Among the few exceptional hill resorts in India, is Pachmarhi is Madhya Pradesh. It is not on the usual beat of hill station buffs and therefore, not over-developed. Though considered a hill station, it does not offer the predictable mountain fare of awesome heights and spectacular scenery, for the Satpuras are low lying weathered hills. Pachmarhi' s appeal is low key. Peace, seclusion and a quiet unobtrusive beauty are its prime attractions.
HistoryPachmarhi has a somewhat fateful history. The year that Rani of Jhansi and her Maratha soldiers declared Mutiny, a rather prosaic English officer who had a way with words, was sent to the dense Satpura jungles to quell a rebellion. After walking for 17 miles, Captain Forsyth of the Bengal Lancers found himself 2000 feet above the sea and a saucer-shaped plateau spread out before him. The vegetation had changed. The dry yellow grass and naked tree stems had given way to dense green undergrowth, moist banks of streams were covered with ferns and mosses and clear brooks refreshed the tired troops.
The village of Puchmurree was still some miles distan, and we hurried along over the now almost level plateau to get shelter as soon as possible, as we had already walked almost seventeen miles and the sun was about to set,” wrote the captain in a book later. At this point in history, the population of tigers, leopards, bear and other carnivores was fairly significant in the dense jungles of Satpura – and we can presume the captain and his troops didn’t want to be supper to them. Even today, one may get an occasional sighting of the cats. Or certainly, the census records their existence. The captain was obviously taking his notes. He mentions the genus of the trees he encountered – a lot of jamun and mango amongst them (they still thrive) and – it must have been the homesickness – he gets annoyingly parochial. “…Altogether, the aspect of the plateau was much more that of a fine English park than of any scene I had before come across in India,” he notes. Obviously, he hadn’t been privileged to visit Shimla yet.
* Pandav Caves
As the name suggests, these caves are said to be associated with the Pandava brothers. Now protected monuments, these caves are excavated in a hill made of sandstone rock. These ancient dwellings are famous for having provided shelter to the Pandavas.
* Satpura National Park
Set up in 1981, it covers an area of 524 sqkm. It has a dense forest of evergreen, sal, teak and bamboo. The park is home to the bison, tiger, leopard, bear, four-horned deer, blue bull and a large variety of birds.
* Cave Shelters
As said above, these cave shelters with their paintings provide a glimpse into the lifestyle, religious and social activities and beliefs. A must see for those with an inclination towards history.
* Apsara Vihar (Fairy Pool)
A beautiful picnic spot which is ideal for children, as the pool is shallow and deepens only towards the base of the fall.
Mahadeo hill has a shrine with an idol of Lord Shiva and an impressive Shivalinga which has been considered holy over many generations. On the east side is a cave shelter with paintings.
* Handi Khoh
This is Pachmarhi’s most impressive ravine with a 300 feet high precipice.
How to reach
* By Air
The nearest airport is Bhopal (195 km), which is connected by regular flights to Delhi, Gwalior, Indore and Bombay.
* By Rail
Pipariya (47 km), on the Bombay–Howrah mainline via Allahabad, is the most convenient railhead. From Pipariya, there are frequent buses for Bhopal.
* By Road
Pachmarhi is connected by regular bus services to Bhopal, Hoshangabad, Nagpur, Pipariya and Chindwara. M.P. Tourism as well private operators ply buses from Pachmarhi to the places listed above. Taxis can also be hired for this journey.