Amarkantak is an enchanting pilgrim town near Anuppur, in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is a prominent landmark because of its unique natural heritage as well as serving as a prestigious place for Hindus.
This place is the mother of three rivers; Narmada, Son, Johila. The ancient temple of Kalachuri period is in the south of the Narmadakudh, built by Kalachuri Maharaja Karnadev.
Amarkantak Group of Temples
History of Amarkantak
The history of the area goes back to the 8th century A.D. when Sankaracharya built a Surya Kunda to specify the origin of the Narmada. He also installed the idol of Siva at Pateleshwar in Amarkantak. Kalchuri king Karna Deva(A.D 1041-1073)built the traditions over the Pateleshwar temple. Moreover, the same king also constructed the Karna mandir, whose name it bears. Lord Shiva is the main god in most of the temples here.
The group of temples here namely the Pataleshwar Temple, Shiv Temple and Karan Temple besides others belong to the Nagara style of architecture. The Pataleshwar Temple besides others belongs to the Nagara style of architecture. The Pataleshwar Temple has Pancharatha sikhara and a pyramidal mandapa. The Shiv Temple adjacent to Pataleshwar is also based on a similar plan and elevation. The extant portion of the Karan Temple shows ornate shikaras and kapiili members. There were different phases of construction everywhere according to the architectural plan of shrines at Karan Temple Complex.
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Special Features of Amarkantak
The Shiv Temple here has a unique plan with a common entrance and mandapa leading to two different garbgrihas facing in perpendicular directions.
1. Panchmatha Temple
Panchmatha is a group of five temples. Situated on the stone plinth, these temple is coated with a thick coat of plaster. They were built during the reign of good ruler dateable to 15th – 16th century CE.
2. Juhila Temple
This temple is named after the river Johila which flows from this area. Situated on a high platform, this north-facing temple has the provision of only sanctum and antarala. A broken image of any goddess is lying in the sanctum. this temple is assigned to built by the Gahor of Baghel dynasty dateable to 14th century CE.
3. Pataleshwar Temple
According to mythological beliefs, Adi Shankaracharya enshrined a shivling here. King Karandev of Kalchuri dynasty in 1041 – 1072 CE constructed this temple. This temple is considered as the best example of temple architecture of the Kalchuri period. There is a provision of a sanctum (Garbhagriha), natural (the connecting pathway between sanctum & pavilion) and pavilion (mandapa) in this temple. The floor of the sanctum is 1.40 meter below in comparison to the floor of mandapa. This is probably the reason why this temple is called Pataleshwar Temple.
4. Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve
Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve is 40 km from the town of Amarkantak. This biosphere has a balanced equation between humans, flora, and fauna. Here are a few pictures from our visit to the biosphere:
This biosphere is one of the most diverse sanctuaries among other reserved biospheres. It’s famous for the Bengal tigers. The fauna also includes bears, chitals, panthers, sambar, barking deers, wolves, fox, jackals, monkey Samarth with 170 different species of birds, 13 species of snakes and lizards and frogs.
The flora is a typical tropical deciduous vegetation. It has a rich diversity in plants as well. Provides shelter to gymnosperm, angiosperm, thallophyte. This biosphere consists of over 1500 plant species with 151 plant families.
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There are a few small banks every 5-6 Km. The local people make artificial ponds here and there. This is because it could be easily available for the animals. The basis has schools for children to educate them. To our surprise, they have separate toilets and do not litter in open.
The main occupation is agriculture, timber, livestock. The localities also make a small earning by establishing small Thaddeus or tea stalls for the tourists or visitors.
There is no pillars and towers for electricity. Its a no network area and animals and birds feel very protected. The forest department uses walkie-talkie for their communication among themselves. The people of the bastis get their electricity from solar energy via solar panels.
Though people living there don’t hold degrees and earn lakhs, they do live a more decent and civilized life than us earning a sustainable living from their work, taking care of the environment better than us literate people of cities.