Jatashankar temple at Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh

When a tourist visits India, it is not possible for him or her to miss out on the state of Madhya Pradesh. Being located at the heart of the sub-continent, this state offers a unique combination of wildlife, mountains and Jatashankar Temple . It stands a favorite among young travelers for its wide range of adventurous activities. Pachmarhi is the only hill station in this state which is set on a plateau at about 2500 ft above sea level. It is distinct and offers charming colonial architecture for the travelers. This hill station is open for guests all throughout the year. As indicated by their convenience, celebrations and occasions, travelers are put up in Pachmarhi in every season. Being a hill station, the best time to visit Pachmarhi is from October to April as it is in this time, the atmosphere stays great and the presence of greenery, make this destination more photogenic. Amid Diwali and New Year time, it is more vacationer crowd is at its top and voyagers have to often face deficiency with regard to accommodation facilities.

Pachmarhi is a destination for all those individuals who just want a peaceful stay and relax during their trip. It is ideal for people who want to indulge in sightseeing and view the greenery and wildlife around this place. In addition, this place is blessed with good weather and is good for long walks, trekking etc. The place becomes more beautiful in monsoons when waterfalls and lakes become wide with water.  It is also the home to many distinguishable temples and the Jatashankar temple is a testimony to this fact. It is a natural monument and is a sacred place that talks about legends regarding the shrine.

jata shankar caves 3

Jatashankar Temple History

  • One of the most believed legends regarding this temple is connected with Bhasmasur, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. This devotee wanted a special power which could turn anyone to ashes with his touch on the victim’s head. It was after a long time that Lord Shiva agreed to the proposal. Bhasmasur, taking advantage of the power misused it and wanted to test this new ability on Lord Shiva first. This, on the other hand, made Lord Shiva to flee through a tunnel from Tilak Sindur and arrived at the remote cave, Jata Shankar. It is said that while running through the cave, Lord Shiva lost his hair.
  • Jatashankar is a natural cave that is located in Hoshangabad district at the north of Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. The cave is situated in a profound narrow valley and has huge boulders perched on top of it. The word Jatashankar is derived from two words namely; Jata which refers to hair and Shankar is another name of Lord Shiva.
  • There is a presence of dripstone formations inside the cave that paved the way for this legend. The ceiling of this famous shrine has a formation which represents a group of snakes. Hence, it is considered to symbolize the hair of Lord Shiva and is also called as a hundred-headed divine snake Sheshnag.

Significance of the Jatashankar Temple

  • Jata Shankar is a natural cave which is situated at a distance of 2 km from Pachmarhi. It is counted among one of the most beautiful pilgrim locations in the Pachmarhi hill resort.
  • There is water breach from the cave about which no one has an idea about the source of the water and it is popularly known as ‘Gupt Ganga’.
  • This place is special as it has a natural Shiva lingam under the shadow of a huge rock.
  • This place is blessed with natural beauty and sees lakhs of pilgrims visiting this temple every year.
  • There are two small ponds fed by springs located near the cave. While one is fed by cold spring, the other is fed by hot spring.  Many people also believe that the Jambu Dwip stream originates from this cave.
  • There are idols of Lord Shankar and Goddess Parvati enshrined at a platform on the upper section of the cave.
  • This cave is a symbol of natural art which can be deeply felt when one visits the numerous stalagmites that are present in Jatashankar. Devotees worship these natural formations as lingams. In fact, there are 108 such natural lingams present in this cave.
  • The unique geological features of the Satpura Hills in the Madhya Pradesh region have resulted in the formation of a large number of waterfalls. There are also caves both natural as well as manmade that can be found all over the region.
  • This temple paves the way for an interesting visit owing to its natural surroundings by both the pilgrims and the nature lovers at large.
  • There are no entrance fees needed for the pilgrims to visit the holy place of worship. However, pets are not allowed inside this famous shrine.
  • The caves are resounded by the chirping of birds.
  • Once you visit this cave, you will realize that the temperature inside the caves is extremely less.
  • For people who are interested in sightseeing around Pachmarhi, the guests are required to take a day visit permit. Moreover, the tourists also need to travel by local jeeps as cars brought from outside cannot be used at this place.

Jatashankar Temple Timings

  • The Jatashankar Temple is open for tourists on all seven days in a week from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M.
  • It even remains open for pilgrims on all public holidays as well.

Jatashankar Temple Food Timings

  • Devotees can buy dry fruits and sweets from the road that leads to the temple.
  • Prasad is offered to pilgrims after 2 P.M.

Festivals celebrated at the Jatashankar Temple

  • Maha Shivaratri is the most important festival celebrated in this temple. During this occasion, pilgrims from various parts of India gather to offer pooja and seek blessings of the Almighty. It is usually observed during the months of February or March and people fast and enjoys this festival with great enthusiasm.
  • There is an annual fair that is organized during the Shivaratri festival in the hill station of Pachmarhi. There is a huge crowd that attends this fair and seeks blessings from Lord Shiva.

Poojas and Rituals at Jatashankar Temple

  • Shiva Ratri pooja is incomplete without following the ritual of bathing the Shivalinga with water, milk and honey with an addition of bel leaves. It symbolizes purification of one’s soul.
  • Vermilion paste is applied on the linga after the bath and incense sticks and lamps are lit.
  • Special food is offered to the Lord comprising seasonal fruits, vegetables, and coconuts.
  • Devotees chant mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivay’ throughout the night which is believed to free people from their sins.

How to Reach: Road, Rail, and Air

  • By Air– Pachmarhi is a popular tourist destination located in the heart of Madhya Pradesh. It is located at a distance of about 260 km from Jabalpur city and 230 km from Bhopal city. Both the cities have their own airports. Another option for tourists is the Nagpur airport which is about 285 km from Pachmarhi and has better connectivity with cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata airports.
  • By Train– The nearest railway station to reach this beautiful place is the Pipariya railway station. And for travelers who are unable to find a direct train to Pipariya station, the second option is to reach Itarsi railway station which is at a distance of 150 km from Pachmarhi. This is another important railway junction.
  • By Road– Every pilgrim coming to Jatashankar temple has to cover a certain distance through road. So whether you are traveling by flight or train, the last part of the journey has to end on the roads. As an Army cantonment is situated in this place, the road conditions remain good and are well maintained. It remains open for visitors throughout the year. One can easily reach Pachmarhi by roads from nearby cities like Bhopal, Jabalpur, Nagpur and Indore.

Hotels in Madhya Pradesh: Where to stay

For tourists and pilgrims who are planning to take a trip to Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh, there are lots of accommodation options available. Whether you are traveling with family or with friends, you are sure to enjoy a pleasant stay here. There are rooms available with single, double, triple and even four bed sizes. Apart from lodging, these resorts provide food options at their exclusive restaurants as well. After a tiring day, one can opt to go for a swim or sit back and watch television in their rooms. All the hotels are equipped with the modern amenities to meet the requirements of a contemporary traveler.

The hotel staff is efficient and they also assist you with regard to the places that you need to visit during your stay here. The charges for the room depend on the type of room that is occupied but there are attractive discounts offered when you pre-book rooms. Some resorts also provide pickup and drop services to the airport and the railway station.

Where to eat

Madhya Pradesh is a paradise for both vegetarian and nonvegetarian lovers. There are many local eateries and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines to suit the appetite of every traveler. The conventional food in Madhya Pradesh differs from one place to another. Places such as Bhopal has a strong Muslim influence and one can experience spicy food prepared with various delicacies and it is famous for its kebabs, Biryani, korma, keema, etc.

When talking about vegetarian dishes, the most famous of all the dishes is ‘Bhutte ki kees’. Corn and milk are the main ingredients used to prepare this meal. The corn is first grated and then roasted in ghee. It is then cooked in milk and few spices are mixed. Chakki ki saag is another dish that has been highly popular and sumptuous among both the natives and the tourists. It is made up of wheat dough which is steamed and is used with gravy of curd. Tapu, on the other hand, refers to a different variety of wheat with which special sweet cakes are made.

Nearby Temples

  • Bada Mahadev- It is one of the most prominent religious shrines that are located at a distance of about 10 km from Pachmarhi. It is said that people who have visited this 15′ long cave have found water droplets oozing out from the rocks constantly and collecting in a pool. This famous shrine also has a connection with the killing of the demon king Bhasmasur by Lord Shiva.
  • Chauragarh Shrine- The Chauragarh Shrine is counted among one of the holiest places for pilgrims visiting the Jatashankar temple. It is a 4 km steep climb of 1300 steps from Mahadeo and one can see the temple from a rectangular top with the deity of Lord Shiva. Pilgrims visiting this shrine carry the Trishul or Lord Shiva’s weapon on their shoulders while climbing the stairs. This tradition is followed as a mark of devotion especially during special occasions like the Maha Shivaratri. The Trishul might be of varying weights but generally it ranges from three to four quintals. And once you reach the shrine, it presents a panoramic view of the neighboring hills along with the greenery.
  • Gupt Mahadev Cave temple- There is another famous temple located at a distance of only 400 meters from Bada Mahadev and it is the fascinating Gupt Mahadev Cave temple. It has a tiny cave which is so narrow that only two people can enter at any given time and look at the Shivalinga inside. However, there is a huge Hanuman idol located outside the cave which is worshiped by ardent devotees who visit this temple from across the world.

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