Nestled amidst the Satpura ranges of Central India, Pachmarhi is a treasure trove in the Satpura Hills packed with echoing greenery. Perched at a height of 1067 meters, this UNESCO Biosphere is an amalgamation of mesmerising forests, vivacious waterfalls, majestic caves, and rich fauna. Pachmarhi is dominated by rugged hills, plunging ravines, and ancient monoliths that vindicate its name, ‘Satpura ki Rani’. Interestingly, the nomenclature of the place has its roots in the Mahabharata. Pachmarhi is home to the ancient Pandava caves where Pandavas had spent their exile life, as per beliefs. Being popular among nature lovers, spiritual seekers, and sportspersons, it is considered to be the best weekend getaway destination.
Sri Panch Pandav Caves
As mentioned earlier, the Pandav had come here to take shelter. Due to the five caves, five became Panch. And Marhi means shelter. From these two words, came the word Panchmarhi. These caves are located in a small hillock and they happen to be a must-visit place for anyone who goes to Pachmarhi. Some archaeological evidence also claims that the caves were constructed by Buddhist monks during the 1st Century and they used them as a place of refuge.
Satpura Tiger Reserve
Commonly known as Satpura National Park, it was set up in 1981 with lush greenery spread across 524 sq. km. It is an amalgamation of deep valleys, high mountains, waterfalls, and 17% of India’s tiger population. The lush forest is also home to many Ayurvedic plants along with other majestic creatures like spotted deer, wild boar, reptiles, dholes, sloth bear, and four-horned antelopes.
A popular tourist destination, this cascading waterfall is nestled inside the Satpura Tiger Reserve in the heart of the mountain valley. You need to trek down for around 300 meters to reach the waterfall. The cool waters of the fall are crystal clear and one can also enjoy fish pedicure in it. Surrounded by echoing greenery, the roaring waterfall can be a true treat to the eyes.
This cavern in the forest of Pachmarhi has remnants of pebbles and corals. It is believed that several centuries ago, there used to be a sea here and the cave was probably under the sea. Then a mountain range emerged. It is said that when the tribes came here, they spotted reech or bears in the region. And garh means house. That’s how the cave was named Reechgarh. Another theory says that when the British had come to India, they noticed a ridge above the cave. Thus, reech came from the ridge and the place came to be known as Reechgarh. Whatever be the origin of its name, the cave is incredibly striking.
The highest point in the Satpura range is a perfect trail for a gypsy ride through the forest. The Dhupgarh Peak is an amazing spot to chase magical sunsets. With a magnificent view of the surrounding ranges, it can be ideal for your adventure.
Jata Shankar Caves
The idyllic Jata Shankar caves comprise stalagmites that look like natural Shivlingams. The cave is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva had hidden from Bhasmasur’s anger. The shape of the cave resembles Seshnag, the mythological snake with hundred heads, which is believed to hold the planets of the universe.
Handi Khoh is a 300 feet ravine inside the jungle that offers mesmerising views of the deep valley. Located a trek away from the Bee waterfalls, Handi Khoh is a grand gorge shaped like a horseshoe. For nature lovers, this is one of the best masterpieces.
The astonishing richness in rock paintings at the Mahadeo hills, a natural pond, and a shrine of Lord Shiva establish the Mahadeo Hills as an archeological treasure house. The earliest paintings here are estimated to be some 10,000 years old. Located near the Narmada basin, the hills are blanketed by thick deciduous forests.
The Chauragarh temple is located atop a hill and can be reached by crossing around 1300 steps. The temple offers magical views of the cloud-clad mountains. Spending some time amid the spiritual aura here coupled with natural beauty is highly soul-healing. It receives many pilgrims on the occasion of Shivratri.
It is one of the most ancient museums in the state, which once used to be the residence of Captain Forsyth, an Englishman who had shifted to Panchmarhi in 1857. The museum comprises grandiose statues of the animals and plants that make up the rich ecosystem of Panchmarhi. It has statues of tigers, lions, crocodiles, and other animals. It also has an open-air theatre for showcasing documentaries.
These are only a few of the long list of attractions present in Panchmarhi. Some other attractions include Duchess Falls, Priyadarshini Point, Bade Mahadev, Rajat Pratap Waterfall, Gupt Mahadev, and Apsara Vihar waterfall.
Where To Stay?
At Pachmarhi, there are a few resorts and hotels by Madhya Pradesh Tourism, like Champak Bungalow, Glen View, Karnikar, and Devdaru. The Summer House Civil Lines is also a luxurious stay option that comes with two cafes and a spa. So, escape to the forests and let the purity of nature soothe your senses!
How To Reach Panchmarhi?
- Piparia is the nearest railway station to Panchmarhi. Direct trains are available to Piparia from Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.
- Travelers from Delhi and Bhopal can reach the Itarsi Railway Station first and then change trains to Piparia.
- Bhopal airport is 195 km from Panchmarhi.
- Panchmarhi is 4.5 hour drive from Bhopal.
To know more, visit the Madhya Pradesh Tourism website.