Pachmarhi: Elemental High!

Read the article from point of view of a person, who loves to travel, is deeply in love with nature and enjoys serenity and solitude.

I was soon going to fall in love with the world I was entering!

This was a package tour offered by MP tourism and was gifted to us. I can assure you that it is not at all expensive especially if you do not want to spend time raking your brain every now and then for deciding on lodging, food, sights to see, local traveling, tips etc.

8th Feb It was the year 2006. The Bhopal Express reached Bhopal at 6:30 in the morning after an overnight journey from New Delhi railway station. MP tourism extension office is right at the entrance of the Bhopal station. We reported there, the package was confirmed and we were helped with our luggage by our driver (who turned out more of a chauffeur). It was Wednesday but the office crowd had not ventured out by that time. The empty roads guided us to the Palash Hotel (three star) where we freshened up in the common but more than decent restrooms. Tesu restaurant at the Hotel was where we had our breakfast (with buffet options). We started from there in our own sweet time and headed to Pachmarhi. Our chauffeur, Mr Shahvar Khan, made good conversations and knew exactly when not-to-speak. Settled in Mumbai he was well traveled and was “known” in bollywood circles. He also claimed to be personal driver to Mrs Big B for a few years. He referred to my wife as didi and never talked to her directly!

The package includes two stoppages en route to Pachmarhi. The first one is an ancient Lord Shiva temple at Bhojpur, 28 kms from Bhopal. We offered our prayers to the Lord. The Shivalingam we were told is the tallest in India.


The temple was being restored and stood adjacent to an archaeological site. One could spend the day strolling at the site gazing at ancient relics strewn around. It must have been 300 C on a bright clear day. Cozy Delhi winters left behind the Bhojpur weather mimicked Delhi summers and I never got the feeling of being on a trip. Nobody else looked like a tourist even. Overall it felt like lazing around with no worries.

Our next stop was Bhimbetka which is around 50 kms from Bhopal. The temperature had risen further adding to the raw significance of the site. The place was absolutely barren. We would not have stepped into the heat but they were called the Shelter Caves. The rock formations, man made or natural are supposed to be more than 9000 yrs old and were once under the sea. It is like a logbook of geological events. One can easily make out multiple rock layers laid over thousands of years and also the rock paintings made by cave dwellers to medieval men.

The wind blew harder between the rocks and cooled down the insides of the caves. It is believed that it was once abode of Bhima, one of the pandava brothers (Bhim Baithak) during their Agyat Vaas.

The road to Pachmarhi is very well maintained and we enjoyed the long ride to the place from Bhopal. Mr. Khan told us that the cart race in Naya Daur was filmed somewhere very close to the highway. The mercury fell faster than the sun. Colours around us changed from grey to green and we knew Satpura forests were approaching. Pachmarhi was not far.

By the time we reached our hotel in Pachmarhi it was close to dusk. Mr Khan took our leave and a staff escorted us to our cottage room in Amaltaas Resort run by MP tourism. Except for the uniformed staff the place did not give the feel of a hotel. No boundary wall, zero grandeur, no manicured lawns, driveway etc. We saw a kitchen, a dining hall and a lawn with a few garden chairs. The room was very spacious, clean with plenty of light and fresh air, had ample storage space, only essential furniture and a large attached bath. There were not more than eight rooms in the place and only half were occupied.

The elements were taking over.

Booking.com

After our tea we went for a walk in the dark and cold Pachmarhi. The hotel is located in non-residential area and owing to the darkness all we could see in any direction were trees intermittently dotted by lack-of-trees and few concrete structures. It is obvious that Pachmarhi was born beautiful but to showcase it for our hungry eyes roads, hotels and eateries were constructed out of the jungle and the mountains. Hence you would not see any straight-line plantation, hedges, brick-wall boundaries, cobbled lanes, pavements and the likes. It was either a proper road or no road at all. We were either walking on the gravel, dry leaves, or rocks of various sizes. Even the number of people was minimal (mostly we were the only ones). Every place we went we were completely immersed in nature; sun, water, stone and jungle.

There is no mobile network in Pachmarhi.

9th Feb In the morning next day our local travel vehicle, an open jeep, arrived along with a guide, Santosh. All government-approved guides must have enough local knowledge but his good demeanor made us remember his name.

When Lord Shiva was being chased by the demon Bhasmasur he took refuge at various places in Satpura mountains. Wherever he is supposed to have taken respite stands a Shiv temple. Bada Mahadev my wife reminds me is the place where Shiva tricked Bhasmasur into killing himself. The main shrine is inside a 70 ft deep cave that also harbours a pond fed by water seeping through the rocks. Walking distance from the Bada Mahadev is another temple called the Gupt Mahadev which again is inside a cave. The cave is wide enough to allow one person to walk in and the main chamber can hold not more than five people at a time excluding the purohit.

Next we went to a place called Priyadarshini named after our late Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi. It is simply a viewpoint and what a view it provides.

In the distance you see the peak of Chaura Garh another abode of the lord. The temple is right on the top of a mountain one make out its outline from far. There is a paid telescope facility that provides you a closer observation. We were told that a climb of 2000 steps lead to the temple and the place is full of tridents offered by devotees. Weighing from grams to tones we wondered how the tridents are carried atop. It has been so overwhelming now that they are being buried in the mountain itself to make space for newer offerings.

Walk along a gravel path from Priyadarshini led us to another viewpoint called Handi Khoh. It is a gorge, straight fall of approx 600 ft. You can’t see the end of the gorge as trees and plants growing out of the rock walls crowd it. The telescope guy showed us an aerial root hanging somewhere in the gorge that provides a safe passage down for the tribal people when they want to collect medicinal plants etc. The location (though visible through the tele) of that root is a secret and that many adventure seekers have lost their lives looking for that safe passage.

We were then driven to Pandava Caves, where the brothers took refuge during their ‘hiding’. Historically speaking the caves have Buddhist origin and were carved out of a single rock. A landscaped garden adorns the site. There were a few eatery kiosks too, actually an eyesore, …but you get thirsty!

…and hungry. We drove back for lunch and a bit of rest and were off again.

Reech Garh is where SRK and Kareena had a fight. They were of course playing Asoka and the warrior princess respectively in the movie Asoka (without an H). It is a very unique rock formation in the shape of a small amphitheatre with an entrance, an exit, a central podium and green room caves. Extremely rustic and awe-inspiring. En route we also stopped to observe people trying the parachute-attached-to-a-jeep thing.

There is a place called Lover’s Point, which is nothing but poplar plantation. Towards late afternoon the sunlight in the form of thousand individual rays beams through the trees and very dramatically illuminates your surroundings. Perfect for running-around-the-trees kind of romance. Later we did boating at the Pachmarhi Lake and enjoyed sunset from Rajendra Giri while sipping on lovely roadside tea. The place is called so because Dr Rajendra Prasad liked Pachmarhi so much that he frequented it and had some property built for himself.

10th Feb Jata Shankar is another Shiva temple and is housed in the most interesting surroundings. We were there early morning. One has to trek down quite a lot to reach the deity. The mountain walls keep narrowing on you and the air becomes loaded with dhup smoke. On the way one sees (prompted by the guide) amazing rock formations. We saw naturally formed profiles of Ganpati, Hanuman, a lion, a hanging rock and the parapet of entrance to the main cave looked like the hood of a Cobra.

Then we were off to the best spot in my opinion in Pachmarhi (among the ones we saw). Duchess Falls were the first water fall of our trip and was located literally very deep in the jungle. Drive through the most treacherous terrain led us to decent point to the fall. A symbolic nimbu-paani guy awaited to scare the naive tourists of imminent and daunting 800 meters downhill trek. The path was rocky, had lose dry earth and was very steep at some points. Air was crisp, sun was comforting and the sight extremely fresh and green. At every step it looked we were walking towards a large green umbrella when suddenly we were under it, the dense, lush and wet forest. One very remarkable thing about Pachmarhi Falls is that you climb down to them. So we reached the top of Duchess Falls where the mountain cradles a small shallow pond with an exclusive sunroof!

Stop reading and imagine yourself in that pool. Alone!

Zoom out!

Imagine again.

Eternal bliss!

Now get out of the pool and trek a little more to the fall. Oh wait…no need to dress up or change…you are in for another wet treat.

Imagine again. Duchess Falls is the place where first Liril ad was shot. It is a short but very strong fall with a large shallow pool at the base. IN the water, bordered by rocks and covered by thick trees.

Alone!

I wish I could stop right here.

Dhoop Garh, the highest point in MP (1352 meters from sea level) is also the highest point in central India. We enjoyed our second sunset in Pachmarhi sitting on this peak. From the parking lot it was a climb of approx 300 meters to the peak.

But for the cars parked down below one could be asking “Are we alone on this planet?”

The panoramic view that it offers was simply breathtaking.

11th Feb We had half a day more to us. On this day we never ventured into the water and the places were relatively more crowded but that did not lessen the beauty of it all. Apsara Vihar and Panchali Kund were next in line. Trek in the wilderness and you reach this hidden haven of a spot with a mild fall and multiple shallow pools. It is said that during British reign, firangi mems used to come here for a swim and considering how we feel about fair skin, the place was christened Apsara Vihar by a peeping-Indian-tom. Panchali kund is a series of five pools. Natural bathtubs. A view point close by gave us a nice view of a t.a.l.l water fall at the other end of the valley. The stream shines silver in the sun and hence the name Rajat Prapat. Our guide and Shahvar (he was back) told us that a few hours through the forest led one down to the fall and an absolutely secluded camping spot.

That sounded like a dream destination and we saved it for the future (as if we had a choice).

Bee Falls was the last attraction stored for us. It is again a high fall and very strong one. By the time water is midway to the ground it breaks into million stinging drops and gives it the name. If you were there at the noon the drops would look like thousand tiny light bulbs being showered on you.

Thank God for Pachmarhi!

Now the tips: Do not make the trip during Shivaratri, Nagpanchami and monsoon. Take sports shoes, painkillers, pain relief sprays, always carry something to munch and drink (do not litter the place and be wary of monkeys). In the month of Feb we required moderately warm jackets but only during the morning and evening. Carry change of clothes (especially socks) and towels when heading to water. The main Pachmarhi town has a non-touristy market but you will find all the essentials there. We discovered a good Ayurvedic medicine shop, an ok gift shop and SBI ATM. Our package did not include sight-seeing on the last day. We were kind of tricked into it and had to pay a little more to the guide. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Let Pachmarhi take you for a ride, nobody else.

  • Udayan

    wow !!! what a place you have visited.while i was going through the journey you made my mind to travel to this place.lovely pictures.hey man you have done a good job.Cheers :)

  • Wow. So much , so much and yet more. From Naya Daur to Rajendra Giri (I liked it, just like Mahatama giri :)) to SRK/Kareena fight to Bee Falls (wonder such a angrezi name for a remote fall, may be by a angrez only) with Apsara being the killing one :)

    I think a sunday well spent writing all of this, uploading all these photos, linking at ghumakkar and so on. Send this link to MP Tourism and I am sure they would rather have their tourists read this.

    One more destination added to my list, more so since I think you can drive here with a stop over at Bhopal.

  • manish

    Very recently a colleague of mine mentioned about Panchmarhi. He said that when he visited that place, he felt that can Switzerland be better than that? Now its a personal choice, which place one like more.

    Thanks for taking us with you. I had read about the rock paintings. Thanks for making it see, how it actually is. Very beautiful and interesting too. Very beautiful pictures of various rock formations esp the picture of a big rock seemed stuck between two others.

    Also good to know that even though its so famous, its not so filled with tourists. I have mentioned a few pictures, but in-fact all of them look so beautiful :)

  • rahul v

    OK, to my promised comments NJ :)

    good one sanjeev. well written and thoughts nicely captured.
    brings back memories from my trip in dec 96. we were in college then…
    one distinct memory is that of our jeep driver hanging out throughout the site-seeing journey. despite there being ample space, he preferred to steer the wheel with his back-side hanging loose. froke all of us, but what the hay! he was having a ball, at our cost :)

    bee falls is touristy. but better still than kempty @ mussorie. being in college, we had a better time than families could…

  • Sanjeev

    From the first word keyed to the pressing of “Publish” button it took me the whole of sat and sunday. Actually the place is so humbly beautiful and exotic that anybody would want to do fullest justice when describing it. And I had a tough time chosing pictures from the large collection. Now that its on, I feel I have develped the writer’s block, and its going to last a while.

    Thank you all for appreciation.
    Its all Pachmarhi’s doing…catch her!!

  • Richa

    Hi Sanjeev,
    Good Job! Your description of Pachmarhi has taken me back to Feb 2000, when I and my hubby visited this place, ” Yaad aa gaya mujhko gujra zamana :)”. Its truly a magnificient place. Sombody who loves nature can easily fall in love with Pachmarhi.The falls there were so amazing, almost breath-taking.

    Waiting for more from you!!

  • wow ! great travelogue ..awesome places ..I would love to go to bhimbetka ..had done a story on it long time back

  • ghumakkar
  • Deepak

    sanjeev,
    sorry being late to reply on this marvellous one…

    This brings fresh my memories of childhood when i was in 8 standard visited panchmarhi when my dad was posted in bhopal for some time..
    we stayed at a hotel satpura retreat i do no it still exists or not
    we went through bhopal hoshangabad itarsi and panchmarhi in amby..aka ambassador in those days
    one thing you missed about the Duchess fall
    where i had not less than 7 -8 bees sting on me i had to be rushed to doctor
    and our first ever liril soap tv commercial was shot in these very Duchess falls
    panchmari has an great historic significance from the days of mahabharata
    Great

  • Good info. but can any one give advice on the transport from Bhopal and budget hotels (private) in Pachmarhi.

  • nice travelogue. one query are there no private hotels to stay away from mp toursim?

  • Sanjeev

    Deepak, Karnail, Anshul…Thanks.
    The guide did tell us about Liril ad.
    The hotels other than MP tourism were the high end Manors and Villas etc. My guess is that in the main residential Pachmarhi there must be small lodges. I have a vague memory of haing seen these…
    We spent very little time in that area and only for emergency purchase. Will let Ghumakkar know if I get updates.

  • Sanjeev

    As far As transport is concerned other than private taxis there are state buses that ply by the schedule.

  • Pachmarhi

    Pachmarhi is a nice place with full grace of mother nature.
    From Bhopal It will cost u
    Rs 70 till Pipariya, nearest railway station
    then u have to take taxi or bus to pachmarhi which will cost u around Rs40
    There is no railway station in pachmarhi.
    But it is well connected to Bhopal & Nagpur through road.

  • Prabhjot

    Im a resident of pachmarhi
    there are alot of hotels which suit to all the kinds of pockets.
    for further information u can freely ask to me

  • Yogesh

    Man, I visited this place with my wife few years ago. Your description is awesome. I caught up with this site while searching for Pachmarhi. I was suggesting this place to one of my frnds who is scheduled to get married. I completely agree with everything that you have mentioned. It is really an enchanting place. My personal favourites are Bee fall and the Shiva temple in the rocks which resemble his locks. Terrific food, good hotels that suit all pockets, very colourful atmosphere in the evening and simply great and courteous people. I was there for almost a week and took separate cabs to visit different places. Believe me, all the cabbies were very good natured and helped us a a guide. The hotel staff was also great. My wife was so impressed that she just did not want to end the vacation and started crying on the last day. This place is very special to me and I still cherish the memories. Here I met an old couple, who were from Jabalpur, and we are still in touch. Today also, most of our telephonic conversation is about Pachmarhi and it goes on and on…You have posted great pics and your description almost takes me again for a ride to Pachmarhi..Thanks a ton!!!

  • I’ve been to Bhojpur and Bhimbetka and the latter was a bit of dissappointment for me though.

    I love to travel, I love nature, enjoy serenity and solitude, and I loved Pachmarhi. Unfortunately, I lost all my photographs of Pachmarhi, but the memories are still fresh in mind. Thank you for a very nice post with those lovely pictures that made me re-live my memories of Pachmarhi. :)

  • Sanjeev

    Thank you Pachmarhi, Prabhjot for your inputs.
    Thanks to Yogesh and Celine for the appreciation. Whoever has been to Pachmarhi automatically becomes a brand ambassador for the place. The Queen of Satpura does it to you.
    If anyone so desires, I will be glad to provide all my the pictures of Her Majesty to them!
    Thank you Nandan for Ghumakkar.

  • sweetu

    Hello Prabjot, I am travelling to Pachmarhi this weekend from Hyderabad. I wanted to know if there are taxis available from Itarsi to Pachmarhi and how much will it cost me.

    Thanks in anticipation!

  • Preeti

    Hey guys,

    We (a group of 23-24 members- 8 couples and 6-7 bachelors) have 5 days outing plan from pune to panchmarhi and then bheda ghat and kanha.

    We are very much excited about visiting the place and after reading your review and going through the awesome pictures, I am sure I got the right place to fire my queries. I hope I am right.

    We are looking for some suggestions (and if possible contact details) for where to stay (Any ECONOMICAL hotel/cottages/resort with regards of good location, service, food and good rms with facilties like TV, hot water and ofcourse cleanliness). we would require 8-10 rms. I have found so many hotels on net, but we dont want to take any risk and thought of checking with u guys. We are going to stay 2 days in pachmarhi and 2 days in kanha.

    We also want to chk which option is better;

    1. To go for the packages like room, meals and sightseeing or
    2. Just to book room and arrange for the sightseeing and meals on our own

    Few of us feel that 1st option will be costlier and there is no surity that it will be paisa wasool option. What u say???

    It will really be gr8ful if u help us with as much info as possible.(it could be anything about where to stay, where to have meals, what to plan additionally as we are in big grp, anything which is relevant to this trip, and yes about the must see places, becoz as u know our plan is of two days only it will not be possible for us to visit all the places.

    Hey, thanks for reading it, now I am eagerly waiting for your replies since we have to decide on booking the hotels and to plan further.

    U can submit your suggestion here or write me mail on [email protected]

    Cheers,
    Preeti

  • Subramaniam

    I note in your travelogue a recommendation that one should not vsit Pachmarhi in the monsoon. Infact, I read the opposite in some other reviews which highly recommends the place in the rains. I am planning a visit in mid-August. Any info will be much appreciated.

    • Sanjeev

      Hi Subramaniam. Monsoon is my favorite season and to be in one the very beautiful places I have ever been to during monsoon would be heaven. But practicality says that you will be confines to a limited pachmarhi. The drivers might not drive you on the rocky and loosening terrain. The guides might dissuade you from trekking as your safety is their concern. Plane Pachmarhi is safe and accesible but all the falls might get out of bound.

      All said and done it is going to be a wonderful experience though experimental. I will wait for you to come back and share the same. have a nice time!

  • Friend,
    Really it is a nice blog with detailed information with beautiful pictures. recently myself visited this place from 18 July to 20 July 2010.

    Along with History/ Nature and Spiritual it is also equally best for Adventure sports and Development of true Leaders, If you or anybody is interested to have such training at Pachmarhi then please approach us for the details:

    http://www.29028adventureworld.com

    Jay Hind

    Jayant Dofey
    Head – Team 29028
    09823129439

  • hey hum bhi panchmadhi(pachmarhi) travel kar aaye sooo nice place

  • pb

    Hi
    Will any body please suggest me a holiday trip to M.P below mentioned places:
    Panchmari
    Kanha
    Bandhvgarh
    Amarkantak
    Jabalpur
    & Khajuraho
    My date of journey is 25.12.14 & Return Date is 2.1.15

    Thanks & Regards
    pb

    • yes you may start your tour from Jhansi railway station to khajuraho than bnadhvgarh park – Amarkantak – Kanha park – Jabalpur – pachmarhi there you may end your trip from pachmarhi to jabakpur / bhopal

  • Thanks for sharing such an informative post and the pictures are also awesome. Fondly called the Luxurious Gem of Madhya Pradesh, Pachmarhi is a cool refuge amidst green mountains. Go for treks on these mountains or visit the Saputara Tiger Reserve, open all year long, for an exhilarating vacation. Also Explore more at http://travelomiles.com/pachmarhi-tourism/