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Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is India's largest state and the geographical heartland of the country. Most of the state is a high plateau and in summer can be very dry and hot, but it also has the highest percentage of forest in India, sheltering a wide variety of wildlife including 22% of the world's tiger population. Virtually all phases of Indian history have left their mark on Madhya Pradesh, historically known as Malwa. There are still many pre-Aryan Gond and Bhil Adivasis (tribal people) in the state, but Madhya Pradesh is overwhelmingly Indo-Aryan.

Although signs of habitation date back some 12,000 years with the rock cave paintings at Bhimbetka near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh's history can be traced back to the 3rd century BC when the great Buddhist Emperor Ashoka controlled the Mauryan Empire in Malwa. The Mauryans were followed by the Sungas and then the Guptas, before the Huns swept across the State. Around a thousand years ago the Paramaras ruled in southwest Madhya Pradesh. They are chiefly remembered for Raja Bhoj, who gave his name to the city of Bhopal and also ruled over Indore and Mandu. From 950 to 1050 AD the Chandelas constructed the fantastic series of temples at Khajuraho in the north of the State. Between 12th and 16th centuries, the region saw continuing struggles between Hindu and Muslim rulers or invaders. The fortified city of Mandu in the southwest was 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 British.

Madhya Pradesh is called the "Heart of India" not only because of its location in the centre of the country. It has been home to the cultural heritage of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces dot the State. Its natural beauty is equally varied, spectacular mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles and miles of dense forests.

One of the best parts about Madhya Pradesh is its accessibility. Bordered by seven states, it is equally close to major tourist destinations in the north, south, east and west. Whether you are in Delhi, Mumbai Chennai or Kolkata, you're never very far from Madhya Pradesh.

Fact File

CapitalBhopal
ZoneCentral India
Area308,252 S.km
LanguageHindi
Literacy43.5% (1991)