At the heart of India and its culture - Jabalpur
January 1, 1970
Jabalpur – A city proud of its culture
At the heart of India – Madhya Pradesh is not amongst the most popular destinations in India, but this state has some beautiful untapped natural treasures. All the livelihood and tourism of this state is majorly dependent on the Narmada River which is the sixth longest river in India. The city of Jabalpur too lies on the banks of this river and is the third largest city in Madhya Pradesh. Also known as Sanskardhani(Rich in Culture) because of the love that the people have towards its culture and tradition, Jabalpur is unique in its own way. This city is surrounded by the Vindhya and the Satpura ranges which provides the city with a number of tourist spots in and around it.
What makes Jabalpur different from other places is its affection towards “taals” and “ghats”. While “Taals” are lakes in Jabalpur, “Ghats” are the banks along Narmada River where religious ceremonies are performed. Even with its developing modern culture around Malls, Food Joints, and Pubs, the people of this city still love to spend time at the famous temples and ghats of the city. Each and every festival is celebrated in this small city with enthusiasm and religious ideals. Among them, the festival of Navaratri which is held during September-October, and the Narmada Mahotsav are a must to attend.
Let’s first look at the major spots in Jabalpur that you can’t afford to miss if you are in here –
A trip to Bhedaghat covers three important destinations – Dhuandhar Falls, the boat ride across Marble Rocks and the Chausath Yogini Temple.
- Dhuandhar Falls – The word Dhuandhar literally translates to a cascade of smoke. The 30m high waterfall is a natural wonder. The plunge of the waters of the Narmada through the height creates a fog of mist around the falls which can be felt. The sound of it can be heard from a distance such magnificent is its “roar”. A platform for viewing the falls is made at both end of the river and a cable car runs between them. This place usually attracts a large number of tourists every day especially during the Sharad Purnima which is a mid-autumn festival. During this festival, the marble rocks around the fall glisten under the moon while classical music performances work as the perfect backdrop to its beauty.
- Boat Ride – The road to the falls meet ahead to the “Nauka Vihar” or the Boat Recreation. The boatmen around Bhedaghat are particularly skilled as guides too and they take you across the Marble Rock cut gorges through which the Narmada flows. The guide marks out all the locations where Bollywood films were shot in a very poetic manner. Some of these include the opening scene to the Bollywood Movie Mohenjo Daro, Mahabharata TV Show and the song “Raat Ka Nasha Abhi” of the movie “Ashoka”.
- Chausath Yogini – This temple is an old heritage site built around 10th Century AD by the Kalchuri Kingdom. What makes this unique is that the temple is not just the abode of Goddess Durga but also of her 64 Yoginis or attendants to the Mother Goddess. These Yoginis are not just ordinary attendants but they represent fiery passion and liberation. Each yogini idol is in a distinct posture while the central idol consists of Lord Shiva along with his consort Goddess Parvati and Nandi. The simple architecture hosts 95 idols intricately carved and sculpted.
The reason why Jabalpur is called Sanskardhani is quite evident as you step foot in the pious lands of Gwarighat. Holy incantations are audible from even a distance as a number of temples on the bank of Narmada start their daily prayers. On descending from the steps towards the “Ghat”, twelve Shiva lingas and four podiums are situated near the river. These podiums are also where at 7:00 PM sharp five pundits perform the Maha Aarti in a beautiful synchronicity. The Ghat is also famous for year-round festivals in which the people of the city gather for various music and dance performances.
- Gwarighat Gurudwara – On the opposite bank of the Gwarighat lies a magnificent Gurudwara (a Sikh worship place). The most accessible option to reach there is through a boat crossing the majestic Narmada. The view from the top of Gurudwara is one to not miss for. It also houses daily Langars (religious food).
The Rajgond dynasty of the Gondwana region built the Madan Mahal Fort as a manned post for a vigil against invaders. The historical significance of the fort is associated with the famous queen Durgavati who took up arms against the Moguls and died as a martyr. Madan Mahal is spread across a huge area on the top of a 500 m high hill. The fort covers war room, stables, and reservoirs. Near to the hill is another enclosed and a protected area which hosts the famous balancing rock, an eroded volcanic rock formation. The surrounding area also has a number of temples situated on the top of hills which are worth a visit.
Rani Durgavati Museum
Rani Durgavati is one of the most famous Gond Queens of the Region. The Gond Kingdom has had a long historical connection with the city of Jabalpur. The museum thus hosts some of the best historical artifacts of Jabalpur, dating as far as the prehistoric era. Coin Collections, Tribal Art, and ancient idols are all up for display in this museum which charges a very minimum entry fee.
Bargi Dam and Payali
Construction of the Bargi Dam completed in 1988, encompassing an area of 2980 square kilometers of area. The dam’s reservoir is a major tourist destination for the people around the city. With luxury cruise and motor-boats, a splendid resort and an unspoiled nature around the reservoir, Bargi Dam has all it needs to be the next big thing in this small city. A narrow road which passes through the dam and connects to the nearby Bargi village ends up in another picturesque location – Payali.
- Payali – Payali is a location near Bargi Village, famous for its river islands. This place is a hub for photographers and wildlife lovers. However, the drive is a little difficult with unfinished roads and a number of ups and downs along the road. What makes this worth a visit is a fantastic view, boat ride to the islands and the peaceful environment all around. One of the best things to do around Payali is the night camp at any one of the islands.
Bhaisaghat – Nidaan
A small town by the name of Katangi falls on the road to Damoh from Jabalpur. The town is situated among the hilly ranges. A few kilometers along the road to Damoh, there exists a pass among the mountains. Water from a lake above in the mountains cuts through these rocks to make a plunge waterfall. The waterfall goes by the name of Nidaan. The availability of water at the waterfall is strictly dependent on the monsoon season. Even in the unavailability of water, the rocky hills, rock-cuts made by the water and pool of water stored at different heights make is a delightful treat. A few kilometers further along the road to Damoh and you will find a statue of Rani Durgawati. From here the village of Bhaisa starts.
- Bhaisaghat – Unlike other ghats of Jabalpur, Bhaisaghat is not actually a ghat since it is not in the vicinity of the river. Bhaisaghat is a protected area known for its lush forest and the breathtaking waterfall. The area which begins from the statue and ends as further as the waterfall at the other end has a historical connection with the Gond Kingdom. Among the areas to visit in here, is the ancient Rani Mahal, or the Queen fort which is built along a hill. The ledge waterfall at bhaisaghat is over 40 m in height and falls through a cliff. The lush greenery around the place and a frequent visit by monkeys make it a breathtaking location.
Pisanhari Ki Madiya
Pisanhari ki Madiya is a Jain temple situated in the Garha Area of Jabalpur. Situated at a height of 300 ft, this temple shows excellent architecture and attracts a number of people every day. The whole area comprises of not just one but several temples as you make your way to the top of the hill. The temple at the bottom of the hill contains over 20 Mahavir statues with the face of the idols towards different direction while the temple at the top of the hill has a breathtaking view of the city. A number of restaurants nearby the area provide authentic Jain Cuisine and Thaalis. Even the dessert shops are hard to miss.
Katao Dham is one of the lesser known places in Jabalpur which can be reached through the roads connecting Damoh or Katni. It is around 50 km from the city and is marked by a distinct bright red temple situated on the banks of a fast flowing stream. The narrow road starts to move alongside the stream much before the temple appears. The stream cuts through the hills on both sides forming a small valley. The two temples at Katao Dham are on the opposite sides of the road and the stream of water. One of the temples is accessible being on the side of the road, however the other temple, Hanuman Mandir has to be reached through a small connecting bridge. The location is serene and the drive to here is one you will never forget.
Jamtara – Bhadbhada
The two places Jamtara and Bhadbhada are just a kilometer or two away from each other. While one is a huge waterfall of the Pariyat river, the other is an old railway bridge over the Narmada River. Bhadbhada lies on the road to Jamtara. The best time to visit is during the Monsoon season when the waterfall at bhadbhada is at its peak. The rocky landscape combined with the soothing sound of water makes this place a beautiful escape from the hustle bustle of the city. Jamtara, on the other hand, is the remainder of the once prominent narrow gauge rail network. The bridge is now open to everyone and from this bridge, you can experience and photograph trains passing through a parallel railway bridge.
Kachnar City Shiva Temple
Built in 2004, the newest addition to the religious cultural spots of this city is fabulous. The Shiva temple hosts the 76 feet tall Shiva statue. The religious complex houses not only the famous statues but a number of temples and 12 Jyotirlingas at the cavern of the statue. The complex is a huge garden with a variety of flowers and fountains. Not to miss is the Aarti or the religious procession that is carried out every day at 7 in the morning and in the evening. Lord Shiva is one of the most revered gods in Hindu Religion and hence a number of people flock every day to pay homage to this religious place.
Other places worth visiting
1. Joganjhurry – A huge waterfall along the Mandla Road
2. Roopnath – Ancient Temple, and Waterfall.
3. Bhawartal Park – A beautiful park in the city.
4. Hanuman Tal – A lake surrounded by temples.
To conclude with, you might be perplexed by the city life of Jabalpur. Being a developing city it lacks top-notch facilities for visitors but provides beautiful locations and delicious ecstasies to satisfy them. If you are in Jabalpur you should look out for Khoye Ki Jalebi(Sweet Dish), Poha and Roadside Chai. Several auditoriums like Manas Bhavan, Tarang Auditorium, and Shahid Smarak frequently organizes plays, music and dance programs. All in all this small city is a perfect weekend destination and would not disappoint you.