Pachmarhi plateau is a sky island virtually isolated from the surrounding lowlands. Thus it supports fauna and flora that are otherwise found only in the Eastern Himalayas or the Western Ghats (Sahyadris).
The Pachmarhi plateau is the highest part of the Satpura Hills reaching an altitude of about 4000 feet (1219 M) with Dhoopgarh the highest peak in Central India at 4429 feet (1350 M). In a way the Pachmarhi plateau is a sky island virtually isolated from the surrounding lowlands. Thus it supports fauna and flora that are otherwise found only in the Eastern Himalayas or the Western Ghats (Sahyadris). Millions of years of erosion have sculpted a wildly beautiful mountain landscape and the whole area is a most incredible treasure-house of scenic and natural riches for those who love getting away into wild country on foot.
Forsyth’s now organises a superb combination package where you can spend between 2 to 4 nights in Pachmarhi staying at small charming hotels which are converted British period bungalows and exploring this extraordinary area with our specialist local guide and a Forsyth’s naturalist if required. Your daily expeditions will mainly be on foot but occasionally we use vehicles. From Pachmarhi you descend by jeep through Neemghan and transfer to Forsyth’s for a 3 to 4 night stay.
At about 3 PM set out on your walk to Lady Robertson's view. This is a fairly relaxed walk with excellent birding and of course great views over these rugged mountains. There are good chances of seeing birds like the Long-tailed minivet, Red whiskered bulbul, Indian Grey Hornbill, Crested serpent eagle & butterflies like Blue pansy, Forget me-not, Orange oak leaf & Baronet among others. During the walk you will also visit the Agam Triveni site which provides possibly the best view of a deep gorge.
After an early breakfast you will head out towards the Duchess falls and then walk towards Mount Rosa. On past walks on the way to Mount Rosa guests have seen tiger tracks! The route takes you first to AC Waterfall, which is a good place to see Tree ferns & some excellent birds. You then climb 560 steps to Mount Rosa from AC falls! Near mount Rosa you will see some beautiful rock paintings & we often see leopard scat here as well.
This is probably the best trail to see lots of Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies & many unique and interesting plants as well. For instance a Western Ghat endemic plant (Melastoma malabarica) is pretty common on this trail. One of the interesting discoveries on this Trail was an endemic Butterfly found only in Panchmarhi called the Panchmarhi bush brown. Unfortunately its a colorless brown butterfly. Bird highlights - Common hawk cuckoo, Black eagle, Honey Buzzard & few butterflies like Common Hedge blue, Lime Blue, Tawny coaster.Your walk will take about 3 to 4 hours not because of the distance covered but because of the huge variety of interesting things to see and enjoy. Return to the hotel for lunch and rest.
Depart again in the late afternoon between 3 & 4 PM by jeep to watch the spectacular sunset from the highest point of Central India – Dhupgarh. En route you will visit the Pandav caves.
Incredible treasure-house of scenic and natural riches
These caves are extremely interesting and lend their name to this picturesque hill resort. According to local legend, the five Pandav brothers of the Mahabharata, along with their wife 'Draupadi', spent a part of their exile here – the belief probably rooted in the fact that there are 5 caves excavated from the sandstone rock of the hillside. These are now protected monuments.
“Pachmarhi” is a combination of the two words 'Panch' and 'Marhi', which translates as 'Five Caves' or 'Five Huts' in Hindi. This reflects the belief that the caves were home to the five Pandava brothers. These 1,000-year-old rock-cut caves also overlook an attractive garden. Thus, the scenic beauty of the backdrop and their mythological significance makes these caves one of the most famous tourist attractions of the state.
Amongst these five caves, the most well ventilated and the spacious one is the 'Draupadi Kuti', named after Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. The darkest of all the caves is the 'Bhim Kothari', named after the toughest of the five brothers - Bhima. All the five caves are hewed in a rough manner, which however do not mar their beauty or attraction.
Unfortunately for mythologists – the association with the Mahabharata is not borne out by archaeological fact. In fact these caves belong to the Gupta period (4th to 7th century AD) and were probably shelters for Buddhist monks. Traces of an ancient brick-built stupa have been unearthed on top of the caves, which re-enforces this finding. Archeologists believe that the stupa dates back to the time of Emperor Ashoka which would place it in the 3rd century BC!
After reflecting on the antiquity of this spot continue to Dhupgarh which is a fantastic spot from which to enjoy the sunset & get a real feel of the Satpura mountain ranges. Return to your hotel in the evening to enjoy a chat with your guide, a drink and dinner.
This morning you will set off on foot for Jatashanker Cave and temple nbamed after the matted locks of the God Shiva whose abode the Satpura Hills are supposed to be. Jambu Dweep is the stream outside the cave and the track you will follow will be via the tranquil Twynam Pool. On this walk David Raju has seen and photographed two colourful geckos which await identification. You will also see several vulture roosts and nest on the ledges of the sheer red cliffs. This is quite exciting, as all across the subcontinent vulture populations have been severely affected by a combination of diclofenac in heir food chain and other environmental and biotic factors. This is a really lovely walk of about 7 – 8 kms. Round trip passing through sal dominated mixed forest and cutting across several beautiful ‘nullahs’ or streams densely covered in riparian vegetation. Here there are chances of seeing Barking Deer, Gaur, Tree shrew, Malabar giant squirrel and sambar deer.
PACHMARHI – NEEMGHAN – FORSYTH’S SATPURA
This morning you will check out early from your hotel. Your baggage will be loaded in your vehicle which will meet you at the Neemghan Gate and transfer you to Forsyth’s later in the day. You will only carry your day time requirements of binoculars, cameras, clothes, hat etc and a large packed brunch and head out on a jeep for Neemghan with our naturalist guide. After a superb drive through the Pachmarhi range for 1 " hours you will enter the Neemghan range. The Tiger Reserve management has created a truly wonderful butterfly garden here where it is possible to see some interesting species like Indian oak blue, Large oak blue, Black vein sergeant, blue tiger, Common small flat, pointed ciliate blue & dragonflies like Blue Darner, Crimson Marsh glider, Black stream glider. It is a great place for photography and on a good day you can see more than 50 species of butterflies here in two hours. This is a must for butterfly enthusiasts.
Pachmarhi is full of some beautiful rock paintings but one of the most beautiful is a tiger painting here. Have brunch at Sher (tiger) Nala, where you will again be diverted by the superb and colourful diversity of butterflies and dragonflies. Finally exit the Neemghan Gate and meet your main transport (and luggage) and drive 1 " hours to Forsyth’s Lodge Satpura.
Mammals to look out for:
- Malabar Giant Squirrel
- Sloth Bear
- Wild Dog
- Barking Deer
- Giant Flying squirrel
Special Birds to look out for:
- Malabar whistling thrush
- Black crested bulbul
- Bonellis eagle
- Black eagle
- Mountain Hawk-eagle
- Blue-bearded bee-eater
- Eurasian blackbird
- Long-billed vulture
- Grey jungle fowl
- Chestnut bellied nuthatch
Special Butterflies to look out for
- Common mime
- Common treebrown
- Common evening brown
- Grass demon
- Common nawab
Dragonflies to look out for
- Stream glory
- Stream jewel
- Black-tipped forest glory
- Blue-tailed green darner
- Brown-dusk hawk
- Kari- Milusoa tomantosa
- Dhavaman - Gravia tillifolia
- Ficus retusa
- Murraya paniculata
- Holmskioldia sanguinea
- Blumea lanceolaria
- Sophora interrupta