Amarkantak is a pilgrim town and a nagar panchayat in Anuppur District in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Also called "Teerthraj" (the king of pilgrimages), Amarkantak region is a unique natural heritage area and is the meeting point of the Vindhyas and the Satpuras, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. This is where the Narmada River, the Sone River and Johila River emerge.
Religious importance of Amarkantak
Amarkantak situated on the western edge of ancient Kingdom of Kalinga is a place of worship for all the three worlds. Gods and Gandharvas (Celestial beings), Asuras (demons), Saints and Sages have all achieved great spiritual powers here. It is believed that who ever dies at Amarkantak is assured of a place in heaven. Also if a lady makes offerings of fruits and flowers will gain the respect of her husband, and no doubt she will also achieve a place in heaven.
When Lord Shiva destroyed Tripura (The three cities) by fire, the ashes of one fell upon mount Kailash, the ashes of another fell upon Amarkantak, and the ashes of the third were saved by Lord Shiva and kept in heaven. The ashes that fell upon Amarkantak turned into crores of Shivalingas. Only one is visible at Jwaleshwar in Amarkantak.
Amarkantak is a Sanskrit word the literal meaning of which is immortal (amar) obstruction (kantak). The place was abode of Gods but was disturbed by the hindrances of Rudraganas and hence called Amarkantak. The poet Kalidas has mentioned it as Amrakoot. Myth is that the dense forests of this region were full of mango (amra) trees. So Kalidas named it as Amrakoot, which later became Amarkantak.
Places of tourist importance
Amarkantak being a unique natural heritage is very rich in biodiversity. It has got a number of places of scenic beauty. Apart from this it is source of origin of three important rivers. It is a great pilgrim center for Hindus. It is thus a great-unexplored tourism destination.
Narmadakund and temples
At the place of origin of Narmada River there is an open pool known as Narmadakund. Around this kund there are number of temples such as Narmada and Shiva temple, Kartikey temple, Shri Ram Janki temple, Annapurna temple, Guru Gorakhnath temple, Sri Shuryanarayan temple, Vangeshwar Mahadev temple, Durga temple, Shiv Pariwar, Siddheswar Mahadev temple, Sri Radha Krishna temple, Eleven Rudra temple etc.
Ancient temples of Kalachuri period
The ancient temples of Kalachuri period are situated in the south of Narmadakund just behind it. These were built by Kalachuri Maharaja Karnadeva (1042-1072 AD). The Machhendranath and Pataleshwar temples are excellent examples of architecture. There is also Keshav Narayan temple built by the Bhonsle ruler of Nagpur in the 18th century.
Sonemuda is the place of origin of Sone River. It is situated at a distance of 1.5 km from Narmadakund at the very edge of Maikal Mountain. The Sone River cascades from the mountain in a waterfall hundreds of feet long. From the viewing platform facing east, there is a panorama of forested hills and valleys. According to Megasthanes and other Aryan writers the river Sone gets its name from gold as gold dust is found in the water of Sone.
Mai ki Bagiya (Goddess garden)
A grove of trees in dense forests situated at a distance of one km from Narmadakund is named “Mai ki Bagiya” in honour of the goddess Narmada. In this natural garden there are Mango, Banana and other fruit trees along with Gulbakavli, roses and other flower plants.
Kapildhara (Kapil waterfall)
Six km northwest of Narmadakund is the Kapildhara waterfall with a fall of about hundred feet. According to scriptures, Kapil Muni lived here. There is a scene of natural beauty with mountains and dense forest down hills. According to ‘Vindhya Vaibhav’ Kapil Muni performed severe austerities here and received divine light. He also wrote ‘sankhya philosophy’ (an advanced treatise on mathematics) at this place. The Kapileshwar temple is also situated nearby. The surrounding mountains are full of caves where saints have been performing their spiritual practices.
Kabir chabutra (the platform of saint Kabir)
It is an old belief that the great saint Kabir performed austerities here and achieved spiritual powers. It is therefore a holy place for the Kabir panth sect. 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.At this very place Kabir and Nanak met and discussed spiritual matters and introduced the way of better living for human being. It is also the meeting point of three districts, Anuppur and Dindori districts of Madhya Pradesh and Bilaspur district of Chhatisgarh. There is also a Kabir waterfall here.
Shri Jwaleshwar Mahadev (the temple of Shiva)
The Jwaleshwar temple and the source of origin of the third river Juhila River is situated at a distance of 8 km from Amarkantak on Shahdol road. According to ‘Vindhya Vaibhav’ Lord Shiva himself established a Shivling here and also scattered crores of other Shivlings over Maikal Mountain. According to puranic traditions a rectangular area containing crores of Shivlings is known as ‘Maha Rudra Meru’ and is the abode of lord Shiva himself. There are only two ‘Maha Rudra Meru’ places Varanasi and Amarkantak. Lord Shiva and Parvati live here because of this special spiritual quality.