In the heart of India, a spectacular waterfall and fossils

In the heart of India, a spectacular waterfall and fossils

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-08-09 10:57 Author examining a fossilAfter completing my work at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, I had a day to spare. I telephoned my friend Dilip Kapdeo to suggest nearby places for a day’s excursion. Without hesitation he asked me to visit Bheda Ghat and Ghughua. When I asked him to tell me something about these places, his reply was, “You will not be disappointed going there.” Later, he sent a vehicle to take me to these places.We first went to Bheda Ghat, situated about 25kms from Jabalpur city. Lying by the side of the mighty Narmada, the Ghat is famous for three places - Dhuandar falls, Marble Rocks, and Chausath Yogini temple. After reaching Bheda Ghat, we parked our vehicle walked nearly a kilometre to reach the falls. The word ‘Dhuandar’ means ‘flow of smoke’. The falls get their name because the cascading waters of Narmada give a smoke-like effect on falling from a height of 30-mts.Dhuandar FallsGhughua Fossil ParkPanoromic view of Chausath Yogini TempleMarble RocksThe visitor can go very close to the top of the falls by taking a rope way. What amazed me is the way the placid and calm Narmada suddenly took force as it fell from a height. As it falls, the blue water takes a milky white colour when it crashes onto the rocks; and the rising droplets of water give an impression of smoke. I was reminded of Niagara Falls but Niagara is too mighty. The sound of the falling water is also very soothing. After admiring Dhuandar, we walked along the river to see the famous Marble Rocks.As we reached the point from where we could see the rocks, I suddenly remembered that the place looked quite familiar. My wife told me that the song “Raat ka nasha” from the Hindi movie ‘Ashoka’ was picturised on Kareena Kapoor sailing on a raft right here. She also said the climax scene for the movie ‘Bobby’ and ‘Praan Jaye Par Vachan na Jaye’ were shot here. The scene is as picturesque as seen in the films.The gorge known as Marble Rocks was not very wide and monkeys were able to cross the rocks and hence they were known as ‘Bundar kudni’. Due to erosion, the gap between rocks is now wider. The gorge, carved out of soft white marble by the gushing river, is almost three kilometres in length.Egg shaped fossil The Chousath Yogini temple, which we saw later, was built in 10th Century and the temple commands panoramic view of the Narmada flowing through the Marble Rocks.After seeing Bheda Ghat, we left for Ghughua, which is situated 75kms away. Our driver informed us that Ghughua contained the second largest fossil park in Asia and was the only such park in India. After an uneventful two-hour journey, we reached Ghughua Fossil Park. The park was virtually deserted, probably because not many know about its existence. We went to the facilitation centre in the premises and began exploring the museum.Our guide informed us that the park came into being in 1983 and the fossils had been a chance discovery.It all began when Dr. Dharmendra Prasad, the then statistical officer at Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh, who was also the secretary of the local archaeological society, found some fossilised plants while travelling in the area. Dr Prasad conducted a systematic study of the fossils found in Ghughua, and discovered fossils of plants, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. While fossils of palm trees were found in plenty, they also unearthed fossils of neem, jamun, plantain, rudraksh, and many other trees, which were not native to that province.Another view of marble rocks Studies revealed that the fossils found at Ghughua are approximately 65 million years old, and at that time, the area of Madhya Pradesh appeared to have a humid equatorial climate, recording an average annual rainfall of about 2,000 mm. It also indicated that millions of years ago, India, Australia and Africa must have formed a single land mass with common vegetation. The Ghughua National Fossil Park covers an area of 27 hectares. A fossil of an egg, which is thought to be that of a dinosaur, is also on display. This fascinating park can be covered in half a day. Most fossils are spread on the ground or around trees or on platforms in groups.Thanks to Dilip, our one-day excursion was not only educative but also quite memorable.  Author:Dr. DV Guruprasad  (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.