Amarkantak - The King of Pilgrimage

amarkantak places to visit

Located at the junction of Vindhya and Satpura hills at an altitude of 1075 m, Amarkantak has been revered as a Hindu pilgrimage center for years and popularly known as ‘Teerthraj’ – ‘The King of Pilgrimages. The source of the holy rivers Narmada and Sone is Amarkantak. Surrounded by the blessings of the Goddess of Nature, this place is rich in sacred lakes, rivers, dense forests, scenic waterfalls, creepy caves, and ancient temples. The forest is a rich source of medical plants. So this place is also important from an ecological point of view. In fact, the cultural significance of Amarkantak is due to the strange combination of nature, history, and religion.

This place has become as much a center of attraction for nature lovers as a Hindu pilgrimage site. The greatness and beauty of Amarkantak are described in the poetry of the great poet Kalidasa and in various myths. It is heard that Narmada became “Sarvapapahar” (the ability to take away all sin) in the presence of Lord Shiva. If a devotee wants to free himself from the curse, he has to dive once in the holy Ganges, pray for seven days on the banks of the Jamuna and three days on the banks of the Saraswati. But in the case of Narmada, it is unique. One dive into the holy water of Narmada is enough to purify a devotee. This place is the field of worship of many esteemed sages. People have been attracted to this land of gods for ages with its beautiful natural beauty and spirituality.

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Amarkantak Trip Begins....

Pendra Road is the nearest railway station to Amarkantak - distance only 43 km. A small station, as soon as we came out we realized that the place was not very big. There are various arrangements to go to Amarkantak from here. Pressing the luggage on the head of the car, our car started moving on the hilly road. Although it was a pleasure to read the various travel stories of Amarkantak before, the joy of seeing with one's own eyes and one's own feelings while traveling could not be compared to anything like that.

After a short drive, we were immersed in the beauty of the mountain road. In some places the road was uneven but the road to the next was really beautiful. Green forest on both sides, smooth road like a black ribbon in the middle. On the way, we came to a place where we could not ignore the beauty of nature and get out of the car. The road can be seen from both sides from far away. Absolutely empty, no people or vehicles. Green forests on either side of the path, wherein some places the setting sun rays touched the ground like a laser beam, finding gaps in the dense forests. That was a wonderful sight! We were all trying to capture that scene on camera. Then when our car arrived in front of the hotel in the evening.  

From our hotel the view was marvelous. In front of us were mountains and behind us Narmada river with green plains, the height of which had gradually increased. As soon as the sun went down, I felt that the winter bite here was very intense. Unlike other tourist centers, there were not many hotels or lodges here. Accommodation in temples, hospices, or ashrams was more. So it was better not to expect the comfort or luxury of a hotel like other places. It was also customary to eat vegetarian food here.

Early the next morning a few of us went out for a walk. We were enjoying the morning biting cold. All the roads were empty. The two were just starting to light a fire in a tea shop. It took a long time to get tea. Turning around we came to the source of Narmada. After a little light, a local middle-aged woman asked us to touch the tin shade of a house. As I touched it, I removed my hand like an electric shock. My companions looked at me with surprised eyes. I said - cold as ice! Later I realized to give a good hand really ice lining! But like a thin film. I found out from the woman in the tea shop that the temperature here goes below freezing at night. Then the frozen dew does not get rid of, it also had to turn to ice.

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Visiting of Amarkantak Tourist Places......

amarkantak sightseeing

We had no such planning today. We enjoy this holy land of our own. We went to Narmada Udgam Kendra. The source of the river Narmada and the water body created from it. It is in the middle of a huge place surrounded by walls. It is surrounded by twenty-seven white temples of various shapes and sizes. We bought worship materials outside the temple and entered inside. The idol of Goddess Narmada is made of black rare stone. After finishing the worship there, we went outside. This time we went in front of the source of Narmada. From that ancient time, the water of tenderness has been flowing from the tank to Gomukhnala to millions of pilgrims. The river Narmada flows from here. Any other river is narrow and fasts flowing at the source but  Narmada at source is like choked, currentness, motionless still water body. However, it is customary to worship by bathing in this holy water.

We spent the whole day walking along a beautiful path along the banks of Narmada. On the left, the hill has risen. The edge of the road is arranged in green. On the other side is the main place of Amarkantak. The Narmada on one side of the road and the plains on the other side gradually rose and merged into the hills.

The market sat like a rural market on a flat place on the banks of the Narmada. Looked pretty nice to see. Many people are trading in this market. There were several preserved temples near the Narmada temple complex. These beautifully decorated ancient temples were the Karna Temple, Pataleshwar Mahadev. I did not notice how time passé in this clean and tidy place. We then returned to the lodge.

After a nice tea party in the afternoon, in the evening we went to see Narmada's mother's prayers. Mother's prayers are offered in almost all the ashrams of this place. In the bitter cold of the night, we went to see the Aarti at the ashram of Barfani Dadaji Maharaj. But since this saint, who is more than 230 years old, is in Allahabad, we are deprived of his visit. We visit only the monastery, his holy place of worship, Ashram, subjugation.

cultural significance of amarkantak

The next morning we went out to see the site in the car. My-Ki-Bagicha (mother’s garden) was on the way. Mother Narmada had spent some time here. There was a temple of mother Narmada in the middle of a beautiful garden. Mai-ki-mandapa, a short distance from here. The wedding of Narmada and Sone was held here. We reached Sonemura. It is difficult to get out of the car on the forested road on both sides, monkey nuisance gave us big trouble here. Sonemura is the source of the Sone River. The river Sone is flowing from the source to the lower canal. There is also a temple of father Sone here. Everything can be seen from a wonderful viewpoint down the stairs from the road. On the way up the hill, our car moved forward again. This time the destination is Kapil Dhara. This is a huge waterfall. Here river Narmada is jumping from a height of about two hundred feet in a compressed state. Even if there is a viewpoint, if you want to reach the real beauty, you have to break the rocky stairs and go down. However, you have to both physical ability and time in hand. We were satisfied with the vision from a distance, keeping in mind to go around all day. Our car also moves forward with the flow of Narmada. This time we saw the river Narmada coming down from above with a white stream of milk. It is said that Durbasha Muni (Saint) became very weak after a long period of adoration. Then Narmada flowed like milk and saved the saint’s life.

Then a car came to a halt in the jungle. We descended the mountain path and visited Bhrigu Kamandalu (a pot for storing water). The people here have been believing that this pot was used by great saint Bhrigu. There is only one small hole in a huge rock. When you enter through it, you can touch the water. Just like a huge vessel. Here one can enter one side of the natural tunnel and come out the other. The fun of walking around Amarkantak is different if you have a little time and of course if your health permit. All the places here are full of hills, jungles, ups, and downs. While walking in the middle of the forest, we visited Dhunipani, the place of worship of many devotees. Our driver is our guide in this almost tourist-less place.

In addition to the old temple, new temples are being built in Amarkantak. The attraction of this land of God is immense. Still, for the time being, goodbye, Amarkantak. Now we were on the way to Pachmarhi, a beautiful hill station.

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How to get there:

The nearest railway station is Pendra Road in Chhattisgarh (the distance from Amarkantak is 42 km). Various trains including Howrah-Mumbai Mail (Train No. 12610) went to Bilaspur. If you want to reach Amarkantak by road, you can take a direct bus from Allahabad, Raipur, Bilaspur, Katni, and Jabalpur. The nearest airports are Jabalpur (228 km) and Raipur in Chhattisgarh (230 km).               

Travelogue and Photo by:(AMITABHA GHOSH)

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