time we wanted to visit less travelled villages and rural side of Central India, ITP has proposed us exactly what we wanted.”

Yann & Sara Montero – Montelimar, France

A different India

“It was an itinerary what we have never thought about, We visited and experienced a different India “

Dr. Michel Angles  – Marseille, France.

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Tribal of Central India

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