is India's largest state and the geographical heartland of the country.
Stretching between the headwaters of the mighty River Narmada at the borders of
Orissa and Bihar, and the fringes of the Western Ghats, it is a transitional
zone between the Gangetic lowlands in the north and the high dry Deccan plateau
to the south. Most of the state is a high plateau and in summer it can be very
dry and hot. Virtually all phases of Indian history have left their mark on
Madhya Pradesh, historically known as Malwa. Madhya Pradesh has diverse array of
exceptional attractions, ranging from ancient temples and hill-top forts to
superb isolated wildlife reserves.
Madhya Pradesh has at least four agro-climatic zones, and thus, has the most
interesting mix of people and ways of life. It is home to about 40 percent of
India's tribal population. There are three distinct tribal groups in the state.
The largest chunk is formed by the Gonds, who once ruled a major part of the
state and after whom Gondwana, the central portion of the state is known.
Western Madhya Pradesh is inhabited by the Bhils, a colourful group of warriors
and huntsmen. Eastern Madhya Pradesh is dominated by the Oraons, most of whom
have now turned Christians.
: The history of Madhya
Pradesh goes back to
the time of Ashoka,
the great Buddhist emperor whose Mauryan Empire was powerful in Malwa. Around
1000 years ago the Parmaras ruled in south-west MadhyaPradesh- they're chiefly
remembered for Raja Bhoj,
who gave his name to the city of Bhopal and also ruled over Indore and Mandu.
From 950 to 1050AD the Chandelas constructed the fantastic series of temple's at
Khajuraho in the north of the state.
Between the12th and 16th centuries, the region saw continuing struggles between
Hindu and Muslims rulers or invaders. The fortified city of Mandu in the
south-west was the frequently the scene for these battles, but finally the
Mughals overcame Hindu resistance and controlled the region. The Mughals,
however, met their fate at the hands of the Marathas who, in turn, fell to the
The origin of
the Bundela dynasty in the 11th century is traced to a Rajput prince who offered
himself as a sacrifice to the mountain goddess Vrindavasini; she stopped him and
named him 'Bundela' (one who offered blood). The dynasty ruled over the area
between the Yamuna and Narmada rivers. Garhkurar, once capital of the Bundela
Rajas, fell to the Tughluqs just as that dynasty was weakening. Into the vacuum
that they left, the Bundelas again expanded, moving their base to Orchha
(meaning hidden). Raja Rudra Pratap threw a wall around the existing settlement
and began work on the palace building (c. 1525-31) and an arched bridge to it.
This was completed by his successor Bharti Chand (1531-54) who was installed in
the Raj Mahal with great ceremony.