Amarkantak is an underrated travel destination. It is too magnificent a tourist spot to miss. Do you want heritage? You have it. Great weather? Yes. Jungles and waterfalls? Done. Mystery and mythology? That too.
Amarkantak is full of forests, valleys and tales of mythology. The town is situated more than 1000 metres above the sea level in the lap of the Vindhya, Satpura and the Maikal mountain ranges. The area is full of natural beauty and dense forest. The forest around Amarkantak reach up to the Kanha National Park which is the abode of the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger.
Amarkantak has a population of only about 9,000 people, making it a very peaceful destination. A major portion of all visitors are pilgrimage tourists. The place is not only significant for Hindus but also for Sikhs, Muslims and Jains. The mountains and forests also invite many photography lovers and nature explorers.
Amarkantak comes from the Sanskrit words ‘amar’ meaning immortal and ‘kantak’, obstruction. The great mystic Kalidasa had mentioned this place in his writings as Amrakuta.
Amarkantak tourism is popular for several reasons but the major reason is the temple and the heritage. Amarkantak is a place which has been religiously significant for thousands of years. It has been known as Teerthraj – the foremost of holy places. The area of Amarkantak is filled with numerous more temples which rich in style and architecture. Every temple is full of mythological significance.
It is the place where the holy Narmada River emanates. Not only does this river support millions of livelihood in India, it is also considered as holy as the Ganges. Narmada Udgam is the temple complex built around the area of the river’s origin and the Kund holds the river’s first waters.
Another significant river that comes out of the Amarkantak region is the Sone. It is about 1.5 km away from the Naramada kund. The Sonmud or Son Udgam is established where the river comes out as a small stream and passes a submerged shivling.
The Sone gets its name from the gold particles that could be found in its waters. The river travels up to Patna from here and merges into the Ganges.
Tourists in Amarkantak also enjoy the amazing views when they visit the river origins. The hills make a wonderful photographic spot. Beware of monkeys though. The lush forests and the Sonmuda waterfalls make a great trip for the tourists.
Shri Jaleshwar Temple
A third river, Johilla also springs from Amarkantak. It is about 8 km away from Amarkantak. Travellers visit the Jaleshwar Temple which is built in that area in the midst of the dense forest.
The shivling of this temple is said to have been made by Lord Shiva himself, along with innumerable smaller ones in the whole mountain range. Because of this, the Maikal mountain range is called the Maha Rudra Meru.
Near the Jaleshwar temple surely visit the sunset point. You will get some amazing clicks of the panoramic view of the mountain range.
Amarkantak Group of Temples
About 1300 years ago, King Karna Deva commissioned the temples what we know today as the Amarkantak or Kalachuri Group of Temples. A large part of Amarkantak tourism is due to these ancient rock cut structures.
Pataleshwar Mahadev Temple is one of the most well known temples in this complex. It is dedicated to the Lord Shiva as the Lord of Pataal, the underworld. This temple with the pyramid shaped Vimana roof is a wonderful example of ancient Indian architecture. It is built slightly below the ground level signifying Pataal.
Sonakshi Siddha Peeth
Sonakshi Siddha Peeth is one of the Shaktipeethas. It is believed to house a part of Devi Sati’s holy body. Thousands of visitors come here to pray to the Goddess. The origin of the Narmada River is near to this temple.
Kabir, the great Sufi saint is a venerated personality for both Hindus and Muslims. This great man spent many years in meditation at Amarkantak. The place where he sat has been preserved as a platform and is called the Kabir Chabutara. Many people visit this holy site to experience the spiritual calmness of this place.
Guru Nanak Ghat and Gurudwara
Amarkantak is very important because one of the greatest gurus, Guru Nanak has visited this place. Not only that, the great saints Nanak and Kabir met and spoke at the bank of Narmada. They had deep conversations.
This special spot has been turned into the Guru Nanak Ghat. A Gurudwara has been made beside the river called the Gurudwara Amarkantak. It is called the Nanak Mukt Dwar or the Road to Salvation.
Points of interest in Amarkantak
There are many points of interest in the Amarkantak area. You can travel through the hills and jungles to see the waterfalls. The forest area is also rich with wildlife and rare plants.
Kapil Dhara Falls
After Narmada emerges from the Narmada Kund and travels six kilometers through the forest, it takes a dive. There is a straight 24 metre fall from a cliff, making this a picturesque waterfall.
After this waterfall, Narmada turns from a stream to a full river. This place is named Kapildhara after Kapil muni, an ascetic of ancient times who meditated in this area.
Dudha Dhara Falls
Just walk a further mile downwards with Narmada and one will reach the milky white waterfall. Named after its foaming waters, the Dudha Dhara waterfall is a beautiful spot in the deep jungle. It is not easy to reach this spot but if you can, you will not be disappointed.
This place is also associated with another ascetic, Sage Durvasa. He is said to have meditated here. There are many mysterious tales of the River Goddess manifesting herself here again and again. There are a few temples around the area.
The best way to enjoy this spot is to simply sit and enjoy the beauty of nature. You can also have a nice picnic here. Bathe in the waters of the Narmada and enjoy the pollution-free and pure area.
Shri Yantra complex
The Shri Yantra temple complex is a point of interest for the Amarkantak visitors. This temple is not yet open and is still being constructed. Strangely it is only worked upon on special days as per astrology. But one can visit and enjoy the exteriors. Named as the Sri Yantra Maha Meru Temple, it is one of the most interesting temples you will ever see.
The temple is supposed to be constructed using ancient techniques and perfect geometric rules. Situated in the midst of the forest area, this one surely looks mysterious.
Mai ki Bagiya
Another of the points of interest in Amarkantak is the Mai ki Bagiya. Situated inside the forest area is a beautiful orchard. The orchard grows some of the best mangoes along with many fruits and flowers. In this beautiful and peaceful destination one can also see many of the rare medicinal plants.
Mai ki Bagiya also has a shrine worshipping the River Goddess Narmada. It is believed that she loves to come to this place and gather the flowers.
Amarkantak is a hotspot for rare and medicinal plants. The rare kali haldi can be found growing in the marshy lands. Other plants like gulbakavali also grow here. The area has been named as the Achanakmar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve covering 3835.51 sq km.
Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the Project Tiger. It is also a part of the Achanakmar – Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve due to its rich flora and fauna.
Connecting to the Kanha National Park at one side, Achanakmar is a beautiful forest and it is full with wildlife. The Royal Bengal Tiger is the primary predator. You can also see leopard, hyenas, jackal, wild boar and the sloth bear. It is also home to the dhole, the Indian wild dog. The Indian Bison or commonly known as the Gaur can be seen here. The forest is home to many kinds of deer – chital, sambar, chousingha, barking deer and the biggest of all, the nilgai.
How to reach Amarkantak
Amarkantak is a small town but it is well connected by road.
The nearest airport is at Jabalpur. It is about 180 km away from Jabalpur. You can take a flight or train till Jabalpur and travel to Amarkantak by bus or hire a car. It will take around 4 hours.
Amarkantak can also be accessed via road from the city of Nagpur, Jabalpur, Rewa or Bilaspur. Raipur is about 205 km from Amarkantak and also has an airport.
Nearest railway station is Pendra Road which lies in the state of Chattisgarh at a distance of 42 km from Amarkantak.
There are many hotels hotels in Amarkantak. You can stay at the Holiday Homes run by MPSTDC. You can see the details here.
A video on Amarkantak
Here is a beautiful video of Amarkantak by Madhaya Pradesh tourism. Enjoy the beautiful footage of the waterfalls and the forest. The beautiful narration takes one into a virtual journey to this place.
Image credits: Kim Bemis, mptourism.com, indiamike.com