The mighty Narmada, said to be older than the Ganges, is the fifth longest river in the country and the lifeline of Central India, especially Madhya Pradesh. It feeds the tribal communities in eastern MP and the forests of Satpura, forms an important pilgrim spot in Omkareshwar and Maheshwar and flows through numerous towns and villages. We’ve seen this mighty river in several places, crossed it multiple times and spent many a sunset along the banks of the river in Maheshwar, a serene little town. One of our most memorable experiences of the river was at Bhedaghat, a little town an hour away from Jabalpur.
En route from Kanha to Bhopal we decided to stop at Jabalpur for a couple of days to explore the famous Dhuandhar Falls and the Bhedaghat marble rocks. Over time the Narmada has flowed through the rocks in this region, creating a deep gorge and cliffs that are about 8 km in length and perfect for a leisurely boat ride. The cliffs here are made of soft marble, closer in property to soap stone, and while they are largely shades of white, wheat and brown, some sections are a funky pink and blue. We got to the river bank where you can hop into a boat, either a private one for your group, or a larger one which leaves as it fills up, not unlike a bus. The boat ride was rather interesting, with the boatmen telling tales of the many movies that have been filmed along the river and spouting funny poetry they have made up for the occasion.
The cliffs are fascinating, tall and narrow in parts, full of colour and interesting designs on them made by years of water flowing down these parts. Floating down the river with gleaming white cliffs on both sides you truly feel like you’re in a scene straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean! Some of the sections are narrow enough for monkeys to jump across and are unimaginatively named ‘Bandar Kodini’, or monkey jumps. While we didn’t see any monkeys jump across we did see a few young kids chilling on the top of the cliffs, ready to leap into the water, if paid well for the feat. Our boat didn’t feel the need to separate with their money, but the one ahead of us did and we were treated to the sight of these kids diving head first into the cold water.
At one end of the stretch along the cliffs is the famous Dhuandhar falls, which translates to ‘smoke that flows’. The height and fierceness of the falls, even in the pre monsoon time, was quite a sight, throwing up heavy mists from which the falls get their name. One can only imagine the ferociousness of it in the monsoon period, when you can visit the waterfall, though the boating is closed. Impressively MP tourism has built proper walkways along one part of the waterfall, for viewing and selfie ops. There is also an excellent cable car across the waterfall, with glass pods to sit in while you cross, giving you a fantastic birds eye view of the mighty fall, which is almost bluish and green in colour owing to the marble and other rocks below.
The waterfall is beautiful and on both sides there are little shops and tea stalls to sit and take in the scene while sipping on some chai with your favourite snack. The setup is quite well done, and if you find yourself in Jabalpur or have some time to spare after a safari trip in Kanha, head to Bhedaghat for an interesting and fun experience.
Some Useful Information:
How to get there: Bhedaghat is located about an hour away from Jabalpur and there are regular buses that ply between the two points.
Where to stay: There are a few budget hotels available in Bhedaghat, the MPTDC property there is the best bet amongst the lot, with a great view of the cliffs and river.
Dont Miss: The path down to the river from where you get on to the boat has a number of shops selling curios and souvenirs made of marble as well as other stones like Onyx. There’s a huge variety of stuff on display and its all pretty well priced.