Khajuraho & Panna
With a small but well-serviced airport, and rail links between Agra and Varanasi, Khajuraho is a handy waypoint in central India. The town itself is little more than a small, dusty conurbation plonked in the middle of the Madhya Pradesh plains, but the draw here is Khajuraho’s magnificent 1000-year old Hindu & Jain temples. Thanks to Khajuraho’s relatively obscure location, the temples here managed to escape the Mughal desecration of neighbouring complexes; later falling into ruin, the temples were re-discovered in 1838 and are now found tastefully restored and beautifully presented. Famed for their erotic depictions, the detail and complexity of the art here is breath-taking. Khajuraho is not only about the temples: the area is also a fine base for exploring nearby Panna National Park, a quieter, more relaxed alternative to central India’s more famous reserves. Situated around the picturesque Ken River, and with relatively low visitor numbers, jeep safaris in Panna can be both peaceful and productive. The reserve is home to a small (but growing) population of tigers, a handful of leopards, plus a variety of other fauna including deer, bears, crocs, and myriad birdlife.