Pachmarhi took me by surprise. After the beautiful winding road up the hills, the hill station appeared out of the blue!
We reached Pachmarhi on a December evening and took to the Jatashankar trek trail soon after. The photos here show the waning light of day.
Shiva by the trek trail to Jatshankar cave
This hand made Shiva is a labour of love by a local family living in a hut close by. There are several other depictions of Shiva as we move along the trail, but this one takes the cake!
Taking the plunge – step by step
Railed steps lead the way into the Jatashankar valley. The sun has just set.
The path to Jatashankar – we are nearly there!
The valley is silent except for the echo of temple bells and birds on their way to roost in trees here for the night.
Jatashankar cave temple
Jata Shankar cave has a natural Shiva lingam. Overhead seem to be snakes etched in stone by the dripping water from the cave roof. What appears like snakes to me is famed as Shiva's matted hair. The water dripping over Jatashankar Shiva lingam is the starting point for Jambu Dwip stream. Where there is Shiva can River Ganga be far behind? The stream Jambu Dwip is a bit of Ganga right here in Pachmarhi.
Standing in the waters of Jambu Dwip
This stream outside the temple is where people stop by to offer incense and flowers after a visit to Jatashankar inside the cave. Tiny sand-coloured fish dart in shoals at approaching footsteps:-)
The famous singer of Om Namah Shivay
This woman is a familiar sight here, round the year! She sits on a rock and sings Om Namah Shivaay at the top of her voice. Her chant touches the very soul and sends tremors down the body. There is something inexplicably beautiful about the way she sings:-)
She also sells herbal oils for massage. One of my companions bought the oil on her way back. It had some herbs in a mustard oil base and did help with the fatigue.
Back to the hotel
Back at the hotel, it was time to tuck in after dinner and a bonfire. Had got off the train at Bhopal and spent a good part of the day in a bus to reach here. We saw a colourful village fair on the way, and cartloads of Amlaki fruit. Made a note to take some on the way back. Amlaki, Harar and Bahera are harvested naturally from jungles in and around Pachmarhi. Fresh and organically grown by nature herself!
Travel guide to Pachmarhi
Road map to Pachmarhi
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Distance from Pachmarhi
Mumbai – Pachmarhi: 864 km
Bhopal – Pachmarhi: 211 km
Piparia railhead is 47 km from Pachmarhi on the Mumbai-Howrah mainline, from where buses and taxis are available for Pachmarhi.
More on Pachmarhi
[Photo credit: Anisha Sharma]