The city of Jabalpur is almost the central point of India. It is a typical bustling Indian city, which has major centres for production of arms and ammunition to its credit.
While there are some wonderful and unique places to explore in Jabalpur, the city is mainly used as a night-stay for tourists visiting wildlife sanctuaries near by.
We were keen to see the beautiful Narmada river that nestles Jabalpur in its arms. Narmada is one of the only three major rivers that flows in Peninsular India, from the East to the West. In fact, it is the longest ‘west flowing’ river and is interesting as it flows in a rift valley.
We boarded the comfortable Jammu Tawi Jabalpur Express train and took a cab to our hotel, Narmada Jacksons. We had asked the driver to take us through the city, to get a feel of the place. He took us to the centre of the city to show us the Clock Tower or Ghantaghar. The place was as chaotic as a city’s centre could get.
This small town, a little away from Jabalpur, is nestled on the banks of the mighty Narmada river. The best tourist sights include the Chausath Yogini temple, the Dhuandhar falls and the marble rocks.
Chausath Yogini Temple
So, after freshening up, we made a beeline towards Bhedaghat, stopping enroute to pay obeisance at one of the oldest heritage sites in India-The Chausath Yogini Temple. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her 64 female attendants (yoginis). The name finds mention in the aarti of the Goddess (Chausath Yogini Gaavat; Nritya Karat Bhairon) which reiterates that 64 female disciples are singing her praises while the demon ‘Bhairon’ dances with reverence.
The 10th century temple is situated on a hilltop. We climbed about 150 easy steps to reach it. From the top, we could see the Narmada flowing majestically in the distance.
The temple ws partially destroyed by the Mughal invaders; as could be seen in some idols.
The layout of the temple was so different from the usual temples.
There were 64 shrines, in a circular shape for the 64 Yoginis, who face the main shrine that has the idols of Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati seated on Nandi the Bull.
The ‘Yoginis’ were considered very powerful; often as sorceress causing destruction and so were revered.
Each ‘Yogini’ was exquisitely carved in a different posture. The carving seemed similar to the carvings in the famed Khajuraho temples.
While travelling to these places, do remember to carry your own water and some food stuff. There are not many eating joints here in case you want to have some refreshments.
So lugging our knapsack, we were off to see the revered Narmada.
As the name suggests, the ‘dhuan’ or ‘smoke’ in the form of water vapour, is produced by the cascading water from the falls, as it plummets about 30 meters. The ‘dhuan’ can be seen from a distance, especially in the monsoons and we could hear the thunderous sound of the water fall at the car park, almost a mile away.
We walked through a narrow road that had small shops on either side, mostly selling small items made of marble. Since the white marble here, is as soft as soapstone, you can have your name carved on it using just a scalpel.
When we reached the falls, the sight of the cascading water, which looked milky white, was absolutely mesmerising. The spray of cool water mist that hits your face as you draw nearer, is totally refreshing. We easily spent an hour or two here and could have sat for longer if we didn’t have to get onto the boat ride to see the marble rocks.
A boat ride on the Narmada, that takes you through the 100 feet marble rocks on either side, is the high light of Jabalpur tourism. This is the most picturesque boat ride between white, shining marble rocks, that you can ever take. In fact, its rated as one of the best in the world.
The majestic river has cut its way through the rocks, forming a gorge which at a particular point is so narrow that monkeys can jump across from one side to the other. This point is named the ‘Bandar Kudni’ (monkey’s jumping point).
You can take your pick of the boat — either a motorboat or a row boat (Rs 30 per person). The advantage of the former is that you will definitely be taken up to the ‘Monkey Point’ while of the latter is that you get to have a leisurely ride on the river, can take wonderful pictures of the ‘marble wall’ and enjoy the boatman’s hilarious commentary in a sing-song voice, based on Bollywood movies. The down side of the row boat is that if the current is too rapid, the boatman will not venture close to the ‘Monkey Point’ and you could miss this fascinating place.
We returned back very happy.
Reaching Ghantaghar in time for dinner, we decided to try this place’s famed “Indian Chinese”. Jabalpur, as such doesn’t have any particular speciality where cuisine is concerned.
Their ‘street food’ is nice if you have a taste for spice. Do try their jalebis.
The next day, we left for Kanha National Park, just 4 hours away by road.