Shivpuri: About 480 km from Delhi and 120 km from Gwalior on Agra-Mumbai highway is Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh. The city and the district are famous for man made water bodies and small undulating hills of seamless deciduous forests which come alive during the monsoons.
Shivpuri has witnessed a long procession of rulers — Mughals, Marathas, Rajputs of Narwar and Scindias. They all came here to hunt tigers and large antelopes and enjoy the lush greens. However, it is Scindias who developed Shivpuri as a summer retreat. Its flora and fauna was so rich that it also became their favourite hunting ground.
The forest spread over 156 km in Shivpuri is called Madhav National Park. Unlike other major national parks this park remains open throughout the year. Entrance to it costs Rs 1110 which includes a guide’s fee of Rs360. A vehicle with good ground clearance is a must to visit the park.
Inside the park a half moon shaped dam on the Manier river has given birth to the Sakhya Sagar, called Chandpatha Jheel by locals. About a half kilometre downstream yet another dam has led to the formation of a beautiful water body called Madhav Sagar. These two spell binding water bodies were constructed in 1918 during the reign of Madho Jiwaji Rao Scindia and have contributed in developing the region into a wetland of national repute.
George Castle built in the year 1911 by Madho J. Rao Scindia in honour of King George V is the third main man made attraction of this deciduous forest.
I strongly recommend a visit to the park which has hunting lodges, machans and at least 10 landing points for the boats on the banks of the Sagar used by during hunting expeditions.
George Castle at the highest point of the park is famous for a panoramic 360 degree view of the park, water bodies and sunsets beyond the water bodies. Its well preserved Italian tiles and Belgian glass windows are other attractions.
Shivpuri is a small town whose main attractions are deciduous forest surrounding it, water bodies, greenery, peace and old world charm. Madhya Pradesh Tourism has come up with a well laid out Tourist Village on the banks of Sakhya Sagar with modern facilities to cater to tourists on the move. It has a Boating Club and the complex is right next to the man made Bhadaya Kund, which uses waters of a natural stream which turns into a mini waterfall during the rainy season.