Panchmarhi – The Queen of Satpuras
Panchmarhi , the queen of Satpuras is very rightly called so. It is a pristine hill station in Madhya Pradesh. We had got a few days leave from office and decided to visit Panchmarhi. We had not visited Madhya Pradesh before; so with full of thrill, we started for Panchmarhi. Panchmarhi is such a place that one will definitely fall in love with it. It appears as a cool oasis in the midst of a very hot Madhya Pradesh. Not only its climate, but its sceneries are quite different from the other regions of Madhya Pradesh.
The word “Panchmarhi” is said to be derived from the words “Panch” meaning five and “marhi” meaning caves. According to Hindu mythology, the Pandavas had stayed at Panchmarhi during the fourteen years of their exile. During 1857, Captain James Forsyth of the British Army discovered Panchmarhi. It was then quickly built into a hill station for the British, who preferred the climate of Panchmarhi to that of rest of Madhya Pradesh.
True to its name, Panchmarhi is a quaint hill station in the lap of Satpuras and is the home to many caves as well as waterfalls. So the next day, we hired a Maruti gypsy for our going around. Our first stop for the day was the Rajat Prapat or the Silver Falls. A guide has to be taken to visit the Silver Falls. When the rays of sun fall on the gurgling waters of Rajat Prapat, the water shines like that of silver. From Rajat Prapat, it is a ten minutes walk through the rocky path to the “Apsara Vihar” or Fairy Pool. It is a clear pool where the water is shallow and is a favourite picnic spot for children.
A trivia: It is said that during the British era, British ladies used to come here for a bath. The locals used to sneak at them. The ladies being fair, the locals thought of them to be apsaras or fairies. Hence the pool was named “Apsara Vihar”!
Our next stop was the famous “Bee Falls” or the Jamuna Prapat. It is 150 feet in height and is one of the most magnificent waterfalls of Panchmarhi. We had to trek down about a km downhill to reach the Bee Falls and when it appeared in front of us, we were just left awestruck. Water gushing down with great speed to a pool where many were taking a bath. It is indeed very hard to resist the temptation to take a bath in the pool and we too were not an exception. Leaving behind our inhibitions we headed towards the pool under the waterfall. It was an amazing experience to feel the stream of water fall on us from such a height!
Panchmarhi is a small town, so we went to our hotel for having our lunch. After lunch, we headed towards Reechgarh. Reechgarh is a natural amphitheatre in the rocks and has three entrances. The marvels of rocks and stones can be seen here.
From Reechgarh, we finally went to Dhupgarh, the highest point in Satpura ranges and the spectacular sunset point of Panchmarhi. Dhupgarh also gives a 360 degree view of the plateaus and mountain ranges around. The view from Dhupgarh is absolutely stunning! The green mountains and trees are all around and are really soothing to tired eyes and tired souls. After a tiring day, we watched the lovely sun set against the green mountains.
Our day ended with the beautiful memories of the waterfalls and the mesmerizing sunset and with the anticipation to see the other wonders of Panchmarhi the next day.
We started early the next day and went to “Gupt Mahadeo”. It is a 40 feet long and narrow cave where a Shiva lingam and a Ganesha idol is enshrined. The cave is so narrow that we have to enter it sideways. Also, only eight people are allowed to enter the caves at a time. There is a narrow path which leads to the Bade Mahadeo from the Gupt Mahadeo, thought the tourists are not allowed to use this path.
We then went to the Bade Mahadeo temple. This cave is about 60 feet Long. Large idols of Lord Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and Lord Ganesha are enshrined inside the cave. A serpentine road leads to the Bade Mahadeo temple. It is a wonder to see that water constantly falls upon the Shiv Linga inside the cave. A kund is also situated in the middle of the cave. There is another cave situated near bade Mahadeo, the cave of Goddess Parvati.
Trivia: According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Mohini Killed the demon King Bhasmasur here. Bade Mahadeo thus holds a significant place to the worshippers of Lord Shive. Many people flock here during the Shivaratri.
After visiting the two shrines, we went to a place called Handi Khoh also called the suicide point. We finally found the “suicide pont” of Panchmarhi too. Every hillstation seems to have a suicide point! It is a 300 feet deep ravine created by two hills. It is really frightening to look down, but the natural beauty of the place is mesmerizing. It is said that the British officer Handi has committed suicide by jumping into the ravine.
Next we went to Priyadarshini Point or the erstwhile Forsyth point. It is from this place that Captain James Forsyth had discovered Panchmarhi and later built it into a hill station for the respite of the British. Whem Mrs. Indira Gandhi visited this place in 1964, this place was renamed the Priyadarshini Point. This place offers the most beautiful and breathtaking view of the Panchmarhi region.
Our next stop was the most famous and overrated destination of Panchmarhi – the Pandava caves. It is said that the Pandavas had stayed in these caves during their exile. It has five caves after the five Pandavas, though I personally believe that such caves could not belong to the Pandavas! The caves are really small and I was wondering how Bhima would enter such small caves! Nevertheless, the view from the top is good and the garden in front of the caves is beautiful.
Before lunch we went to visit “Jatashankar”. It is natural cave located in deep ravines with huge boulders perched over it. This is a must see place in Panchmarhi. A reclusive place surrounded by hills, the caves has almost 108 Shiva Lingas formed naturally. It is said the Lord Shiva had left his Jata (hair) at this place. Water drops from the top of the cave and there are 2 pools inside the cave. You have to bend down to visit the shrines inside the cave. The temperature inside the caves is quite low and so it feels very comfortable there after coming from the sun. The naturally made cave is the real wonder of this place.
While returning we visited the Protestant Church of Panchmarhi. It is a British building made of stone and has stained glass windows. The surrounding greenery adds to its charm. The church is open on Sundays for visitors.
There are other places to visit in Panchmarhi like the Chauragarh where a life size shrine of Lord Shiva is enshrined. There are more that 1000 steps to cover to reach Chauragarh. Also there is the beautiful Dutch Falls which is a little deep inside the forests. We missed these points due to lack of time.
Panchmarhi is a beautiful hill station away from the hustle bustle of the cities and a perfect place for a two day trip. Even a walk down the roads of Panchmarhi will make you feel good and jubilant. The waterfalls and the naturally formed caves and rocky structures are the major attractions. It was a perfect trip for us. It was not strenuous like our usual trekking programmes, also it had a few hikes which we really liked. Panchmarhi was thus a break from our usual travels and we really welcomed it. We had also visited Jabalpur from Panchmarhi. I will write about that in my following posts.
MTDC Hotel – Rock end Manor
How to reach Pachmarhi :
The nearest Airport to Pachmarhi is Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport about 200kms
Jabalpur’s Dumna Airport is about 250 kms away from Pachmarhi.
Nearest railway station to Pachmarhi is Pipariya which is about 52 kms away from Pachmarhi. Pipariya railway station is on Howrah-Mumbai main line and almost all passing-by trains use to stop here. Transfer from Pipariya to Pachmarhi is much difficult. Private public carrier Jeeps and Buses are available at Pipariya Railway Station all the time for heading towards Pachmarhi and vice versa at reasonable charges.
Pachmarhi is well connected with Jabalpur, Bhopal, Nagpur and Chindwara. Nagpur is about 250 kms from Pachmarhi. Thare are Madhya Pradesh State Buses plying from Panchmarhi to Jabalpur and Nagpur at fixed times.
Where to Stay:
The MP Tourism hotels are best places to stay in Panchmarhi not only because of their hospitality, but also of their beautiful locations. There are many private hotels available in the market area.