If Wishes Were Horses

We boarded Shaktipunj exp. It has been a long time that i travelled in a long distance train. A welcome noticed plugs are available to charge mobile or laptop. I was browsing Prashant’s blog. In between the stations signal strebgth was low that exhausted my mobile battery within an hour. I put the charger, got a reminder of tamas. The outlet do not work. After some search I located the electrician travelling with the train. unfortunately, that was of little use. The poor fellow is paid to hear abuses. Train is equipped with two 1200 W inverter that runs the lights and also powers the outlets. Capacity is hopelessly inadequate to power laptops that people will plug in where ever they can. Poor electrician has no other option but to isolate the plugs to keep the lights working. I was rewarded with a sneak window after 11:00 pm to recharge my mobile in exchange of being good listener, . After I recharged my mobile, train had passed WB, and with that I lost connectivity from airtel. It gives good service only in metro area. I took it as a welcome change to remain cutoff from the net.

We reached Katni peacefully after four hours from scheduled arrival time. Our original plan was to have lunch at katni and then proceed to Bandhabgarh. Railway has ofcourse do not belive in redundency and did not have any alternate arrangement for lunch. So a day went without lunch. Must thank railways to help me with my weight loss!

Bandhavgarh white tiger forest lodgw was a pleasant surprise. For a change even the window pane was spotlessly clean. Unfortunately we reached on wednesday, it is rest day for the tigers. No safari is allowed inside the forest. This piece of information is not made public. One gets to know this onreaching the spot.

 Fortunately we had booked two nights stay. Spent the first day exploring the lodge and around. The place is full of colorful spiders and flowers. There were plenty of them.

There were huge webs of giant wood spider. They will spin 4-5 feet big web and wait at the center.

 These are brightly colored advertising their poisonous nature to warn potential predators. Birds will never touch these large spiders.

 There are plenty of other flowers. For some unknown reason, yellow color seem to dominate the place.

 Here is a change with tinge of red visible

 And here we have the thorny variety. Popularly known as “Bagh Nokh” in Bengal.

 There are plenty of bird that do not observe the official holiday and came to visit us. Here the parrot is pretty difficult to spot.

Beside the giant wood spider, there are other hairy kind. These will hide during day time and come out in their web only after sunset.

There are other flower that I could not find any detail.

 Next day was promising. We started our day with a pug mark, advertising presence of tiger on the road. All of us were very excited with the prospect to meet the king.

 We find elephants are waiting in anticipation to take us inside the deep forest where tiger would have made some kill.

Sambars have a field day watching some strange animals wearing funny skins.

Here is some practical lesson on art of advertisement. A male tiger has marked its strength by making scratch marks on the tree.

Seeing us approaching peacock makes a hasty retreat. It do not trust us.

 We see a ray of hope for finding the elusive King.

 Some Cheetals glides past us

A Serpant eagle watches us from tree top perhaps wondering why these beasts are polluting the environment by making so much noise and smoke.

A Neelkant makes its appearance to showcase its brown and blue coloring

But soon the Eagle looses its interest.

Neelkant follows the eagle

Here another one is after its food.

A Great Indian Owl looks stoically, unable to act till it is dark.

Bandhavgarh claims to have 66-70 tigers in its 105 Sq Km area. It may be a good statistical puzzle to find the improbability of viewing a tiger.

We leave the owl and forest department to debate over the claim and proceed to Jabalpur. On the way we are greeted by some great landscape.

Hotel – Kalchuri has some very skilled rangoli artists and proudly displays its skill.

A trip to Bargi Dam is essential to understand the Narmada controversy.

 All we see is the mark of human presence. Men of litters have left their mark for the posterity.

 Somehow the crane is oblivious to environmental impact of Medhaji and her vociferous supporters

Dhuadhar falls is still there but waterflow seems to be a bit less maybe due to the dam.

 Marble rocks are there for boating. This by the way will be possibly qualify for costliest water fall, with river flowing a bed of costliest variety of pink and blue marble, that cost more that $100 for a sq foot slab.

 One must take the ride in crowded boat to here the commentary that is provided as part of the ride.

A Trip to Jabalpur is incomplete unless you have checked out this rather marvel of engineering and art. 76 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva.

Pachmarhi is our next destination. named after Five cave dwelling that overlooks the valley. Thanks to ignorant overjealous naming freaks, the caves are called pandav guha, named after Pandav brothers who stayed there.

 Only problem with these claim is the distinct similarities with caves of Ajanta and Ellora and use of stone bricks that dots the place. Archaeologists claim the structure to be of 1200AD, but the advertisement of mass ignorance remains. Pachmarhi is dotted with many caves and hills that one can spend age trying to explore.

 Here is a grand view of the garden below Pandav Caves

Rajen was a great resource in Pachmarhi. He is very knowledgeable about the road as well as plants and animals.

One needs to get a guide in Pachmarhi. This being an Army area maps are scarce and not accurate. Unless you know the place, you will not be able to find right spot without a guide. Here he is with my son.

Satpura hills offer some good photo ops.


If you are at Pachmarhi, buy some oney. Bees have a fascination for the place and makes giant beehives all over the hills.

Also listen for this beautiful bird You will need to get up early to hear the songs of this Malabar Whistling Thrush.  Saw it near Jata Shankar Caves

Hills offer some great landscape. One need to walk around the place to discover some great view.

Pachmarhi has some exotic butterflies – here is one Baronet Butterfly.

Here is another view – named after Indira Priyadarshini.

Even common Putus offers some magnificent colors, that is difficult to ignore.

Pachmarhi hills are made of Sandstone. This makes the hills have rather large number of springs that remain active round the year.

Here is one such fall – Bee Fall.

Dhup garh is the highest point at 4470′ offers magnifisent view of valley. Sunset is the time when one needs to be present there to get some nice view of the orange globe and a poetry of gray hills.