Girdled by the Satpura ranges in Madhya Pradesh, lies a lovely hill town often referred to as the “Queen of the Satpuras!” As Madhya Pradesh’s one and only hill town, Pachmarhi enjoys a unique position as a popular tourist destination, where bridle paths lead into placid forest groves of wild bamboo, jamun, dense sal forests and delicate bamboo thickets, offering the space to unwind effortlessly and enjoy perfect tranquility. In other words, Pachmarhi is Madhya Pradesh’s most verdant gem and our trip was proof of that!
As an archaeological treasure- house, Pachmarhi has astonishing richness. There are cave shelters in the Mahadeo Hills which reveal rock paintings that date back to 500-800 AD, although some of the earliest paintings are estimated to be 10,000 years old. In Pachmarhi, contrasting cultures and ages co-exist in harmony as if time and trends mean little in this serene, wooded place. The highest point in the central India region and the Vindhya and Satpura range – Dhoopgarh, at 1100 meters, is also located here.
Pachmarhi’s elevation and the forests of the Satpuras, with their streams and waterfalls, make it extremely picturesque and ideal for unwinding, effortlessly. Roads meander gently and groves of trees, open space and heritage cottages sit contentedly in their old gardens. The British developed Pachmarhi as a resort and their influence is embodied in its’ churches and colonial architecture.
The town has a quiet gentility about it, as if Victorian traditions and high collars still govern people’s lives. Much of this ambience is still being maintained by the strong presence of the Indian army, and the old cottages still prove that times have changed little since the days of Kipling.
Our sightseeing trip began with Forsyth Point, that marks the place where Pachmarhi was first discovered by Captain Forsyth in 1857. Next, was a 300-feet deep ravine with steep sides called Handi Khoh. On the way, we passed by numerous waterfalls and concluded with a visit to the Pandav Caves which, as the legend goes, once provided sanctuary to the five Pandava brothers.
On the recommendation of our local guide, the following day we went all the way up to Dhoopgarh to catch a gorgeous sunset from the highest point in the Satpura ranges – a sight that was bewitching and mesmerising at the same time!
If you have the time and the inclination, a visit to Reechgarh is also recommended, because of a wonderful natural amphitheater in the rock, that is usually approached through a cave-like entrance on the south side.
If you are keen to explore, Pachmarhi has an amazing variety of things to do in and around the town. You are spoilt for choice between choosing to trek up-hill, explore a national park with deep valleys, high mountains and rivulets, cave dwellings with paintings or lose yourself in vast stretches of botanical diversity. One thing is assured – there’s never a dull moment, when you’re in Pachmarhi!