Delhi- Khajuraho – Panna

The planning started for a group of six people, and the final day, we were three. A little awkward was it initially as the rest two were a couple. My closest school time friend and her husband.

Trip to the heart of country

Though March end was not the best time to visit Khajuraho and Panna, but one of the best trips it had been. Rushing from office under some haphazard circumstances, and finally boarded the train Uttar Sampark Kranti Express from Hazrat Nizamuddin station, New Delhi. Very comfortable night journey passed with some chatter on Indian civilizations, history, sculptures and finally meeting a localite from Panna, sitting next berth who told us a lot about our destination – what all to see, what all we shouldn’t miss, the facts about Panna, the new animals in the Panna Tiger Reserve, where they come from etc etc. He told us to visit the other part of the jungle with some new baby elephants which was mostly less safari’ed, and the Panna diamond mines. He told us he would get us the permission of these restricted areas and so we discovered that he was a Chief Magistrate judge in Panna Court. So did he help us through phone getting permissions to these areas while we were there. Not only this, he had called up at few of the places before we visited there so that we would not need to pay for the tickets and jab ek chote se shahar mein ek Magistrate Sahab ne kuch kaha ho toh kisi zurrat ki woh entry fees le le, chahe woh Pandava Caves ho ya Light and Sound Show(In a small town, nobody can dare to deny the chief magistrate judge of a court and ask for money). It was big time fun.

Day 1: We landed Khajuraho at 7:00 am in the morning with a beautiful sky up above.

Mahua Tree

Mahua Tree

The beautiful Mahua trees with yellow leaves greeted us and paved the way to our hotel Tourist Village which is under MP tourism. Since March is not the peak season, we got very good negotiations for our stay. We did not have to pay the extra bed + 20% discount + waiving off service taxes. It is a small yet nicely maintained and an economical hotel with very humble staff and a good service.

Our Taxi driver whom we hired for the complete day<and later for the rest of the trip as well> to take us through all the temples in Khajuraho helped us knowing more about Khajuraho and Panna. He charged somewhere around Rs 650 for the whole day.

Khajuraho(situated approximately 620Km from Delhi) and Panna(around 27 kms from Khajuraho) lie amidst the Vindhyachal mountains. The rocks are mostly Sandstone and Granite. Panna’s green area is covered by 70% of Saghawan(Teak) trees which is an expensive wood. Rest are mostly Cheola trees that have the red petals which are used for making dyes and gulal<used as a color in Holi festival>. The paste of the fruit(made in bronze vessel) is used to treat sun strokes(loo in hindi) and diabetes. While the leaves are used in making disposable plates and cups(traditionally called pattals in hindi). Roots and bark also serve good medicinal values. Khajuraho and Panna have a lots of Mahua trees, which had Yellow leaves when we visited. These trees are also very beneficial amongst the local tribes and the rural people. The flowers of these trees are very sweet and are used for preparing drinking alcohol. While the seeds generate oil that can be used as fuel oil or cooking(good for heart patients). The fruit can be eaten cooked or otherwise. Madhya Pradesh green cover is rich in Ayurvedic herbs and medicines. Panna area is a rich forest area full of such medicinal herbs. <Thanks to my little diary which I carried all the way through the trip which still bear all this information I am sharing>.

Sculptures @ Khajuraho

Some remnants under the beautifully carved temples @ Khajuraho

While Panna is known for the diamonds and the Tigers; Khajuraho on the other hand is famous for the magnificent historical temples which are carved from stones, depicting every mood and phase of life. They not just testimony the artistry of those who sculptured the temples but hold a big place amongst the world’s artistic wonders. People from all around the world come and enjoy the beauty of these temples. These temples are carved with intricate details of gods, lovers, celestial angels, kings, wars etc. Apart from these sculptures, the temples have carvings that bear erotic figures.

These temples were build over a period of 100 years from 950-1050 AD and were almost in ruins before 20th century, but are now under restoration. The gardens around these are well maintained and are clean. We did not find any kind of prayers being performed at these temples specifically. They are more or less treated as historical temples. There were around 85 temples built out of which there are 22 excavated till now.

The temples are classified amongst the three groups :

  1. Western group : It comprises a group of the most splendid temples which are all build inside a complex, main temple being Kandhariya Mahadeo which is the most beautiful and exotic one. It is 31 m high and is dedicated to lord Shiva. Main Shrine is intrinsically carved and there s a Shivling inside the temple.
    Kandhariya Mahadeo Temple, Khajuraho

    Kandhariya Mahadeo Temple, the main shrine

    Matangeshwara temple dedicated to lord shiva and bearing the highest 8m Shivling ,

    Matangeshwara Temple, Khajuraho

    Matangeshwara Temple, Khajuraho

    Lakshmana temple dedicated to lord Vishnu which is the first one from the entrance, Chitragupta temple which is dedicated to Sun God, temple which bears Lord Shiva’s vehicle Bull on the top. Mata Jagdambi temple built over the same platform as that of main shrine Kandhariya Mahadeo are the other ones which stay in the same complex and are just some 100m apart from each other. There is one more temple Chausanth Yogini temple which is outside this complex and the only granite temple amongst these and is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Though we missed the site of this last one.

  2. Eastern group : The main temples in this group are Parsavnath, Adinath, Ghantai, Vamana, Brahama, javeri temples. The first two being Jain temples.
  3. Southern group : It has two main temples Duladeo and Chatarbhuj temple. Chaturbhuj temple is the only temple that does not have erotic sculptures on it. (By the time we were on the tour to Southern and eastern group of temples after seeing the western group, we were too very tired and hence I could not jot down much about these groups in my diary).
  4. Khajuraho sculptures

    Beautiful sculptures @ Khajuraho

These all temples lie within a radius of 5 kms. There is no traffic and hence an easy and smooth drive within the city. One peculiar thing we noticed was all localites were driving very slow. I was feeling so good, out of those rushing hours in Delhi, to a place where time was not rushing with the list of tasks you get up every day with.

Folk dance show

Folk dance show @ Khajuraho

Being the month of March, the earth was too hot in the afternoon and we retired to the hotel to take a small nap so that we could enjoy the evening at Faciliation center watching the Folk dance show which starts at 6:30 PM and to the gardens of western group of temples again to watch the sound and light show which starts at 7:30PM and these two areas are just 5minutes away from each other on a vehicle. Both were worth watching. The entry fees for each of these shows were approximately some Rs 100-120. The light and sound show is recorded in Amitabh Bachan’s voice (first show is in English, followed by the second at 8:30 which is in Hindi) narrating the history of Khajuraho and its temples. The story told about the birth of Chandela dynasty when the moon god feel in love with a beautiful Brahmin girl Hemavati and their union gave birth to their son, followed by Hemavati moving to Khajuraho with her son. Her son founded the Chandela dynasty and built these temples. The story was accompanied with beautiful lightning of the temples.

Khajuraho is also famous for its annual dance festival which happens from last week of February to first week of March and dancers across the world participate during this festive and colorful event. We happened to miss this event by 20 days.

After spending a complete tiring day in Khajuraho covering almost everything, we headed for Ken river lodge in Panna next morning. This resort is just 1.5 kms away from the Panna Tiger reserve gate. We kept our belongings at the resort we pre-booked and talked to our train friend Mr. Magistrate to get permission for the Diamond mines and the elephant camp side of the Panna tiger reserve which is towards the Panna city, around an hour of distance from the resort which is situated at the banks of Ken river.

We first visited Pandava waterfalls and caves(around some 4-5 kms from Ken river lodge) where we spent pretty good time enjoying the small mineral water fall and clicking some pictures with it. The Pandavas had spent some 3 months of their exile period in the caves here.

Then we went to see the Diamond mines where a police inspector took us inside and showed us the deep mine plunged and the raw material extracted. We were not allowed to take pictures of that place as it was highly confidential area. After that we headed for the other gate of the Panna tiger reserve at Hinauta which is the Elephant camp side of the forest. Unfortunately the elephants and their babies had gone to the main jungle and were supposed to return by evening. So we planned to come back to see them the next day.

We went back to our resort which is beautifully built giving a perfect jungle retreat. It has a tree house restaurant giving a view of Ken river where we could cite plenty of life like parakeets, kingfishers, turtles, storks and crocodiles in the river.

Stork @ Ken river, Panna

The beautiful sunset was mind boggling. I was immersed in the beauty around.

Sunset view from tree house resturant of Ken river lodge, Panna

Next early morning at 5:30am we started for our safari to Panna Tiger reserve with a naturalist and a guide. They helped us knowing more about the flora and the fauna of the forest. We spotted 4 horn antelopes, deer, spotted deers, sambar, neel gai, chimpanzees, peacocks, eagles, vultures, jackal, crocodile, and plenty of birds. We also saw the baby elephants as we went to the other end of the jungle where we went the last day as well. We played with the elephant babies.


Spotted dear @ Panna Tiger Reserve

It was good fun package. However we could not spot a single leopard or a tiger. We could just spot the pug marks.

Pugmarks @ Panna Tiger reserve

Currently there are 3 tigers and 4 cubs in the reserve and 25 leopards in the reserve(the number of leopards is an approximation only since there is no tracking of number through gps devices as done for tigers).


Antelope in the golden forest

We enjoyed rest of the day at the resort and went for boating and river bathing in the evening.

A dip in the Ken river, Panna

River bathing was an amazingly good experience for me as I haven’t got many chances with it earlier.


After the sunset @ Ken river


After boating we retreated towards our huts

Next day morning, we left for Safari at 4:45 am since a new Tigress was to move from Kanha reserve to Panna Tiger reserve because of which the main gate of the reserve was closed and we had to enter from the other side of the jungle from Hinauta(elephant camp side). We pretty much saw the same species of animals we saw the previous day with no exception. We then went to see the Panna court building which was earlier some palace converted to a court. We also visited our friend’s house to say thanks to him since he had made this trip easier for us, letting us visit all restricted areas.

We had a train in the evening from Khajuraho which led us back to Hazrat Nizamuddin station, New Delhi at 7:00 am in the morning.

27 Comments

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Welcome aboard Vaishali,
    Very nice post with beautiful pictures, very detailed description. The travelogue is so interesting that i read it in a single breath. Your sense of photography and writing skill deserved appreciation. Though born and brought up in MP and livig in Indore (MP) i couldnot visit these beautiful places yet, after reading your story i am strongly desierous to visit there soon.

    Thanks.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    One more thing Vaishali,

    Most of the pictures in post are not getting opened, may be there is some problem with my PC, but you look into it and if the problem is iheret please get it corrected so that fellow ghumakkars could see and appreciate your work.

    Thaks.

  • Nandan says:

    Vaishali – Welcome aboard. Except few images, most of them do not open for me as well. I would look into it, you also please look it when you get time.

    Been to Khajuraho couple of times and its indeed mind-boggling to witness the kind of work which happened 10 centuries back. More as I fix the photo issues.

  • Nandan says:

    I seem to have fixed the pictures issue. My guess is that for first picture and the ones after the folk-dance, some manual changes were done (specific custom sizes, I believe) and that made them go missing.

    Can someone confirm back ?

  • maheh semwal says:

    Hi Vaishali,

    very informative post.

    I have been to Jhansi many time because of my official work , inspite of so many plan to visit Khajuraho , not able to visit. Thanks for reminding me again :-)

    If I am not wrong , there is no direct train for Khajuraho.

    I would like to go through the post once again after the picture problem will be fixed.

  • maheh semwal says:

    Mukesh rightly said , your sense of photography is commendable.

    All the sunset picture are breathtaking. looks like hand made painting.

    Keep traveling , keep writing.

  • Mahesh,

    Thank you so much for your nice words…

    I would recommend you to visit these places, especially Khajuraho is a place not worth missing!
    However it would really be hot these days, would be nice to postpone your plans post Aug-Sept.

    Cheers!

  • Thanks Nandan for fixing the issue with the pictures :-)

  • Maheh,

    Thanks for your words. I am glad that you liked it.

    Yes there is direct train to Khajuraho from New Delhi : Uttar Sampark Kranti Express from Hazrat Nizamuddin station. It’s a night journey, so more enjoyable to save the day roaming out in Khajuraho.

    It’s my first travelogue and hope to write more in future. Thanks!

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Vaishali,

    The picture “A dip in the Ken river, Panna” is very very beautiful.

    Thanks.

  • ashok sharma says:

    Khajuraho is beautiful,but Panna is great.
    Wish to visit sometime soon

  • ashok sharma says:

    You seem to be having good sense of photography,
    great snaps by an amateure

  • Vibha says:

    Welcome Aboard Vaishali. And thanks for such a lovely post.

  • Nandan says:

    Panna seems to be coming back to Jungle circuit. On my first visit there in 2007 ( I guess) , it had zero wild life. Kudos to Project Tiger.

    Your diary is proving to be very informative for Ghumakkars so keep it along :-). When time, please also write about your other travel experiences.

  • Thanks Mukesh, Ashok.

    @Vibha: I must say Thanks to you as I thought to write this post after reading
    http://life-inspires.blogspot.com/2011/03/10-tips-for-writing-good-travel-post.html :-)

    @Nandan : Thanks Nandan. I have my diary almost all the times :-)

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Welcome aboard Vaishali. Beautifully written post with good pics. After reading this, I am curious to visit there. Expecting more travel experiences from you. I liked your way of maintaining diary during travel.

  • Aditya says:

    Awesome pics… especially the Stork @ Ken river, Panna and Sunset view from tree house resturant of Ken river lodge, Panna…. Beautifully composed….

  • Thanks Vinay!

    Thanks Aditya. Glad that you liked it!

  • Ravinder Ahuja says:

    Awesome pics and marvellously dipicted trip, I didnt know that you have a habit of diary writing too, I like that. especially the sunset pic is mindblowing as you rightly said. Infact we plan to visit this place after you narrated us all ur trip last time you visitited us.

  • Thanks Ravi..Glad that you liked it :-)

    Yes I do write diary but dont want you to spy on it :p Just kidding!

    Yes you and Shikha must go, it’s a beautiful place!

  • meranaamjoker says:

    Chimpanzee ?? I don’t think we have Chimpanzees in Indian Jungles !! !! :P :P

  • Chandra81 says:

    Hello Vaishali,
    Very nicely summed up account of your journey. Your photographs do have good perspective especially the Kandhariya Mahadeo Temple, Beautiful Sculpture and Folk Dance show. A good account and nice details…Would have loved to hear some personal reflection like how temples of safaris made you feel. A good beginning indeed. Welcome aboard.
    @meranaamjoker I agree that we don’t have chimpanzees in India except for in zoos or parliament – but then I repeat myself :-) I am sure she meant Langoors, which are very common in India, be it jungles or politics :-)
    Cheers,
    Nikhil

  • DR PRAMOD PANDEY says:

    Thanks a lot for beautiful post and good pictures

  • krishan says:

    Very nice article and photos. Keep travelling and enjoy.

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