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Madhya Pradesh can boast of two mountain ranges - the Vindhyas and the Satpuras. Although neither can match the awesome altitude of the Himalaya or their snow-capped majesty, these hills exude a charm of their own. Hindu myths hand down to us an interesting account of the stunted growth of the Vindhyas. In this tale Mount Vindhya appears as a king envious of Himalaya, considered by most as the king of the mountains. To prove his superiority he started growing skyward. Soon he came in way of the Sun revolving celestially.

Arrogant Vindhya refused to yield to the entreaties of the Sun to let him pass. Distressing darkness threatened to engulf all creation.

The gods were disturbed in heaven and were constrained to approach Sage Agastya to rescue them and suffering humanity from such destructive show of might. Agastya agreed to help. He walked down to Vindhya and declared that he was southward bound on a pilgrimage. Vindhya paid obeisance to the noble sage and bowed low as the custom required. As a gesture of exceptional respect the mountain giant promised that he would remain in this kneeling posture till the sage returned from his pilgrimage. This was exactly what the sage desired. Blessing Vindhya he continued on his journey.

Vindhya, we are told, has been waiting ever since for Agastya to return! The myth is interesting in more than anthropomorphic details - Vindhya is in fact an older mountain system than the Himalaya, and the name literally translates as the hunter, suggesting that it was the traditional homeland of aboriginals.

Although nowhere does the Vindhya range attain a height greater than 1000 metres, it has proved difficult enough a barrier to deter hordes of invaders from sweeping down from the Indo Gangetic plains.The feeling of being in mountains is far stronger in the Satpuras where the hillsides are verdantly wooded.The charming hill station of Panchmarhi is situated in the Satpuras and was developed by the British as a summer resort.

The name derives from the Mahabharat. Local legends maintain that, the five Pandav brothers had taken refuge here during their exile into the forest. Rough hewn caves in a rock are shown to the visitors as the Pandav Gufa where the princes had found refuge. The chief rivers of this region on the banks of which a profusion of cultures flourished from the pre-historic times, are the Chambal, Betwa, Son, Tapti and Mahanadi.

The year was 1857, mutiny had not sent tremors along the British cantonments. Capt. James Forsyth of the Bengal Lancers was galloping hard up the Satpura ranges when he discovered this beautiful saucer-shaped retreat

Army officials thought that Panchmarhi would serve very well as a sanatorium for ailing European soldiers who would recuperate fast in the salubrious climate.

However, soon the plans were changed and Panchmarhi was developed as an army station. Churches, clubs, hotels and cemeteries followed the barracks inevitably and Panchmarhi blossomed as a hill station. Red tiled bungalows, a meadow like golf course, rising church spire remind us of the colonial legacy.

Close to the town is the  Bee Fall (Rajat Prapat) which gently cascades 50 metres down the rockface and is beautifully shaded. Giant size squirrels play on the branches of the trees and soothing music is provided by a variety of birds. Locals spend a lot of time looking for Mohini, a rare milk-white worm, which, it is believed, ensures the fulfillment of every wish!

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