One of the most visited destinations in Madhya Pradesh is the hill station of Pachmarhi. Having lost count on the movies in which I could spot this beautiful strip of land, this fact didn’t come across as much of a surprise either. Along with this comes the creamy frosting of being recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
A dreamy hill station enveloped by little greens and a pleasant breeze.
Tropical climate toned down by the sprinkles of freshness from the waterfalls.
Single drop to tiered falls leading to natural pools waiting to calm your senses.
One of the richest and exotic portions of a national park, enhanced by natural caves ornamented by murals.
If the imagery isn’t convincing you enough to pack your bags, let me take you through 15 such magical places that would do the work.
Top 15 places to visit
1. Rajat Prapat
Distance: 6.5 km
Opening Hours: 10 am – 6pm
The tallest waterfall of Pachmarhi and the 30th highest in India is the Big Fall or more commonly known Rajat Prapat. Falling gracefully from a height of 106 metres, it flows straight through a gorge that’d bring a shimmer to your eyes with its silver streaks.
A good amount of time can be spent during the golden hours watching the waterfall create a beautiful show of reflections. What makes this place a must-visit is that it can be both calming and adventurous at the same time.
Taking prior permission from the forest department, you can trek your way up to these majestic falls. It can be quite challenging and risky during the monsoon downpours, so choose an appropriate time for the visit based on your trekking experience.
2. Pandav Caves
Distance: 1.2 km
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Tracing back to the exile of Pandavas, there are five rock-cut temples built in honour of the five brothers. Believed to have been built as a shelter during their exile period, it was later inhabited by Buddhist monks for meditation.
Resonating with a mystical vibe, the place is home to simple and subtle carvings.
The temple can be spotted amidst the forests of Pachmarhi and has an attractive floral garden right around the entrance.
Set against the grand Satpura ranges, these humble caves are a beautiful contrast and definitely, a must-visit.
Pandav Caves are also believed to be the place from where the name of the hill station was derived – “Panch” meaning five and “Marhi” means caves. So Pachmarhi was a contribution of the five caves where the history of this hill station was unearthed.
3. Bee fall
Distance: 4.4 km
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
While you’re metres away from this picturesque spot, you’d hear a bee-like sound, which explains the naming of the falls.
Don’t get it wrong with the annoying buzzing, it’s instead more like a rhythmic sing-song to the ears.
Cascading from an altitude of 35 metres, the waterfall is also a major source of water for the locals living around here. So while you’re around here, you can completely trust these waters and stoop down to drink out of it.
Most of the adventure junkies conduct a circuit trek from the Bee falls to Prapat Kund via Apsara falls.
There are also accompanying off-road jeep rides that’d surely give you all the right thrills and scares. Either this or you could peacefully sit by the waters and dive in for a refreshing swim.
4. The Mahadev temples
Distance: 15 km
Opening Hours: Open at all hours
Two cave temples dedicated to Lord Shiva lie not far from the hills of Pachmarhi. The 60m long caves conduct regular pooja and aarti, due to which there’s always a crowd of people here. Tourists and locals both flock down here ritually.
The place has great mythological importance as it is said that Lord Vishnu had transformed into the celestial Mohini here to kill Bhasmasura. Which makes this cave an important pilgrimage site as well as a symbol for goodness prevailing over evil.
This also reflects architecturally, as the narrow caves are quite dark until you reach the temple, where the lights reflect brighter.
Bada Mahadev and Gupt Mahadev shrines are among the oldest in Pachmarhi, and so would require certain caution for getting around. A flashlight would always come handy in this narrow cave. It can only accommodate one person to get through the cave at a time and is wider around the place of worship.
Distance: 4.6 km
Opening Hours: Open at all hours
The tallest peaks of Madhya Pradesh are the Dhoopgarh, and so they give undoubtedly the best views of the entire town. Ascending up to the peak which is located at 1350 metres above sea level, is a thrilling and fun-filled experience.
Just sitting by here and watching the sunset down upon the hill station is something you’d want to tie up your shoes and climb the hills over and over again for.
If this vacation was a getaway, these peaks are where all of it unfurls. With the unfiltered view of the Satpura Range and Mount Dhupgarh, it is an ideal spot for some relaxation and picnic.
At night, it’s even more sublime with the city lights from the neighbouring towns of Itarsi lighting up the view.
So be it a trek or a drive up to the hills, you’re in for some breathtaking taking view.
Distance: 15 km
Opening Hours: Accessible at all hours
Trek your way up to the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva in Pachmarhi. The Chauragarh Temple is on the third highest peak of Pachmarhi at an altitude of 1330 m, with above 1,000 stone stairs. An easy climb of 3 km along with a moderately difficult one for a km would lead you to this architectural masterpiece.
It’s a common sight here to watch devotees going up to the temple, holding a trident and chanting mantras. Especially during the Mahashivratri and Nagpanchami celebrations, where lakhs of Trishuls are kept in the temple as offerings. It’s a view that reflects the immense faith of people and is something that’d remain captured in your mind forever.
The holy Dharamshala, natural pond, architecture dating back to the Gond dynasty – all of it makes the temple complemented by the Chauragarh fort, a visit you’d not want to miss out on.
7. Handi Khoh
Distance: 3.7 km
Opening Hours: 7 am – 5 pm
A canyon that’s going to catch the eye of every nature lover. En route Chauragarh, this 100m gorge can be spotted amidst hills towering at almost thrice it’s size.
The vantage point offers a clouded view of the Chauragarh and the Priyadarshini viewpoint making it a perfect pitstop with a preview of the spectacles that lay ahead.
Naturally formed were previously a lake had dried up, the gorge is shaped like a horseshoe or an earthen pot with falling edges. After which the locals named it the “Handi Khoh”.
The silence that lingers in the air here is often interrupted by the sounds from the ravine and the forests that envelopes it. The terrain of the cliffs here is ideal for trekking, cycling, hiking, horse riding and so on.
8. Apsara Vihar
Distance: 1.8 km
Opening Hours: 9 am – 3:30 pm
A small natural water pool en route to Bee Fall from Rajat Prapat. Just as celestial as its name suggests, it’s a hidden gem within the forests. Ideal for some solitary time and to enjoy the calmness of this hill station.
It’s a short trek from Rajat Prapat and is a sight to behold during the monsoon season when it cascades in all its glory.
The waters trickle down from rocky boulders and get collected up in the pool below. Being formed naturally, it has been often associated with mystical stories that gave it the name which translates to “Fairy Pool”.
Take a leap here or just sit on the dewy grass dipping your legs in the water, it’s going to be a pitstop that’d make you wish you could halt for longer.
9. Christ Church
Distance: 450 m
Opening Hours: Sunday Mass Hours
The British touch in Pachmarhi. Built around the late 1800s and early 1900s, the simple sandstone structure gives off the much-needed country vibe to the hill station. With the perfect amount of aesthetics, lattice works and stained glass windows accommodated in an otherwise humble-looking structure.
The Gothic style would strike your fancy instantly, and exploring further you’d come across more interesting stories around the church. Said to be built without even a single supporting pillar, the church has stood all tests of times and is a marvel worth visiting.
Just around the church, there’s a cemetery where you could trace the tombs back to the period of World War. So it’d be safe to say that the grave affair would surely interest the history buffs.
The church doesn’t observe frequent prayers other than the Sunday masses, but a visit just to understand the age-old architecture and craftsmanship falls on the list.
Distance: 4.6 km
Opening Hours: NA
Nature sure has its way with surprises, and this place remains proof to that fact.
A mysterious cavern that opens from both the ends and has everything in between that could challenge the traveller within you. Looking out for the cave amidst the dense and thickly covered forests itself is a task and then comes ahead of the actual challenge.
Scramble your way through the dirt track opening and make your way to through the cracks and crevices of the boulders that illuminate the path. It’s believed that the caves were earlier populated by the sloth bears Orr “Reech”, and it’s their natural home that we take the liberty of exploring.
Halfway through you’d be greeted by a narrow canyon that streams water during monsoons and remains drier otherwise. To make it to the other end of the cave, you’d have to pass through this canyon and trace your path to the exit.
11. Duchess fall
Distance: 7.1 km
Opening Hours: Open at all hours
From Reechgarh, follow the roaring sound of masses of water crashing on boulders and you’d reach this elfin waterfall.
Nestled away in the foliages with a pond of crystal clear water, this place looks right out of a fairytale land.
An arch of entwined branches towering over you and leading your path through the 2-3 hours hike. The steep inclination can be extremely difficult for some, so carry some essentials. Once you reach the falls, you could dip your legs in the pond filled with Doctor Fish that’d relax your limbs. It’s a sort of natural spa treatment, one of the other wonders of nature.
It’s quite tiring, yet really really worthwhile.
12. Pansy pool
Distance: 7 km
Opening Hours: 7 am to 6:30 pm
Picture perfect and picnic perfect. Also known as the Vanashree vihar, this small yet stunning lake offers some really good time in Pachmarhi.
Located at Denwa brook, you can carry your picnic mats to this place and savour the most beautiful sunset.
If you’re looking to pepper up a dull day, then you’ve come to the right place. With quad riding, horse riding, boating and camel riding, you’ve got just in luck to try your hand at new and exciting adventures.
There are several eateries that are lined up around, to offer warm snacks to munch on to with a cup of refreshment. Along with the spellbinding view, these cafe-like set-up’s are an addition to boost up the tourism sector, and it sure seems to be working out fine.
13. Ramaya Kund
Distance: 6.5 km
Opening Hours: 8 am – 6 pm
How does a hilltop pool with a picturesque view sound like? You wouldn’t know until you take the leap, and here’s your chance at it.
Not farther away from Reechgarh is this beautiful series of the fresh stream. From the underground, it falls back into a Kund, from where a small hike away is the Sangam/ Fuller’s Khud. This is where the waters converge and even more further goes the pools of shallow crystal waters within the deep forest.
Most people come here for a refreshing stop or a brief picnic. Splashing around the waters and sipping out of a warm flask with friends and family gives you the much-needed break.
Along with all that, watching the mountain streams coming down and converging at a common point, trying to pick out the different shades of the waters, and watching the clouds mystically reflect on the waters is something that’d leave an imprint on your diary of memories.
14. Satpura National park
Distance: 7.9 km
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
The 524 sq. km bewitching park coming under Satpura Tiger Reserve includes the Bori Sanctuary and the Pachmarhi Sanctuary. The home of many including the Bison, Panther, Black Buck, Blue-Bull, Four-horned deer and so on, has been conserved since the 1980s.
Since then there have been constant efforts to develop it to accommodate the tourists without bothering the wildlife.
Going on an open jeep safari or an elephant ride through the dense forest. Spotting the wildlife roam around freely. Making their way to the small rivulets flowing from the lofty peaks. Deep gorges and ravines, all of it show that they’ve managed to accommodate this beautifully in Pachmarhi.
Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or not, this park’s got activities and views that’d keep you engaged and not give space for even one dull moment for the day.
15. Bison Lodge
Distance: 1.9 km
Opening Hours: 8 am – 7 pm
Bringing the ending note to a trip has always been a difficult task, especially when it’s a place that’s so rich in every aspect of life. From culture, traditions, wildlife, architecture and so on.
Housing every bit of it is the oldest known house in Pachmarhi, the Bison Lodge. What makes this humble museum a must-visit is the priceless belongings from the forests covering the hills.
Curating graphs, maps, pictures of the Pachmarhi wildlife and floral species, stuffed animals and so much more. It becomes one of the most visited tourist attraction around here, driving for both information and interest.
A garden sits outside the lodge with a serenity and beauty similar to that of the entire hill station. Earlier it was the residence of the British Captain Forsyth, and so the house has an old-school British vibe to it, which would also fascinate you.
How to reach here
The only hill station of Madhya Pradesh.
One of the highest points around the state.
Part of the infamous Biosphere reserve at the Hoshangabad district.
All these factors make it one of the most visited tourist places around the state and a well-connected one as well.
While there’s no direct air or rail connectivity to Pachmarhi, there’s plenty of local transport available including the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation.
By Air :
The nearest airport is at a 5-hour drive from Pachmarhi. The Raja Bhoj Airport at Bhopal, located at a distance of 216 km has direct flights coming in from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Indore, Raipur, Hyderabad, etc.
The next airport at close proximity would be the Jabalpur airport that lies 256 km from the hill station.
The Pipariya Railway Station is at the closest proximity from Pachmarhi. Located not farther than 55 km from the hills, the place can be reached within an hour or so.
Pipariya station has many connecting trains from Jabalpur, Bhopal, Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Howrah, Agra, Gwalior, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and so on.
The Pipariya line remains on the Itarsi-Jabalpur rail line, which brings in the second rail option. The Itarsi railway station which is around 3 hours drive from Pachmarhi is usually preferred due to the frequency of buses and other public transport from there.
There’s an array of public transport options, which can be availed either by booking it beforehand or by arranging for one when you reach the airport or railway station. The Army Cantonment area is located quite nearby, due to which the roads are maintained well and good.
In case you’re driving down on your own, a bunch of milestones along with a proper route map would facilitate your journey.
Distance from Itarsi – 120 km (3-hour drive)
Distance from Bhopal – 206 (5-hour drive)
Distance from Nagpur – 227 km (5 and half hour drive)
Distance from Jabalpur – 250 km (6 hours 20 min drive)
Distance from Indore – 340 km (8 and half hour drive)
Best time to visit
It’s one of the surprising elements in a place which otherwise experiences a subtropical climate. Pachmarhi can be visited throughout the year based on your preference.
The ideal time to enjoy its beauty without missing out on much would be during the months between October to February. The climate is perfect, the waterfalls cascade with the post-monsoon pours, and the hills are covered with dewy greens.
Summertime is usually opted by those who would love to avoid the touristy crowd and would want to stick to a budget. This is the time the hotels do not peak their prices as there aren’t many visitors. You could also peacefully enjoy the hills taking your own sweet time, with the heat of the day and the chilling nights.
The monsoon season can be a little tricky as the place receives heavy rainfall. It’s a soothing climate complimented by the freshness of the rains. Trekking through the rain-soaked terrains and finding the trails through the blanket of mist is thrilling at the same time risky if you don’t have a guide or prior experience.