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Jatashankar – Natural cave temple symbolic of the hair of Lord Shiva

The Jatashankar, the natural cave has stalactite, an icicle-shaped formation hanging inside from the ceiling, with waters dripping from it continuously and people revering it as 108 natural lingams.

Jatashankar is 2 km short of the beautiful cantonment area of Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. It is a surprise visit for many people who seek respite in the hill station (Pachmarhi). A walk down the natural path, made of natural rocks and boulders and cemented with concrete steps, to reach the dripstone cave, is full of stunning beauty of the narrow valley and huge boulders adoring all its corners.

Pachmarhi valley (source)

A trip to Madhya Pradesh will take you to a hill station called Pachmarhi. It is a famous containment area and an absolute delight for those who seek respite in nature and majesty of the mountains.

As we say the God abode is always on a height, it is no surprised to find a temple, a Shiva cave amid the mountains.

Legend has it that the Bhasmasur, a devotee of Shiva, prayed to the Lord to grant him his wish of touching the head of the victim and be able to convert it into ashes instantly. Shiva granted him the wish but soon, Bhasmasur turned into a foe and made his first attempt, to try the ashes formula, on Shiva himself. However, Shiva narrowly managed to escape through Tilak Sindur, a tunnel, to reach the remote cave, known as the Jatashankar today. During his run through the cave, Shiva lost his hair and hence, the strands of hair everywhere inside the cave.

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At present, the shrine is a popular tourist pilgrimage site and many festivals including the Maha Shivratri are celebrated here. There is a mystic surrounding the whole place.

As you walk through the natural scenery, you can catch a glimpse of two springs, a hot and a cold spring, be originating from the Jambu Dwip Stream.

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Yet, the origin of the source of water inside the cave has not been traced as yet and the locals call it the ‘Hidden Ganga’.

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Jatashankar is a religious site and can be enjoyed through its journey to the shrine cave. It is good to appoint a guide, who has many interesting tales to share and make the plain

It is good to appoint a guide, who has many interesting tales to share and make the plain Trek route more enticing and enchanting. The appointed guide will amuse you with his stories of local mythology picks and to add flavour to it, he talks about the different shapes of the mountain and asks you riddle to solve the ‘shape like’ of a mountain, and yes indeed, there were mountains cut in the shape of an elephant, a monkey and what not. The moment you realize it, you also feel mesmerized by nature and its small wonders. But of course we know this is human mind ingenuity and we too are a part of this miraculous nature, aren’t we?

A guide is always nice as they have many local tales to share and you learn so much about how every people perceive God.

It is also encouraging to note their spirit and earn money respectfully; frankly, we all should encourage employing them and paying them, it is some good things to do when you visit and give them money in exchange for a job they do every day. We might feel enticed once to learn, but they do this in routine and still never fail to impress with their charm, infectious enthusiasm and lots of trip pep ups. In addition, they guide you through the mountain valley and save you from monkeys in plentiful here too; it is surprising that somewhere monkey snatches and somewhere they do not. Only a guide will help you with this bit and here, he will not tell you to drop everything but not show it off to the monkeys that are all.

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So after waking few steps, there is a Ram Mandir which is good to watch and pay regards. As you move on, it can be a long walk, feeling like deep inside the mountains but it is hardly few steps inside. Nature plays its own willful game, making you feel lonely in the twilight. There are few steps in between the journey and you need to be mindful as some of them are steep too. But otherwise it’s a clean path and soon, the majesty of natural beauty will take you over. It’s a rare sight with beautiful landscapes full of mountain cuts surrounding you.

Jatashankar is actually a mountain cave and as the name suggests, it is a Shiva temple and has rocks cut in shapes of Jatas (hair). It is a truly amazing experience once you reach the final destination. Throughout the journey, you continue to enjoy the splendid of different rock shapes and do the guess work but nothing can prepare to see what lies ahead. It will leave you in absolute awe; you will love the natural splendid and the black rock rooftop. You cannot stand inside the cave perhaps Shiv’s way of telling you, that I’m the almighty.

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There is water flowing at a gentle speed inside the cave and you have to find your way to reach here, climbing on rocks, and reaching for the Prasadam and praying in front of the Shivling, as you move out, doing this small Parikrama you have another wonderful sight of pouring water.

After you finish your journey, feeling wonderful of this short experience, you wish to experience it again. It is like a small walk in nature. There is a shop which sells the natural herbs and Ayurvedic products, but surprisingly there is no nagging from the guide or the shopkeeper nudging, you go there because the guide takes you and that is all.

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