Sunday, February 18, 2024

Jabalpur

 This was a long pending visit of Jabalpur and Amarkantak.

I had three days at my disposal and so thought of covering the above two places. Though after a close scrutiny, I felt that there are limited options to visit Amarkantak from Jabalpur, unless one has its own vehicle or book a private taxi. 

Going by road from Jabalpur to Amarkantak was scheduled to take more than 6 hours, so with heavy heart I dropped Amarkantak from my itinerary for some other time and decided to cover only Jabalpur for now.

From Lucknow, Jabalpur can be easily covered in a weekend and so I decided to plan for it!

This was a solo trip to Jabalpur, a city situated on the banks of Narmada River.

It is said that Jabalpur was named after a sage named Jabali, who meditated on the banks of the Narmada river. Jabalpur is said to be the ancient Chedi Kingdom of Mahabharata times, to which king Shishupala belonged to.

Train from Lucknow to Jabalpur reached there as per its scheduled time, early morning 530 AM.

One can exit either from Platform 1 or Platform 6. With my experience, I can say that people wanting to visit different tourist places in Jabalpur should exit from Platform 6. People who want to go towards Mandla or Kanha Tiger Reserve can take exit through Platform 1.

I enquired a few hotels nearby, but they were full as marriage season was in progress, so I took an auto, who took me to a decent hotel, Dutt Bhawan. 

I quickly got ready to explore Jabalpur.

I took an auto to Teen Patti bus stand and from there proceeded to Madan Mahal Fort through Metro City bus. It dropped me at Sharda Chowk and from there it was a walk of about a KM to reach there.

Madan Mahal is a fort built by the Gondi king Madan Shahi in 1116 AD which is situated atop a hill. The fort is associated with Rani Durgavati the Gond Queen and her son Veer Narayan. Rani Durgavati had been a martyr as she died fighting Mughal forces of Akbar. 

Just before Fort, there is Balancing Rock, which is a huge stone balanced on the tip of another. One can get confused how that rock has been balanced on top of another rock and it seems that it will fell down anytime....

A flight of stairs took me to fort. First major attraction was a Shiva temple on the left side, inside a cave. I visited and paid my reverence.

Then I took stairs again and reached main area of fort. Only a few structures are remaining owing to brunt of invaders and time. 

The structure generates an aura of awe being compact. There is stable, war rooms, small reservoir and main pleasure chamber of the rulers. 

I spend sometime their capturing moments in camera, while enjoying fresh "Ber".

As I came down from fort, I noticed a few temples nearby, I visited them, one is Shani Temple and another was Sharda mother goddess temple, again through some steps.

Satisfied with my exploration, I walked back towards Sharda Chowk and took city bus to Bhedaghat. 

Bhedaghat has iconic Dhuandhar falls as well as Pachmatha Temple, Chausath Yogini Temple and Narmada Marble Rock boating. Dhuadhar Falls is at the end and rest of the places are about a KM before that. I was not aware and so alighted at Dhunadhar bus stop. After that I walked back about a KM or so to visit Pachmatha Temple, Chausath Yogini Temple and Narmada Marble Rock boating. Dhuadhar Falls, I wanted to take in the end.

Firstly I visited Pachmatha temple. This temple is dedicated to Mother Lakshmi, though it has many other shrines as well. It has been constructed as a Shriyantra. I took blessings of the divine mother and then proceeded towards Chausath Yogini Temple.

Chausath Yogini Temple is a circular temple, with 64 Goddess, representing 64 forms of "Siddhi". In between there is a temple of GauriShankar.

This is very ancient temple and had suffered heavily due to Mughal invaders. Still its a live temple. I paid my reverence to Lord.

One similar Chausath Yogini Temple, I had visited in Odisha, Hirapur also. Its near Bhubaneshwar.

Now I proceeded towards Ghat and took ticket for boat ride.  The boat ride through Narmada reveals the Marble Rocks, where the river has carved the soft marble, creating a gorge of about 8 km in length, this was very exciting. I heard that during full moon night, this place looks just awesome.

Satisfied with my boat ride, I walked back to Dhuandhar Falls.

It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Jabalpur. It is located on the Narmada River in Bhedaghat and is about 30 meters high. The Narmada River, making its way through the Marble Rocks, narrows down and then plunges into a waterfall. The plunge, which creates a bouncing mass of mist, perhaps that's why its name is Dhuandhar!

There is a cable car also there, but I decided not to take it as I had seen falls from very close. Badly tired by now, I decided to take my late lunch there at Bhedaghat.

Next destination was Gwari Ghat It is a beautiful place. Boat ride is also there. Narmada Aarti is also performed here. Across the river, there is a Gurudwara, signifying the visit of Shri Guru Nanak dev ji here.

Though I wanted to wait till late evening to see the aarti, but tiredness in me forced me to take auto back to my hotel. Nearby I took some momos. As I had taken late lunch so was not feeling hungry.

Next day morning, I checked out from hotel and proceeded towards railway station. I put my bag in cloak room and then started exploration of second day.

First destination was Tilwara Ghat.

This is a bit secluded ghat, that what I felt. Metro City bus dropped me at a distance and I need to take an auto to reach there. It was morning around 9 AM, and not much rush was there. I spend some time and then took another auto back to Teen Patti. From here I walked to Rani Durgawati Museum.

Rani Durgavati Museum was established in 1976 in memory of the valiant Gond queen Rani Durgavati. The museum houses a beautiful collection of ancient coins, prehistoric relics, and copper and stone inscriptions.

There are several galleries in the museum namely Shaiva gallery, Vaishnava gallery, Jaina Gallery, Coin gallery, and Tribal art gallery. Paintings depicting the life of Queen Durgavati are displayed on the wall. 

The stone sculptures displayed here include Dhyani Buddha, Bodhisattva, Sthanak Buddha, Bodhisattva Padmapani, Buddhist deity Tara, etc.

The Saiva Gallery houses many outstanding sculptures including dancing Ganesha, Lord Shiva and mother Parvati, Ardhanariswara form, Hari-Hara sculptures of Shiva and Vishnu and Bhairava. These sculptures are datable to the Kalachuri period (9th-12th century). 

The sculpture of Vishnu and his incarnations are displayed in Vaishnava Gallery. 

One can see the sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras in the Jaina Gallery.

The Apsara (Naikas) and Dikpaal Gallery is located on the first floor of the museum. All these sculptures contain the elements of Kalchuri art traditions. Among the Dikpalas here are Indra, Agni, Varuna, Kubera, Yama. Besides, one can see the sculptures of Buddhist deity Tara and Kalyani Devi.

The culture of the Gond and Bega tribes is showcased through models, pictures, and objects in the Tribal Art Gallery. 

A collection of rare inscriptions from the 5th to 12th century AD are displayed in the Inscription Gallery of the museum. 

A rare collection of coins ranging from 2nd BC to 1600 BC is quite interesting. There are stone sculptures displayed in the museum premises and garden.

A visit to Jabalpur is not complete, unless visiting this place.

I still had some time left, so decided to go to Dunma nature Reserve, which is on Airport road and little far away from Jabalpur city Center. There are no City Busues on this route so one need to book a taxi, preferably to and fro.

I took a one way auto and reached there in about half an hour.

This is spread over nearly 1800 acres of forested land on a plateau. The construction of Khandari Dam materialized in February 1883 under J.H. Morris, Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces and Berar. Since then, the forested area provides rainwater to feed the Khandari Reservoir. 

This forest is a dry deciduous type, typical of central Indian mixed forests. It is home to many species of native trees, plants, shrubs, herbs, creepers, climbers, and grasses. The park boasts of diverse ecosystems - woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands. Dumna has a resident population of 9 leopards, nearly 2,000 deer – Cheetal, Barking deer, Four-horned antelope, Jungle cat, Rusty-spotted cat, Wild boar, Crocodile, and more. More than 300 bird species, both migrant and resident, have been recorded from Dumna.

It is an ecotourism site and includes a children's park and a restaurant. A toy train adds to excitement. I took the ride, though this diesel driven toy train is not much worth as it makes lot of noise and so no fauna can be seen from this. 

In my view its a picnic spot with family.

After some wait, I got an auto back to Railway station. A couple of more places I thought of covering as still had sometime. I got reference of Shaheed Smarak and took an auto to reach there. But there is nothing exciting about this place as its more like a place which can be booked for different occasion. This visit can be avoided.

I returned back to railway station. Near to entrance to Platform 6, there is a small monument dedicated to Shankar Shah and his son Raghunath Shah, they were martyred fighting British.

Satisfied but badly tired, I returned back to railway station and took my bag from Cloak Room. 

Morning, I reached home, sweat home!

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