Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madhya Pradesh, India (2024)


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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Madhya Pradesh, India

From prehistoric caves to Guptas to Rajputs to Marathas to Mughals, the landscape of Madhya Pradesh is a map depicting passage of time, embroidered with chronicles of the first men, mighty empires and cultural relics. Here are top places in the state part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you can't miss: 

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters: The Man Before Time 


An archaeological treasure that spans the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters lie nestled within the lush green Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. Bearing witness to human evolution itself, the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are a rare glimpse of man's ingenuity left behind by our earliest ancestors. Showing evidences of human settlement, some of these natural caves in Bhimbetka have well-preserved prehistoric cave paintings with the earliest ones dating back to about 10,000 years old. From  hunting, dancing and walking through forests to climbing trees and riding on horsebacks, elephants and chariots, these paintings are a record of man's cultural and social development in different eras. It is a treat for lovers of all things archaeological, artsy and mysterious. Only about 45 km away, Bhopal Railway Station is the nearest railway station to Bhimbetka.

Khajuraho: The Grandeur of Ancient India  

Khajuraho Tourist Places to visit

Built between 950-1050 AD by the Chandela Dynasty in what is now the Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, 'Khajuraho Group of Monuments' are a masterclass in balancing architectural splendor and sculptural elegance. These Nagara-style temples were built as symbolic expressions depicting various themes of meditation, social life, spiritual teachings and human relationships through art. Distinguished in three cluster groups, these temples are dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism with 20 still standing today, out of the original 85 temples in the complex. The ornate Kandariya Mahadeva Temple meaning "the Great God of the Cave", is the largest in the medieval temple group and is the finest example of ancient Indian art and craftsmanship. The Khajuraho temple complex is nearly 10 kilometers off the National Highway 75, and about 50 kilometers from the city of Chhatarpur. Khajuraho railway station is also about 5 km away from the main town. 

Sanchi Stupa: The Stories of The Old

Places to visit in Sanchi

Located in the small village of Sanchi on a hill near the capital city of Bhopal, Sanchi Stupa is one of the oldest stone structures in India built during the Mauryan period by the great emperor Ashoka. An example of a unique architectural legacy and history, the iconic hemispherical edifice of the Sanchi Stupa has three elements - "Harmika", "Anda" and "Chhatra." The dome-shaped "Anda" depicts the universe centered inside the mound. It is surrounded  by "harmika" (square railing) representing the cosmic mountain held by a central pillar supporting a triple umbrella form called "Chattra". It symbolizes three jewels of Buddhism, including the Buddha, the Dharma (Teachings) and Sangha (Community). The structure is enclosed at four points by ornate ceremonial gateways, which act as canvases that hold detailed scenes depicting Buddhist stories. The Sanchi Stupa stands 54 feel tall, surrounded by many smaller stupas, monolithic pillars, temples and monasteries. According to the UNESCO, it is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and finest example of aniconic arts and free-standing architecture. The Sanchi Stupa is located by about 10 km from Vidisha and roughly 50 km from Bhopal.

Madhya Pradesh is an ancient land of wonders that still hides many secrets, myths and stories in its heart. But those who know how to hear its beguiling whispers find their way. Most recently in 2021, the marble rock formations of Bhedaghat-Lametaghat in Narmada valley and biodiversity-rich Satpura Tiger Reserve (STR) found their place in the UNESCO's tentative list of natural world heritage sites. But there are a lot more. Such natural and architectural marvels as the Orchha Fort Complex, Jahaz Mahal, Bhojeshwar temple, Islamnagar, Bateshwar Temple Complex, Gwalior Fort, Udayagiri Caves dot the vast landscape of the state, making it a visual and cerebral delight for history and art enthusiasts.