From Delhi, there is a lot of wildlife sanctuaries & national parks which are very easily accessible and therefore, perfect for family road trips. We had already visited Sariska National Park and Corbett National Parks twice with the Tigers still eluding us. We already had made plans for visiting Ranthambore National Park in April 2019. Since we had already visited most of our favorite state Rajasthan also by road trips, this time we decided to visit Kanha National Park thus giving us the chance to explore raw beauty of Madhya Pradesh.
Kanha National park can be reached either by Trains or even by Air, however we took the unanimous decision to undertake our yet another family road trip. So, along the way on our family road trip to Kanha, we broke the journey in such a way that we get enough time to explore Agra, Jhansi, Orchha, Bhedaghat, Khajuraho and Gwalior. Of these cities, Agra & Jhansi are in Uttar Pradesh and Orchha, Bhedaghat, Khajuraho and Gwalior are in Madhya Pradesh. More importantly, this ensured that the 2200 km drive was rather relaxed and laid back.
The first item of agenda for any road trip was to get the car servicing done to avoid any surprises along our way. So I took my dear 11-year old SX4 for its check-up and with only 50,000 kms under its belt, was not expecting any major issues. Although it gives mediocre average at best even on highways, however the comfort it provides in our family road trips, makes us eager to look forward to our next one.
Here is the route map we followed from Delhi to Kanha National Park and back:
Family Road Trip: Delhi – Agra – Jhansi – Orchha – Bhedaghat – Kanha – Khajuraho – Gwalior – Delhi
What we loved the most in our Family Road Trip – Delhi to Kanha National Park
- Visit to the mesmerizing beauty – The Taj Mahal, Agra
- Raja Ram Mandir, Jahangir Palace and unique Chhatris at this hidden wonder, Orchha
- Serene Orchha Palace resort
- Dhuandhar falls and Marble rocks at Bhedaghat
- Scenic resort right next to Dhuandhar falls
- Scenic forest drive from Rehli to Jabalpur
- Unknowingly stumbling upon the picturesque Bargi Dam
- Getting lost in the Nature at Kanha National Park
- Exploring the rich heritage of Khajuraho temples and sculptures
- Getting emotional at Jhansi fort while remembering the legend of Jhansi ki Rani
- Gwalior Fort visit at Gwalior
Here we are sharing our personal travel itinerary and experience for Delhi to Kanha National Park Family Road Trip with our kid. It is basically a mix of famous must-see wonder of the world, historical monuments, forts, temples, waterfall between marble rocks & a tiger national park to give you the best of what the states of Madhya Pradesh & a small part of Uttar Pradesh have to offer. You can choose to use it as it is or modify it to suit your requirements. We have also shared our cost sheet and as you can see, the major expenditure is for the staying part. Therefore, we recommend booking your stay at least 21 days earlier for the best deals.
Table of Contents
- 1 Day 1: Delhi to Agra ( 227 km – 4.0 hours)
- 2 Day 2: Agra to Orchha via Gwalior & Jhansi (256 km – 6 hours)
- 3 Day 3: Orchha to Bhedaghat via Sagar and Rehli (381 km – 6 hours)
- 4 Day 4: Bhedaghat to Kanha National Park via Niwas and Mandla (194 km – 4 hours)
- 5 Day 5: At Kanha – Morning Safari at Kanha National Park
- 6 Day 6: Kanha to Khajuraho (425 km – 9 hours)
- 7 Day 7: At Khajuraho – Western, Eastern and Southern group of temples
- 8 Day 8: Khajuraho to Gwalior (283 km – 6 hours)
- 9 Day 9: Gwalior to Delhi (364 km – 6 hours)
- 10 Refueling
- 11 Best Time to Visit Madhya Pradesh
- 12 Alternative Itinerary for Madhya Pradesh Family Road Trip
Day 1: Delhi to Agra ( 227 km – 4.0 hours)
Like all our other road trips, we always start early in the morning. However, due to chilly Delhi winters especially during early January, Yamuna Expressway remains extremely foggy and the road visibility sometimes clears only after 11 am or so.
Pro Tip: Check out the forecast beforehand and see the weather couple of days earlier to decide what time to leave from Delhi, especially in December and January, so that you can start as early as you can.
The road trip experience
This time we started our road trip at 10:30 am from Delhi. As expected, the drive through the Yamuna Expressway was exceptionally smooth. With max allowed speeds of 100 kmph, it took us just 4 hours to reach our hotel at Agra which included a half an hour stop at the Yamuna expressway Midway. The Yamuna Expressway is a 6-lane 165 km controlled access highway. It is one of India’s longest expressway stretches. There are 3 toll booths on the way and you can pay the entire amount of Rs. 415 at the first toll booth only. On the other two toll booths, you just need to show the toll payment receipt. So keep this receipt handy until you reach Agra.
Pro Tip: Although higher speeds are easily possible on Yamuna Expressway, however that could result in tire bursts / accidents which are quite common here. Speeds between 90-100 kmph are just perfect for a pleasant laid back drive. I must say that I was a bit tempted to increase the speed when I saw other cars passing me at perhaps somewhere around 130~140 kmph. However I am glad that better sense prevailed and we continued on our laid back journey. Also, try not to get tempted to over speed since there is always the occasional cattle crossing the road.
Once we reached near Agra, the Yamuna Expressway gave way to Agra Inner Ring Road which in-turn also connects to the Lucknow-Agra Expressway. There is a Rs. 35 toll charge at the Agra Inner Ring road. The Yamuna Expressway toll receipt does not have any use here.
We reached Agra at around 2:30 PM. After the check-in formalities at our hotel which was quick, we proceeded to visit the mesmerizing Taj Mahal immediately since the entry ticket counter for the Taj Mahal closes at 4:00 PM.
Where to Stay at Agra?
There are many staying options available for families with kids at Agra. We chose to stay at Clarks Shiraz and we found it quite comfortable and cozy for us and our kiddo.
Day 2: Agra to Orchha via Gwalior & Jhansi (256 km – 6 hours)
The road trip experience
Within 15 minutes we were already on NH44 on our way towards Orchha via Gwalior and Jhansi. The drive on NH44 is great until Gwalior. On this 4-lane road with a center bifurcating strip, the drive is pleasant with less noticeable traffic. However, don’t get tempted to over speed since there is always the occasional never-ending cattle and few vehicles driving in the opposite direction too. There are 3 toll booths along the way till Gwalior charging Rs. 70 at Jajau, Rs. 65 at Choundha & Rs, 75 at Gwalior bypass. No maximum speed signage were observed on the highway however a speed of around 100 kmph is easily achievable until Gwalior.
However, that cannot be said for the road from Gwalior to Jhansi. With construction of a 4-lane highway in full swing in patches, you need to negotiate a series of diversions before the road clears out. Quite a long stretch of road around Dabra had very poor roads due to construction of thick cemented roads in full swing. Hopefully when you will travel you will find this stretch in picture perfect condition. This caused a delay of about 1 hours just to cover this rough patch on NH44.
Distance from Jhansi to Orchha is only 16 km and it is a cool 20 min ride only. However, NH 39 is only a 2-lane road without any center bifurcating strip so overtaking slow-moving vehicles such as trucks can be a bit cumbersome. Fortunately, it takes only 25 minutes to reach Orchha. Once you are on NH 539, the ride suddenly becomes laid back and serene with hardly any vehicular movement until you reach near the center of Orchha where lie in hiding the Raja Ram Mandir, the Orchha Fort, the Chaturbhuj Temple and the Chhatris on the banks of Betwa river.
We reached Jhansi fort at about 1:30 PM and it took us about 1 hour to visit the Fort. There are no government approved guides here, however one local guide showed us around the fort complex and narrated the heart-breaking story of the legendary Jhansi ki Rani – Rani Lakshmi Bai.
We left Jhansi at 2:30 PM and reached Orchha at 3:00 PM. Although our resort was right on the way, however we decided it would be better to explore Orchha first before checking-in. So we headed straight for the Orchha Fort where the last entry is at 5:00 PM. Once again, we took a guide who first showed us around the Orchha Fort complex. Then in our car, he took us to the scenic and unique Chhatris beside Betwa river followed by visit of the Chaturbhuj temple. Afterwards, we came back to the Orchha fort for the light and sound show at 6:30 PM, followed by aarti at Ram Raja Mandir at 7:30 PM.
Finally it was end of another eventful day in this pious hidden wonder of Orchha. We then proceeded for some much-needed rest in our resort.
Where to Stay at Orchha?
Orchha is a small place and it has limited staying options especially for families with kids. We chose to stay at Orchha Palace and Convention center and we found it so appealing and chic that our 6-year-old kiddo just wanted to simply abandon the entire trip and stay here. She enjoyed the kids zone and surely would have loved the kids swimming pool (closed due to chilly winters), if there was water in it!
For reasons still unknown to us, instead of charging us the extra bed for our kiddo as per our booking, we got a complementary room upgrade which was icing on the cake. All we could now do was relax and look forward for the next days activities.
Day 3: Orchha to Bhedaghat via Sagar and Rehli (381 km – 6 hours)
After a comfortable and cozy nights rest at Orchha and morning breakfast, we once again set off early at 09:00 AM for the next leg of our family road trip to Bhedaghat via Sagar (NH44) and Rehli (MPSH15A).
The road trip experience
To reach NH44, you need to take the Orchha bypass road which is basically a small one lane cemented road through the Orchha village for the most part. Although this 21 km long stretch took about 1 hour to cover, however it gave a chance for my kiddo to witness the slow village life to appreciate all the things which we take for granted. Once the village is crossed, you also get to experience serene lakes and hidden landscape which takes you completely by surprise.
Orchha to Sagar on the NH44 is also a 4-lane road with a center bifurcating strip. The drive on this 211 km long stretch took about 3 hours and is very comfortable without much noticeable traffic. However, again don’t get tempted to over speed due to the occasional cattle and vehicles moving in the opposite direction too. All along the route there are scenic lakes, rivers and landscaping that give you yet another reason to undertake this road trip. It has limited eateries along the way, so we grabbed a bite at one family restaurant near Sagar. There are 3 toll booths along the way till Sagar charging Rs. 90 at Babina, Rs. 65 at Vigakhet and Rs. 95 at Malthone. No maximum speed signage were observed on the highway however a speed of around 100 kmph is easily achievable until Sagar.
After Sagar, you can exit the NH44 and take the MP SH15 via Rehli to Jabalpur where another scenic ride through a forest awaits you. This is a 2-lane road which is a shortcut to Jabalpur. Use this route only if you are transiting this area in daytime since the stretch through the scenic forest is only a single lane road where you need to negotiate closely with the occasional traffic coming in opposite direction. The good part is that there were only a few four-wheeler vehicles through this stretch. There are 2 toll booths along the way till Jabalpur charging Rs. 25 at Rehli and Rs. 25 at Patan. Maximum speed allowed is 65 kmph but vehicles were easily driving at 80 kmph.
Jabalpur to Bhedaghat is only a 13 km ride. Roads here were under construction with work still in progress.
At Bhedaghat – Dhuandhar Falls
Bhedaghat is a quaint little place hidden in the Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh beside Narmada river and known for its mesmerizing Dhuandhar falls through the world-famous marble rocks. We reached our resort at Bhedaghat at about 15:00 PM and immediately after check-in we went for cable car ride right next to the resort to get a spectacular view of the roaring Dhuandhar Falls. Once on the other side of the river, we proceeded for the boat ride in the Narmada river through the marble rocks. Read more about Bhedaghat and Dhuandhar Falls here.
Where to Stay at Bhedaghat?
Bhedaghat is also a small place with limited staying options especially for families with kids. We chose to stay at V Resorts Vrindavan Gopala which is a laid back resort right beside Dhuandhar falls. The cable car starts right beside the resort and the view of the falls while you have your meals is just mesmerizing.
Day 4: Bhedaghat to Kanha National Park via Niwas and Mandla (194 km – 4 hours)
After another comfortable and cozy nights rest at Bhedaghat and morning breakfast beside Dhuandhar Falls, we once again set off early at 09:00 AM for the next leg of our family road trip to Kanha National Park via Niwas and Mandla.
The road trip experience
There are a couple of options to reach Kanha from Bhedaghat. The shortest route via Bargi dam and Ghansor is only 152 km however the roads near Ghansor being extremely poor. The time taken through this route would be similar or perhaps even more than another route through Niwas and Mandla. Although this route would be 40 km longer however, the roads are in better condition also ensuring a more scenic view.
The journey from Bhedaghat to Niwas is quite relaxed as the roads are reasonably in good condition. This is a two lane road with the usual customary cattle crossing the roads at their whims and fancies. Again no maximum speed signage observed however we observed vehicles easily travelling at about 70-80 kmph with ease.
Niwas to Mandla is also a two lane stretch on the Niwas road. The good roads here also make sure a pleasant drive through the Vindhyachal ghats.
Mandla to Kanha stretch again is a two lane road with slightly better road condition that the Niwas to Mandla stretch. It has moderate traffic with not much hassle to drive or overtake other vehicles / trucks.
No tolls were collected in this leg of our journey.
At Kanha National Park
We reached our resort at Kanha at 1:00 PM and immediately after check-in, we went for our afternoon Safari at Kanha National Park, Khatiya gate with high hopes of sighting the tiger. The gate entry starts at 3:00 PM but the ticket counter opens at 2:30 PM. This gave us enough time to grab a bite at a local dhaba nearby the ticket counter.
Where to Stay at Kanha?
Kanha has plenty of kid friendly resorts for families. We stayed at the Club Mahindra Resort for out stay at Kanha. It is quite near to the Khatiya gate so was ideal for our Wildlife Safari.
Day 5: At Kanha – Morning Safari at Kanha National Park
Unlucky in the afternoon safari, we tried our luck at the morning safari as well. With freshly visible pug marks and constant deer calls, hopes of tiger spotting were high however, the tigers still continue to elude us. We left the tiger reserve with a heavy heart hoping to catch a glimpse some other time.
Day 6: Kanha to Khajuraho (425 km – 9 hours)
After a peaceful couple of nights rest at Kanha, we set off very early at 07:30 AM since this leg of return journey to Delhi was going to be a long one. We had also heard about the Ghughwa Fossil Park so wanted to club it with the return trip to Khajuraho. It was unfortunate that when we arrived Ghughwa Fossil park at about 10:30 am, it was closed so we had to leave from there empty-handed. If we had known that earlier, we would have taken a shorter route which could have saved about 30 minutes on the return journey to Khajuraho. Since there was no sign board mentioning any reason for the fossil park’s closure so hopefully, it will be possible for you to visit the same on your visit here.
The road trip experience
From Kanha, we reached Khajuraho via Mandla (MPSH11), Niwas (Niwas Road), Ghughwa (Niwas Shahpura Road), Shahpura (MPSH11), Umaria (NH 43), Katni (MPSH10), Pawai (MPSH49) and Panna (NH39).
If you have no intention of visiting the Ghughwa Fossil park, then you can also reach Khajuraho via Mandla, Niwas, Kundam, Umaria Pan, Sleemanabad, Katni, Pawai and Panna thereby saving about 33 km i.e. 30 minutes on the journey.
All the way from Kanha to Khajuraho, the roads are mostly two lane without any center line bifurcation. The cattle crossing is more frequent in this leg so you need to be a bit more alert for it. Not much traffic so overtaking is not an issue. Again, like most roads maximum speed signage is mostly missing however traffic moves comfortably at 90-100 kmph in the plains and 70-80 kmph in the Vindyachal ghats. The roads are in reasonably in good condition except in and around Panna National Park region. Here the roads are in dire need of maintenance. Some maintenance was visible however, a lot more effort will be required to get the damages rectified. The maximum speed allowed in and around the Panna National park region is 20 kmph however, the poor road condition here does not leave any room to increase speed anyway. Otherwise the drive is quite pleasant including on State Highways especially through the Vindhyachal ghats.
It has limited eateries along the way, so we grabbed a bite at one family restaurant near Pawai. There are 2 toll booths along the way till Khajuraho charging Rs. 20 at Katni bypass and Rs. 30 at Panna.
It took us 9 hours to reach Khajuraho from Kanha including a stop over of 30 minutes for lunch and our misadventure at Ghughuwa Fossil Park. Also to keep my alertness levels high, we took a couple of stops for having tea at local shops along our route.
We reached our resort at Khajuraho at 4:30 PM and took some rest before heading out at 06:00 PM for the Aarti at Matangeshwara Temple just outside the boundary of the Western Group of Temples. At 06:30 PM, we viewed the Sound and Light show at the Western Group of Temples at Khajuraho.
Where to Stay at Khajuraho?
Khajuraho has plenty of kid friendly hotels and resorts for families with kids. We stayed at The Lalit Temple view, Khajuraho for our stay at Khajuraho. It is next to the Western Group of Temples which is walking distance from the hotel.
Day 7: At Khajuraho – Western, Eastern and Southern group of temples
After breakfast, we left for exploring the Western Group of Temples at 09:30 AM. The Western group of temples precinct houses the largest number of presently existing temples in one compound. It took us about 3 hours to cover the 11 temples with the help of a guide. After lunch at a local restaurant right opposite the precinct, we left for exploring the Eastern and Southern Group of Temples. These were a bit scattered inside the Khajuraho village but were a bit faster to cover in spite of poor roads there.
Day 8: Khajuraho to Gwalior (283 km – 6 hours)
After another peaceful couple of nights rest at Khajuraho, we checked out early at 09:00 AM since we had already seen the poor roads from Jhansi to Gwalior around Dabra.
The road trip experience
From Khajuraho, take NH39 until Jhansi. This road is a two lane road and is in fairly good condition with some construction and restoration activity visible. Use the NH27 to bypass Jhansi or if else you may choose to stop at Jhansi for some lunch at a restaurant. There is one family restaurant available before Dabra on NH44 i.e. on Jhansi to Gwalior stretch where we stopped to grab a bite for about 30 minutes. Jhansi to Gwalior is reached by NH44 which although is intended to be a four lane road with center line bifurcation however, due to construction activity only 2 lanes were available for traffic. Hopefully, if the construction activity continues in full pace, you will be getting awesome roads to drive in this stretch. As usual, be alert for the cattle crossing the road. The drive for the most part is very pleasant without much noticeable traffic however as expected, around Dabra, the roads were in poor condition and so our travel time increased by 1 hour similar to the onward trip.
No maximum speed signage were observed on the highway however a maximum speed of around 80~90 kmph is easily achievable until Gwalior. However, due to poor roars around Dabra, we could do an average speed on 50 kmph only. Therefore in hindsight, it was a good decision to take a stopover at Gwalior instead of Agra as it would have resulted in unnecessarily stressing ourselves.
It took us 6 hours to reach Gwalior from Khajuraho including a stop over of 30 minutes for lunch at a family restaurant before Dabra on NH44 from Jhansi to Gwalior.
No tolls were collected in this stretch between Khajuraho to Gwalior. However, the toll collection will start once the road construction is completed. We could see that the toll booths have already been constructed at various locations.
We reached our hotel at Gwalior at 3:00 PM and after refreshing ourselves, we headed out for exploring the Gwalior Fort. It didn’t take much time to visit the entire fort and as the fort closes at 5:00 PM, we were already back at the hotel at 5:30 PM. We had already attended the sound and light shows at Orchha and Khajuraho in this road trip. Also owing to the cold winds, this time we chose not to attend the Sound and Light show as the English one was starting late at 7:30 PM. .
Where to Stay at Gwalior?
Gwalior has plenty of kid friendly hotels for families with kids. We stayed at Clarks Inn Gwalior for our stay at Gwalior. For some reason, we even got a room upgrade here.
Day 9: Gwalior to Delhi (364 km – 6 hours)
After another peaceful nights rest at Gwalior, we once again checked out at 09:00 AM for the last time in this family road trip.
The road trip experience
It took us about 30 minutes to clear Gwalior and we were on NH44 (NH3) again. As expected, the drive on 4-lane NH44 from Gwalior to Agra is pleasant due to decent roads, as we had already experienced it on Day 2 of our onward journey. Still don’t over speed as there is always the risk of cattle crossing and few vehicles driving in the opposite direction too. There are 2 toll booths along the way till Agra charging Rs.65 at Choundha and Rs.70 at Jajau. No maximum speed signage were observed on the highway however a maximum speed of around 90 kmph was easily achievable until Agra.
It takes about 30 minutes to transit Agra due to haphazard city traffic. Once at Agra Inner Ring Road the 6-lane road offers much-needed respite from the chaotic drive in the city. There is a Rs. 35 toll charge at the Agra Inner Ring road. This road merges seamlessly with the Yamuna Expressway which is a cake walk compared to what we had already experienced so far in this road trip. Even my better half enjoyed the drive here while I played some games with our little one. With max allowed speeds of 100 kmph, it took us just 6 hours to reach home from Gwalior which included a half an hour stop at a Yamuna expressway Midway for lunch and refreshments. Again, there are 3 toll booths on the way and you can pay the entire amount of Rs. 415 at the first toll booth only. On the other two toll booths, you just need to show the toll payment receipt. So once again, keep this receipt handy until Greater Noida.
Like most other highways, only diesel is available along the way. So we kept refueling petrol which is easily available in cities at Agra, Jhansi, Sagar, Jabalpur, Kanha, Khajuraho and Gwalior.
Best Time to Visit Madhya Pradesh
The best time to visit Madhya Pradesh is during the months of October to March when the weather is pleasant and the temperatures range from 8 degree C to 25 degree C. However, in January it gets too cold once the sun sets. So it is advisable to pack enough woolens for the trip. The summers can get too hot for comfort so it is not a good idea to visit Madhya Pradesh in summers.
Alternative Itinerary for Madhya Pradesh Family Road Trip
Although there were couple of times in our road trip when we felt that the road condition could be a bit better, however on a positive note we saw a lot of construction activity going on so hopefully the ride would be great in a few months. In spite of some bad roads in a few stretches, we still loved the drive which was very scenic for the most part. It felt like reaching the destination was a mere formality so that we may enjoy this long drive. It also ensured quality bonding time with our little one who had some difficulty comprehending the village life.
If you do not have the time for a 8-nights 9-day road trip, then alternatively you can shorten it to up to 4-nights 5-days. From Delhi, you can then cover Agra, Orchha, Khajuraho, Gwalior and back to Delhi. If you are a disciplined traveller and can check out your hotel early every day, then you can cover Jhansi on the same day when you reach Orchha. Also, all the Khajuraho temples can be covered on the same day you reach Khajuraho, provided you leave Orchha early enough.
Similarly a trip to Orchha from Delhi can be covered in 3-nights 4-days. And a visit to the Taj Mahal is only a weekend trip from Delhi thanks to the Yamuna Expressway.Family Road Trip: Delhi to Kanha National Park #Travel Itinerary #Kanha National Park #Family #Road Trip Click To Tweet
Hope you find this Delhi to Kanha Family road trip of use to you. Have you also done any road trips in Madhya Pradesh with kids. What was your experience? Do let us know about your experience or if I am missing something, please contact us or comment below and I will update this blog soon. Your comments and/or feedback are most welcome.
In case you found the above read interesting, you might also like the following: