Amarkantak is a pilgrim town and a nagar panchayat in Anuppur District in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Also called "Teerthraj" (the king of pilgrimages), Amarkantak region is a unique natural heritage area and is the meeting point of the Vindhyas and the Satpuras, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. This is where the Narmada River, the Sone River and Johila River emerge.
Amarkantak is situated in Madhya Pradesh in India. It has an average elevation of 1048 metres (3438 ft). Roads running through Rewa, Shahdol, Anuppur, Jabalpur, Katni and Pendra connect it. The nearest railway stations are Anuppur and Pendra Road (43 km) via keonchi and only 28 k.m. via Jwaleshwar. The nearest Airport is Dumna Jabalpur (Jabalpur Airport in the city of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh (240 km). Delhi and Mumbai daily flight service.
As well as the Narmada, the Son River, initially referred to as Jwalawanti of Johila, the Narmada and the Amadoh, which is a major early tributary of the Godavari, all rise from the Amarkantak plateau. The beauty of the plateau can well be gauged from the fact that it lies 1000 metres in the midst of a moist sal and mixed forest. A little distance from Gaumukh, the source of the Narmada, is Kapildhara, where the Narmada leaves Anuppur District and enters Dindori District by cascading more than 20 metres down a sheer basalt rock. Four kilometers from Amarkantak is Kabir Chabutara, the exact junction point of Dindori, Bilaspur and Anuppur districts.
As the source of the Narmada, which is more than 150 million years older than the Ganges and is considered by many Hindus to be the most sacred of all the rivers of India, Amarkantak itself is sacred to the Hindus and is deemed to be a door-way to ‘nirwana’. In these hills dwell some of the most primitive of the Madhya Pradesh tribals, the Hill Korwas and Pandavas. Even today the Pandavas run away if they see any strangers approaching their village. Geologically the Amarkantak Hills have underlying basalt (Deccan Traps). The overburden consists of bauxite and laterite, making the soil ferruginous and clayey, with an acidic or neutral reaction. There is schist and gneiss, which is why sal is to be found here despite underlying trap. Climatically Amarkantak is temperate.
The Flora And Fauna:
The temperate climate and the equitable distribution of rain make Amarkantak an ideal plateau for dense vegetation cover. From 1970 to 1976 H.O. Saxena, the Forest Botanist, State Forest Research Institute conducted intensive studies on the flora of Amarkantak, which is classified by Champion as Central Indian sub-tropical hill forests. He identified 635 species, including 612 angiosperms, 2 gymnosperms and 21 pteridophytes. 7 of these species were new for Central India and 14 for Madhya Pradesh.
Amarkantak has some extremely valuable medicinal plants, which are now gravely endangered. Two of these call for special mention, Hedychium coronarium, or Gulbakavali and Curcuma caesiaRoxburghii, or Kali Haldi. Gulbakavali belong to the family zinziberaceae. Gulbakavali grows on marshy land, with pure water and under dense shade on deep soil. Its natural habitat is Mai-ki-bagia, Sonmuda, Kabir Chabutara, Dudhdhara and some private gardens in Amarkantak. Kali haldi belong to the same family as ginger, turmeric and amba haldi. It tastes very much like ginger and is used extensively as an anti-inflammatory drug for dealing with sprains and bruised.
Religious Importance Of Amarkantak:
Amarkantak is a Sanskrit word the literal meaning of which is immortal (amar) obstruction (kantak). The place was abode of Gods but was disturbed by the hindrances of Rudraganas and hence called Amarkantak. The poet Kalidas has mentioned it as Amrakoot. Myth is that the dense forests of this region were full of mango (amra) trees. So Kalidas named it as Amrakoot, which later became Amarkantak.
Amarkantak situated on the western edge of ancient Kingdom of Kalinga is a place of worship for all the three worlds. Gods and Gandharvas (Celestial beings), Asuras (demons), Saints and Sages have all achieved great spiritual powers here. It is believed that who ever dies at Amarkantak is assured of a place in heaven. Also if a lady makes offerings of fruits and flowers will gain the respect of her husband, and no doubt she will also achieve a place in heaven.
Places Of Tourist Importance:
- Narmadakund and temples
- Ancient temples of Kalachuri period
- Mai ki Bagiya (Goddess garden)
- Kapildhara (Kapil waterfall)
- Kabir chabutra (the platform of saint Kabir)
- Shri Jwaleshwar Mahadev (the temple of Shiva)
- Shri Sarvodaya Digamber Jain Temple