Digital Dimdima
-By Jayanthi Mahalingam
Down to the sea
The Narmada in Gujarat
A Hill With A View
The Monuments Of Mandu
An Ancient City
An Island In The River
Beyond Hoshangabad
Steeped In Legends
Narmadey Har
The Cult of Thuggee
The Splendour of Marble Rocks
Original Inhabitants
The World Of Verrier Elwin
Tribal Queen
The Jewel Of Kanha
The Narmada In Mythology

 

The Splendour of Marble Rocks

A few kilometres before the river reaches Jabalpur, the second largest of Madhya Pradesh’s cities, it meanders through a stretch of gigantic marble rocks, called Bhedaghat. The place got its name because of its resemblance to bhed or sheep, or as some say because of its location at the bhed or confluence of the Bavan and the Narmada. The reflection of the gleaming white (and sometimes pink, brown and black) magnesium limestone rocks in the crystal clear water of the Narmada is fascinating, especially by moonlight.
Amongst the interesting rock formations here are Haathi ka Paon, that resemble the footprints of an elephant and Hiran Kunch that resembles a deer. There’s also the rock upon which Hanuman is believed to have set his foot on his way to Lanka. An interesting pastime of the tourists is to guess the shape of the rocks from their shadows on the river’s placid waters.
The Narmada making its way through these rocks narrows down and then takes a sharp plunge, forming the famous Dhuandhar Falls or ‘Smoke Cascade’. So powerful is the plunge that its roar can be heard from miles away.
Most people in Bhedaghat are sculptors, who make a living fashioning the marble quarried locally or the soapstone got from the river, into gods, goddesses, lingams, crosses, ashtrays and trinket boxes. Tourists get their names carved out on soapstone to take back with them as mementoes.
There are two theories on how Jabalpur got its name. One is that it was named after the saint, Jabali, and the other is that it got its name from the surrounding rock-bearing hills, known as jabal in Persian. Jabalpur was once the pleasure resort of the Gond rulers. The Madan Mahal is a palace on a hilltop 5km away. It was built by Madan Shah, one of the most powerful Gond kings who ruled in the 12th century, when the Gond empire was at its zenith. The Gond queen, Rani Durgavati, bravely tried to defend it against the Mughal invasion, and on the verge of losing the battle, she stabbed herself to death on the banks of the river. Jabalpur was later the capital of the Kalachuri kings and then the Marathas, until the British seized it in 1817. Thereafter it has been an important military and manufacturing centre.

Dinosaurs roamed along the Narmada Valley once. One of the earliest and largest tyrannosaur fossils ever found in the world, was excavated near Jabalpur. It is now in the British Museum of Natural History. Apart from this, fossils of twelve different dinosaur have been unearthed in the Jabalpur-Mandla region.


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