From the years 2013 to 2015, our family went on an Indian expedition. Each year, we covered one part of India, including one to three states and multiple cities over a course of ten days. This expedition began right in the heartland i.e in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Alright, on to the fact file, Madhya Pradesh, which translates to ‘central province’ is a state located right in the centre of India. It has a vast expanse of deciduous forests, most of which are national parks and tiger reserves. The state is home to the largest tiger population in India and is also the place where ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling is set. Apart from its forests, the state is also the source of the Narmada river which goes on to flow through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat before draining into the Arabian Sea. The river is the traditional boundary between the north and south of India and it is the fifth longest river in India.
End of fact file.
Without further ado, Imma begin with the journey. As the tourism slogan of the state goes, onward to the heart of Incredible India.
Our first stop is Amarkantak which is the source of the Narmada river. The pools of water surrounding the temples are the nascent stages of the river, known as ‘Narmada Kund’ and its amazing how such a small, still pool expands in the plains to become a huge, cascading river.
In India, we consider our rivers to be sacred and worship them as goddesses. The sources of rivers in the country are often considered as pilgrimage sites and have temples dedicated to the deities of the river which originates from the site. The white temples here are dedicated to the Goddess Narmada who is the personified deity of the river of the same name. In Hindu mythology, Narmada is said to be the daughter of the Hindu God Shiva and is said to have been created from his sweat.
It’s very fascinating to go through the mythological origins of the rivers in India and what I find very beautiful is the people’s faith and devotion to these rivers. The Narmada for instance is the lifeline of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and every local in Madhya Pradesh revers the river and is thankful for its contribution.
Amarkantak, being the source of a river, is a hill station. It is the meeting point of two major ranges i.e. the Vindhyas and the Satpuras. Being at a comparatively higher altitude, the place is quite chilly and in order to have a complete visit of the temples, one has to reach rather early in the morning which really makes for some very beautiful scenery. The place is also home to a large population of langurs and monkeys and tourists are allowed to feed the monkeys near the temple area. There are stalls that provide chickpeas to feed the monkeys and very often, you come across little baby monkeys and it makes your day ten times cuter. From experience, I can assure you that the monkeys are a friendly lot and will not steal your camera. Don’t pull faces at the monkeys though, that won’t end well.
Our next stop is Bhedaghat, a gorge of the river Narmada, in the city of Jabalpur.
This is one thing I recommend as a must-see when visiting the state. Madhya Pradesh is very famous for its marble, both mining and crafts and the cliffs that you see in the picture are called ‘Marble Rocks’ as this is the place where all the marble is extracted from. There is a small pathway that leads to the riverfront and this pathway is lined with shops of marble goods where many artisans carve sculptures of marble on the spot on the specifications of the customer.
There is a ferry ride that takes you through this gorge so my recommended itinerary is that before you get on the ferry, make sure you visit the marble market on your way and order your custom sculpture. The duration of the ferry ride is enough for the artisan to create your masterpiece and after the ride, you can collect your sculpture and watch the sunset.
The river is very cascading here and as you can see, there are a lot of whirlpools that are formed by the river. Some adventurous lads dive into the river from the cliffs but I do not recommend trying it out. Just enjoy the ferry, it’s a lovely ride.
Here’s a close-up of the marble rocks. It’s fascinating how some of our flooring and showpieces originate from this rock.
The second picture is the ‘Narmada Aarti’ in progress. Like I said, the Narmada is considered to be sacred, hence every evening, people gather at the banks of the river and have a prayer ceremony known as an ‘aarti’, complete with hymns and music played by the local temple musicians on the flute and drums. This is something that every tourist should witness at least once. The prayers in the quiet evening give out a very serene vibe and you actually feel completely at peace. Such prayers are held on the banks of most rivers in India and the faith of the people is very beautiful to watch.
Our third stop is the ‘Dhuandar Waterfall’, in the city of Jabalpur. The name of these falls means ‘smoky waterfall’ owing to the mist that rises from them. If you look in this picture, you can see a faint rainbow forming in the mist. I also love the scrub surroundings which really amplify the beauty of the waterfalls.
It’s a very refreshing place where you can simply hangout and take in the rush of the river Narmada with an energising spray of water on your face. There is also a running stream leading to the falls where people take a small swim or simply dangle their legs in the rushing water.
The first picture is me, posing near the railing. All I can say is that my ten year old self was quite the poser!
The second picture is me with my dad, chilling at the stream with no cares in the world:)
Our final stop is the Kachnar Shiva Temple near the city of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. This is a 76 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva, the Hindu God who forms a part of the Holy Trinity and is considered to be the ‘Destroyer of All Evil’. This is a temple that we came across on the way back from Amarkantak and was actually a surprise element on the trip. The blue bull in the middle of the picture is Nandi, Lord Shiva’s sacred vehicle. This, again is a place which is very peaceful and a great end to an adventurous evening.
And that is a wrap!
Until Next Time!