A small village of Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh, Patalkot is a hidden scenic tourist destination where you can witness mesmerizing landscapes and the little-known adivasi (tribal) culture. The enchanting village is located around 3,000 feet above mean sea level and is completely alien to the urbanized world, that’s the main reason why you can find here so much greenery and serenity.
‘Patalkot’ name comes from Sanskrit word “Patal” that means very deep. There is a belief that after worshipping ‘Lord Shiva’, Prince Meghnath son of Ravana had gone to Patal-lok through this place only. People say that Bhonsle Kings ruled this place in the 18th and 19th Centuries and that there was a long tunnel connecting this place to Pachmarhi in Hoshangabad District. The Bhonsle King after defeated from British Army found this place suitable for hiding and went deep into the forest of Patalkot. The area is called RajaKho in Patalkot. Traditionally, the site is believed to be the entrance to Patal. This valley had long been cut off from the outside and was discovered only a few years back. Patalkot has been a home to a tribal culture and custom since its origin.
The tribals dwelling in this untouched land, live harmoniously and are gradually uplifting their lifestyle, however they are totally cut off from the current urbanization. The place was completely hidden, few decades ago but due to some travelling enthusiasts and efforts of numerous government administrations, the out of sight valley has now become one of the gripping sightseeing spots in Madhya Pradesh Tourism. When you visit this mystical Patalkot, you can see wall paintings and slogans painted on the walls, along the way to the valley that highlights the importance of eco-system and conservation of nature. It is truly a good way to spread the awareness.
Apart from the picturesque views and tribal culture, Patalkot is also home of few rare and effective medicinal herbs. The tribes here have medical treatment and ailments for many illnesses which has majorly helped them in their existence. They use the effective plants and herbs present in the forest to cure their poor health conditions. Few people who visited the forest in past had cut down the village to easily access the useful herbs as they saw potential profit can be made out of these medicinal plants.
Badal Bhoi State Tribal Museum
There is also a small museum called Badal Bhoi State Tribal Museum which showcases tribal culture of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, their way of living, traditional festivals, Ornaments, Clothes, Musical instruments in form of paintings and artifacts that are shaped by the tribal artists. Until a few years back. it was a world in its own with no influence from outside. To reverse the process of deforestation and forest degradation by positioning in ecotourism as a joint product. The Patalkot model of ecotourism, with the involvement of indigenous communities, has demonstrated its operational deliverance, adaptive evolution capabilities as well as been recognized as a successful model with several elements for replication. It started in 2009 with the joint effort of the ‘Centre for Forestry Research’ and HRD Poama, District Administration and District Olympic Association in which 3000 tribal youth were trained in adventure activities like Parasailing, Paragliding, Rock Climbing, Trekking, Bird Watching and Water Sports. Every year a festival called Satpuda Adventure sports festival is organised during the month of October.
Medicines and Herbs
Patalkot is the home of some rare medicinal plants and herbs, used by herbal healers known as Bhumka. They include Abrus precatorius, Aloevera, Annona Squamosa, Bryonia Lacinosa, Aegle Marmelos, Madhuca indica, Ficus racemosa, Holoptelea integrifolia, Lawsonia enermis, Tylophora asthmatica, Gloriosa superba, Gymnema sylvestre, Hemidesmus indicus, etc. The tribes of Patalkot use the forest plants to make medicines. The herbal practitioners are known as Bhumkas. They make pulps and extracts of plants for curing illnesses. They have medicinal treatments intended to aid with illnesses including, measles, cholera, hypertension, diabetes, coughs, snake bites, and pains (Acharya and Shrivastava, 2008). The ethnobotanical studies done by Dr.Suneesh Buxy in the area revealed that nearly 220 number of floral population are used by Bharia community for treating different diseases. Some of the medicinal plants are highly endangered species and needs protection like Sundew.
Best time to visit
The small valley looks fascinating throughout the year due its rich geographical and panoramic beauty; however the best time to visit Patalkot is during Monsoon. The deep gorge looks breathtaking in rains. Early winter is also ideal for travelling down the village.