Pachmarhi Madhya Pradesh’s most verdant jewel

Madhya Pradesh’s most verdant jewel, Pachmarhi is a place where nature has found exquisite expression in myriad enchanting ways.

Green shades embrace the mountains, and everywhere is heard the gentle murmur of flowing water. Bridle paths lead into tranquil forest glades; groves of wild bamboo and Jamun, dense sal forests and delicate bamboo thickets. The valley, ravines and maze of gorges, sculpted in red sandstone by the wind and weather, add their own coloring to this palette of shades, and cascading waterfalls flash silver in the sunshine. Deep azure pools are hidden delights, and everywhere wildlife watchers will be rewarded by fascinating glimpses of the animal and bird kingdoms. Complementing the magnificence of nature are the works of man; Pachmarhi is also an archaeological treasurehouse. In cave shelters in the Mahadeo hills is an astonishing richness in rock paintings. Most of these have been placed in the period 500- 800 AD, but the earliest paintings are an estimated 10,000 years old.

What to See Priyadarshini (Forsyth Point): This vantage viewing point marks the place from where Pachmarhi was discovered by Captain Forsyth in 1857. The British developed Pachmarhi as a resort and their influence is embodied in the churches and colonial architecture.

Jamuna Prapat (Bee Fall) : A spectacular fall in the stream which provides drinking water to Pachmarhi. The bathing pools above the fall are very popular.

Handhi Khoh : Pachmarhi’s most impressive ravine has a 300 feet high precipice and dramatically steep sides.

Apsara Vihar (Fairy Pool) : Easily accessible from Jai Stambh, this fairy pool is an ideal picnic spot for families with small children, since the pool is shallow, deepening only towards the base of the fall.

Rajat Prapat (Big Fall) : Those seeking adventure will find it in this ten-minute walk over rocks and boulders from Apsara Vihar to the top of Rajat Prapat, the ‘big fall’.

Irene Pool: This pool was discovered by Irene Bose, wife of Justice Vivian Bose, and named after her. The route upstream leads to a cave, through which the stream goes underground and then over a khud in a series of falls.

Jalawataran (Duchess Falls): The descent is steep and the trek strenuous for almost all of the 4 km to the base of the fall’s first cascade.

Sunder Kund (Saunder’s Pool) : Crossing the stream below Duchess Falls and following a footpath about 2.5 km in a south- westerly direction brings one to a huge rocky pool in the Jambu Dwip stream, an excellent place for swimming.

Mahadeo: Regarded as holy for countless generations, Mahadeo Hill has a shrine with an idol of Lord Shiva and an impressive Shivlinga. On the east side of the hill is an excellent cave shelter with paintings.

Chhota Mahadeo: Revered as a sacred spot, this is a narrow point in the valley with rocks overhanging a stream and a small spring from which water cascades down.

Chauragarh: 4 km from Mahadeo, it is one of Satpura’s prominent landmarks, and the sacred summit is crowned with emblems of Mahadeo worship.

Jata Shankar: A sacred cave under a mass of loose boulders in which the Jambu Dwip stream has its source. A rocky formation of this place resembles the matted locks of Lord Shiva.

Dhoopgarh: The highest point in the Satpura range, with a magnificent view of the surrounding ranges. Dhoopgarh is a very popular spot for viewing the sunset.

Pandav Caves: Five ancient dwellings excavated in the sand-stone rock in a low hill. Pachmarhi derives its name from these caves which, as the legend goes, once provided sanctuary to the five Pandav brothers. These caves are now protected monuments.

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Tridhara (Piccadily Circus): A popular picnic spot where two streams meet in a junction. Vanshree Vihar (Pansy Pool) : A beautiful spot on the Denwa stream, cool and shady among trees, ferns and semi-tropical vegetation.

Reechhgarh: A wonderful natural amphitheatre in the rock, approached through a cavelike entrance on the south-side.

Sangam (Fuller’s Khud- Waters Meet): This is the lowest of the picnic spots on the Denwa and offers fairly good bathing pools both below and above the meeting of the waters.

Catholic Church: Built in 1892 by the British, the Catholic Church is a blend of French and Irish architecture. Its Belgium stained –glass windows add rare attraction and beauty to the building. The Church has a cemetery attached to it and graves date from 1859, World War I and II.

Christ Church: Built in 1875 by the British, this church is generally regarded as the most beautiful small church in Madhya Pradesh. The Church’s architecture is fascinating; its ‘sanctum- sanctorum’ has a hemispherical dome on top with its ribs ending with faces of angels. The stained –glass panes adorning the walls and rear of the altar were imported from Europe. They present a gorgeous view as the sun rays pass through them. The nave of the church does not contain even a single pillar for support. The baptismal font is a rare brass piece and the bell is as old as the church and its chimes can be heard from a long distance.

Satpura National Park: Set up in 1981, Satpura National Park is 524 sq km in area. It spreads through a dense forest of evergreen sal, teak and bamboo. The high peaks of Dhoopgarh and Mahadeo. Bori’s legendary teak and bamboo forests, Pachmarhi’s fascinating natural beauty of deep valleys, high mountains, rivulets, waterfalls and Tawa’s vast reservoir combine to give this park unique beauty and breathtaking variety of attractions. The Park is home to the gaur, tiger, leopard, beer, four-horned deer, blue bull and a rich variety of birds.

Bison Lodge: Constructed in 1862, the Bison Lodge is the oldest house in Pachmarhi. It now houses a beautiful museum depicting the rich flora and fauna of Pachmarhi.

The Cave Shelters: Some of the best cave shelters around Pachmarhi are Astachal, Harper’s cave and Chieftain’s Cave etc.

How to Reach By Air: The nearest airport is Bhopal (210 km).

By Rail: Pipariya (57 km), on the Mumbai Howrah mainline via Allahabad, is the most convenient railhead.

By Road: Pachmarhi is connected by regular bus services with Bhopal, Hoshangabad, Nagpur, Pipariya and Chhindwara. Taxis are available at Pipariya.

Best Season: Throughout the year. Your Host: M.P State Tourism Development Corporation has 9 units in Pachmahri which cater to the requirements of all income groups. While Rock- End Manor, Glen View, Satpura Retreat, Champak Bungalow and Hilltop Bungalow offer luxury; Amaltas and Panchvati offer good comfort. Hotel Highlands and Woodland Bungalow are for those on a budget. Rock-End Manor is a heritage luxury hotel while Glen View offers three-star luxury.

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