By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2017

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AMARKANTAK is known as Teerthraj - the king of pilgrimages. It is the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Satpura Ranges, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. Three rivers - the holy Narmada, the Sone and the Johila - emerge here. U see Narmada Mandir and Kund. "Puranic name of Amarkantak was Riksha parvat."

In Narmada Mandir is Narmada Udgam i.e. where the holy river first emerges. I had no plans to visit but when bulava-call comes things just happen. Reached Jabalpur at 3 pm. From Inter State Bus Terminus took bus for Amarkantak at 7.30 pm, reached at 1.30 am, distance of 230 kms. It was freezing in Nov. Ashrams closed so slept in the sleeper bus.

Morning 6 am took a room in this Gurudwara for Rs 300/. Washed up and set out. Guru Nanak visited Amarkantak for a dialogue with Kabir since he is said to have meditated here. Gurudwara made in memory of that visit. Many ashrams here too of which Kalyan Ashram is a must visit.

Tells you what to see. Narmada Mandir, Kabir Chabutra, Sonpuda, Kapil Dhara, Kabir Sarovar, Maikal Park, Jaleshwar Dham. Of these missed the Kabir Chabutra and Sarovar.

Water flows out of temple into this area. Early morning view. Amarkantak is so peaceful and heavenly. It is situated at a height of 1000 M.

Ladies from Maharashtra chanting the Gayatri Mantra on the banks of Ma Narmada. "Stories from the various books suggests that the Pandavas had spent their years of exile here. In the 15th century was handed over Baghelas and in 1808, the Bhonsle of Nagpur ruled the region."

Jain Temple under construction on top of the hill. In Bhedaghat too was an old Jain Mandir i.e. being rebuilt. In so many pilgrimage places find Hindu & Jain Temples along with gurudwaras.

Image of Bhagwan Mahavir inside the temple.

The Shri Yantra Mandir. It is under renovation so could not enter. " The Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, is located at a distance of no more than 40 km from Amarkantak in Chhattisgarh."

Close up of Sri Yantra Mandir. Lower portion depicts churning of the ocean during Samudra Manthan.

This is called `Ma ki Bagiya` because it is here that Ma Narmada, daughter of Shiva, would come to play. This natural garden has trees and trees of fruits.

A short drive through dense forests took us to Sonmuda. It is the origin of the Son river. Walk down a bit and you go to viewing point. Best time to go there is sunrise.

Next went to Kapil Dhara. U see Kapil Rishi. "The holy waters of the River Narmada plunge from a height of about 100 feet, from ground level. This cascade gets its name from the Rishi Kapil, who had resided at this place and performed severe religious austerities."

U take a 15 minute trek downhill to the cave. "Kapil Rishi had written ‘Sankhya Philosophy’ an advance treatise on mathematics in the Kapil ashram. Kapildhara is set amidst majestic mountains, dense forests and low lying hills."

This is cave where devotees go. Please help with name of Rishi who did tapasya here. Narmada river plunges deep into the jungles and hills from here.

A Swami chanting mantras at the Narmada Mandir.

A lady sells plants, mainly used in Ayurvedic medicines, enroute to Kapil Dhara. "Surrounding villages are of Central India Tribes where we can see their life style, housing pattern, know about their livelihood, customs, rituals, social pattern etc."

Drive from Amarkantak downhill is lovely as you see. Bus journey takes about 6 hours & very tiring. Best to hire a car from Jabalpur, takes app 4 hours. U can also use for local sightseeing. Note all buses in Madhya Pradesh are private buses which are not the most comfortable and pack in too many people.

Overview of Amarkantak Group of Temples i.e. next to Narmada Mandir. In 8th century Sankaracharya built a Surya Kunda to specify origin of the Narmada. He installed an image of Shiva at Pateleshwar in Amarkantak. The temple was built later by Kalchuri King Karna Deva (1041 to 1073). Album on temples presented separately.

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