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Old 10th January 2020, 16:48   #16
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

The stones collected from Narmada river bed is kept near the kund. It is believed that all stones from the river bed resembles Shivaling
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Quite peaceful place
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Deity
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Prayer at Narmada Temple


After spending some peaceful time by the kund, we left for our next destination


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Old 10th January 2020, 17:18   #17
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

The next destination was Yantra Mandir. Picture which I have shared in the opening post was the one which made me decide on this drive. I was intrigued, I have never seen anything like that before.
Quote:
An interface of interlocking triangles, snake hoods and more… a look at the sprawling Sri Yantra Maha Meru Temple, Amarkantak


It is a vast palette of blue, green and brown – in that order. The clear and azure blue sky appears punctuated by greens in enchanting hues as they spike heavenwards from atop the mountain ranges they inhabit. A tier below the emerald vegetation, it is all a monochrome in brown, a stupendous structure rising out of a basin-like valley.

The Maha Meru Sri Yantra Temple is encircled by forest on two sides, the ancient and sacred Batte Krishna Kund, a pond on its western side, and a water reservoir to its north. The temple is constructed in the middle of the Maikal, Satpuda and Vindhyachal range of mountains, 3500 ft. above sea level in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh. Amarkantak enjoys the distinction of being the source of three rivers – the Juhila, the Sonbhadra and the Narmada. The borderline dividing north and south India also passes through this spot.

The entrance to the sprawling temple precincts is through an impressive, sculpturally rich towering gate, the four sides of which are crowned with the faces of goddesses Saraswati, Kali, Bhuvaneshwari and Lakshmi.

The lower segments of these sides are embellished with finely sculpted figurines of the 64 yoginis associated with the Tantrik cult, 16 on each side. In addition, Ganesh and Kartik are also featured on one of the sides.

Elevated platform

The temple is constructed on an elevated square platform measuring 90,000 sq.ft. and is structured in the form of a mandal of uniform length, breadth and height, each measuring 52 feet. The temple, we are told, has been built on the tenets of temple architecture as laid down by sage Agasthya.

The design, layout and plan of the temple adhere to ancient traditional knowledge and methods and are aligned with astrological aspects. The construction is in sync with stellar and planetary movements as per tantrik calendar. In keeping with this style of architecture, the Padambandh or foundation of the temple gives solid protection to the edifice. The next stage, the Sarpbandh, features a pair of sculpted sarps or serpents with tails entwined in each other.

The serpents rise from the base of the outer walls of the temple and run through its perimeter in a circumambulatory mode till they appear with their hoods raised, at the entrance to the temple.

Above the Devbandh, where one would normally see the tower or shikhar, is the Maha Meru Sri Yantra. Images of Goddess Maha Tripura Sundari with her consorts are sculpted on all its four sides.

Three-dimensional projection

The Maha Meru temple is the three-dimensional projection of the two-dimensional Sri Yantra or Sri Chakra which forms the core of Sri Vidya worship in Hinduism.

The temple with its complicated architectural pattern that requires perfect mathematical calculations and accurately proportioned dimensions, is perhaps the first of its kind to be built anywhere in the world. It is formed by nine interlocking isosceles triangles of varying dimensions that surround and radiate from a focal or central point that is referred to as the bindu.

The triangles are so interfaced as to form forty three smaller triangles in a maze that symbolises the cosmos with its multitude of creations. The triangles themselves are inscribed by two rows of lotus petals, eight and sixteen, respectively, and an earth square, symbolic of a temple with four doors.

Each of the levels of the Sri Chakra, also known as the nava chakra for its nine levels, is associated with a yogini, a mudra and a specific form of the principal deity Tripura Sundari who is worshipped by followers of the Sri Chakra.

The sanctum sanctorum has a 62-inch-tall idol of the Divine Mother made of ashtadhatu, an alloy of eight metals.

Dance of time


In keeping with the principles of Vaastu Shastra, Kaal Nritya or ‘the dance of time’ is portrayed on the external walls of the temple. On the four edges on top are four paws of a powerful lion, symbolising actions performed. Stuck in its paws are spherical balls, below which are depicted the poisonous serpents, symbolic of individuals trapped in the cycle of birth and death.

While construction of the main temple is complete, work is still in progress as several smaller shrines are slated to be added over a period of time.
While you near the temple the 4 headed sculpture will have and imposing feel on you
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The most prominent feature of this temple is the huge sculpture with 4 heads at the entrance. The heads represent the faces of Goddess Laxmi, Saraswati, Kali & Bhuvaneshwari. Beneath them are finely sculpted figures of 64 yoginis along with the sculptures of Lord Ganesha&Kartik.
4 headed sculpture
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I feel the terracota color had ruined the beauty of this

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My girls near the sculpture with 4 heads
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Quote:
The temple itself is built as a 3D projection of the Sri Yantra / Sri Chakra which forms the core of the Sri Vidya worship in Hinduism. This branch worships the divine power of the Goddess Tripura Sundari or the Empress beauty of the Three Worlds. In essence it is the geometric representation of the concept of Shakti.
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Old 10th January 2020, 17:36   #18
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Still intrigued with this!!

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Seems like the temple construction is not yet complete,and is abandoned
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But the structure looked interesting

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The whole temple is enclosed inside a circle, which has peacocks on its sides. Inner ones were white and outer ones were bluish

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Old 10th January 2020, 17:47   #19
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Some more picture of the temple
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It was a sad state of affair here. The whole temple is left to be dilapidated. Really do not know why this place is neglected.

Time for us to move on, and we decided to walk towards the origin of Son river.

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Old 10th January 2020, 18:14   #20
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

We walked towards Origin of Son River
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Some interesting fruit/berry
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We walked through a nice wooded stretch.
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We reached Sonmuda, the origin of Son River
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The steps will take you down to a temple and finally to the cliff, from where you can see Son river flowing out
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The cliff from where you can see Son river flowing
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The trickle that is Son River
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The trickle is from the extreme right in this picture, the river flows down from the cliff to the forest below and flows into Chhattisgarh
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The video showing Son flowing down the cliff




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Old 10th January 2020, 18:30   #21
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Inside the temple at Sonmuda, showing the origin of Son River
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It was time for us to walk towards Ma ki Bhagiya, beware it's monkey country
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The approach to Maa Ki Bhagiya through the forest is a nice walk, but monkeys and langurs add to the adventure spirit
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Langurs here are mostly calm fellows, but monkeys very aggressive
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We reached Ma Ki Bhagiya. It is believed that Narmada came here to take bath
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We then walked past via Savitri sarovar
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By 14:30 we reached the mela ground and reclaimed Kungfu Panda (Jr.). Now the only plan that was left was to get some food and decide whether to go back to Kanha or to check out Durga Dhara, which was a bit far away.

There was not much choices of food, so we decided to get some tea, and some bhajjis and continue on our plan. Since there was no time spent on lunch, we decided to check out Durga Dhara too.


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Old 10th January 2020, 18:49   #22
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Actually there are two ways to go to Durga Dhara, one is to take a dirt road from Jaleshwar temple, and the other one was to take another forest road immediately after exiting town. While exiting town I saw there was a check post guarded by a police and thought, it would be better to try via the other route and see if there are no check post business.

Immediately after town we see a check post and road to right
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We decided to checkout the path from Jaleshwar temple
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We drove from the Parking lot towards Durga Dhara and decided to checkout route from Jaleshwar Temple


On talking to the localites, they told me it is a very narrow path and is not meant for vehicles. So we decided to turn back and try the route via the check post

Return back to town


We came back to the place where we exited the town
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To the check post


We reached the check post. This check post was setup due to election in Chhatisgarh. This forested road continues to Chhatisgarh!
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We drove till Durga Dhara Ashram


Durga Dhara Ashram
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Parked Kungfu Panda (Jr.) near the ashram and we went to explore the forested area and the falls
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Old 10th January 2020, 19:16   #23
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Durga Dhara
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I took to walking through the edge of the stream up hill.


There was a watch tower
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I climbed the narrow stairs

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View from the watch tower


I see a path thorough the forest

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This is the path that comes from Jaleshwar temple, good that we did not attempt that in a car!!

Though the path near watch tower was wide enough

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Durga Dhara
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Durga Dhara Falls


This is how the falls come out as stream, very less water
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By 16::30 we decided to call it quits and drove back.

We drove till the check post


We said bye to the policeman at the check post and drove towards Jagatpur Junction
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Old 10th January 2020, 19:30   #24
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

We drove Durga Dhara Check post to Jagatpur Junction


Amarkantak was 2 Kms
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Jabalpur was 227Kms, but our destination was Kanha
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We reached Jagatpur Junction
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We were again stopped sicne this was Chattisgarh border. Since they knew us from morning it was faster and we were cleared faster. We decided to take a small detour, one kilometer towards Chattisgarh before returning back. Here we have Kabir's Chabuthara to checkout.

We entered Chattisgarh
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We drove to Kabir Chabuthara


We reached Kabir Chabuthara by 17:00
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Parked Kungfu Panda (Jr.) and decided to check out
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There is a durga dhara here also
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Kabir Chabuthara
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Quote:
Kabir Chabutra is located 5 km from Amarkantak on the way to Bilaspur. It is this place that people believe Saint Kabir achieved deliverance.
The local people, the Panikas, consider Kabir Chabutara as one of the holiest places of the Kabirpanthis because Sant Kabir spent many years here in meditation. It is this place where Sant Kabir and Lord Guru Nanak had a rendezvous and happened to come to conclusions to a better way of living for human beings. The chabutra is a small water body, where every morning between 9 am and 10 am, tourists can see white smoke screen spreading over the water.
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Old 11th January 2020, 11:22   #25
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

Kabir Kuti
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Kabir Chabuthara and way to Kabir Vat
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Kabir Chabuthara
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Kabir Kuti as seen from Kabir Chabuthara
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Everyday at 08:45 you can see doodh dhara
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On asking the care taker, he told me in the morning the source awakens and flow of water is visible in the kund. There are few videos in you tube showing the flow. Since we were there in the evening we could not witness this phenomenon.

Kabir Kund
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Medicinal plants near the kund
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Around 17:00 in the evening, suddenly they started the prayer music, that was quite loud and suddenly broke the monotony of the place. Adding to it the few dogs there started howling along with the prayer music, while the care taker blew the conch. It was a bit disturbing as I grew up hearing the howling of dogs happens when the god of death is nearby! Well I don't believe in such stuff, but here you were near the tomb of Kabir, and all this happened. Too much coincidence may be!!


The doggie which sang!!
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The contraption which played the music



By 17:30 we decided to finally head back to Kanha, Approx 200Kms and 4+ hours of drive.


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Old 11th January 2020, 11:41   #26
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

06th November 2018 : Tuesday
Kanha - Amarkantak - Kanha

We drove back towards home from Kabir Chabuthara by 17:30

In few hundred meters we reached MP again, Chhattisgarh thanks us for the visit!
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We were stopped at Jagtpur Checkpost again, and since by now they were fed up with us and flagged us off on realizing it was us
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From Kabir Chabuthara to Jagatpur Checkpost


Jabalpur, Katni, Kanha all are some 200+ kms from here, and we started the return drive to Kanha
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On reaching Karnajiya, it was some harrowing time to patiently pass through the evening market on the highway.

Karanjiya Evening Market
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Traversing through evening market at Karanjiya


We drove towards Kanha, and on return I took AMarkantak - Jagatpur -Gorakhpuri -Bijhori - Dindori - Mandla bypass - Kamtipur - Jamuniya - Kanha route. We reached Kanha by about 22:00, had a quick dinner and hit the bed for a good nights sleep.

Well that was a nice drive to Amarkantak, and the day was of mixed feelings. Peaceful and very well maintained temple groups, intriguing Yantra mandir left to dilapidate, almost dried up rivers and sources, and howling of the dogs!

But suddenly I announced to the girls, to get up early the next day and be ready since I wanted all of us to explore Chhattisgarh, and the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh!! You can read about that here (S-Cross'd : Bhoramdeo Temple, the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh)



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Old 11th January 2020, 11:46   #27
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

The Drive Plan
S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada-04.jpg


GPS trail

Amarkantak.kml


Central India is full of such small escapades and of great interest. I am quite thankful that we were able to do a few of them. If time permits I will pen down a few more Central India logs. Hope you guys like these, and not always crave for Snowy Touristy Hills . If you don't like these or find the places boring, do let me know, I will not spend more time in logging about these places.

Last edited by laluks : 11th January 2020 at 11:57.
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Old 11th January 2020, 11:52   #28
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

Before winding up I would also like to draw your attention to the most disturbing fact. Many of the sources of these rivers are drying up.

I will leave you with an article from Hindusthan Times dated 24th April 2018, almost 6 months before my visit. You can read it here

Quote:
Narmada River once had 7 sources of water feeding into it, now only one remains

Several factors, some of neglect and wilful destruction, have contributed to the drying out of Amarkantak - a town once lush with perennial rivers, streams, tributaries, wetlands, even swamps.

How did Amarkantak, a town once lush with perennial rivers, streams, tributaries, wetlands, even swamps, at an elevation of 1,048m, come to be so dry as to now fear forest fires?

Several factors, some of neglect and wilful destruction, have contributed to its drying out, namely: mining, impact to the bauxite substrata, deforestation, construction, sand mining and rampant water pollution. Everything that dries up the source contributes.

The trajectory to poor river health has taken a turn in the last five to six years.

In April 2012, researchers Nidhi Gupta, Pankaj Pandey, Jakir Hussain studied the ‘Physico Chemical Evaluation of Narmada river water at Kalghat in Madhya Pradesh’.

The study found Narmada water safe for domestic and irrigation purposes.

In 2014, the Central Pollution Control Board found the Narmada polluted in stretches from Garudeshwar to Bharuch in Gujarat; and Mandla to Bheda Ghat, and Sethani Ghat to Nemawar in Madhya Pradesh. It noted that utilisation of water resources was at a low 23% and that despite over drawing of ground water and salt water incursions, the Narmada, among other rivers in peninsular India, had a surplus supply of water.

In 2015, the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) level in the river was found to be 7.1mg (permissible levels are 3 mg).

By 2016, with untreated sewage from 52 cities being dumped into the river, Prof Mukesh Katakwar, of the Department of Chemistry, Govt PG College, Pipariya, Hoshangabad, in his study of Narmada river water published in the International Journal of Chemical Studies was observing that the poor Dissolved Oxygen levels (DO) indicated: “The water quality of Narmada river may not be in a position to sustain the aquatic life and not suitable for using domestic purpose”.

The more the river water reduced during the non-rainy seasons, the greater was its pollution.

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board this year began installing real-time water quality testing facilities at Omkareshwar, Bhopal, and 14 locations. While the Water Quality Index Report for Feb 2018 marks the river as ‘satisfactory’, it omits mentions of MPN index (a measure of bacteriological content) between Narsighur and Nemawar, only discreetly marking its as ‘B’ category of the bureau of Indian Standards after the confluence of the SPM nallah.

Since 2017, the MP government has begun a monthly and annual monitoring of the water in the river.

A fundamental change has been to the temperature of the river, according to a January 2017 study by Utpal Bhaumik of the Central Inland Fisheries Institute (since retired). The main cause would appear to be the dams on the river and other developmental projects.

The projects and the dams have also affected silt levels. Catchment denudation caused high silt contents in the run-off waters and the river, increasing chloride values increasing in the lower plains (615–3248 ppm) because of the decrease in freshwater discharge from upstream. This would slowly begin to alter the ecological balance of the river. The source holding stable is the last thing keeping the Narmada from complete imbalance. Now, even that is under stress.

The estimation of how much of a river comes from base flow component (the amount of ground water flowing into a river where the water table intersects the streambed), has many variables. For the Narmada, it is estimated to be 20-to 22%; 60% of it is rain fed. Once there were seven supporting rivers feeding in to the source.

The Narmada first rises out of a spring now housed by a temple known as Mai Ki Bagiya, in Amarkantak.

The river is worshipped 5 km away, at the Narmada kund, from where she gushes forth after travelling underground. But untouched by worship or ceremony, the real source of the river lies in a spring that is now a village well.

Now operational only in the monsoons, it used to be a perennial gush of water that split into two streams: the Savitri river, swerving left to what remains now of the algae-ridden Savitri reservoir, before it fed into the Narmada. And the Son, which travelled right.

Locals who have filed applications before the NGT have done the groundwork. From applicant Sanjay Tiwari to a retired forest official, Virendra Kumar Mishra, professor of environmental sciences at the neighbouring Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, local sadhus and saint, elders and others, the origins of the other rivers that fed into the source of the Narmada have been mapped and documented for over 20 years, from when it was first warned they were going to dry up.

The Gayatri river is also bound by a brick well marked by a small orange temple. Such was the gush that when SD Khare was secretary (Judicial) to the Government Home Department of then Rewa, Vindhya Pradesh, in 1952, he erected a dam to contain its waters.

The dam still stands, but contains nothing more than a puddle of water. The source of the Kapildhara river, known more by the waterfall on the river’s course, along with the Arandi river has also disappeared. In the ridge behind the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Corporation’s resort, the careless construction of a road has cemented and tarred the site of the natural spring that gave rise to the Amravati river in one direction and the Vaitarni river in the other.

Behind the Narmada kund, where a canal was built to connect the flows of the Savitri and the Gayatri, is a trickle of a gutter, accumulating the residue of the pilgrim influx.

The most thriving source of water, and the only one that now backs up the Narmada, lies within the ASI’s Kalachuri temple complex – known locally as ‘surya kund’ or ‘brahma kund’. All the others only come into existence during the monsoons. And these are only the rivers that performing a supporting role to the Narmada, seven more springing from this same town to support the Son, apart from the Johila river, which run in different directions. For the rest of the year ridges in the soil remain to tell their tale.

It’s been an environmental battle this town has been fighting since 1986. When KCS Acharya was chief secretary of MP in 1985 (to 1988), he filed a comprehensive report of factors impacting the zone, from its jurisdictional divisions to the impact of mining.

On the basis of it, in 2000, Amarkantak was marked as a biosphere reserve, more to attract tourists and buy into the buzz of ‘ecotourism’ rather than out of any real need to preserve it.

This report also became the basis of Sanjay Tiwari’s petition filed to the NGT in 2015. This was followed by a flurry of petitions by local organisations equally interested in preserving the ecosystem, from NGOs, even the ABVP. Steering committee teams have conducted consistent surveys in the town. Expert panels have been formulated. But report after report of findings have lain unactioned, some members claim.

The intended refashioning of Amarkantak into a ‘mini smart city’ now has locals worried that it will invoke rampant construction and influx without implementation of even prior NGT orders.

To understand the river’s decline it is important to go into what has disturbed the source. The man leading the battle charge against the Madhya Pradesh government for over a decade has been Justice Daleep Singh, at the NGT, in response to PILs by concerned social organisations, religious groups, and the ABVP. His judgements are also the only place where the larger picture of minor interdepartmental responsibilities and lapses come into picture. Responding to a combined four petitions on the subject of pollution in the Narmada in November 2017, Justice Singh observed:

“It is necessary to understand that the river Narmada has a unique position geographically, ecologically and environmentally apart from having an economic impact on the lives of the people of the region and that the various multi-purpose and irrigation and hydel projects which have come up, its impact is being felt not only in the two states of M.P and Gujrat but as far as Rajasthan and Maharashtra. … the eco-system of the Narmada valley the Vindhyan mountains of Amarkantak which ensures a perennial flow into the river needs to be preserved at all cost so that we ensure the perennial flow of water into the river”

The Narmada basin extends over an area of 98,796 sq. km. The river flows westwards over a length of 1,312 km before draining into the Arabian Sea. The average annual rainfall in the basin is 1178 mm, 90% of which is received during the monsoon months (June to September). Situated in a core earthquake zone, the Narmada lies in a rift valley formed of basaltic flows.

About 32% of the basin is forested, 45% being the net sown area with an average cropping intensity of 135%.

The source sits in a ridge made of basalt rock, which has water retaining properties that it then releases through a drip mechanism. Hence, the town’s water table was always high. It has now dropped by 30% at source. In 2017, Madhya Pradesh received 27.69% less than average rainfall affecting 97% of the Narmada’s catchment area.

This year has seen the lowest availability of water with the Narmada Control Authority pegging it at 14.66MAF.

Even as Gujarat writes to Madhya Pradesh demanding more water be released as per the water sharing agreement, given that the original agreement didn’t take into account future population growth, here’s the open secret no one’s thought to factor in: governments don’t get to decide how much water the river has to give, the river does.
S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada-capture.jpg


Thank you for reading and encouraging me to pen more

Last edited by laluks : 11th January 2020 at 11:54.
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Old 11th January 2020, 12:36   #29
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Default re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 13th January 2020, 16:20   #30
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Default Re: S-Cross'd : Amarkantak, the birthplace of Narmada

That's quite an exhaustive thread, Laluks.
I've a couple of my family members doing the Narmada Parikrama on foot. We met them in Ankleshwar, Gujarat in the last month and have plans to meet them again sometime.
That caught my attention and interest when the title of this thread said Narmada.

I'd like to visit sometime, but certainly, this is a drive that'll take meticulous planning and a lot of time.
I will bookmark this as a guideline for my trip when I plan for it.
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