Amarkantak – Divine Land of Madhya Pradesh
Amarkantak a.k.a Amarkantaka is a pilgrim town In Madhya Pradesh, India.It is Situated in Anuppur district. Amarkantak boasts of very rich natural beauty, with equally rich Cultural heritage, and Traditions and Customs.
Amarkantak is made up of two words, Amara (Immortal) and Kantaka (Obstruction).The poet Kalidas is said to have mentioned it as Amarkuta, later forming the word, ‘Amarkantaka’. Legends say, Even saying the name of Amarkantaka, will wash away the sins of people. Puranic name of Amarkantak was Riksha parvat. It is not only the Narmada which arises from Amarkantak, because the son River, initially referred to as Jwalawanti of Johila, the Mahanadi and the Amadoh, which is a major early tributary of the Godavari, all rise from within the Amarkantak plateau. Among all the sacred rivers of India, the Narmada occupies a unique place. Legend has it that Lord Shiva blessed Narmada with unique purifying powers. Whereas to purify himself, a devotee requires taking one dip in the Holy Ganga, seven days’ prayers on the banks of Yamuna and three days prayers on the banks of Saraswati, the mere sight of Narmada is enough. A charming folk tale describes the superiority of Narmada over Ganga. Once every year, after she herself is polluted beyond tolerance, Ganga visits Narmada dressed like a dark woman and takes a cleansing purifying dip in its waters! Narmada, which is more than 150 million years older than the Ganges RiverGanga and is considered by many Hindus to be the most sacred for all the rivers of India, Amarkantak itself is sacred to the Hindus and is deemed to be a door-way to ‘Nirwana’.
The history about amarkantak reveals that during the Chendi dynasty hold the region was followed by the Kalchuris in the 10th century. The region in the earlier days was believed to be known as the “Ayodhya“, as mentioned in our vedas, puranas that there was a ashram for the saints of Kapil Muni and Rishi Markand. Stories from the various books suggests that the Pandavas of the Mahabharat epic had spent their years of exile here region was later in the 15th century was handed over Baghelas and in 1808, the Bhosle of Nagpur ruled out the region. Finally in went in the hands of minister of state Goverment. In the Hindu mythology, Narmada is one of the seven sacred rivers of India. Pilgrims bathe in its holy water to wash away their sins. legend has it that once every year, the mighty Ganga comes to Narmada to take a holy dip into its water at the place of its origin.
Best Places to Visit
Amarkantak receives large number of tourists throughout the year. Being a pilgrimage destination, majority of them are Hindu devotees. Apart from being a pilgrimage destination, it is also a popular hill station. So for those who are interested in hill station pilgrim then it is the best option in Central India. Being origin of Holy Narmada river, devotees takes this place with great devotion and respect. While visiting Amarkantak we can see various temples, Kapildhara, Temple of Kalchuri era & Narmada Kund from where river Narmada originates and number of Ashrams. Hindu saints see this place with great respect and visits for meditation and feel the holiness of atmosphere.
In addition to a holy place, forest area of Amarkantak generates the feeling of wilderness of surrounding. This valley is popular among Botanist for huge variety of medicinal plants. Some of them are rare by nature. After visiting temples and other holy places, tourists have chance to visit nearby villages to experience the tribal culture and their rituals. Surrounding villages are of Central India Tribes where we can see they life style, housing pattern, know about their livelihood, customs, rituals, social pattern etc. Being located in South-East of Madhya Pradesh, it shares border with Chattisgarh state in which Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary forest is another wildlife attraction for visitors.
Narmadakund and its vicinity located in the heart of the city of Amarkantak are one of the most significant parts of Amarkantak. This is the place where it is believed that the river Narmada originated.
The place is surrounded by 16 stone temples like the Narmada Temple, Lord Shiva Temple, Annapurna Temple, Guru Gorakhnath Temple, Shri Ram Janki Temple and Shri Radha Krishna Temple. Narmadakund covers a sprawling area of 6 acres of land and comprises over 23 statues of various idols.
Kapil Dhara is one of the non-religious attractions of the holy city of Amarkantak.
Once one has visited all the shrines, they can come here and rejuvenate by drenching themselves into the waterfalls. It is located just 6 km towards the north-west of the Narmadakund Temples. The waterfall is named after the sage Kapil Muni, who is believed to have meditated at this place. The water fall stands tall at about a 100 ft tall and is surrounded by lush green environs.
Trimukhi Temple is located a top hill in Amarkantak and was constructed under the reign of the “Kalchuris”.
It is also known as ‘Karna Mandir’, after King Karnadeb Mahachandra, who built it and is one of most ancient temples of India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer of the universe as per Hindu mythology. The top of the temple is sculpted with the face of Lord Shiva. This shows the immense intricacies carved out by the Kalchuri craftsmen. It is in close proximity to other attractions like Dudh Dhara Falls, Sonmuda, Kabir Chabutra, Mai ki Bagiya and Bhrugu Ka Mandal are some of the other places of tourist interest near the Trimukhi temple.
Shri Jwaleshwar Mahadev is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Gods of the Hindu triumvirate.
It is situated 10 kms away from the town of Amarkantak and towards the north-east of the Narmada Temple. The legend behind the formation of this temple states that when Lord Shiva killed the selfish demon Tripurasura into three pieces, one of the three parts fell near the Narmadakund, which later on turned into the seat of Lord Shiva. This temple houses a Black Shiva Lingam which is known as Jwaleshwar Mahadev. Another piece of trivia is that Lord Shiva and Parvati lived here because of the resplendence of the place.
As the name suggests, this temple was constructed in honour of Goddess Sonakshi. Sonakshi Literally translates to “Eyes Of Gold”. This place is flocked by thousands of tourists during the festival of Navratri because it is believed that Goddess Sonakshi blesses everyone who visits her during that time of the year. The locales around the temple are simple invigorating as the temple gives a beautiful view of Son River and the nearby kund. There is a pathway that leads to the tourists to the border of the hillside, and this hillside is flanked by the exquisite Satpura hill ranges making it for a magnificent backdrop.
The Ancient Temples of Kalachuri Period were constructed under the supervision of Kalachuri Maharaja Karnadeva (1042 – 1072 AD). They reflect the sheer brilliance of the Kalachuri architecture that is also to be seen in temples like the Pataleshwar Mahadev Temple and the Machhendranath Temple.
Mai ki Bagiya translates to Mother’s Garden in English, is situated around 5 km from Narmadakund and covers the surrounding forests.It is a natural grove of trees and is named Mai Ki Bagiya to dedicate it to Goddess Narmada. In this natural garden there are Mango, Banana and other fruit trees along with Gulbakavli, Roses and other flower plants.
The point of inception of Son River is this place situated 1.5 km away from Narmadakund at the very edge of Maikal Mountain called Sonemuda.
The Son River plunges down hundreds of feet from the Maikal Mountain making for a very picturesque view. The Son river owes its name to the Aryan scholars who called it so because of the gold(translates to Son in Hindi) dust that is found in this river.
Shri Sarvodaya Digambar Jain Temple is not one of the ancient marvels of Amarkantak, but it is a new temple which is still under construction. It is also situated in Narmadakund, the inception point of Narmada river. It is understood that the world’s biggest Ashtadhatu Jain idol of one of the Jain Tirthankaras – Bhagawan Adinatha is going to be housed in this new temple.
Kabir Chabutra is located 5 km from Amarkantak on the way to Bilaspur. It is this place that people believe Saint Kabir achieved deliverance.
The local people, the Panikas, consider Kabir Chabutara as one of the holiest places of the Kabirpanthis because Sant Kabir spent many years here in meditation. It is this place where Sant Kabir and Lord Guru Nanak had a rendezvous and happened to come to conclusions to a better way of living for human beings. The chabutra is a small water body, where every morning between 9 am and 10 am, tourists can see white smoke screen spreading over the water.
Best Season to Visit
Amarkantak is a popular pilgrim destination. Although it is a hill station but more popular as a pilgrim destination. Being a important tourism region and sacred place it is visited by tourist through out the year by tourists and holy saints. Most of the visitors prefer to visit in Winters and Summers Season as these are the best time for tourism activities in nearby tourist attractions and climate also favors traveling. Best time to visit Amarkantak is from August to April. During winters and summers its near by tourist destinations like Kanha national park, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve remain open for visitors so tourists makes their plan according to cover nearby tourist attractions along with Amarkantak. During Monsoon season, it receives healthy rainfall and its surrounding greenery attracts nature photographers. Despite of this, if visitor wishes to visit in odd time, he/she can visit as it is open throughout the year for pilgrims and tourists.