Marble Rocks: Continuing from the previous post, the next stop was to experience the boat ride through the famed Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat. We had heard a lot about these marble rocks, but nothing had prepared us to what we actually saw. We took a private motorised boat, as my husband did not want to risk a boat that was overcrowded! Safety first always! As we went through the river, flanked by the the marble rocks on either side, it was a sight to behold. These magnesium limestone rocks glistened in the sunlight and reflected myriads of colours. These 100 feet rocks are indeed striking and it is said that it looks the best on a full moon night. We had the most hilarious guide, who made sure to tell us which part of the marble rocks was used as a location for the many Bollywood films that were shot here, like the 2016 film Mohenjo – daro and previous the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Asoka (2001). It is not surprising that it is a favorite location for cinema makers, as these rocks are so beautiful and dramatic. The pictures hardly do justice to the beauty though.
For a sum, these young men are willing to jump off the cliff!
Soapstone and French chalk are found in pockets in the bed of the Narmada River and there are artisans who eke out a living by carving images of various deities, candle stands and agarbatti stands. Located 6 kms from Bhedaghat is the Lamheta ghat, which is dotted with many shrines. It is also known as Paramahans ghat as the Paramahamsa ashram is located here.
After an experiential boat ride, it was getting to be sun-down and it was time to head back to Jabalpur. Enroute we stopped at the Tripura Sundari Temple in Tewar (a place that I have mentioned in my previous blog). The temple has swayambhu (self manifested) idols of the Goddess Tripurasundari. The River Narmada flows close to this temple too.
Narmada Aarti: The next stop was to witness the Narmada Arati which was also talked about so much.
Says Bill Aitken, the famous travel writer in his book Seven Sacred Rivers, ” I fell in love with Narmada, the moment I saw her. She was incontrovertible feminine, more so than any other river I have seen. Dazzling, blue, gentle and beckoning….”.
She is flanked by the Vindhyas in the north and Satpuras in the south. Narmada is one of the saptagangas or sacred rivers of India. The early part of her course, she is pretty much a mountainous stream and leaps over canyons and jumps over mountains and hence Narmada is also known as ‘Rewa’ or the leaping one. A popular legend says that she was born out of the sweat of Lord Shiva as he performed the tandav nritya (dance of destruction) and hence she is also known as Shankari or daughter of Shankara. Another legend says that Shiva was in trance in Amarkantak and the beauty of his calm penance was transformed into a beautiful damsel. Shiva then said, that since you were born from my tenderness or ‘narma‘, you will be called Narmada. The devas were so smitten by the maiden’s beauty, they pursued her. She gave them all a slip by turning into a river and started to flow as the holy Narmada. Also emerging in Amarkantak is the River Son. One of the most arduous pilgrimages is the Narmada Parikrama that involves the circumambulation of the river. Legend also says that when River Ganga feels unclean after her devotees take a dip to cleanse their sins, she goes to Narmada in the form of a black cow to purify herself. No wonder then, that River Narmada/ Rewa/ is so revered in this part of the country.
Back to the arti, we went to Gwarighat to witness the spectacular scene. The people were all gathering together from 6 pm itself to see the aarti. There are elevated tables all set with the puja/aarti material and we found ourselves a place to sit.
As we waited we had the time to explore the ghat and take pictures. The ghats have decorated boats all ready to take you to the other side of the river where a Gurudwara is situated. Guru Nanak undertook four journeys, also known as ‘Udaasis’ or travels to spread the word of enlightenment. On one of his travels he came to Jabalpur and established this gurudwara.
It was soon getting to be time for the Aarti and the four priests came and took position. The lamps were lit and then the bhajans emanated from the loudspeakers and the aarti began sharp at 7 pm. And what a grand spectacle it was. I was thrilled that I managed to do the aarti too- a memory that will be etched in my mind for a long time. At the end of the aarti, all of us took a pledge to revere the sacred river and keep it clean. I leave you with more pictures and in the next blog will cover the rest of Jabalpur in a day!
Hope you enjoyed the read and this piece! Do let me know!