An important tourist landmark in Panchmarhi, Pandav Caves lend their name to this picturesque hill resort of Madhya Pradesh. According to local legends and popular beliefs, the five Pandav brothers of Mahabharata, along with their wife ‘Draupadi’, spent a part of their exile here. Five ancient caverns carved out on a sandstone rock, in a low hillock, forms these famous caves of Pachmarhi. Currently, they stand as protected monuments of the hill station.
Pachmarhi is a combination of the two words ‘Panch’ and ‘Marhi’, which translates to ‘Five Caves’ or ‘Five Huts’ in Hindi. This reiterates the lore that the caves were home to the five Pandava brothers. These 1,000-year-old rock-cut caves also overlook an attractive garden. Thus, the scenic beauty of the backdrop and their mythological significance makes these caves one of the most famous tourist attractions of the state.
Amongst these five caves, the most well ventilated and the spacious one is the ‘Draupadi Kuti’, named after Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. The darkest of all the caves is the ‘Bhim Kothari’, named after the toughest of the five brothers – Bhima. All the five caves are hewed in a rough manner, which however do not mar their beauty or attraction. People visit the humble sanctuaries that relate their name with the Mahabharata, round the year.
Though Pandava caves proudly associate with Mahabharata, many archaeologists contradict the fact. They believe that these caves belong to the Gupta period (9th or 10th century AD) and even predict their construction by Buddhist monks. Traces of an ancient brick-built stupa have been unearthed on top of the caves, which dates back these caves to the Buddhist period. Archeologists believe the stupa is a remnant of the regime of King Ashoka.
Nevertheless, many people still deem the caverns as abodes of the Pandavas, and love to visit the place because of their remote antiquity. If you would like to make a visitation to the Pandav Falls while on a trip to Madhya Pradesh, you can simply travel to Bhopal (120 km) by air or Pipariya (47 km) by train and undertake a road journey towards Pachmarhi to reach the site. One thing is for sure, you will never regret undertaking so much travel to visit the caves.