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Old 25th January 2017, 17:47   #1
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Default With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho

This is 7th episode of the yearly Honda- Drive to Discover series. Team-BHP has covered some of the earlier episodes as well, which are:
  • bensb29 drove the Brio across Kerala in the D2D-3. Read more.
  • Rudra Sen drove the Amaze up the east coast to Chennai. Read More.
  • bblost drove the Mobilio across the forests and hills around Bandipur and Coorg. Read More.
  • bblost drove to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Longewala and Tanot last year. Read more.

In Drive to Discover 7 I drove across the state of Madhya Pradesh passing through 4 different National Parks, and also covering the heritage site at Khajuraho.

This is one of my rare travelogues which begin with a ride to Airport. The first day itinerary was to reach Nagpur by an Indigo flight by evening, get briefed on the plan for coming days and prepare for the drive next morning.

Winter flights originating from Delhi have a high chance of getting delayed, our flight was not delayed but we had to wait on the runway for a long time due to congestion on Airport.

Flight landed slightly late. The hotel- Le Meridian, Nagpur was few minutes away from the Airport, outside of the city. I checked in to the hotel. Later we were briefed about the plans for coming days, followed by dinner.


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Delhi Domestic airport is really crowded, not a chance you can get a seat near your departure gate.


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The flight was slightly delayed.

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My Hotel Room.

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Before dinner we were briefed about the next day's plan.

Last edited by .anshuman : 16th February 2017 at 11:21. Reason: typo
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Old 25th January 2017, 18:53   #2
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Default re: With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho

Day 2 Nagpur to Pench National Park

The plan for Day 2 was to start in morning from Nagpur, reach Pench Tiger reserve by lunch, and visit the evening jungle safari.
This time around Honda had their complete range available for the drive, minus the Mobilio. The Accord hybrid was with us just for the first day of the drive. I was allotted the Amaze Diesel for the day, I was sharing it with Arijit from Autoportal.

The drive was little over 100 kms, took us close to 3 hours with breaks. The road was good almost half the distance on the Nagpur side, the other half was in bad condition.


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The fleet lined up for the drive. Accord was with us just for first day.

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^ Every car had an extra spare tyre for the trip, a total of 2 stepneys each.

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This car was our ride for the day, Amaze Diesel manual.

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The road starting from Nagpur was a smooth highway, with 4 lanes.

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It was only near the MP border that the roads started getting narrow and were in poor condition.

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Some section of unfinished highway with work in progress.

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Our car for the day.

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Me with the car.

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Some potholes were really deep for low slung sedans/hatchbacks.

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First signages of the National park we were heading to.

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As we were running ahead of schedule, we took a short break in this nice location few minutes before our Resort, which is situated in the buffer zone of the tiger reserve.

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Turiya gate is the more popular access gate for the reserve.

Last edited by Rehaan : 16th February 2017 at 10:34.
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Old 25th January 2017, 18:54   #3
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Default re: With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho

Our destination for the day was Tathastu resort near the Turiya gate of the Pench tiger reserve. We checked in, had lunch, strolled around the beautiful resort before starting for the jungle safari.

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Board for the resort we were to reach.

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Arriving at the resort.

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My room was in this villa- Flamingo's streak.

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The old type electric switches used throughout the resort.

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The lobby of my villa.

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My room for the day.

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Post lunch we boarded the Gypsies for the evening safari.

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This is the more popular Turiya gate of the Pench national park.
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Here they even have the loud Diesel safari vehicles.

Some information on Pench national park from Wikipedia.
Quote:
Pench Tiger Reserve comprises the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Pench Mowgli Sanctuary and a buffer. It derives its name from its life line-the River Pench. Inside the park, the river flows from North to South before going on to join the Kanhan River, while splitting the Park into two, and forming the boundary of Seoni District and Chhindwara District districts of Madhya Pradesh. The Meghdoot dam built across Pench River at Totladoh has created a large water body of 72 km2 out of which 54 km2 falls in M.P. and rest in the adjoining state of Maharashtra. The Pench River which emerges from Mahadeo Hills of Satpuda Ranges and the various nallas and streams which drain into it, all flow through the forests of Protected Area. The Satpuda ranges which bear the forests of the Protected Area act as an excellent watershed area for the Totladoh as well as lower Pench Reservoirs.

On the Madhya Pradesh side, the Pench Tiger Reserve encompasses a core area of 411.33 km2, with a buffer of 768.3 km2., making for a total protected area of 1179.63 km2.[1] The core area includes the Mowgli Pench Wildlife Sanctuary whose area is 118.30 km2. The Buffer Zone is constituted by Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Revenue land

Located south of the tiger reserve area in Madhya Pradesh, is the Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. On the Maharashtra side, the Pench Tiger Reserve has a core habitat area of 257.3 km2 along with a buffer/peripheral area of 483.96 km2. of the Mansinghdeo Sanctuary, making for a total protected area 741.2 km2.[2] Spanning over a total protected region of over 1920 km2., both these tiger reserves are included in the Level 1, 13,223 km2 (5,105 sq mi) Tiger Conservation Unit – 31 (Kanha-Pench TCU).[3] As per many experts, this area is considered as one of the most prime and critical tiger habitat remaining in central India.
Source: Wikipedia Page

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The jungle in our zone was not thickly vegetated, it had lot of variety of trees, visibility was good through the woods, good for sighting the wildlife.

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Spotted dear.

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The safari tracks.

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Sambar deer.

Last edited by .anshuman : 13th February 2017 at 17:10.
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Old 25th January 2017, 18:54   #4
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Default re: With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho

The weather at Pench was far more pleasant and warmer compared to Delhi and what forecast was predicted for Bandhavgarh. The landscape and jungles were vastly different compared to the much dry vegetation in the national parks of northern India. The tall trees provide for good visibility, so it’s a nice place to sight the animals in the jungle.
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Langur

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Spotted deer

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The landscapes especially near the dam area were beautiful at the time of the sunset.

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Even after hours of safari we were still not lucky with the tiger sighting, it was only late we were able to see a slight glimpse of the tigress, although she stayed near us for a long time, she never came out of the bushes for pose for the camera. Other teams were far luckier than us, they had proper sightings of the tigress.

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These were the only glimpses of the tigress we could get.

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A bonfire and BBQ was arranged before the dinner, the weather was pleasant too.

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The menu for dinner.

Last edited by .anshuman : 13th February 2017 at 17:12.
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Old 25th January 2017, 19:34   #5
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Day 3 was a full driving day. The plan was to reach Kanha at Lunch time and then continue driving towards Bandhavgarh National park. The distance was around 500 kms.

After the breakfast we started early, we were allotted the Honda Jazz Petrol with manual transmission.

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The Accord was to return back this day, as the roads ahead were bad. Rest of the fleet remained the same..


The roads just after we got out of the Pench Tiger reserve, started to get worse, for the initial hour or so we could not even move beyond 2nd and 3rd gears, the potholes were huge and deep, although the road was wide but most of it was damaged with option to steer the car to avoid the craters. We were lucky to be Jazz for this day, it not only has far more cozy suspension tune but also the seats are superior with proper support compared to Brio and Amaze. Another thing that contributed in comfortable ride were the Michelin XM1+ tyres on the Jazz.

The road surface only improved for a brief time, after which we had taken a detour towards Kanha national park which was off the main route. The places was scenic, but the roads were narrow with lots of local bike traffic and stray cattle on the road, so we could not keep up the speed.

The whole of the convoy was late for the Lunch, the roads near to our lunch venue were non-existent, maybe it was a Honda’s plan to introduce their cars on how much abuse they can take, our Jazz was holding well, with careful steering there were no underbody hits and ride although not flat but the car was able to absorb bad sections well.


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The roads were really bad at the beginning, we could barely cover 20 kms in first one hour.

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After first one hour, the good highway was a welcome change for some time.

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We took a photo break to click our car.

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We had to a few crowded towns with narrow streets as we were not driving on National highways but on a mix of link roads and state highways.

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These small towns required a lot of honking.

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The road conditions were mixed all throughout, but the single carriageway meant we could not keep the speed up to cover the ground, we had a long journey for the day.

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First signs of the Kanha National park, our lunch spot for the day. But we still had long way to go.

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One of the scenic places enroute.

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Roads were non existent for last few kilometres, where we had to pass through some villages.

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The poolside location for our lunch at Infiniti Resort. We had the lunch quickly and left for Bandhavgarh, we had a lot of distance to cover on bad roads, crowded towns and places where people do not expect much passenger car traffic.

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Roads to the other side of the Kanha national park were in much better state but the traffic was higher.

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The only glimpse of the national park we got during our journey.

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Only a few sections were really bad

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Some local cricket match

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We passed thousands of stray cattle on the road, I have not seen this much stray cattle on roads anywhere else in the country.

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Some stretches were really scenic and roads were awesome for rest of the day.

Last edited by .anshuman : 16th February 2017 at 11:23.
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Old 25th January 2017, 19:34   #6
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It was just near the Sunset we found an awesome patch of road, little traffic and winding smooth roads, and the i-vtec petrol and manual transmission was just I wanted for this stretch. The Petrol was a joy to revv hard, smooth and refined, but not exactly fast and it has to be revved to extract the performance. But what a nice change after the loud, clattery, boring Diesel from the previous day's Amaze Diesel.

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Just half and hour before we were to reach our destination, a stray cow jumped in front of our car, I was on the passenger seat, luckily the car was at a very slow speed. We were lucky to escape with just the damaged bonnet and grille. We checked the radiator and fans were fine and no fluids were leaking and decided to move on.

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We were amongst the first few cars to arrive, some other arrived a few hours later.

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My room at the Mogli resort, Bandavgarh.

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We sat near the bonfire post dinner for chit chat.

Last edited by .anshuman : 13th February 2017 at 17:33.
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Old 25th January 2017, 19:34   #7
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The next day we had a morning jungle safari starting at 5 AM in the Bandhavgarh national park. The temperatures predicted were as low as 2-3 degrees Celsius for the morning, and we had to go there in an open Gypsy, while I was prepared well most others had to carry hotel blankets to stay warm.

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The zone we were allocated had thick vegetation, with little visibility, early in the morning, very few animals were out in the open.

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That's me properly wrapped up for the freezing morning safari.

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Sambar, one of the few animals we spotted during this safari.

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With no sightings reported, most people were more interested in staying warm near the bonfire than continuing further for the safari.

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The solar panels provide electricity for water pump to fill up some artificial ponds.

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One of the crossings.

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Bandhavgarh is a vastly different terrain, its thickly vegetated, lower visibility in the woods. On the chilly morning we had little luck in sighting the animals on the safari. We had the packed breakfast during a break and proceeded on safari again. We had no luck even second time around!

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The safari tracks, none of the other vehicles in our group had any success with tiger sighting this morning.

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One of the Elephants owned by Forest department.

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The shade of Honda Jazz, this one was Diesel.

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My room was in this villa.

Post the safari, the plan was to leave for Khajuraho, a 233kms drive for half day with a lunch stop en route.

We had the same Jazz Petrol from the previous day. The fuel tank in our car was empty, the MID was showing a range of just 5 kms and to our shock the only petrol bunk in Bandhavgarh had no Petrol and only Diesel. We managed to find a local shop who had some stock of Petrol, we got 5 litres and next fuel bunk was 50kms away, so it was time to drive the car efficiently.

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Total of 5 kilometres range left in the car.

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Filling up 5 litres of Petrol to get to next fuel bunk.

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The road goes through buffer zone of the Tiger reserve, so we had to make entries in their register a few times.

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The road was smooth but with a lot of speed breakers.

Last edited by Rehaan : 16th February 2017 at 10:36.
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Old 25th January 2017, 19:34   #8
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While the main route from Bandhavgarh to Khajuraho is via Satna, we were told the road is in poor shape so we were advised go through Katni – Amanganj – Panna.

We reached the nearest the next fuel bunk, topped up the fuel and proceeded to our lunch stop.

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With driving with light foot and just 5 litres of Petrol in the tank, the car delivered a good 19 kpl even at 80-90kph with slowing down for hundreds of speed breakers.

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Roads were mostly good for first few hours.

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Lunch was at a dhaba on our route. The food was delicious.

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Only a few sections were really bad, most of the road sections were good.

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Waiting for the train to pass, traffic etiquette was poor all throughout MP.

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The roads were good all throughout this route but the traffic was bad, bad not in terms of volume but in terms of driving etiquette, the concentration of passenger cars is low in this area and there is either the heavy traffic with pressure horns which get space to pass or just the 2 wheelers traffic which knows how to zig zag through tight gaps, it is difficult for passenger cars. We had to be overcautious all the time, there were instances of kids or people crossing the road even without watching for on coming traffic. The situation was bad in small towns and villages. Add to it thousands of stray cattle we had to pass.

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Even with the frequent braking, the fuel economy was good for Petrol.

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Stray cattle was a nuisance all throughout.

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We passed through the Panna Tiger reserve.

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The only glimpse of the Panna Tiger reserve we could get, we just passed through it.

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We had to drive in lights for some time before reaching Khajuraho. Road from Panna to Khajuraho was in bad condition and was being repaired, it cost a lot of time.

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For this day I was driving the car for the whole stretch and the car delivered good fuel economy for a petrol. I even revved the car hard at some small stretches but most of the time we were cruising on a steady throttle. Over these 2 days of driving I was impressed with the Petrol motor of the Jazz, with some revving it was decently fast and fuel economy also was impressive in my driving.

Our stay for the night was at- Radisson Khajuraho, a beautiful property.

After checking in to the hotel, we went for Light and Sounds show at the Khajuraho temple. Followed by BBQ, Dinner and a puppet show for us.

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Last edited by Rehaan : 16th February 2017 at 10:37.
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Old 25th January 2017, 19:35   #9
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Last day of our journey. We went to go check out the temples quickly, before heading to the Airport for our flight to Delhi via Varanasi. The architecture and carvings on temples were amazing. Even the maintenance of this heritage sight was excellent.

Our drive for the visit was Brio AT- perfectly suited for city traffic.

With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho-dsc00662.jpg

With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho-dsc00665.jpg

Madhya Pradesh police have a impressive fleet of Tata Storme SUV's all throughout the state.

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The temple complex is well maintained, and was not very crowded.

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The architecture of the temples is amazing, something that my photos fail to portray properly.

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Post a quick visit we had to rush to the airport, as we were getting late for the flight. We were able to reach on time as there was no traffic in Khajuraho town, and even the Airport was not too far away.

With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho-img_20170113_125255.jpg

Even the small low traffic Khajuraho Airport is beautiful. With just 2-3 flights operating from this airport daily, it was not crowded at all.

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These were at the Airport.

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Glass art hanging by the ceiling.

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Disclaimer: Honda invited Team-BHP for the Drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by .anshuman : 13th February 2017 at 18:04.
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Old 16th February 2017, 11:01   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!

Fantastic travelogue Anshuman. Good to see pictures of some areas that I haven't visited in a long time. You are lucky that you managed to spot a tigress. Not many are privileged enough.

With all its tiger reserves and of course, Khajuraho, MP is still an attractive part of the country and definitely worth visiting.
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Old 16th February 2017, 20:19   #11
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Thank you so much for the post.

An Open jeep and few pictures of tigress, guess you know what is going through my mind

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Old 17th February 2017, 07:49   #12
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Superb travelogue! It made me nostalgic. I have some very beautiful memories of Bandhavgarh National Park especially since a huge part of my childhood was spent in MP. And as pointed out by Aditya you were lucky enough to spot the tigress. I know of people staying for weeks (mostly foreigners) and still not being able to spot a tiger/tigress.

Also it was very prudent of you to have prepared well for the chilly morning at Bandhavgarh. We had even faced temperatures of -1°C during one of our numerous trips.

And as mentioned by you, bad roads and stray cattle are like the integral part of this part of India. I never knew what good or cattle free roads are like until I moved out of MP for higher studies. But, every part of India gives you something different to experience and I hope you enjoyed your stay there!
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Old 17th February 2017, 16:23   #13
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Default Re: With Honda: 4 National Parks in Madhya Pradesh...and Khajuraho

I grew up in MP and most of the time in eastern MP. It made me nostalgic.
I also have been to Kanha very recently, Dec last week last year and it was a fantastic experience.
You will find bad roads in many parts of MP but when I shifted out of MP 15 years back, the roads were in much worse conditions. The roads used to take a toll on the car and it needed service/repairs even after covering 300 kms only. As recent as 6 years back, it took 7 hours to cover 275 kms from Nagpur to Jabalpur even though 50 kms of it was 4 lane expressway which was covered in little over half an hour. Which means ~225 kms covered in 6 hours!
Travelling in MP can be very rewarding provided one is ready to take the pain of road travel in MP.
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Old 17th February 2017, 21:51   #14
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Excellent travelogue and pictures as always from you Anshuman.

So you did like the zippy petrols after being driving diesels for long?
I am sort of going through the same phase, where my usage and all these diesel related norms are pushing me to think of a Petrol car.

CHEERS!!

Rachit
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Old 20th February 2017, 11:57   #15
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Excellent stuff there Anshuman !! Very well penned down with some amazing clicks. While on the Jeep Safari, you must be missing to be on the driving seat !! Unlike Tadoba where I presume you can drive your own vehicle in, Pench & Kanha does not allow tourists to drive their vehicles in the National Park.

It made me nostalgic of my visit to Pench & Kanha National Parks back in 2014 where we had a similar itinerary and stayed at the same places where you were put up. These places are very under rated and overshadowed by the more popular ones; but are full of surprises with the possibilities of some amazing Tiger Sightings.

Sharing a link of my relevant travelogue wherein we had a number of Tiger Sightings and were soaked in the beauty of nature completely : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...onal-park.html (Photologue: Pench & Kanha National Park)
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