The town of Pachmarhi is nestled amongst the Satpura range in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Located in Central India, this hill station enjoys a cooler climate than its surrounding low lying areas because of its elevation. However, as beautiful and breathtaking as the place is, what makes it truly fascinating is the tale behind the name.
To start off the story, you must be slightly acquainted with Indian mythology. There are two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India – the Mahabharata, which we will be looking into right now, and the Ramayana. The Mahabharata revolves around the fates of the Kaurava and Pandava princes. The Kaurava princes come from the line of the blind king Dhritarashtra and the Pandava princes come from the line of Pandu, the pale and unhealthy king. Both are half brothers, sharing the same father.
The princes of both factions are bitter rivals and their enmity which carries on from the youth to adulthood causes the Kurukshetra War. After losing a loaded dice game to the Kauravas, the five Pandava brothers are forced to go into exile for 12 years. This is where Pachmarhi comes in.
As legend goes, the five Pandava brothers visited the area of Pachmarhi during their twelve years of exile. They obviously needed a place to stay and not being simple people who would be satisfied with a simply made hut, they carved out five caves as their shelter. In this case, the name Pachmarhi is derived from ‘Pach’ Five and ‘Marhi’ meaning caves in Hindi.
These caves were excavated from the sandstone hills surrounding Pachmarhi and were used as their shelter. These caves still exist to this day and have become a major tourist attraction. Although many scholars may argue that these caves are truly the creation of the Pandava brothers, most geologists state that these caves are much older than that. The caves are thought to have been in existence long before the Mahabharata Era came into being.
The story behind the caves themselves brings curious travelers by the bus load. However, it is the artistic treasures that lie within that prove to be an equally big draw for many. There are many depictions and cave paintings that date back thousands of years. Human and animal figures are shown on the cave walls showing the typical dress and depictions of various battle scenes.
There is a lot to Pachmarhi than meets the eye. It’s natural beauty and elevated location, in conjunction with the legend has helped in bolstering the tourism for the town. The town itself became more popular after a ‘discovery’ by Captain Forsyth in 1857. It was put on the map when it was converted into a base for the soldiers of the Central Province.
It is famous for many things – natural waterfalls that cascade merrily from bubbling streams, clear rivulets that merrily dance their way downwards, enticing people hot and bothered from a scorching sun to bathe in the cool waters, lush green forests that fill the land around with life and stunning vistas that enchant the heart.
Visitors may have to take a rather lengthy route to get there, but in this case, the wait will be worth the time and effort. You may have to travel for hours on end, either driving down dusty roads or enduring the bus ride over bumpy roads. When you do reach Pachmarhi, it will feel like the haven after the journey. So if you are ever in the area of the Central Provinces, it may be a good idea to take a break and head for cooler climes without having to traverse though the country.