Khajuraho || Panna National Park
Khajuraho is one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. I was mesmerized by the beauty, rich culture, heritage, and spirituality of the Indian Ethos showcased through art here.
It was a long weekend of 5 days of holiday (which is quite rare), and I was constantly bugging my husband to go someplace. After multiple yes/nos and a lot of research about where to go, we finalized Khajuraho and Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
This was after a long time; we traveled via train to Khajuraho. As we reached the station, we headed straight to Ken River Lodge in Panna, where we booked our stay for a couple of nights.
Post our 3-course breakfast and freshening up, we went to see Khajuraho temples.
Khajuraho temples are famous for erotic art globally. People come from all over the world to see its beauty.
But people do not know that 90% of artwork and sculptures depict daily life and symbolic values of ancient Indian culture. Only 10% showcase true love and dedication towards their partners through art pieces.
We hired a guide here who could explain to us the significance and history of the temples. And our decision was correct. If you don’t hire a guide here, it is like visiting any other temple; you will not be able to admire its real beauty.
It will take at least 2-3 hours when you hire a guide to visit all the temples. And if you want to know more detail, it will easily take 4-5 hours here. Else you will be out in 15 minutes.
Some of the Facts about Khajuraho Temples
There were around 85 temples earlier, but most of them got demolished. Now there are only 25 temples spread across 6 sq km.
The entire area is divided into two parts – Eastern and Western. Each platform has 5 temples, 1 in the center and 4 small ones in each corner.
Each art piece in the temple is a depiction of life and consciousness. It is interesting to know the spiritual reason behind our daily activities and different stages of life. And how our body is also made up of 5 great elements – Jal, Vayu, Prithvi, Agni, and Akash.
We first saw the western temples. Most of the temples are located in this section only. It has temples of Vishnu, Shiva, and Parvati. Each temple is architecturally so beautiful. The outer wall/border of the temple is carved with elephants, human figures, and sculptures of Shiva, Ganesha, Vishu, etc.
The eastern portion primarily consists of Jain temples.
The sculptures here are overwhelming.
We reached the hotel by lunch, and then we spent the evening on an island—a special tour by boat arranged by Ken River Lodge. We carried hot tea and some sandwiches with us. Watching the sunset on an island with garam chai in hand was amazing.
We also saw a crocodile on our boat ride.
- Always hire a government-approved guide. You will enjoy more about the temples, their history, and the true meaning of these temples if you hire a guide. Else it is just like any other temple you go to.
- Guide official (government-approved) charges are between Rs 1,800 – Rs 2,000. There are other non-approved guides,which charges less.
- You need to buy an entry ticket online. Tickets are not available physically at the location.
- You can remove your shoes just near each temple. No need to remove them at the entrance of the steps.
- You will need a vehicle to visit the eastern temples as they are far from the western ones.
- Wear appropriate and comfortable clothes though there is no mandate.
- You can reach Khajuraho via train or flight.
- Train – For the train, you can take the “Khajuraho express.” And you can easily get a taxi from outside the station.
- Airport – It has one of the best Airports I have ever seen. Currently, only Spice jet operates here.
Panna National Park
The park is situated on the plateau. There are 3 plateaus (1, 2, and 3). And only 1 and 2 are open for the public to visit for Safaris. Plateau 3 comes under 80% forest, which is closed to the general public.
The forest has 75% teak trees, and the rest, 25%, are a mix of Arjun trees and others. Ken river covers almost 55% of the jungle; hence, most animals can stay deep inside the jungle. Therefore, spotting of big cat is difficult.
Personally, I was not too fond of this jungle. I found the other jungles I visited far more beautiful and unique.
We booked 3 Safaris here – 2 morning and 1 evening.
Our day 2 was all about the Safari.
During our morning safari, the jungle was quiet, and there were no animals to spot. So we decided to go to the elephant camp inside @pannanationalpark near Hinouta gate.
You can feed the elephant as well as bathe them. It was such a unique experience to feed jaggery to the elephants.
The evening safari was good. We did see animals. And yes, also the big cat, but only for a few seconds.
The tigress was crossing the bushes and would have come on the track. But thanks to people who made so much noise after spotting the tiger, the tigresses went inside the bushes instead.
Our day started with the morning Safari. We were lucky again to spot the big cat, but only for a few seconds (a few extra seconds than the evening one).
After checkout, we went to Raneh Falls and Gadhiyal Sanctuary. The entrance to both these places is the same. The guide here is compulsory and is included in the ticket cost.
Raneh falls is a beautiful canyon and waterfalls all around. Sometimes also referred to as Niagara falls of India, though the falls are small compared. It has many picturesque points for photo lovers.
Next, we went to Gadiyal Sanctuary. It is quite a big natural habitat for animals. We spotted many animals here, including Monitor Lizards, Deer, Neel Gaye, etc. The best thing is you can take your car inside the sanctuary, which is 5 km inside (a total of 10 km). It also has a nature trail of 2 km where you can walk and enjoy.
- Morning safaris are longer, i.e., approx. 5 hours while evening safaris are shorter in duration, i.e., 3 hours.
- This is the only park where you can go to the other gate if time permits. No specific track once inside the park, unlike other jungles where you can only go in particular zones.
- Raneh falls is not completely visible from the outside. You must go inside to see the magnificent fall.
- Stay in Panna instead of Khajuraho.
Suggested Itinerary (2N 3D)
Day 1 – Reach Khajuraho and visit the temples. In the evening you can visit Pandav Falls in Panna.
Day 2 – Book Morning and evening Safari.
Day 3 – Book morning Safari. Later in the afternoon, visit Raneh Falls and Gadiyal Sanctuary