Pachmarhi on the Wild Side

I did this Gadabout a few years ago. It was a short one of about 5 days, designed and directed by Pradip. I had two other travellers with me. Pradip had invited us to stay at his home in Pachmarhi. He had worked out a packed itinerary and it took into account his naturalist’s passion. It included full day excursions to different parts on the Central Indian plateau that were his absolute favourite spots . They were little gems tucked deep in the jungles and most of them were accessible only on foot.

unnamed-5(Photo : Romana Campos)

The three beautiful days in the jungle all involved water and swimming. In fact, on one of the days there was no way of reaching the destination from Point A to Point B, without swimming through a steep bottomless canyon. I had a very real problem with this. I don’t mind getting wet in waist high water and paddling through a shallow pond if I have to but actually flapping my legs and arms in a synchronised way is beyond me. To learn swimming has stayed on my List of Resolutions for a very long time. That box never gets ticked. And not for lack of trying. I promise myself every New Year that this will be the year when I become water borne. I started swimming lessons with ‘Mah Boyz” when they were 7 and 9 years old. That was 10 years ago.

unnamed-8(Photo : Ganeve)

So when Pradip proposed that all his favourite spots required swimming, I thought of abandoning “Pachmarhi on the Wildside”. I could bring along a buoyancy aid from our very own Himalayan River Runners. But wearing a life jacket still means I have to propel myself! And I am not capable of that. Finally we settled on a tyre tube from a truck that I could wear around my waist as a floatation device. Elegant! But first it had to be lugged kilometres down into every gorge and then back up again, and even though it was light, it was cumbersome and unwieldy. I was embarrassed to let Pradip carry it, but the tube was bigger than me. Needless to say I haven’t been invited back for a Gadabout in Pachmarhi ever since.

unnamed-13(Photo : Romana)
unnamed-12(Photo : Romana)
unnamed-10(Photo : Pradip)

We awoke daily at the crack of dawn and would stay out all day, either walking, swimming or driving through the Pachmarhi wilderness.

unnamed-6(Photo : Romana)

Complete novices observing everything through Pradip’s eyes. A blade of grass, the varied shades of green of the leaves, the shapes of different trees, the texture of the bark on the trunks and it seemed everything had a story to tell. And Pradip had many more. We became fairly good at his “Tree spotting” quizzes.

DSC_0554(Photo : Ganeve)

Towards the end of those 5 days I could appreciate the sculpture like beauty of a Kulu, or the flowering profusion of a Kardhai, even the smelly mahua. I began making notes for our own indigenous garden at the Himalayan Hideaway which grows only native species of plants and trees, that Pradip had helped us start many years ago. Oples Menis, Haldu, Mahul vines, different grasses….. I made a note of growing them all at our Lodge as the Pachmarhi plateau and the Shivaliks share a similar eco system and they have many trees in common. In fact Pradip’s “Jungle Trees of Central India” has become a Bible!

DSC_0598(Photo : Ganeve)

Most nights, one other travelling companion and I slept on the upstairs verandah of the house under a mosquito net. Fire flies, bats, geckos and crickets. What an orchestra. I slept like a baby! One night though we all slept under the stars on the banks of the Denwa. This was a new experience for me. Camping in a tent in the Himalaya is very different from being totally exposed with no canvas for cover. It was a surreal night with a full moon reflected in the river and the canyon walls rising steeply around us.

riverine forest Denwa (1)(Photo : Pradip)

I manage to achieve a semblance of equanimity the moment I find myself in the outdoors and I try and do this as often as I possibly can. The outdoors gives me a perspective like no cityscape can! It’s when the layers start peeling away. Its when  understanding dawns that Laws of Nature are far superior. When a human’s life span seems like such an inconsequential blip in the Grand Design of the Universe. Pachmarhi felt like that for me even more so than a trek in the Himalaya or trans Himalaya. In Pachmarhi there was less physical effort involved. The environment was gentler. It left me with more time to ponder.

unnamed-22(Photo : Romana)

Perhaps I’ll plan another Gadabout to the table land armed with Pranay Lal’s “Indica”, Peter Wohlleben’s “Hidden Life of Trees” and Pradip’s “Jungle Trees…… and maybe if I can swim by then, Pradip won’t mind coming along.





24 thoughts on “Pachmarhi on the Wild Side

  1. Ganeve, you are one of the best ‘blips’ ever created!
    What a nice read this was.
    I can’t swim at all either, such a pity!
    Am reading Indica these days in short doses as I don’t retain all that I read which is annoying. But I retain the wonder and that is worth it.


  2. It was an experience of a life time Ganeve.!!!I loved every minute even the painful ones !!!.when are you returning to our area would love to be a part of the next trek and hugs..


  3. Finally saw the photos Still figuring the tech type thing on my phone How young and lovely ganno 😉 Let’s do this Will need a life jacket though Maybe not tyre That’s too funny 😂

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. Ganeve the trip sounds so beautiful! and the pictures are lovely. I have the most wonderful memories of a short walk in Rishikesh with Pradip talking about the flora and fauna en route and I was spellbound! Would love to do another like this if youre doing one


    • This shall be done again only after I have learned to swim! Although there are many comments from readers who would like to do this Gadabout but who can’t swim. Where there’s a will there’s a way. A tyre tube always comes in handy! As for Pradip, we’ll twist his arm into leading another Gadabout.


  5. There was so much that was tranquil, Ganeve — notwithstanding your being aquatically challenged for part of the trek! — in the photos and the text.
    I especially loved that last paragraph of yours…. So vital, to get some down time periodically and put things in perspective again….
    I hope you learn swimming soon, and we can do another such ramble with Pradip in Pachmarhi.


    • Thanks Afried! Will definitely keep you posted if Pachmarhi happens again or something similar elsewhere……I know that Aroon and Pradip will both be competing for the tallest stories and it will be fun to watch for the rest….xx


  6. What an experience Ganeve, i would be mortally afraid to be in water too, swimming is on my list of learnings to do as well. Super impressed that you did it, you go girl.
    Beautifully written piece, hope to join you on one of your gadabouts soon.


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