Sometimes, places catch you off guard. This is one of those places. Before going to Panna, as usual, I made a list of places that we would like to visit. We wanted to use MPT Jungle Camp next to Panna Tiger Reserve as our base. The list of places to visit included Khajuraho, Raneh Falls, Panna Tiger Reserve of course, Ajaygarh Fort (which most of us stopped mid-way during the climb due to the extreme heat) and some of the temples in Panna town. Somehow, Pandav Falls fell into the maybe category. Many people in their reviews mentioned that you have to climb down 250 steps and once you get there, there isn’t much to see. Stair climbing can be painful in summer and our awful visit to Ajaygarh fort (which had 600 steps to climb – putting it in the must see category was a terrible mistake on my part) the previous day made us leery about attempting yet another site that involved stairs… 250 at that, in the middle of summer. Climbing down is always a lot easier than climbing back up. Luckily, our drivers insisted we visit Pandav Falls. They said we might be surprised. I am so glad they did. It is indeed a fascinating place.
By the time we reached Pandav Falls, it was around 12 noon. It was quite hot. Once we parked the car, we looked at the stairs going down. Luckily, they did not look too steep. So, we started climbing down. The steps are well built and were easy to climb down. For the first little bit, we were exposed to the harsh sun. Then, we turned a corner. Suddenly, the descent became so much easier as the surroundings became cooler. Beautiful greenery surrounding a small pond. It was like an oasis. The famous waterfall was a trickle at this point. But, below on the other side of the pond, we could see the ”caves”. We could see shade… so tempting at that point in time.
We slowly made our way down admiring the sedimentary rocks that made up the walls. Our guide told us that once upon a time people used to dig and find diamonds in the surrounding area (Panna is well known for its diamond mines). There were a few monkeys hanging out near the steps but luckily they did not bother us. Soon we reached the caves area. It was amazing. The temperature seemed a lot lower with the flora canopy above us. Water was constantly dripping from above. Our guide told us that the water was considered to be very clean and an excellent drinking water source. The guide then took our empty water bottle and filled it up with water. He then asked us to go ahead and drink it. We were a little hesitant at first but decided to take a chance and drink it anyways. It was very refreshing and we all thoroughly enjoyed gulping down the water.
Next, we proceeded to visit the “caves”. Apparently, this area was modernized by a king a couple of decades ago. You could see the original caves behind the modern structure. Perhaps the famous Pandava brothers from the epic Mahabharata did live here at some point. The caves themselves are small. You could smell the bats inside so we decided not to spend too much time and we quickly came out.
We then decided to sit on the platform and enjoy the surroundings. We could see and hear so many different kinds of birds. For the few moments we were there, we felt like we were in another world. IF I had a good camera, I could have taken so many pictures of the different birds. After visiting Panna Tiger Reserve and then this waterfall, I think someone who enjoys bird watching will have a gala time admiring and photographing all the different types of birds in this region. Neon greens and blues, bright yellow, black and white – the different colors of the birds was simply mind blowing. Since none of us were avid bird watchers, we had absolutely no clue about the names of the different birds. Perhaps that is something I need to start paying attention to… we have been scarred by city pigeons for too long!
It is said that the water from this waterfall and pond eventually join the Ken river. Perhaps that is why the pond was full of life as well. As we slowly made our way back up, we could feel the temperature rising and the afternoon sun beating down on us once again. Once we got into the car, we headed back to our hotel to have lunch and prepare for the afternoon safari.
During the last few months, I have become very skeptical about reviews or pictures of places on Insta. There were quite a few times where the difference between Insta vs. reality was a shocker (I might eventually post about those places). I am so glad that I made the decision when I first started blogging that I will never touch up any of the pictures I post. When I read about Pandav falls, the reviews were either extremely positive or extremely negative. But, all of them pointed to the same true issue – you have to climb down 250 steps and then climb those stairs back up again. So, if you are healthy and are able to climb up and down stairs relatively easily, then do consider visiting Pandav Falls near Panna. Hopefully you will also be transported to another world just like me – it might be a state of mind but was worth taking the plunge and listening to our drivers.