Shivpuri is steeped in the royal legacy of its past, when it was the summer capital of the Scindia rulers of Gwalior. And earlier, its dense forests were the hunting grounds of the Mughal emperors when great herds of elephants were captured by Emperor Akbar.

Much later, it was the tiger that roamed the wooded hills and many a magnificent beast was 'bagged' by royal shikaris. And, with its luxuriant forests and undulating hills, Shivpuri was a natural choice as the summer resort capital of the Scindias. Shivpuri's royal ambiance lives on in the exquisite palaces and hunting lodges and graceful, intricately-embellished marble chhatris (cenotaphs) erected by the Scindia princes.

A sanctuary for rare wildlife and avifauna, Shivpuri has transformed a royal past into a vibrant, hopeful present.

Madhav National Park is 156 sq km in area, the park is open throughout the year. With a varied terrain of wooded hills, the forests being dry, mixed and deciduous, and flat grasslands around the lake, it offers abundant opportunities for sighting a variety of wildlife. The predominant species that inhabits the park is the deer, of which the most easily sighted are the graceful little chinkara, the Indian gazelle and the chital. Other species that have their habitat in the park are nilgai, sambar, chausingha or four-horned antelope blackbuck, sloth bear, leopard and the ubiquitous common langur.
The National Park is equally rich in avifauna; the artificial lake, Chandpatta is winter home of migratory geese, pochard, pintail, teal, maillard and gadwall. A good site for bird watching is where the forest track crosses the wide rocky stream that flows from the Waste Weir. Species that frequent this spot are red-wattled lapwing, large-pied wagtail, pond heron and white breasted kingfisher. The avifauna also includes the cormorant, painted stork, white ibis, laggar falcon, purple sunbird, paradise flycatcher and golden oriole.

It is a building of Maratha style, built in 1921 as a night dancing hall. It has a gallery of paintings depicting real life and fantasized themes. The hall was also used for entertainment and religious purpose.

Set in a formal Mughal garden, with quiet nooks under flowering trees, intersected by pathways with ornamental balustrades and illuminated by Victorian lamps, is the complex in which the cenotaphs of the Scindias are set. Facing each other across a water tank are the chhatris of Madho Rao Scindia and the dowager queen Maharani Sakhya Raje Scindia, synthesising the architectural idioms of Hindu and Islamic styles with their shikhara-type spires and Rajput and Mughal pavilions.
The gittering white marble surface of Madho Rao Scindia's cenctaph is inlaid in the pietra dura style, with lapis lazuli and onyx to create a spectacularly rich effect, heightened by the delicacy of the trellis work on the sides. The dowager queen's cenotaph has a noble dignity of line and superb strucuctural harmony. Both memorials contain life-size images of the Scindias and these are tended to with extreme devotion by ceremonially-dressed retainers who perform the rituals of placing flowers and incense before the statues each day. In the evenings, the hush is broken by the sound of music as artists of the Gwalior gharana render classical ragas before the statues.

Standing upon a natural eminence, the elongated rose-pink summer palace of the Scindias is built in truly royal proportions. A fine example of colonial architecture, the Mahal, as it is called, is remarkable for its marble floors, iron columns, graceful terraces and the Ganapati Mandap. From the turrets, the view is a spectacular one of Shivpuri town and the park beyond.

Edging the forests of the Madhav National Park is the Sakhya Sagar lake, habitat of a variety of reptiles. Species that can be seen here are the marsh crocodile or mugger, Indian python and the monitor lizard. On the shores of the lake and connected to it by a broad pier is a Boat Club, an airy, delicate structure with glass panels.

A scenic picnic spot by a natural spring. The water here is rich in minerals, supposedly of a curative nature.

ALSO VISIT: George Castle, Sultan Hotel, Kothi No.17, Madhav Vilas Palace and Sakhya Lake and Boat Club.