making meaningful connections
Deep into The Heart of India
Palaces, temples and forts; tigers, wildlife and vast undulating hills. With stays in tribal villages amongst jungle and river valleys this holiday in Central India has pretty much everything.
The undiscovered gems that comprise the state of Madhya Pradesh never cease to astound. This is the heart of India that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write the much loved Jungle Book. Jungle and wildlife sanctuaries, rural, tribal villages are criss crossed by great rivers and bejewelled with some of the greatest medieval architecture of India and particularly so in this journey of exploration from the centre of this vast state to its north-eastern part.
Itinerary | Day by Day
We look after you from the moment of your arrival at Delhi airport. Your holiday includes all rail journeys and transfers across Madhya Pradesh, simple, comfortable accommodation in the welcoming village guesthouses, and is book-ended by stays in two fine historical hotels. All meals are provided during your stay in Madhya Pradesh. A safari visit to Panna Tiger Sanctuary and entrance to the great monumental buildings are included. Please feel free to extend or tailor your holiday to your exact requirements.
DAY 1 | Outward Journey
Arrive Delhi, overnight Delhi guesthouse. There is so much to see in Delhi; choose to visit Humayan’s Tomb, the Lotus Temple or Akshardham, explore the Red Fort or shop in Dilli Haat.
DAY 2 | In Delhi & night train
Enjoy a day in Delhi, there is so much to do and see: Humayan’s Tomb, the Lotus Temple or Akshardham, explore the Red Fort or shop in Dilli Haat. An evening transfer takes you to New Delhi station to catch the night train to central Madhya Pradesh at Itarsi.
Day 3 & 4 | Arrival in Madhya Pradesh and Pachmarhi hill station
A short transfer on arrival takes you to Pachmarhi and the comfortable Champak Bungalow in time for breakfast.The hill station is famed for its calm nature with great opportunities for exploring forest and temples. Your two days here are a relaxing introduction to Madhya Pradesh before settling in to village life.
Day 5-7 | Village life in Sabarvani and a wildlife walk
A couple of hours by road from Pachmarhi and you will be welcomed by your village host to Sabarvani. Settle in to your village guesthouse, your home for three nights in this traditional village. Take a guided walk, through the buffer zone of Satpura National Park, accompanied by a naturalist for the wildlife, to a wonderful picnic spot. In the village itself experience a bullock cart ride, visit the farms, discuss the crops and agriculture with the villagers, enjoy a cookery lesson or simply relax.
Day 8 | A great rail journey across the state to Pataan and Kajuraho
An early morning transfer to Pipariya station for a day train journey (6 hrs) across the lovely rolling farm land and forests of central Madhya Pradesh to its exciting east. On arrival at Satna station you will be transferred to your next home in Pataan village. You will be welcomed as an honoured guest and staying in your own guesthouse for three nights.
Day 9 & 10 | Cycle around the villages, visit great temples….. and spot a tiger?
Pataan is a village split into several small hamlets and you can use the cycles provided to visit them along the country lanes. However there is much to do and see outside the village. Nearby Kajuraho has the finest example of medieval temples in India. There are 25 of them with the earliest dating from the 11th century and the Chandela dynasty (guided visit included).
You should also visit the wonderful Panna National Park & Tiger Sanctuary, with its combination of savannah and jungle landscape criss-crossed by the deep majestic Ken river (dawn guided visit included). Your guide will help you to spot deer, flying squirrel, wild boar or jackal, and point out pugmarks and signs of th elusive tiger. Members of our team had the privilege of a tiger sighting in November 2022.
Day 11 | Another village, and the fort, palaces, temples at Orchha
You leave Pataan by a road transfer (3 hours) to Ladpurakhas village near Orchha. Run by two families with help from across the community, this is another delightful village guesthouse. A wonderful place to break your journey, for nearby Orchha is a world heritage site with its beautiful fort, palace and temple dating from the Bundela dynasty in the 16th century.
Day 12 & 13 | The great fort of Gwalior and a beautiful Haveli
Today, with a farewell to village life, you continue your road journey (3 1/2 hrs) to Gwalior and a stay in the lovely Krishnayan Haveli, an oasis of relaxed calm and hospitality in the city centre. From this 19th century manor house you can step straight into the bustling town streets. Take the short walk to the Maharaj Bada, which some say is the most beautiful square in Asia – it would not be out of place in an Italian city. However dominating the town, on its plateau above, is the great Gwalior Fort. This Rajput fort dates from the 15th century and encompasses two palaces. A wonderful place and we have a visit arranged for you.
Day 14 | Farewell to Madhya Pradesh, from Gwalior to Delhi by train
Morning train back to Delhi (3 1/2 hrs). Day hotel before night flight or overnight stay in Delhi.
Village life in Madhya Pradesh
In Madhya Pradesh the village communities have organised their hospitality for guests a little differently. With assistance with funding from the state government and technical help from Village Ways, the comfortable guesthouses created are owned by one or two families with the hospitality for your stay provided from across the village community. All join in to make your stay memorable. On this holiday we have chosen three rather special villages: Sabarvani, Pataan and Ladpurakhas. All three are tribal in origin, have a great affinity with nature and will offer you a real insight into village and farming life. From the centre of this great state to its north-eastern corner there is so much to discover.
Pachmarhi & Sabarvani
Your journey of discovery starts with 5 nights in central Madhya Pradesh. On arrival you stay in Champak bungalow, a fine example Raj era architecture, in the lovely Pachmarhi hill station. Three nights follow in Sabarvani, a pleasantly bustling farming village with much for you to see. You will be offered a walk through the buffer zone of Satpura National Park accompanied by a village guide and a naturalist.
A great train journey
From your train, crossing the state from its centre to the north-east, you will have a wonderful view of the variety of its beautiful landscapes: forests; great river valleys; rolling farm land.
Pataan, Ladpurakhas & Gwalior
For your 6 nights spent in the north-eastern part of the state we could just as well headline as: Panna tiger sanctuary, the temples of Kajuraho and the forts and places of Orchha and Gwalior. Your experience of rural village life here will share with some of the great sights and experiences of central India. In Gwalior your stay in Madhya Pradesh is rounded off in the Krishnayan Haveli, a lovely 19th century Manor House, a calm setting in the city centre.
Panna Tiger Reserve
Wildlife is abundant, with commonly sighted mammals including sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, jackal, langur, and – if you are lucky – sloth bear, leopard or even tiger. There are more than 200 species of birds including junglefowl, bulbul, blue kingfishers and paradise flycatcher – the state bird of Madhya Pradesh.
Into the Heart of India14 Nights
Panna Tiger Sanctuary entry
All meals in the villages
B&B in Delhi Guest house
Guide and Porter services
HOLIDAY PRICES per person