This is my second post about this place called Pachmarhi. There are so many things that i have discovered in the span of 3 days that it did not fit into a single post and moreover there is an extremely interesting story of Lord Shiva that deserves a special post.
As i mentioned in my earlier post, almost everything about this place is going to amaze you. I have written enough about the natural beauty of this place now it's time i tell you about the mythological history of this place. As we know there are a few temples of Lord Shiva in this town, which are very popular all over the country. All these temples are connected with a single story/ incident of Lord Shiva' s life. The story is popularly known as the story of 'Mohini and Bhasmasura'.
Once upon a time, there was an asura (demon) who wanted to be the most powerful asura ever. He decided he would perform severe penance to impress Lord Shiva. So he prayed and meditated day and night for a long long time, Lord Shiva heard the prayers and wondered who it was. Shiva never differentiated between his devotees, whether they were Devas or Asuras, he granted their wish if they prayed with a pure heart. So Shiva appeared in front of him and asked for his wish. The asura asked for immortality. Shiva denied to grant his wish for immortality and asked him to wish something else. Asura asked for a power where in he can turn anybody into ashes by putting his hand on that person. Shiva granted the boon and blessed him. Before Lord could realize his mistake the asura let out a maniacal laugh, and looking at his hands said 'Now I can even turn you down to ashes'. Lord Shiva stared at him with shock and then disappeared.
Bhasmasura used his powers on innocent people and turned everybody into ashes whoever came his way. Troubled with which Shiva called Naradmuni for help. According to Shiva's instructions, Naradmuni went to Bhasmasura and provoked him against Shiva and told him to go put his hand on Shiva and burn him to ashes after which he will become the most powerful and the entire universe will worship him instead of Shiva. The plan succeeded and Bhasmasura ran here and there in search of Shiva. Shiva could not take back the powers and hence had to run away from him. Everywhere Shiva hid, Bhasmasura followed him. Terrified with this Shiva went to different mountains and caves and sacrificed his belongings there. 'Nagdwaar' was the first spot where he hid and sacrificed the snake around his neck (later the place turned into a temple of Naagdevta and is popular amongst the devotees). When he saw Bhasmasura coming, he went deep into the caves and sacrificed his hair (Jata) over there which turned into another auspicious temple 'Jatashankar'. He left his Trishul on his way to another cave, he turned invisible at this point hence this place is known as 'Gupt Mahadev'. After this Shiva went at the top of the mountains of Chauragarh to save himself from Bhasmasura. Here he took a different avatar called 'Chaura baba' where he had no snake, trishul or long hair anymore. But no matter how hard he tried he could not get rid of Bhasmasura, so he prayed to Lord Vishnu and called him for help. Vishnu, the preserver assured Shiva he will handle the situation. As Bhasmasura was about to reach Shiva when he saw the most beautiful women in the jungle. The women was Lord Vishnu himself in the form of Mohini. Bhasmasura was captivated by her beauty. He stared at her for long and then asked 'Who are you?' I am Mohini the gorgeous lady said. Bhasmasura instantly fell in love with Mohini and asked her to marry her. Mohini told him that she was a dancer and she made a promise that she would only marry a man who can dance as well as her. Bhasmasura promised her that he will try his best. So the both of them danced. Bhasmasura tried his best to copy Mohini's moves as she smiled encouragingly at him.
They went on dancing, where Bhasmasura got better and better and concentrated only on dancing. Mohini soon made a move where she kept her hand on her head and without thinking Bhasmasura did the same. His powers worked and Bhasmasura instantly turned into ashes. That's how the story of the evil came to an end. Today devotees from all over the country come to pray at these temples, specially Chauragarh. It is said that if u bring a trishul to this temple and pray for something, god grants your wish and hence there are lacs of trishuls all around this temple.
Facts and Findings
Every place has stories to tell...only if you listen to it carefully.
Don't just go to a place like a tourist and listen to what your guide has to say about it, Instead be an explorer. Ask questions...a lot of them! To everyone and anyone. The chai wale bhaiya, the driver, your guide, the local people, everyone.
I am a curious soul. I asked questions to anyone who came across me and below are the facts and findings out of my trip.
- The forests of this town has a wide variety of plants and animals. The local tribal people of this area use most of these plants in preparing ayurvedic medicines and earn their living out of it.
- Some of the interesting things in the forest are 'Harad' which are used in ayurvedic medicines as well as in the leather industry. A plant called 'Mahua' whose flowers are used to prepare food colors and is also used in preparing a local alcohol which is one of the strongest alcohol in the area. There are trees whose trunk releases a yellow chemical which is used in making 'Gogal' often used in pooja. Also the forest is full of Sal trees, which was used in constructing railway tracks during the time of Britishers and is considered one of the best and strongest woods.
- I also came across a tree called 'Giria' and was told that the tigers scratch their nails on the trunk of this tree to mark their territory in the jungle.
- A very interesting tree 'Silver Fern' whose leaf is kind of silver white on the back side. Stick it anywhere and it leaves a silver mark behind.
- There is no river in the region but the place is full of small and big waterfalls everywhere you go. When i tried to find out from where are these falls coming I got to know that the mountains of this place soak in the water every time it rains and then releases it in the form of waterfalls at some points. You will find water dripping from each and every rock and mountain of this region 365 days in a year.
- A very popular spot 'Bee falls' has rare species of small fishes which are used in pedicure. It's a must try when you visit there.
- Another spot which is considered as the highest peak of Madhya Pradesh 'Chauragadh' has a cottage which was built in the year of 1885 by the Britishers to protect themselves from wild animals. What makes this cottage unique is that it is made of things like jaggery, black lentils, edible gum, stones and some other ingredients. It does not contain cement as it was not discovered till then but it is still standing strong even today.
- When you visit 'Reechgarh' and notice the rocks inside the caves you will see small little holes all over the rocks. Again when tried to find out, the guide told me that it is said that the entire region was under sea crores of years back. With time the sea level decreased and emerged as mountains and hence it has all those small holes onto it.