Central India is a hub of wildlife sanctuaries or national parks and therefore it is considered as one of the most frequented regions of India. Generally, Madhya Pradesh is known as the "Heart of India" for being located at the center of India. It is also considered as the second largest state of the country.
Pilgrimage-cum-traveller havens such as Maheshwar and Omkareshwar on the Narmada River are infused with the spiritual and chill-out vibes for which India is renowned, while the adventurous can foray into the tribal zones of Chhattisgarh, fascinatingly far removed from mainstream India.
Blending the best of cultures, Central India boasts many folk dances, art and music forms as well. Jawara dance and classical music from the region is prevalent in various other Indian states too. This region creates a colourful amalgamation of culture, cuisine, trade and tradition. And, it certainly gives you the glimpse of splendour that the rich heritage of India offers.
The Bhimbetka caves show evidence of paleolithic settlements in present-day Madhya Pradesh. Stone age tools have also been discovered at various places along the Narmada river valley. The settlements of humans in present-day Madhya Pradesh developed primarily in the valleys of rivers such as Narmada, Chambal, and Betwa. During the early Vedic period, the Vindhya mountains formed the southern boundary of the Indo-Aryan territory.
The Holkars, a powerful family of the Maratha Empire were based out of Indore. Later, the territory that now comprises Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were ruled by numerous princes who entered into subsidiary alliance with the British.
After independence, the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh in 1956. In 2000, the new state of Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh has a subtropical climate. Like most of north India, it has a hot dry summer (April–June), followed by monsoon rains (July–September) and a cool and relatively dry winter. Winter is from November to January and it is a good time to visit Central. Winters are pleasant with low temperatures and less humidity.
Four sites in Madhya Pradesh have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986) including Devi Jagadambi temple, Khajuraho, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989) and the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003).
Madhya Pradesh is noted for its classical and folk music. Two of the medieval India's most noted singers, Tansen and Baiju Bawra, were born near Gwalior in present-day Madhya Pradesh.
The major folk dances of MP are Rai, Karma, Saila, Matki, Gangaur, Badhai, Baredi, Naurata, Ahiri and Bhagoria.
Chattisgarh is a resource-rich state, it is a source of electricity and steel for the country, accounting for 15% of the total steel produced.Chhattisgarh is one of the fastest-developing states in India.
Chhattisgarh State is ranked as the 17th-largest tea-producing state in India. Agriculture is counted as the chief economic occupation of the state.
According to the 2011 census, 93.25% of Chhattisgarh's population practised Hinduism, while 2% followed Islam, 1.92% followed Christianity and smaller number followed Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism or other religions. Sarnaism is the indigenous religion followed by the indigenous tribes of the state. According to the census of 2011, 90.9% of the MP residents followed Hinduism, while others are Muslim (6.6%), Jain (0.8%), Buddhists (0.3%), Christians (0.3%), and Sikhs (0.2%).
Central India is undoubtedly the Hindi heartland of the country. Various dialects of Hindi such as Bundeli, Malvi, Nimadi, and Bagheli are spoken here followed by Dakshin Kosali and some tribal languages. Among other languages, Odia is widely spoken by a significant number of Odia population in the eastern part of Chattisgarh.
Cuisine and Clothing
The State of Chhattisgarh is known as the rice bowl of India and has a rich tradition of food culture. It also imbibes the best of food culture from its neighbouring states. The cuisine here is a mix of sweet and salty. You can enjoy a variety of dishes from mild to very spicy ones. Wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and lentils are staples in the diet. Though variations can be seen as you move from one town to another. Bhutte ki Khees, Dal Bafla, Poha, Jalebi and Khurma attract travellers from far and wide. Not to miss, the amazing Dal Pithi, Chila and Kadi Pakora!
Most of the men stick with Dhoti made from cotton or other light garments as their traditional clothing. They wear a specific kind of turban called as ‘Safa’ which is a headgear worn in the eastern part of the state, and ‘Pagri’ is being worn in the western part.
Women wear Lehenga and Choli in Central India. Bandhani cloth is another specialty of the state which is also called as ‘Bandhej’. This is largely produced in Ujjain, Indore and Maundsar. The delicate Chanderi and Maheshwari sarees produced in Madhya Pradesh are hand-woven, and they are quite famous all over India.