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Tourist places to visit in Madhya Pradesh

The term ‘ Madhya’ means central, and truly, Madhya Pradesh is located in the middle of India, enjoying a wide diversity of climates, terrains and cultures. Madhya Pradesh, also know as ‘MP’, is the second largest state by area in India, and the fifth largest by population. Historically, Madhya Pradesh has always been one of India’s most prosperous kingdoms, due to its abundance of natural resources (the largest reserves of diamond and copper in India), dense flora and fauna, and beautiful landscapes. Many remnants of dynasties past still adorn the skyline of the state’s main trouts destinations. While Madhya Pradesh has some of the most breathtaking destinations to visit in India, in the last decade or so, tourist activity in the region has declined, shifting instead to its slightly more shiny neighbouring states’ tourist attractions. Instead of the being a detriment, this makes Madhya Pradesh an amazing place for tourists to visit while experiencing a slice authentic Indian culture, without the crowds.

While domestic travel in and out of Madhya Pradesh flourishes all through the year, the best time to visit is during the winter months of October to March or during the light monsoon of July to September. The states capital is Bhopal, and some of its other hub cities are Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Rewa and Ujjain. We recommend setting up base in one or two of these cities, and enjoying the plethora of day trips Madhya Pradesh offers!

You can visit:

INDORE:

  • Rajwada
  • Sarafa Bazaar
  • Patalpani Falls
  • Choral Dam
  • Lotus Lake
  • Ralamandal

BHOPAL:

  • Upper Lake
  • Taj-Ul-Masjid
  • Raisen Fort
  • Bhojpur Shiv Temple
  • State Tribal Museum
  • Bhimbetka Caves
  • Lower Lake
  • Saanchi Stupa

PACHMARHI:

  • Bee Falls
  • Jatashankar Caves
  • Pandav Caves
  • Handi Khoh
  • Rajat Pratap Falls
  • Dhoopgarh

ORCHHA

  • Orchha Fort
  • Chhatris
  • Kanchana Ghat
  • Chatrabhuj Temple
  • Orchha Nature Reserve

KHAJURAHO

  • Western Group of Temples
  • Ken Gharial Sanctuary
  • Beni Sagar Dam
  • Raneh Falls

JABALPUR:

  • Dhuandhar Falls
  • Lord Shiva Statue at Kachnar City
  • Marble Rocks of Bhedaghat
  • Bargi Dam
  • Balancing Rocks
  • Madan Mahal Fort

GWALIOR:

  • Gwalior Fort
  • Jai Vilas Palace
  • Saas Bahu Temple
  • Tighra Dam
  • Gopachal Parvat

OTHER:

  • Ujjain
  • Mandu
  • Omkareshwar
  • Chanderi
  • Datia Fort

INDORE:

The stronghold of the erstwhile Holkar dynasties, one of the most prosperous in India, Indore is a story of deep historical significance and economic success. Often called a ‘food city’ of India, Indore somehow seamlessly combines small town charm with modern thinking.

  • Rajwada

Located in the heart of the city, Rajwada is perhaps one of the the most famous attractions not just in Indore, but in Madhya Pradesh. A perfect blend of intricate architectural grandeur and a reflection of royalty and nobility, Rajwada was built by the Holkar, and is known for its seven-storied structure, beautifully maintained gardens and general atmosphere of regality. Rajwada is a perfect specimen of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, and can be used as the blueprint for most other architecture in the city from the time.

  • Sarafa Bazaar

A trip to Indore isn’t a trip to Indore without a visit to the Sarafa Bazaar. An avalanche of senses and emotions, Sarafa Bazaar is known for being the home of Indore’s vibrant street food culture. May it be famous foreign chefs with camera crews or young college students, no-one can resist the charisma of the vendors or the delicacy of their wares. With a wide variety of food offered like dahi wadas, kachori chaat, petha paan, buttermilk, shikanji and many more, it is impossible to leave the area fully satisfied and perhaps a little over-stuffed.

  • Patalpani Falls

The trek up to Patalpani is not what one would call leisurely. But the falls itself and their surrounding view more than make up for it. A serene and scenic respite from the controlled chaotic atmosphere of Indore, the falls are a great place to vacation in Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, no-one truly knowns where the falls end, or how deep they go. Local folklore suggest that they go so deep underground, they reach the underworld! A popular spot for both adventure and nature lovers, Patalpani is even a great place to lounge on the grass with a picnic and a book.

  • Choral Dam

A memorable weekend from Indore, Choral Dam, seated on the backwaters of the River Narmada is an ideal getaway destination. The wide, blue open expanse of the Choral Dam reservoir is both humbling and elating. The tranquility of the surrounding nature, the beauty of its blue waters, and the magic of its monsoon season create an opportunity to experience eco-tourism in a new and unique way. Enjoy a book, a picnic, or just a great opportunity to run around with a large group in the beautiful, endless vista.

  • Lotus Lake

You won’t find Lotus Lake on many touristy round-ups of Indore. This hidden gem, locally known as Gulawat Talab is paradise for photographers. The lake derives its name from the Gulawat valley where it is located, and is full of seasonal lotuses, due to the environmental factors that make it an ideal location. The calm waters of the lake coupled with the lush greenery that surrounds it creates an atmosphere of other worldliness and can be captured perfectly on film. The offbeat location isn’t a frequent haunt of tourist crowds, making it almost always free for one to capture.

  • Ralamandal

Ideal for lovers of wildlife and the environment in general, Ralamanadal is ideal for those hoping to escape the chaos of the city, and relax surrounded by nature. An area of over 4 square kilometres, this protected land is the natural habitat of many native Indian species of animals like the leopard, black buck, sambhar, teak, eucalyptus, babul, etc. An entry fee of INR60 is levied. The park itself is open only from 9 am to 6:30 pm. The wildlife sanctuary is also a great way to wrap up a trip to Madhya Pradesh.

BHOPAL:

The capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal is a beautiful amalgamation of the riches of past dynasties and a dedication to industrialisation and progress of the present. One of the greenest cities in India, the vibrant reddish pink stone of its historical monuments are perfectly juxtaposed against the shimmering glass of its office developments.

  • Upper Lake

Locally called ‘Bhotjal’, Bhopal’s famous Upper Lake is an eminent water body for the city, and is in fact man-made. Built in the 11th contrary by King Bhoj (a man of great historical significance), local folklore suggests that the lake was built so that King Bhoj could cure himself of his skin conditions. Upper Lake is a popular destination for water sports in Bhopal, both as a tourist location and frequented by locals. One can enjoy parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, etc. here. The sunsets and sunrises here are legendary!

  • Taj-Ul-Masjid

The name ‘Taj Ul Masqjid’ translates to ‘Crown of Mosques’, and one trip to the destination will make you sure that the monument was aptly named. The deep pink-red sandstone of the elegant mosque is used in direct and splendid contrast to the white marble of its main alcove and the deep blue of the sky it is set against. The mosque displays perfectly the attention to detail and playfulness with material and colour that Madhya Pradesh’s architecture is known for. The mosque is the location for a giant annual congregation that spans over 3 days and brings in thousands of visitors a year.

  • Raisen Fort

A splendid view from the bottom of the hill on which it is located, Raisen Fort is known for its fascinating history of being the location for valiant fights and sacrifices of Jauhar (the practice of wives self-sacrificing themselves to a mass pyre to avoid capture by enemy forces). The fact that the forts 9 gateways, many domes, and outbuildings were built over 8800 years ago adds to its charm and mystique. It also houses the shrine of the Muslim saint Hazrat Peer Fatehullah Shah Baba.

  • Bhojpur Shiv Temple

Often called the Somnath of the East, the Bhojpur Temple is a monolith made of the same pink-red sandstone that Madhya Pradesh is known for. Located in the Raisen district, the mandir is dedicated to Lord Shiv, and is known as not only a religious hub, but a pilgrimage for architecture buffs as well. The temples intricate and strikingly carved doorway is so finely sculpted, it is confusing to understand that the temple’s construction as never actually completed. This does though, provide a unique opportunity to see how such magnificent monuments were constructed at the time, like the earthen ramp used to raise it to dome-level.

  • State Tribal Museum

Perhaps like unlike any other tribal museum in India, the building of the State Tribal Museum in Bhopal is as much an at gallery and a repository of information and archives. The unique, well-designed and themed galleries all represent native tribals culture, and is curated by local voices and artists. Depicting each region of Madhya Pradesh through its handicrafts and local legends, the museum, is a perfect representation of the regions respect of tradition while being unique and modern.

  • Bhimbetka Caves

A UNESCO World Heritage site, and famous archeological marvel, the Bhimbhetka Roch Shelters and adjacent falls are a great pace to walk around and explore. With over 500 rock shelters, all of which are over 30,000 years old, the area is also a delight for history buffs, photographers, and trekkers. The region is representative of the beginning of South Asian Stone Age. An entry fee of INR50 is levied, and the complex is open only from 7 am to 6 pm.

  • Lower Lake

A short distance from the famous Upper Lake, lies Bhopal’s lower lake, a famous attraction amongst locals. Adjacent to the lush Kamla Garen, the lake is breathtaking both at night with its reflected twinkling lights, and during the day, particularly at sunrise. Sailing, paddle-boating and motor boating activities are available here. Together with the Upper Lake, it forms the Bhoj Wetland, known for its flora and fauna.

  • Saanchi Stupa

Not just one of the most famous Buddhist religious sites in Madhya Pradesh, the Saanchi Stupa is the best known Buddhist site in India! The magnificence of this site can not to translates to words or photographs, and is a must-visit in India. Built in the 3rd century BCE by the great emperor Ashoka, the Saanchi Stupa is not just a tribute to the location, but is also an ode to the penance of the emperor, after feeling responsible for too many wars and death in India. It is a monument to the power of second chances, and one of the most gigantic domes on a stupa, ever. The central vault is said to contain the actual relics of Lord Buddha.

PACHMARHI:

Also known as Satpura ki Rani, Pachmarhi is a hill station in the southern part of Madhya Pradesh. The mountainous region with its many meandering rivers is a nature lovers paradise.

  • Bee Falls

A popular attraction in the area, the Bee falls are not only a treat for nature lovers themselves, but also provide a spectacular view of the hills that will tea your breath away. In the summers, the region is very popular as an escape from the scorching heat of the plains of Madhya Pradesh, as well as a getaway from bustling city life. This serene and solitude filled ares is 35 metres tall, and open only from 9 am to 5 pm every day.

  • Jatashankar Caves

One part spirituality, one part adventure, the Jatashankar Caves are a popular religious attraction in Madhya Pradesh. The caves comprise of 108 Shiva lingams and is believed to be the shelter to which Lord Shiv escaped the wrath of Bhasmasur. Surrounded by lush green on all sides, it is not stretch of the imagination to see why someone would escape to this magical location. The caves are also the point of origin of the Jambu Dwip stream. Besides Lord Shiva, the caves also feature shrines to Lord Shankar and Goddess Parvati.

  • Pandav Caves

Referenced from the Pandava brothers in the hindu epic of the Mahabharata, these caves are said to be the Pandava brothers’ lodging during their exile. The five ancient caves may look overgrown and damp, but the mythological history they hold and the beauty of their grandeur is undeniable. Located in the Pipariya area of Madhya Pradesh, these caves are a must-visit!

  • Handi Khoh

One of the most beautiful ravines in India, Handi Khoh is said to have been associated with Lord Shiva. Believed to have once been a lake, the deep ravine is not densely packed with lush green trees. The 300 feet precipice it boasts of attracts a number of tourists who come here to be enthralled by nature’s handiwork. The area is open from 9Am to 5PM everyday, and is a popular tourist spot in the area.

  • Rajat Pratap Falls

Locally known as Silver Falls, this stream of water nestled amongst twi rock cliffs is a sight you must not miss. While the waterfall I narrow, it does not disappoint as it plunges from 350 feet above, and is especially beautiful in the monsoon season when it is well-fed. Standing below it, it looks like watching pearls of rain falling from the heavens above. The region is very popular amongst adventure junkies who enjoy a number of thrilling activities.

  • Dhoopgarh

Translating to the land of sunlight, Dhoopgarh does not disappoint its name. The highest peak in the Satpura range, the sunsets and sunrises here are legendary, lighting up the entire vista, from sky to horizon, in vibrant resplendent colours of the sun! The area is popular amongst trekkers and adventure junkies for its diversity of terrain and therefore activities as well as its breathtaking views. May it be to relax or to get amped up, Dhoopgarh is a great place to be.

ORCHHA

A town in the Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh, Orchha was established by the famous Rana Pratap Singh around 1501. A former princely state, the region is also known by its local name, Bundelkhand.

  • Orchha Fort

In Medieval times, Orchha fort was one of the most well-known strongholds in India. Just 16 kilometres from the central seat of the power for the Bundela king Rudra Pratap Singh, the fort is a beautiful amalgamation of Rajput architectural traditions and the growing Mughal influence of the times. The fort complex consist of multiple beautiful structures inside it like Raja Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, Rai Parveen Mahal, Phool Bagh and Sheesh Mahal. A beautiful part of India’s glorious past, the fort is a must visit for lovers of history and architecture alike.

  • Chhatris

Located in the Tikamagarh district, are a true architectural marvel of Madhya Pradesh. These royal tombs are called Chhatris, and comprise of beautiful sculptures, intricately carved domed structures, and well maintained grounds. The beautiful sight of the Chhatris, both from afar and up close are sure to leave you spell bound, and their reflections in the water that surrounds them acts as an adoration to an already beautiful view. A popular sightseeing attraction, this is a must-visit for all history buff.

  • Kanchana Ghat

A ghat refers to a river bank with a solid construction used as an area for religious and social congregation. Located within the Orchha Fort complex, this series of ghat-side houses are sometimes called cenotaphs or chhatris as well. The area was built over time, by Bundela dynasty rulers. Each outbuilding int he complex has a unique story to tell about the areas history.

  • Chatrabhuj Temple

Amidst busy towns and bustling markets, the Chatrabhuj temple sits proud, steadfast, and strong. Looking almost like a fort itself, the temple is named ‘Chatrabhuj’, meaning ‘the one with four arms’. The architecture of the temple reflects this, with its four minarets, growing from the main structure itself. Every step in the temple showcases a different feature of the region’s architecture, and has a unique story to tell. Built by the Bundela Rajput dynastic clan, the Chatrabhuj temple is a must visit for the worship of Lord Vishnu, historical exploration or architectural wonder.

  • Orchha Nature Reserve

A wonderful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Orchha Wildlife Reserve is the perfect place to not Noel explore but also stay within plush, green, nature. The region is the native habitat of many endangered species, making it protected land. Inside, one can spot a variety of wildlife, making it a breathtaking getaway nestled amongst nature.

KHAJURAHO

Known as both a city, and a group of monuments, Khajurao is a complex of Hindu and Jain temples in the Chhatarpar district of Madhya Pradesh. 175 kilometres from the spiritual hub of Jhansi, this UNESCO World Heritage site from medieval times is known for its Nagara-style architectural symbolism and most popularly, for its many many walls of erotic sculptures.

  • Western Group of Temples

The Western Complex of temples is a beautiful collection of medieval structures that consist primarily of Hindu temples. Built by the prominent Chandela dynasty, the temples represent the best of art, architecture, stone carving, storytelling and history of the region. The most prominent temples in the region are the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, Chausath Yogini Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Matangeshwar Temple, and Varaha Temple. One could spend hours amongst the temples many intricately narrative-based walls, wondering how these gigantic structures where erected so many years ago.

  • Ken Gharial Sanctuary

Located close to the Khajuraho temples in the Panna National Park, the Ken Gharial Sanctuary is one of the largest and most protected safe havens for this unique and protected species. Often confused with crocodiles, gharials are native to the region and are quite peculiar to watch. The area offers calm and solitude, a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of busy cities and tourist spots. This picturesque sanctuary is a must visit for all nature lovers.

  • Beni Sagar Dam

Ver rarely does one get to see a dam so expansive, it appears as if it could be a sea. The waters of the Beni Sagar Dam, fuelled by the River Khudar, is a tranquil ambiance where the waters are so blue, they seem to blend into the blue of the sky at the horizon. The fresh, unpolluted air, and cool water winds make it a popular location for picnic and water-side getaways.

  • Raneh Falls

As much as one can describe the location, nothing matches up to the actual view that Raneh Falls is. Instead of visiting the falls themselves (a couple feat of daring and adventure), we recommend visiting one of the many viewpoints of the falls in the region. These large, angry rocks jut out of the water as if in defiance of the River Ken from whence they originate. The fierce cascades that emanate from the falls are particularly boisterous in the monsoons, and a surreal destination you must not miss.

JABALPUR:

An industrial region in the extreme east of Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur is a region rich in natural resources, flora and fauna. This rocky landscape was once a natural trench for entrants into the Bundelkhand region, and today lies very close to the border of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

  • Dhuandhar Falls

The term ‘dhunandhar’ means misty, and what better a term to describe these steep rock landscapes, with water plummeting 30 metres below. The water here is so misty, it appears almost white. An enchanting sight on River Narmada, these famous rocks have spent centuries being misted, shined and carved by theses furious waters. It is truly a spot in Madhya Pradesh that you should to miss! The area is also a popular spot to watch the sun set.

  • Lord Shiva Statue at Kachnar City

A 23 metre tall statue, the Lord Shiva Statue at Kachnar City attracts many from far and wide. The striking statue of the 12 Jyotirlingas placed just below the gigantic idol are also a must-see, drawing in tourists from 2006 when it opened.

  • Marble Rocks of Bhedaghat

Entering the Bhedaghat region, the experience is surreal. Words cannot express the feeling of being engulfed by the high marble walls of the canals. The canals are actually break offs of the River Narmada, and the rich mineral deposits of the water have with time, coloured the edges of the rocks in a mesmerising way. Every turn brings a new shape, atmosphere and feeling. A truly fascinating sight to behold, the vista is best experienced under moon light, especially if you’re a traveller who enjoys out of the box experiences.

  • Bargi Dam

Built on the River Narmada, the Bargi dam is a deafeningly loud in the calmest way possible when the dam is open, and serenely quiet in a way that only nature can provide. A beautiful place for not only those who enjoy modern giant builds, but also for photographers, Bargi dam is a must visit in Madhya Pradesh. Many people visit the dam’s reservoir area also for activities like paddle boating, water scooter riding, speed boating and cruising.

  • Balancing Rocks

This unique location is exactly as it sounds! One of the most fascinating places in Jabalpur, this unique topography features meaning structures of volcanic origin, but only one Balancing Rock, which is two giant rocks touching at a narrow single point. Having even sustained a powerful earthquake, the physics of the structure is fascinating to all who visit.

  • Madan Mahal Fort

When you look at its unique location and peculiar architecture, you perhaps wont be able to guess that the Madam Mahal Fort was constructed  in the 11th century during the Gond rule. Sat atop a hill, from where an entralling view of Jabalpur is seen, The fort was an import army post in the past. The historical monuments still has remnants of some horse stables and cannons, royal rooms, stables, secret passages, ancient scripts, corridors, etc. The outpost is part rock cut and part made of brick, a unique combination in the area.

GWALIOR:

One of Madhya Pradesh’s major cities, Gwalior is over 300 kilometres south of Delhi, and is a colourful city of hospitable people. Besides being a modern day administrative, economic, and transport hub, Gwalior was also one the winter capitol of the region.

  • Gwalior Fort

A feat of construction and aesthetics, the Gwalior fort, till date, is one of the most impenetrable forts in India, and is often referred to as ‘the pearl among fortresses in India’. The orange-pink bricks of the fort emerge proudly and defiantly from soil from whence they were made, and the intricate and brightly coloured detailing of blue and green on the forts exterior is so telling of the confidence of its makers. Unlike many others, the Gwalior fort is not subtle or camoflaging, instead it is a flamboyant declaration of the might of its kingdom and the strength of its walls. The large sprawling structure features within it many palaces, temples, museums and other fascinating buildings. The fort is open to tourists for the entry fee of INR75 and from the timings of 6 am to 5:30 pm.

  • Jai Vilas Palace

The best display of Indian extravagance and luxury, the Jai Vilas Palace is a slice of noble Indian culture like no other. The residence of the descendants of the royal Maratha Scindia family, the building is now used as a museum that extends over 35 of its rooms. Opulence, architecture, art, and nuanced Indian culture are in abundance, whichever part of the exterior or interior of the palace you happen to see. There is an entry fee of INR100 which is levied, with tourist visitation hours being from 10 am to 5 pm.

  • Saas Bahu Temple

Contrary to what a Hindi speaker may think this temple is for (saas-bahu translated to mother-in-law and daughter-in-law), this magnificent structure was named after Sahastrabahu, a legendary warrior in Indian mythology, and is a dedication to the Lord Vishnu with a thousands hands, as depicted in the temple carvings. A brilliant specimen of architecture, the temple walls are adorned with intricately carved figures and clean, terraced platforms.

  • Tighra Dam

The source of most of Gwalior’s water, Tighra Dam is an ideal tourist spot for friends and family. Known as a perfect picnic spot, the Dam’s water is clean, and reflects the sky above it almost endlessly.

  • Gopachal Parvat

One of the most intricate rock-cut sculptures mountain side sculptures in India, Gopachal PArvat is a monument in the Jain religion, dedicated to depicting Tirthankaras in seated Padmasana posture. With over 100 sculptures spread out amongst the turns of the mountain face, this destination is also a famous Jain pilgrimage site.

OTHERS:

  • Ujjain

Located on the banks of the Shipra River, Ujjain is one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus, a part of the ultimate pilgrimage a Hindu can make. This prehistoric city is known not just for its religious significance to Hindu pilgrims, but also for its colorful orange buildings that reflect upon its waters, making it a photographer’s paradise. Mentioned in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, the region is known for its breathtaking ancient temples and ambience of chanting and serenity. The most famous temple here is the Mahakaleshwar Temple with 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.

  • Mandu

Located in the erstwhile prosperous kingdom of Malwa, Mandu is known for the legendary tales of love of Prince Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati (a poet and his consort), and the various invaders (like Adham Singh) who were prompted to attach the region in want of her. Many of the walls of the areas structures feature intricate rock cut wall carving that you often only get to see in busy tourist regions like Khajuraho. With structures made of colourful stones and many lakes, palaces and gardens, Mandu is an oft-ignored destination in Madhya Pradesh that we highly recommend visiting.

  • Omkareshwar

A sacred island off the banks of the over Narmada, Omkareshwar has adopted beautifully the colour and architectural brilliance that many large cities in Madhya Pradesh are known for. When seen aerially, the island represents the Hindu symbol of an Om, from where it derives its name. Every year, many tourists come here to bow their head in respect to the two most prominent shrines on the island, that of Omkareshwar and Mahakaleshwar, making it an ideal location for both devotees and explorers.

  • Chanderi

Rich with history and memorable for its pink stone structures, Chanderi is a wonderful getaway from the busy city for patrons of history and lovers of exploration. Nestled amongst lush green forests in the Vindhya Hills, Chanderi is best known for its namesake textile, Chanderi silk, and its booming textile industry. Chanderi silk is amongst one of the most expensive materials in India, and an ideal souvenir to take fro the region.

  • Datia Fort

Located in the city of Datia, also of high historical significance, Datia Fort features unique architectural styles – a combination of Rajput and Mughal traditions. Seated on a hill and surrounded by water, one can see how the seven storied fort was once an ideal military stronghold. The fort is known fro its many beautiful arches, Chhatris, oriel windows and the Govind Mandir which is located within. What is little known about the location though, is that internally the fort is made of only bricks and mortar, with not support of metal or wood, a remarkable example of Bundela architecture and confidence, making its architectural might even more significant.

May you be a pilgrim or a photographer, a history buff or a nature-lover, Madhya Pradesh is the state for you. This eclectic, diverse, warmly hospitable state has welcomed travellers for centuries, and that tradition of openness and happiness has continued on. As any Indian reference, and they’ll refer to Madhya Pradesh via an ad released many years ago. It represented the various attractions of Madhya Pradesh in a person’s eye, and truly – Madhya Pradesh is one of the most beautiful sights for the eye. Madhya Pradesh’s cacophony is made up of equal parts of nature and people, industrial mills and the deafening silence of its serene lakes.

A state with so much to offer, are you ready to grab up the chance to have the experience of a lifetime?

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