Madhya Pradesh’s only hill station – Pachmarhi – is shrouded in serenity and peace, provided by the numerous waterfalls, canyons, natural pools, colonial architecture, cave temples and the forested range of the Satpura Tiger Reserve. It offers a great escape from the usually warm central India, and because it’s not a commercialised hill station, it’s ideal for a relaxing hideaway for travellers from all across the country.
People often go around here touring places of interest, beauty spots and natural pools on a jeep, but the actual fun lies in walking to some of these places. Back in the day, the British army Captain James Forsyth came across Pachmarhi in 1857 and set up what was India’s first Forestry Department at Bison Lodge. Soon after, the British army also set up regional headquarters there, starting an association with the military that remains till today. Here are a few places which you must visit if travelling to Pachmarhi:
Christchurch is probably the most handsome Gothic-revival structure was built in the 19th-century, entirely of sandstone.
Dhoopgarh looks west over endless valleys, hills and forests and has a broad stepped terrace for everyone to do a bit of photography. Dhoopgarh mountain is the highest point in Madhya Pradesh, and is an almost mandatory stop on jeep tours.
The Duchess Falls is a 100m-plus which is a difficult 4km hike from the road that leads to Reechgarh. On you way to Reechgarh, the concrete pillar of Jai Stambh erected to commemorate Indian independence, stands in the middle of a seven-way junction in the southwestern part of the town. A strange natural amphitheatre, reached through a cavelike passage between rocks, is Reechgarh for you. It is accessible by road and lies 3.3 km west of the Jai Stambh.
As for the caves, the Pandav Caves that comprise of five ancient rock dwellings are believed to have been carved by Buddhists as early as the 4th century. The foundations of a brick Buddhist stupa have been excavated on top of them where as the Mahadeo Cave, ten kilometres south of the Jai Stambh where a path leading 30m into the damp gloom reveals a lingam with attendant priest. This is also the beginning of the pilgrim path to Chauragarh (about five hours’ return hike) – Madhya Pradesh’s third-highest peak at 1308m, which is topped by a sizeable and very panoramic Shiva temple that attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims during the Shivaratri Mela.
The Apsara Vihar is a quiet pool underneath a small waterfall and is the best of Pachmarhi’s natural pools for swimming. It’s a drive of about 1.5 km past Pandav Caves, followed by a walk of about 700 m. Just a short distance downstream from the Apsara Vihar pool is the stream that plunges off the cliff in central India’s highest single-drop fall (107m), known as the Rajat Prapat.