The phone was connected to the Bluetooth so we could hear the conversation that said “I need to remind him who I am. Pick him up from his place!” Driving zap zoom, cutting lanes and not caring enough, the driver was spinning our heads! He seemed scary. Not willing to jump out of the car, we silently stared at each other gulping down our fear. Fortunately, we reached our destination safe and secure. On inquiring locally the next day, we came to know we were chauffeured by a local don.
Oh, I’m sorry! I forgot to tell you about the destination. I was taken aback!
Our destination Pachmarhi- A tiny hill station in Madhya Pradesh, India situated at a height of 1100m in a valley of Satpura range. We had taken Itarsi Jabalpur Intercity train from Jabalpur station to arrive at Pipariya. It was 3 hours relaxing journey but we were still 55 kilometers away from Pachmarhi. The car ride I mentioned above followed thereafter.
Pachmarhi has derived its name from Hindi words “Panch” meaning five and “Marhi” meaning caves as the place is believed to be visited by five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata era during their fourteen years of exile. It is also believed that the Pandavas then built the famous Pandav caves that are visited by many tourists every year and we were no exceptions. Making our way through a beautifully maintained garden, we climbed the rocks reaching the top of the rock-cut caves. Many archaeologists contradict saying these caves belong to Buddhist period. No matter what the truth is, these roughly carved caves are surely tourist spots here in Pachmarhi.
After climbing up, it was time to descent. No, not climbing down the caves but yomping down a valley to this beautiful waterfall called Bee Falls. The water falling 35m down the perennial stream is a site to remember for all nature lovers. The chillness of the narrow stream is amazing and becomes a must visit during summers to get rid of the exhausting heat.
We chose a perfect location to end our day one- the sunset point. Driving our jeeps, heading a few kilometers ahead, crossing steep, narrow roads we had to park our vehicles a few walks before the point. The main spot needs you to walk about half a kilometer but is totally worth it. As the sun started to disappear, the sky changed hues. Pure bliss to the eyes, the day couldn’t have ended better.
Pachmarhi is not a crowded place but to our surprise, today it was really crowded. We saw double the cars parked in and around the market area and this just increased our curiosity. Trying to find answers we realized it was Shivratri and Pachmarhi has Lord Shiva temples. Not wasting a moment we headed towards Jata Shankar Cave where Lord Shiva is believed to have concealed himself from Bhasmasur. Walking about 500 meters underground, you reach the temple to worship Lord Shiva’s Idol.
The surrounding of this temple is home to many Aghoris who are often seen smoking Marijuana. These Aghoris are yogis who are Lord Shiva devotees. Long story cut short, as Lord Shiva is considered as the ultimate Yogi, his devotees follow him.
After seeking blessings, it was time for some adventure. A local spot in Pachmarhi offers adventure sports like parasailing, ATV rides, zip line etc. I opted for parasailing, the cost for two of which was about Rs. 1200. The ride felt scary at first but on the contrary was very soothing. The feeling of being up in the air is very calming. All you can feel is the wind.
My last evening at the hill station was spent local shopping and eating. To my surprise, the marketers there sell Kashmiri products like Pashmina shawls for a reason unknown to me. However, there’s nothing you can take back. It is the regular stuff available in every city.
The market has a lot of sweet shops. The masala dudh at one of these was yummy. We drank about 10 of those! Other stores offer everyday grocery and vegetables. Some offer homely breakfast menu consisting of poha, upma and jalebi.
Yeah, people in Pachmarhi seem to love sweets. It is a part of all their meals.
Picture Courtesy- Kevin Fernandes