Madhya Pradesh’s Patalkot: The entrance to ‘Patal’ where Sun doesn't shine

Team 30 Stades
26 Nov 2022
Madhya Pradesh’s Patalkot: The entrance to ‘Patal’ where Sun doesn't shine

Madhya Pradesh’s Patalkot: The entrance to ‘Patal’ where no sunlight chhindwara 30stades

On the way to Bhopal from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, there is a valley so deep that it is called Patalkot, literally meaning the netherworld or underworld where demons and snakes are believed to live. A treasure trove of medicinal herbs, the valley is nearly 3,000 feet below the ground level, making Patalkot truly look like the netherworld.

Patal is a Sanskrit word, which means very deep, and the valley is believed to be the entrance to Patal -- the subterranean realms of the universe located under the earth, as per Hindu beliefs.

Spread over 79 sq km, the horse-shoe-shaped valley is inhabited by Gonds and Bharias tribal people, who are said to have been living there for over 500 years. The valley is home to around 2,176 tribal people (as per the 2001 Census) spread over 12 villages and 13 hamlets.

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Patalkot valley is a treasure trove of medicinal herbs. Pic: Chhindwara district administration 30stades
Patalkot valley is a treasure trove of medicinal herbs. Pic: Chhindwara district administration

There are many pathways to reach the villages and interact with the locals, who follow their own customs and culture. The rocks in Patalkot are almost 2500 million years old.

Due to its depth, and a cliff overhang, the sunlight does not reach every nook and corner of the valley.

In fact, three Patalkot villages do not receive sunlight at all and darkness engulfs the rest by late afternoon.

For the locals, the only source of water is the Dudhi River, a tributary of the Narmada River which rises in the Mahadeo hills of the Satpura range.

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Legends of Patalkot

Bharias believe that Patalkot is the place where Goddess Sita plunged inside Mother Earth when she was asked by Lord Rama to prove her fidelity. Locals also believe that when the ruler of Patal Lok, demon Ahiravana, kidnapped Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana, then Lord Hanumana entered the netherworld through Patalkot to rescue them.

Similarly, Ravana’s son Meghnad also entered ‘Patal’ through this valley, say the local tribals who revere him.

Patalkot is home to over 2,000 tribal people from Gond and Bharias tribes. Pic: Chhindwara district administration 30stades
Patalkot is home to over 2,000 tribal people from Gonds and Bharias tribes. Pic: Chhindwara district administration

The Bhonsle Kings of the Maratha clan ruled this place in the 18th and 19th centuries. After being defeated by British Army, the Bhonsle king went deep into the forest of Patalkot.

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Ecotourism

The valley had been cut off from the outside world due to its peculiar geography and was discovered only a couple of decades back. Now the Madhya Pradesh government is promoting it as an ecotourism destination by creating enabling infrastructure and training the local tribals in adventure activities like rock climbing, trekking, parasailing, paragliding, bird watching and water sports.

Every year Satpuda Adventure sports festival is organised in October to promote tourism in the area.

Chhindwara can be approached by road from Nagpur, Jabalpur or Bhopal. The nearest airport is Nagpur though one can also reach via Bhopal and Jabalpur airports.

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