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Madhya Pradesh - Amarkantak - The Holy Hindu Pilgrim Destination
Amarkantak, the holy Hindu pilgrimage, was a divine place for sages and saints on the long-drawn-out Narmada River banks and is located at an elevation of 1065 meters of Vindhya hill. The natural backdrop around the pilgrimage spot is mesmerizing. This is the sanctified place where the elevated Vindhya hill and the lofty Satpura hill meet at. The pilgrimage is pulling huge crowds every year and its renowned name had been found in various Hindu epics, such as, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.
The slopes of the surrounding mountains decorate the city. The entire city enjoys the cool shadowy shades of sal trees. Plenty of devotees and pilgrims flock to Amarkantak to touch the holy water rivulet of Narmada River. The tranquility and spectacular environment around would definitely enthrall one and all. The natural splendor of Amarkantak had been described in Meghdoot, written by Kalidas. A city had been blessed with a number of devout saints.
The temple complex of Amarkantak is surrounded and shielded by a fortification. The entire temple complex houses 27 temples. The consecrated Narmada temple is famous among the divine temples of Amarkantak. A 3 feet tall idol of Narmada Mai, made up of black stones by Maharaja Gulab Singh during 9th century, had been revamped by the emperor of Indore in 1929. The deity is well equipped with Kamandal (water pot) and Barabhoy in both of her hands. The entrance of the divine temple was erected by the Rewa ruler in 1939.
The submerged deity, Narmadeshwar Amarnath is residing on the holy throne of the Pataleshwar Shiva temple, located at the opposite side of the hallowed Narmada temple. Previously there was a bamboo grove, due to which the name of the deity was given as Beneshwar Mahadev. An idol of the small elephant, positioned in front of the temple, welcomes the throngs of temple lovers. A head less rider is sitting on the stony elephant idol. It is believed that if anybody passes through the small space (1 ½ square km) between the four legs of the elephant idol, then his/her sins are eradicated. The quadrilateral- shaped deity is also residing in the temple.
A staircase would take you down to the Kotitirtha. A tiny well, at the left hand side of the temple, is popularly known as Narmada Mai Ki Udgam. You can even take a bath in the adjoining huge well which gets water though the Gomukh channel. A number of other temples are dotted in and around the temple complex. It is believed that the deity, Narmada, had grown from the foot of Shiva and a droplet of sweat of the deity Narmada had given the birth of the Narmada River. A small well is the source of the Narmada River. The River flows across 1301 km and ends its voyage in Gujarat.
The excitement and thrill of the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Narmada and Nagpanchami are admirable. Tourists and pious saints flock to Amarkantak from faraway places. You can visit Amarkantak any time during the year but it is recommended to avoid the rainy seasons. The temperature in summers stays around 16 to 38 degrees Celsius where as the people of Amarkantak witness the temperature of 4 to 25 degrees Celsius in winters.
A lot of other deities, such as, Manasha, Karthik, Gorakhnath, Rohini, Parvati, Balasundari, and Sri Durga, are residing on the thrones of their respective temples in the propinquity.
The idols of Shiva and Narmada are there both in Narmada and Pataleshwar Shiva temples.
Stroll in and around the city to watch Kapildhara, Karan Mandir, Kapil Ashram, Dugdhadhara, Kailas Ashram, Mai Ki Bagiya, Sonamura and Chabutra. If you are unwilling to take a walk around, then you can always hire a jeep or auto for a comfortable tour of Amarkantak.
Kapildhara, on the way to the Birla Mines, is just 7 km away from the heart of the city. The stream of the Punyatoya Narmada is completely hidden in the territory but suddenly it comes out and jumps on the vale from a height of approximately 200 feet. The natural locale around is attention-grabbing. The ashes of Jawaharlal Nehru were immersed here. The place is popularly known as the Nehru Chabutra in the vicinity.
The devotional ground which looks like Kamandal (water pot) is famous as Bhrigu (the saint) Kamandal.
Interested tourists and all the devotees should climb up the Kapil Ashram through 100 stair ways. Kapildhara is located at the left hand side of the Kapil Ashram where as a tract at the right hand side of the Ashram would take you to the astounding Dugdhadhara. Take a walk to Dugdhadhara and watch the beautiful feral stream of the Narmada River which jumps down on the vale from an altitude of 50 feet. Engrossed holiday makers can enjoy a bath in the water stream of Dugdhadhara as well. A number of mythological tales are associated with the Dugdhadhara waterfall as well. The cave of the saint Durvasa was there near the Dugdhadhara waterfall previously. The River Narmada crosses the territory of Dugdhadhara waterfall and disappears underground once again.
The sanctified Sonamura, located at the back end of the Rangmahal temple, can be accessed through the road at the left hand side of the temple. It is 1 ½ km away from the temple. This is the place where the Son River starts its journey from. A small kund (well) and its standstill water are special attractions of Sonamura. The Sunset point, located right in front of Sonamura, offers a panoramic sight.
The Sukdevananda Ashram, on the way back from Sonamura to the city, is a tantric temple complex which houses 108 temples inside the temple complex. The impressive architectural creations and beguiling sculptures would enthrall everyone. The spectacle of the range of mountains around is praiseworthy.
The pentagonal Gayatri temple or Markandeya Ashram is located on the way to the Sukdevananda Ashram. The divine Panchanan Shiva who was worshiped by Shankaracharya is residing in the holy temple. The divinity of this temple has been pulling plenty of pious saints over the years.
The hallowed Hanuman temple is situated right at the entrance of the Gayatri temple. However, you have to be careful here. Otherwise monkeys can create problems for you all of a sudden.
Don’t miss the opportunity to watch the astounding Durga temple, amidst the Mai Ka Bagiya (garden of mother), on the way back to the city from Gayatri temple. A number of kunds (wells) are dotted around the entire terrain.
Located at the rear end of the holy Durga temple, Kailas Ashram is another enticement of the city of Amarkantak. If you are high on energy then you can ride on a car from the Kailas Ashram to Sitaram Ashram.
Kabir Chabutra, about 5 km away from the main doorway of the city, is a gateway to the divine land, the village of the saint Kabir who was a Muslim. Surprisingly he used to believe in the divine power of Ramchandra. The holy temple here showcases a small shoe pair of Kabir. The hot spring called Dhuni Pani is located on the way as well.
If you are interested then you can travel to the well spread territory at the foothill of Mekhala hill. Other remarkable and sought after destinations in the close proximity are Uduka, Patpuriya plateau, Amritadhara, Chilka and holy premise of the Bagh deity in the middle of Kodiagarh forest.
The Sohagpur Birateshwar Shiva temple, about 4 km away from Shahdol (avail a bus to Shahdol from Amarkantak), resembles the structure of the temple of Khajuraho.
A number of hotels are available for the tourists in Shahdol, Umaria and Katni. Hotel Bandhabgarh, Hotel Prakash, Hotel Sonu, Hotel Sukla and Hotel Bandemataram are few notable names of hotels in Umaria.
Chirimiri is another nearby destination which is known as a land of coal. The natural setting of the entire manor is stunning. The untamed water stream of the gigantic waterfall, namely Ananda dhara is one of the prime attractions of Chirimiri. The undulating hilly lands of Chirimiri are covered with thick bushes.
How to reach: Tourists who are traveling to Amarkantak from Kolkata have to avail a train to Bilaspur which is again connected to the Pendra Railway station through the Bilaspur- Katni railway track. Amarkantak, about 43 km away from Pendra Railway Station, can be accessed by bus. Amarkantak is well connected to Allahabad, Bilaspur, Raipur, Chitrakoot and Jabalpur by bus as well.
Where to stay: Sal Valley Resort, Prince Cottage, Sreeram T L, Narmada Lodge, Srimata Sadan, Sarvodaya Vishram Griha, Kalyan Seva Ashram, Sree Gopal Ashram, SADA Dharmasala and Shivaraj Hotel.
Check our hotel booking links below for photos, rates, options and online bookings.