Shivpuri

Shivpuri

Shivpuri, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, was once the summer capital of the Scindia clan of Gwalior. Prior to that, its thick forests were the hunting grounds of Emperor Akbar. They were home to the tiger, and the site of many a grand shikar, resulting in several big cats being 'bagged' by royal huntsmen. The sylvan surroundings and an other - worldly aura that it exuded, made it the natural choice as the summer resort capital of the Scindias. Shivpuri's royal ambience still lives on in its majestic palaces, hunting lodges, exquisitely adorned chhatries (cenotaphs) built by the Scindias.

Once the playground and retreat of the royalty, today Shivpuri houses a wildlife sanctuary and thus, holds hope for the conservation of the fast depleting animal kingdom.

Sightseeing

Spread over 156 sq.km, the Madhav National Park is a haven for wildlife and wildlife - buffs. The park remains open throughout the year, and boasts of large numbers of chinkara, Indian gazelle and chital. The nilgai, sambar, chausingha, blackbuck, sloth bear, leopard and the common langur are the other inhabitants of this sprawling park. The park is also rich in birdlife; Chandpata, the artificial lake, is the winter abode of migratory geese, pochard, pintail, teal, mallard and gadwall. Other residents include the cormorant, laggar falcon, paradise flycatcher, redwattled lapwing and golden oriole.

Set in an elaborate Mughal garden, are the cenotaphs, the royal chhatries dedicated to the Scindias. Facing each other across a water tank are the chhatries of Madhav Rao Scindia and the dowager queen Maharani Sakya Raje Scindia, in a delightful fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, with their shikhara - type spires and Rajput and Mughal pavilions. Both cenotaphs house life-size images of the Scindias, and these are tended to religiously, daily, by ceremonially attired retainers, with flowers and incense.

The summer palace of the Scindias, Madhav Vilas Palace, looks intensely alluring, dressed in a soft shade of rose - pink. The 'Mahal' as it is popularly known as, is attired with marble floors, elegant terraces and a Ganapati Mandap. From the turrets, one can get a splendid view of the Shivpuri town and the park itself. Deep inside the park, at its highest point stands the George Castle, built by Jiyaji Rao Scindia. The ideal time to visit the castle is at sunset, when the Sakhya Sagar Lake seems to take on the radiance and changing hues of the sky. Lacing the forest cover of the National Park, is the Sakhya Sagar Lake, home to various reptiles. The marsh crocodile, the python and the monitor lizard are among the commonly seen species here. On the shores of the lake, and connected to it by a pier, is a Boat Club, an elegant structure. Another spot of interest is the Bhadaiya Kund, a picnic spot along a natural spring, the waters of which are said to be rich in minerals, of a curative nature.

Access

By air: The nearest airport is at Gwalior (112 km), connected with Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Mumbai.

By rail: The nearest railheads are at Jhansi (101 km) and Gwalior, which lie on the Delhi - Mumbai and Delhi - Chennai main lines.

By road: Shivpuri is connected with Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, Jhansi, and Ujjain by regular bus services.

Accomodation

Tourist Village (MPT), Chinkara Motel (MPT), and Delhi Hotel are some of the available means of accomodation.

Madhya Pradesh