Monday, December 27, 2010

Jabalpur Rocks!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Mumbai Mirror on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 01:36:45 PM

 "Upar hai resthouse, neeche hai boathouse aur vahaan dekhein monkey ka guest house." “Vah! Vah!” The audience claps. Boatman Deepak Burman beams like the marble rock face he shows us next. Pink, white and gold. Yes, golden-coloured marble! The cantonment town of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh may not be a regular feature on tourists' itinery but it does have in store some of the most spectacular of nature's creations.

Heaven on earth
Located just 23 km from the city, the marble rocks at Bhedaghat village near Jabalpur rise to a hundred feet on either side of the River Narmada. On a full moon night, the water seems transformed into a sheet of liquid silver and the limestone rocks, pillars in heaven. On other days, Bhedaghat closes at 5.30 pm but give you a chance to see the many hues of marble – white, cream, yellow, pink, gold and black. Unless you’re in a tearing hurry, opt for the rowing boats to make your way around the rocks. The river varies in depth from 80ft at one point to 600ft at another. The guides point out to the various rock-faces, describing the shapes of sadhus, Shivalings, automobiles, parrots and deities and also the bullet holes formed during the filming of the Sunil Dutt-Rekha starrer Pran Jaye Aur Vachan Na Jaye. The ride culminates at Bundar Kudni (for monkeys were able to leap from rocks on one side to the other side of the channel), the spot where Kareena Kapoor shot for seven days for the song “Raat Ka Nasha” in Asoka.

The waters are infested with crocodiles and snakes so think twice before dipping your hand into it. However, during the winter months (and much of the boating season), the crocodiles move to warmer waters in Gujarat.

The 150-odd steps leading to the river from the main road are lined with shops selling beautiful soapstone and marble artefacts such as statues of Hindu Gods, coasters, vases, ashtrays, trinket boxes, lamps, agarbatti stands and even jewellery. Bargain hard, though.

Travellers’ tip: Boating facilities are available between November and May. Both motorboats and row-boats are available. Bhedaghat is closed during the monsoon. Avoid plastics and food.

Cascade of smoke
Just five minutes away from the Bhedaghat are the Dhuandar Falls. The Narmada, making its way through the marble rocks, narrows down and plunges into a waterfall that can be heard a kilometer away. Often compared in part with the Niagara Falls, the Dhuandar Falls makes for a great picnic spot and is one of the biggest attractions in the state and features in both the Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Incredible India campaigns.

Travellers’ tip: The Rs 60 cable-car (ropeway) ride offers a spectacular view of the waterfall. 

Historical delights
The capital of the Kalchuri dynasty since 875 AD, Jabalpur was later ruled by the Gond kings till the Marathas took over in the 17th century. In 1817, the British wrested it from the Marathas and left their impression on the spacious cantonment with its colonial residences and barracks, much like Pune was before the IT boom. The Madan Mahal Fort built by Raja Madan Shah in 1116, the Rani Durgavati Memorial and Museum named after the Gond queen who fell during a war with Mughal Emperor Akbar, the Tilwara Ghat from where Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed in the Narmada and the Pisan Hari Jain Temples are important tourist attractions.

Travellers’ tip: Private taxis, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws are available to take you round the city. Autos do not have meters so do bargain for the rides. Most monuments and museums are open from 10 am to 5 pm.

What you should know
  • Jabalpur is the most convenient base for visits to the famous Kanha (175 km) and Bandhavgarh (190 km) tiger reserves.
  • The best season for visit is from October to March (April and May can get very hot)
  • Street food is not much of a culture in Madhya Pradesh so if you have to eat out try dhabas and restaurants. Most restaurants and dining halls in the city take their last orders at 10.30 pm. Try the vintage India Coffee House in the Sadar area of Jabalpur for south Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and Continental vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals.

Getting there:
Jabalpur is an important railhead on the Mumbai-Howrah via Allahabad main line. All mail, express and passenger trains halt here.

1 comment:

Sangeet khatri said...

Join the group "Lonely Jabalpur" at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_142052859181391&ap=1 to share your experiences and stuffs on Jabalpur