Pachmarhi/Satpura – An encounter with Leopard!

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Journey story –  By  Ashi Jain
Me and my Hubby went for a wedding to Bhopal and had two days free, so this was an instant plan. We contacted Goaround Tours and they helped us with last minute bookings for Pachmarhi and Satpura Jungles! We had a scary encounter with Leopards, which you will read in later part of this blog!
Pachmarhi is the only and beautiful hill stations in Central India. It is popularly known as Queen of Satpuras and lies inside the Satpura Biosphere Preserve. At an altitude of 3500ft the little town is a tourist retreat and bustling with tourists, touts and has a strong presence of Army base. Pachmarhi is 144KM from Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh.
SATPURA Mountain ranges which separate the North India with the Southern part, extend from Eastern Gujarat(Rajpipla) running east through Madhya Pradesh till Chattisgarh (Rajmahal Hills) covering roughly around 900 km drained by Narmada in north and Tapti river in the southern belt.

It is evident that Satpura ranges are situated between the Tapti and Narmada River basins with Vindhya Ranges running parallel without any dissection.The seven mountain ranges or folds of Satpura’s are Maikal where Narmada finds it origin near Amarkantak ., then comes Mahadeo Hills near Pachmarhi., Kalibhit ,Asirgarh, Bijagarh, Barwani, Arwani which extends to Rajpipla Hills in Eastern Gujarat. Going by mythology it is propounded that the Satpura’s are the seven sons of Vindhya Ranges ,their birth is not a matter of consequence ,but was to avert an overflowing angry Narmada river which in its wrath was drowning the whole earth.

How to Reach Pachmarhi : One can take a train from Bhopal to Pipariya( nearest railway station)  and take a cab from there to Pachmarhi. Bhopal is well connected by road, rail and air transport. You can get a shared transport from Pipariya to Pahmarhi (approx 54 kms) for Rs 50 per person, or else better take a cab for safety purposes. The prices can be bargained there itself.
You can also take a cab from Bhopal itself to Pachmarhi (Approx 200 kms). This is what we did.
Best Time to Visit : Best time to visit Satpura is during Monsoon and winter.

Places to Stay: We stayed at  Pachmarhi-Vanasthali Resort and Madhai-SS Resort. There are very few resorts in Madhai and not in so good condition. Ours was a decent resort with basic needs. It was by the side of river. Can be scary at night with very few tourists! 😛 😉 The other resort was farther away and more scary!

SS Resort
SS Resort, Madhai

Points to note while travelling to Pachmarhi:

  • It is better to hire a cab rather than relying on public transport. While in Panchmarhi do not cover each and every point of visit. Few of the places are OK to miss.
  • Two main falls in Panchmarhi – Duchess fall and Bee fall. Even if you miss bee fall do not miss Duchess fall. Ahh ! what a beauty it is, very less crowded may be because the way to Dutches fall is not that easy its risky and very tiring. Not advisable for aged people. And Carry your sports shoes for treks to waterfalls.
  • You can book the Satpura wildlife sanctuary (Madhai) tickets online. Else, you can do instant booking, good if you get someone to share your expenses. Its 600 per person and for the entire gypsy its 3500. Booking gets closed around 7 pm and its better to reach Madhai before 7pm
  • Madhai is not much explored area, no good resorts, no network zone. So booking in advance is advisable and make sure that your taxi driver knows the place well.
Journey: And here we begun our journey from Bhopal to Pachmarhi and Madhai
Day 1
Our Cab driver picked us up from Bhopal and showed us all places enroute. Our driver was awesome! Really knew the place very well.

Bhimbetka: Our first stop on the way to Pachmari was this historical place “Bhimbetka” -rock shelter for early man. Some of the Stone Age rock paintings found in Bhimbetka are approximately 30,000 years old and it has been declared as a world Heritage site in 2003.So all the history lovers do not miss to stop by this beautiful archaeological site.Bheembetka2bheembetka caves

Jata Shankar : Jata Shankar is sacred cave under a mass of loose boulders, located deep within a setting of astounding rock faces. These caves display the unique architecture of nature.
Christ Church:  This church was built in the year 1875 by the British, and is an important remnant of Pachmarhi‘s colonial occupation days. The architecture of the church is fascinating; it has a hemispherical dome on top with its ribs ending with faces of angels. The stained-glass panes decorating the walls and rear of the altar were imported from Europe.
Bal Udyan (Children Park) : Where as Pachmarhi has so much to offer to the senior and adult visitors, entertainment needs for small children and junior visitors is also kept in mind. Located at 1 Km. from Pachmarhitoy train, horse and camel rides and rides at Children’s Park amuses kids and adults alike.
Noka Vihar (Boating at Pachmarhi Lake):Pachmarhi Lake is situated at 1.5 Kms from Pachmrahi. Visitors can hire boats here and enjoy the boating amidst the wonderful surroundings of Satpura mountains. This place is busy during 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Dhoopgarh : Proceed to Dhoopgarh to see the sunset after boating at Pachmarhi Lake


View from Dhoopgarh
View from Dhoopgarh

After the sunset we checked in our hotel finally and rested!

Day 2:

Next morning, we had our breakfast and proceeded for sightseeing. It was a full day gypsy safari in Pachmarhi.

Pandav caves: Pandav Caves are the famous caves from which Pachmarhitakes its name. These caves are considered to be carved out during the Buddha period and are now protected monuments.
Duchess Fall:  It is a very beautiful waterfalls but, accessible only by a steep downhill 4KM trek. You may need sports shoes for this trek.The place is in the National Park area. Once you reach the waterfalls the place is cool and serene, a great swimming pool and picnic spot. We enjoyed a lot in the waterfall. Beautiful place!Duchess fallDuchess Fall3.jpg
There is a small shop selling hot maggie noodles, tea and nimbu pani.
Bee Fall:  It is a thin stream of water flowing from top and converting to a huge waterfall if we trek down. We did not trek down for this fall because we had our share of fun in Duchess fall.

Mahadev: Mahadeo cave is 30 meter long and water is always seeping inside the cave. The source of this water has been traced to a waterfall.

Madhai: Finally we left for Madhai from pachmarhi. We reached Madai at around 7:15 pm. Wildlife always thrills me. I have been to many other wildlife sanctuaries, but this time it was one hell of the adventurous NIGHT safari.Jeep Safari

Night Safari: So we started our safari at around 8pm. We were thrilled and excited to that fact that it was our life’s first night safari. We were so scared that we asked the guard to accompany us for the Safari 😀 Forests nights are so dark, so scary. If  we did not have our guard’s torch throwing light on the way in search of wildlife, it was impossible to even see who is sitting next to you.

We first saw Civet cat with its scary eyes, never heard of, never seen before. The fear was increasing! Then we spent about half an hour just moving into the jungle and not a sign of any wildlife, we were little disappointed, but then to our surprise our driver just whispered, “There is a LEOPARD and that too 2 leopards”. OMG ! Couldn’t believe my eyes they were just 500-600 mt apart from us. The jeep was an open jeep! Gave us goosebumps! Freak! They both were looking so damn scary at night. Me and my hubby clinched our hands and did not dare to look back! We couldn’t even stand to take a selfie or even to capture a sight of it, we just couldn’t stand. We wanted to run as far as possible as if those hungry Leopards were waiting for us only! hahhahaha! 😀

We asked our driver to move away to take us back to our resort, but the driver was like “Don’t worry Madam ji, we are trained for such situations!” and I replied, “You are trained to protect yourself and not us” 😀  I apologized later though for shouting! That was more than enough for the day. On the way back, a herd of Deers crossed our way. We reached our resort finally and slept with Leopard dreams 😉

It was one of the best adventurous trip we ever had. I must say just do not miss the night safari in Madhai. You will have life time memories and stories to tell  🙂

Day 3: 
We left Madhai in morning after breakfast and proceeded for Bhopal to catch our return train.
Other places to visit if you have time:
Apsara Vihar: Apsara Vihar, once regarded as the royal bathing pool for queens, is now an ideal picnic spot for families. The pool is shallow, deepening only towards the base of the fall which cascades gently into its waters.
Rajat Prapat: Rajat Pratap, a 10-minute walk over rocks and boulders from Apsara Vihar. It’s a tall water fall whose stream shines silver in the sun and hence the name Rajat Prapat.
Chouragarh: Chauragarh is one of Satpura’s prominent landmarks, the summit crowned with emblems of Mahadeo worship, from where you can have a panoramic view of the entire Satpura range.
HandiKhoh: Walk along a gravel path from Priyadarshini led to another viewpoint called Handi Khoh. It is a gorge, straight fall of approx 600 ft.
Priyadrashini: Priyadarshini (Forsyth Point) is vantage viewing point marks the place from where Pachmarhi was discovered by Captain Forsyth in 1857.
Gupt Mahadev :Walking distance from the Bada Mahadev is another temple called the Gupt Mahadev which again is inside a cave. The cave is wide enough to allow one person to walk in and the main chamber can hold not more than five people at a time.

Rajendra Giri: Rajendra Giri is a high spot from where you can have panoramic views of Pachmarhi. The place is called so because Dr Rajendra Prasad liked Pachmarhi so much that he was the frequent visitor in Pachmarhi.

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