After running in tandem across an endless expanse of wheat fields and tribal villages, the main Kolkata to Mumbai road and train lines converge on eastern Madhya Pradesh’s largest city. However, JABALPUR, 330km east of Bhopal, is only really worth visiting en route to the Marble Rocks, gouged by the Narmada River nearby, or to the national parks and tiger reserves, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench, all half a day’s journey away.

If you do have some time to kill, visit the Rani Durgawati Museum, about 2km west of the railway station, which houses a predictable assortment of ancient temple sculpture, bronze plates and seals recording regional dynastic histories, plus a better-than-expected display on the state’s adivasi minorities. Three kilometres further west in the direction of the Marble Rocks, the main highway skirts a large moraine of enormous granite boulders, on the top of which stand the ruins of the Madan Mahal – a fortress-cum-pleasure-palace built by the Gond ruler Madan Shah in 1116. Another kilometre west, you reach an impressive bridge spanning the Narmada River. Known locally as Tilwara Ghat, the handful of shrines near the water’s edge below marks one of the sacred places where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were scattered.

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