Beam Me Down
Sunday 27 September 1998
25 06' N 81 06' E
Please pass me my binoculars - I think I've just seen a tiger.
COUNTRY AND REGION
You are in northern Madhya Pradesh, India's largest and most central province.
NATURE OF THE TERRAIN
Mostly forested, sprinkled with numerous waterfalls and containing abundant wildlife. Most of the state is a high plateau with the Vindhyan mountains cutting right across the state.
You have arrived on the outskirts of Panna village. Walk south-west to reach the centre of the village. From Panna, hitch a 32km ride south-east to Khajuraho, a quiet village of approximately 7,000 people and home to the famous temples of Khajuraho. You can find accommodation for the night there.
Travellers' diarrhoea, often caused by amoebae or Giardia, can be serious if not treated with rest, fluid and salt-replacement. Malaria, hepatitis A (jaundice) and B, typhus, dengue fever and intestinal worms are all hazards to be aware of.
Hindi is the most widely spoken language, although Marathi, Urdu, Oriya, Gujarati and Punjabi are also spoken by sizeable parts of the population. Due to India's colonial heritage, English will be spoken, too, though by fewer people than in some of the more touristy Indian locations.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
LIKELY WEATHER CONDITIONS
The rainy season, which runs from June to September, is just drawing to a close. About 1,500mm of rain falls during the four-month season. The maximum daily temperature during the monsoon is 30C, and the minimum is 19C.
REASONS FOR HANGING AROUND
As the province least touched by modernisation and tourism, Madhya Pradesh offers tourists a glimpse of various palaces and temples without the hassle associated with travel in more popular destinations such as Rajasthan in the north. The Roopmati Pavilion in Mandu overlooking the sacred River Narmada, or the elaborately carved sandstone temples at Khajuraho are worth a visit, as is Kanha National Park, famous for its tigers.
GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE
From Khajuraho you can take a five-hour bus ride to Jhansi. From Jhansi, take the train to Delhi from where you can fly direct to London.
Compiled by Suzanne Fisher
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