PACHMARHI is a hill station in Madhya Pradesh in Central India. It has been the location of a cantonment (Pachmarhi Cantonment) since the British Raj. It is widely known as SATPURA KI RANI (Queen of Satpura) situated at a height of 1,100m in a valley of the Satpura Range in Hoshangabad district.
The name PACHMARHI is believed to be derived from the Hindi words : PANCH (five) and MARHI (caves). According to a legend, these caves were built by the 5 Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata era during the 14 yrs of their exile. The caves are situated on a hilltop and provide an excellent vantage point.
PACHMARHI came under the kingdom of the GOND King Bhawut Singh, although it was a populated village at that time. Captain James Forsyth of the British army along with Major Nathoo Ramji Powar, who was later made KOTWAL (in charge of the armoury) of Pachmarhi, spotted the plateau in the Pachmarhi region in 1857, while leading his troops on the way to Jhansi. It quickly developed into a hill station and sanatorium for British troops in the Central Provinces of India. Pachmarhi also served as the “summer capital” for the Central Provinces.
The forest, around the town, is home to many varieties of plants. UNESCO added Pachmarhi Park to its list of Biosphere Reserves in May 2009. The total area of Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is 4981.72sq.km.
The town is not very large, but it is a popular tourist destination, and tourists visit Pachmarhi throughout the year. There are lots of hotels and a few cottages and resort and tourism hotels, situated in peaceful locations of Pachmarhi, 2-3km away from the bus stand.
Pachmarhi also has a lot of cave paintings in the forest, some of which have been estimated to be as much as 10,000 yrs old. The caves are Buddhist in origin, but the name Pandava Caves persists. The place has rich timber reserves including teak, but being a part of a reserve, no new construction or felling of trees is allowed. Having a rich and rare flora as well as fauna, Pachmarhi needs Central and State Government approval for any new construction outside the town area.
Pachmarhi has endless nature spots, lush greenery, breath-taking views, waterfalls and mountain streams. ——- DHUPGARH is the highest point of the Satpura Range (1,350m) It is known for sunrise and sunset view points. At night, one can see the lights of the neighbouring towns such as ITARSI. In the daytime, the view of the lush green valley offers a captivating view. One can reach the top either by road or trekking.
CHAURAGARH is the 2nd highest peak. It is a pilgrimage site with Lord Shiva’s Temple at the top. There is also the Chauragarh Fort there built by King Sangram Shah of the GOND DYNASTY.
SANGAM : This is a conflux of mountain streams behind Dhupgarh. The water in these streams is crystal-clear in all seasons, except of course autumn.
JATASHANKAR & MAHADEO CAVES : These are mountain caves with fresh water dripping from them. One can witness ecosystem at work out here, with mountains feeding the streams with fresh water —- the water that they soaked in during autumn. As the name suggests, these caves and many others like these are abodes of Lord Shiva.
SILVER FALLS : Also called RAJAT PRAPAT / Big Falls, it comes 2,800ft roaring down the gorge, creating a “silver streak” that gives its name. The view of dense, serene, virgin forest and stream is simply mesmerizing.
APSARA VIHAR : This is a mountain stream that creates a beautiful, natural water pool, cascades and waterfalls in its course.
One would love to get lost in the forests of Pachmarhi, particularly in the summer, as it is full of fruit trees such as mangoes, jamun, custard fruit, and lesser known, but very delicious local fruits such as khatau, tendu, chunna, khinni and chaar. The forest is also known for its richness in medicinal plants and herbs. The jungle has tigers, panthers, bears, bison and a wide variety of birds.
No wonder, PACHMARHI is known as the “Jewel in the Crown of Central India.”