Our introduction to Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India was through the Pachmarhi trip. A few days of leaves during the Durga Puja led to a plan of Panchmarhi. This blog is about our trip to Pachmarhi or the Queen of Satpura and all the places to visit in Pachmarhi. We have tried to include as much information to make this guide as helpful as possible.
The “Queen of Satpuras” or “Satpura ki Rani”, as it is fondly called is a treasure in itself. Yes, I am talking about Pachmarhi, the most popular hill station in Madhya Pradesh. The official website of Madhya Pradesh Tourism has given Pachmarhi the moniker “the tallest and only Queen of Satpura” and we cannot agree more. A pristine hill station, Pachmarhi appears as a cool oasis in the midst of an otherwise warm and hot Madhya Pradesh. Not only the climate but also the landscape of Panchmarhi differs from other regions in the state.
No wonder, when Captain James Forsyth of Bengal Lancers chanced upon Pachmarhi in 1862 while heading towards Jhansi, he was quick to appreciate its beauty and natural charm and reported to his superiors. The British then developed Pachmarhi as a sanatorium for the British troops. Later the British developed Pachmarhi as a cantonment area and summer retreat for the central provinces, just as they did in case of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Ooty. It was quite obvious that the hot and humid weather conditions of Indian plains were not suitable for the British and wherever they found any place with a milder climate, they built a resort town there. Later Colonel Forsyth also praised the beauty of Pachmarhi elaborately in his book “The Highlands of Central India”.
The Bison Lodge is the oldest standing building in Pachmarhi. It was built by Captain Forsyth. He used it as a forest lodge to explore the surrounding. He founded the forest department of Madhya Pradesh province. The Bison Lodge now serves as a museum depicting the flora and fauna of the area.
- Pachmarhi and Legends
- Best Places to Visit in Pachmarhi
- Our Pachmarhi Trip Experience
- Pachmarhi Travel Tips
- Places to visit in Pachmarhi Trip (FAQs Answered)
Pachmarhi and Legends
Like the majority of Indian destinations, Pachmarhi also has a mythological legend behind its name. As per Mahabharata, the Pandavas were forced into exile after losing everything in a game of dice to their cousin brothers and arch enemies Kauravas. They were to live in anonymity for a year. It is said that during their exile, the 5 Pandava brothers had visited Pachmarhi and found 5 caves for their shelter. So ‘Pach‘ means five and ‘marhi‘ means shelter. So these 5 caves still exist in Pachmarhi and are a major tourist attraction now.
Apart from the 5 caves, Pachmarhi is the home to many other small and big caves, numerous beautiful waterfalls and a lot of greenery. Located at an altitude of 1100 m, the small hill station is the highest in altitude in Madhya Pradesh. Pachmarhi is also a part of the Satpura National Park and so you can visit to some of the best wildlife destinations in India from here. If these reasons are not enough to entice you to take a Pachmarhi trip, let me start off with the best places to visit in Pachmarhi. Later in the post, I will share our Pachmarhi itinerary as well.
Best Places to Visit in Pachmarhi
True to its name, Pachmarhi is a quaint hill station in the lap of Satpuras and is the home to many caves as well as waterfalls. I have been rambling about the beauty of this hill station since long. Now here are the list of some unmissable spot and places to visit in Pachmarhi.
Rajat Prapat Waterfall
Rajat Prapat, also known as the Silver Falls is visually quite stunning. Falling from a height of 350 feet (107 m), the waterfall looks like a silver strip when sunlight falls on it and hence the name. The waterfall is said to be the 30th highest waterfall in India and is surrounded with lush greenery.
The falls is on the other side of the mountain. You can actually do to the top of the falls by a trekking route through the forest. A guide is required if you wish to trek to the falls. There are a few caves on the hiking route where cave paintings are said to be found. We did not trek all the way up to the Rajat Prapat but saw the water cascading in a single drop from a distance. I am sure trekking along these parts will be quite a novel experience.
Apsara Vihar Falls
Another beautiful waterfall that you must visit in your Pachmarhi trip is the Apsara Vihar Falls. A 10 minute downhill trail will take you to the waterfall. The Apsara Vihar or Fairy Pool has an interesting trivia behind it.
It is believed that during the British era, British ladies used to come here for a bath. The locals used to sneak at them. The ladies being fair, the locals thought of them to be apsaras or fairies. Hence the pool was named “Apsara Vihar”! So much for fairies!
Anyways, Apsara Vihar is still one of the favourite places for locals and tourists alike. There is a pool below the waterfall where people enjoys diving and swimming.
Pachmarhi is a place with a lot of waterfalls and Bee Falls is one of the most picturesque ones. Also known as the Jamuna Prapat, a visit here was one of the best points in our Pachmarhi trip. The waterfall is 150 feet in height and is one of the most magnificent waterfalls of Panchmarhi. We hiked downhill about a kilometer to reach the base of the waterfall and once there, we were simply left awestruck. Water was gushing down at a great force to a pool beneath. And many people were having a good time in the pool. After contemplating for some time, we finally gave in to the temptation and headed towards the pool under the waterfall. I am sure you can imagine how amazing the experience was!
Pandava Caves is said to be one of the top tourist places to visit in Pachmarhi. With all the mythology and legend behind the five caves, the place has become one of the must-visit places in Pachmarhi trip. As I mentioned before, it is the place where the 5 Pandava brothers took shelter during a part of their exile. It is also believed that later in 1st Century AD, some Buddhist monks also took shelter in these caves.
We found the Pandava Caves to be quite overrated. There is a flight of stairs leading to the caves. The caves were quite small in size and I kept wondering how Bheema, the brother known for his huge physique would enter and fit into such a small cave! I guess some questions are better left unanswered. Nevertheless, the view from the top is good and the garden in front of the caves is beautiful.
If you are fond of sunsets, then you must keep Dhoopgarh in your Pachmarhi itinerary. Dhoopgarh is the highest point in the Satpura ranges and is the best place to watch a sunset in Pachmarhi. Dhoopgarh also gives a 360-degree view of the surrounding areas.
Dhoopgarh was quite busy and crowded when we went for the sunset. Unfortunately for us, the day was a bit cloudy, but it was lovely to see the orange and red hue over the green mountains. We missed a great sunset, but we had some beautiful experiences.
Jata Shankar Caves
Jata Shankar Caves is another good place to visit in Pachmarhi trip. It is a natural cave located in deep ravines with huge boulders perched over it. A reclusive place surrounded by hills, the caves have almost 108 Shiva Lingas formed naturally.
There are 2 theories about the name of the cave. While mythological legend says that Lord Shiva had left a part of his Jata (hair) at this place while he concealed himself from Bhasmasur here. Hence the name of the place is Jata Shankar. The second one says that the stalactites and stalagmites formed inside the cave looks like the matted hair or Jata of Lord Shiva. Hence the name of the cave is given, Jata Shankar. Your faith will make you believe either or neither of the stories. But it is good to listen to such mythological stories in places such as these.
Water drops from the top of the cave and there are 2 pools inside the cave. You have to bend down to visit the shrines inside the cave. The temperature inside the caves is quite low and so it feels very comfortable there after coming from the sun. The naturally made cave is the real wonder of this place.
Handi Khoh is the unofficial suicide point of Pachmarhi. Well, don’t be alarmed. After all our travel throughout India, we have found that the majority of the hill stations have a suicide point, irrespective of the fact whether anyone ever committed suicide from there or not. The place is usually a beautiful cliff or gorge that looks down to some deep crevasse. The place is no doubt dangerous for selfie-loving people. A fall from such suicide points would be near mortal.
Anyways, Handi Khoh is a beautiful 300 feet deep V-shaped ravine created by 2 forested hills. The place is quite beautiful and you can see the green Satpura ranges at a distance. The place is a famous spot for photography and horse riding now. Chauragarh is visible at a distance from here.
Gupt Mahadeo or Chhota Mahadeo
Gupt Mahadeo is an interesting place. The place is actually a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a 40 feet long and narrow cave where a Shiva lingam and a Ganesha idol are enshrined. The cave is so narrow that we had to enter it sideways. Only eight people are allowed to enter the caves at a time. Once we entered inside Gupt Mahadeo, it was all dark, cold and felt as if we had arrived at some ancient era. Well, it was a different kind of experience at Gupt Mahadeo as well as Jata Shankar Cave.
There is a narrow path which leads to the Bade Mahadeo from the Gupt Mahadeo, though tourists are not allowed to use this path.
Bada Mahadev is another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at some distance from the Chhota Mahadev or Gupt Mahadeo. This cave is about 60 feet long. Large idols of Lord Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and Lord Ganesha are enshrined inside the cave. A serpentine road leads to the Bade Mahadeo temple. It is a wonder to see that water constantly falls upon the Shiv Linga inside the cave. A kund is also situated in the middle of the cave. There is another cave situated near bade Mahadeo, the cave of Goddess Parvati.
Trivia: According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Mohini Killed the demon King Bhasmasur here. Bade Mahadeo thus holds a significant place to the worshippers of Lord Shiva. Many people visit Bade Mahadev Temple during the festival of Shivaratri.
Reechgarh is a natural amphitheatre. It is a natural cavern having an opening at both ends. We had to scramble amidst boulders and stones while entering the place. The exit is also quite interesting where we had to cross a narrow canyon. Reechgarh is a natural wonder and it did not disappoint us in our Pachmarhi trip.
Priyadarshini Point was earlier known as the Forsyth Point. It is from this place that Captain James Forsyth had ‘discovered’ Pachmarhi. Just imagine, one fine day, he came to this region, stood at the same place where I might have been standing and thought ‘Oh, what a beautiful place’! Well, we could also the same thing about the place because it offers one of the most beautiful and breathtaking views of Pachmarhi.
Later, Mrs Indira Gandhi had visited the spot in 1964 and admired the beauty of Pachmarhi from here. She must have had the same thoughts as Captain Forsyth. And then the place was renamed Priyadarshini Point after Mrs Gandhi.
Pachmarhi Catholic Church
Amidst all the greenery and waterfalls and caves, Pachmarhi town is also breathtakingly beautiful. Being a part of a British resort town, Panchmarhi has some beautiful colonial architecture. The Catholic Church is one example. The church was said to have built in the 19th century and is almost 150 years old. The church looks old from a distance but has such an old-worldly charm to it. It was something that we saw in Bilaspur as well.
The church remains open only for a few hours on Sunday morning for mass and prayers.
Chauragarh Temple is another revered temple in Pachmarhi area located at an altitude of 1326 m. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located atop a hill surrounded by hills, forests and verdant valley. Chauragarh Peak is also the second-highest peak in the Satpura region.
There are 2 ways to reach the temple. The traditional way is to climb around 1300 odd stairs to the top of the hill to the temple. The other way is more adventurous where you have to trek through the forests to reach the temple. Once you reach the temple, you will see several tridents or Trishuls kept at the courtyard.
Chauragarh is quite revered by the Shaivites and receives a number of pilgrims during the Maha Shivratri and Nag Panchami Festivals. The devotees often carry trishuls on their back as a part of some religious rituals.
Satpura National Park
The Satpura National Park is a good place for wildlife lovers and a must-visit on your Pachmarhi trip if you visit during the season. The huge national park spread across 202 sq miles is the home to a variety of flora. The Denwa River flows through the national park and you have to cross the river during the safari.
The national park is also the natural habitat of bison, spotted deer, elephants, leopards, tigers, sloth bear, four-horned antelopes and various migratory birds.
Opening hours: 1st October to 15th June
Summer: 5:45 AM to 9:30 AM and 3 PM to 6:30 PM. Winter: 6 AM to 10 AM and 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Now that you have a fair idea of the places to visit in Pachmarhi, let me share the experience of our Pachmarhi trip and a tentative itinerary.
Our Pachmarhi Trip Experience
It was the Durga Puja and we were already late for getting train tickets for any destination. All the tickets to NJP were waitlisted with very fewer chances of confirmation. After much thought and deliberation, we decided to venture to Madhya Pradesh. It was our first trip to the state and we were pretty excited. We zeroed on to Pachmarhi and Jabalpur for our week-long trip.
We first visited Jabalpur and explored Bhedaghat and the Chausath Yogini Temple there. From Jabalpur, we took a train towards Pipariya, the nearest railway station to Pachmarhi. We were supposed to reach by evening, but like most Indian trains at those days, the train was extremely late. We finally reached quite late at night. We hired a car from the Pipariya station and it took us to the MTDC resort where we were booked.
Well, Pachmarhi has some of the best resorts of Madhya Pradesh Tourism. I will come to that in the later part of the post.
The next 2 days, we totally enjoyed exploring Pachmarhi. It was more special as it was our first time in Madhya Pradesh and was different from our usual visits to North Bengal. We took a Maruti Gypsy for exploring the place. We shared the Gypsy with another couple and their cute little daughter.
An Ideal Pachmarhi Itinerary for 2 days
I am giving the Pachmarhi Itinerary as we did it in 2 days.
We had our breakfast at the resort and started for our Pachmarhi trip. We first stopped at Rajat Prapat or Silver Falls. From there, it was a few minutes’ walk to the Apsara Vihar. The next stop was Bee Falls. We also wanted to visit the Duchess Fall. But the waterfall was deep inside the forest and the path was not good at that time because of late monsoon. We had to skip Duchess Falls on this trip.
After having a great time at Bee Falls, we returned to our hotel for lunch. Pachmarhi is a small town and the places are more or less nearby each other.
Post lunch session began with our visit to Reechgarh and then finally to Dhoopgarh to enjoy the beautiful sunset. Dhoopgarh was a real respite after all the monkeying around at the waterfalls. After sunset, we were back at our resort.
The day started with a visit to Gupt Mahadeo followed by Bade Mahadev.
Next in line was the suicide point or Handi Khoh and Priyadarshini Viewpoint followed by the most overrated places to visit in Pachmarhi according to us – the Pandava Caves.
After Pandava Caves, we visited Jata Shankar Caves. It was better after our disappointment at Pandava Caves.
It was lunchtime next. But we stopped at the Pachmarhi Church before returning for lunch.
Post lunch we visited Chauragarh. Well, it was not quite a good decision to visit Chauragarh after lunch. I had a tough time climbing the stairs after a heavy meal. By the time we were on the top, I was starving again!
After Chauragarh, we returned to our resort. Our Pachmarhi trip also ended with this. We did not visit the Satpura National Park as it was not open at that time.
If you are taking your Pachmarhi trip in the between October to May, you can keep a day extra to visit Satpura National Park as well.
Panchmarhi is a beautiful hill station away from the hustle-bustle of the cities and a perfect place for a two-day trip. Even a walk down the roads of Panchmarhi will make you feel good and jubilant. The waterfalls and the naturally formed caves and rocky structures are the major attractions. It was a perfect trip for us. It was not strenuous like our usual trekking programmes, also it had a few hikes which we really liked. Panchmarhi was thus a break from our usual travels and we really welcomed it.
Pachmarhi Travel Tips
How to reach Pachmarhi?
The nearest airport to Pachmarhi is Bhopal’s Raja Bhoj Airport about 200 km.
Jabalpur’s Dumna Airport is about 250 km away from Pachmarhi.
Nearest railway station to Pachmarhi is Pipariya which is about 52 km away from Pachmarhi. Pipariya railway station is on Howrah-Mumbai mainline and almost all passing-by trains use to stop here. Transfer from Pipariya to Pachmarhi is much difficult. Private and public carrier Jeeps and Buses are available at Pipariya Railway Station all the time for heading towards Pachmarhi and vice versa at reasonable charges.
Pachmarhi is well connected with Jabalpur, Bhopal, Nagpur and Chindwara by road. Nagpur is about 250 km from Pachmarhi. There is Madhya Pradesh State Buses plying from Panchmarhi to Jabalpur and Nagpur at fixed times.
Interesting Milestone at Pipariya
Those who love history and heritage like us would find an interesting and old milestone in Pipariya from the British era. The milestone has inscriptions on three sides and the distances are measured in miles as it was done during the British era. After the British left India in 1947, that kilometers were adopted as distance markers.
The milestone is located near the MTDC Tourist Lodge in Pipariya. Apart from the distances, the milestone also gives information about the construction of roads and railways there. It says Pachmarhi Sadak (Road) 1870, Pipariya Rail 8.3.1870. These dates are perhaps the date of construction of these roadways and railways.
Where to Stay in Pachmarhi?
As I said before, the MP Tourism hotels are the best places to stay in Panchmarhi not only because of their hospitality but also for their beautiful locations.
The Rock End manor is the most beautiful and high-end property there.
There are also many private hotels available in the market area.
What is the best time to visit Pachmarhi?
Pachmarhi being a hill station has a pleasant climate all through the year. The summers between April to June has a pleasant temple. This is the best thing about Pachmarhi. When the rest of Madhya Pradesh is scorching with unbearable heat, Pachmarhi is still pleasant. So the summer months are definitely a good time to visit Pachmarhi.
The monsoon months are between July to September. Pachmarhi looks beautiful and verdant during the monsoon. The rain makes the place even more romantic and ethereal. The waterfalls look better and bigger. Roads to some of them might be bad, but the overall ambience is absolutely mesmerizing during the monsoon. I always believe that monsoon brings out the best in some places like Bangriposi, Darjeeling and Pachmarhi as well.
October (autumn) is also a good time to visit Pachmarhi. Infact, we had visited at the beginning of October. The weather remains pleasant and clear. The landscape is still green after the monsoon. We did not need any woollens during our visit in October.
November to February (winter months) are colder. You would need your winter clothes during this time.
Also if you want to visit the Satpura National Park, then you must plan your Pachmarhi trip between October and May.
Places to visit in Pachmarhi Trip (FAQs Answered)
Q. Is Pachmarhi worth visiting?
Pachmarhi is a quaint hill station away from the hustle of the city life. It is a perfect place for a 2-3 days trip. Pachmarhi is the home to a number of waterfalls and several trekking routes. If you want to holiday a bit differently, then Pachmarhi can be a wonderful option.
Q. What is the best season to visit Pachmarhi?
Pachmarhi becomes alive during the monsoon season with greenery all around. So it is definitely a good time to visit Pachmarhi during the monsoon. If you want to see the beauty sans the rain, then the best season would be the autumn between October and November.
Q. How many days are required to visit Pachmarhi?
You can cover most of the places within 2 days. I would suggest 3-4 days is enough for your Pachmarhi trip.
Q. Is mobile connectivity available in Pachmarhi?
Yes, of course. You will get a proper mobile and internet connectivity at Pachmarhi. BSNL, Jio, Vodafone, Airtel all works fine there.
Q. How can I reach Pachmarhi from Pipariya?
You can take a bus or shared taxi from Pipariya to Panchmarhi, about 50 km away. You can also rent a cab for the journey. It takes about 2 hours to reach Pachmarhi from Pipariya.
Q. Are budget hotels available in Pachmarhi?
Yes, budget hotels are available in the main market area of Pachmarhi. The Madhya Pradesh Tourism accommodations are located in great locations, but a little ways from the main area of Pachmarhi.