Pandavas can be credited, besides Mahabharata, also for being the earliest tourists. Their 13 years in exile were actually years of travel around the country. Almost in every part of the country we will find a place dedicated to Pandavas- either they visited there, or stayed there or meditated there or did many other type of things. And, all these places were visited by them during their years in exile. Pandav Falls inside the periphery of the Panna Tiger Reserve and National Park is also one of the place associated with this mythological story.
Pandav Falls is not a destination into itself, as we can consider Raneh Falls to be. Pandav Falls is part of the bigger itinerary of Panna Tiger Reserve and Khajuraho temples. But it is descent place not to be missed. Pandav Falls is a multiple step waterfall around 30 metres in height. This is located on a tributary of the Ken river. Actually Ken river passes through Panna Tiger Reserve. A small stream breaks out from it, towards Pandav Falls and later again goes and joins the main river just before Raneh Falls. It looks very beautiful when it is in full flow, post monsoon. But that’s not the only reason to be here.
So, the place has a myth associated with it that Pandavas visited this pace during exile and stayed here. There are some limestone cave formations adjacent to the falls inside the rocks. These stalagmite and stalactite caves are called as Pandav caves as well. Interestingly, these caves are also five in number (which goes well for five Pandavas). But there is also a bit of recent history associated with this place. It is said that freedom fighter and revolutionary leader Chandrashekhar Azad held a meeting of fellow revolutionaries at this place on 4 September 1929. In the memory of that event a bust of Azad was also placed here (at the top, near the parking slot) around six years ago.
Now about the nature. As I told, this is a natural waterfall. We would have seen in the images that it is actually a deep gorge, which seems to have come out of nowhere in the midst of this valley. This surprises. It seems that such gorges are typical of topography of this area, as we have seen in Raneh Falls as well. So, the water falls in this gorge, which becomes a very beautiful pool of clean, serene water and then when the pool overflows, the water moves further ahead to the Ken river. Mythologically, it is said that second of the five Pandavas, Bheem made this hole by his mace to get water and quench the thirst. Some other tales give the credit to Arjun and his arrows.
Have a look at the caves and few sculptures found here which resemble sculptures of Khajuraho, which is not far from here.
This natural pool also works as natural nursery for the big rohu fishes. Fishes lay eggs here, once they are hatched, young ones on getting full grown move down to the main Ken river with the flow of water during the monsoon. As the place is considered as sacred, fishes are not caught here. See in the image below that how clear the water is and how big the fishes are here.
Still, besides these all, there is one another thing that is associated with this place and what locals find miraculous. This is continuous presence of water in the pool. And actually this water doesn’t comes from the main water fall only. The water continuously drips here from either the rocks or the roots or shoots of the big trees on the top of the gorge. As locals say visibly there is no water up there on the land. Hence, this might be the underground water, which is finding its way to the gorge. This phenomenon takes place on the side of the gorge which is right opposite to the stairs going down to gorge.
Have a look through these images-
Abundance of good clean water, has also turned this place into a very fertile ecosystem. Many birds- migratory as wells domestic, wild life minus the big cats are regular visitors here. As you can see the beautiful parakeets and the Arjun trees. See on the stem of the Arjun trees, these are the marks made by the sloth bear, who are very frequent visitors to this place.
Quick Facts: While going towards Panna from Khajuraho, the way to Pandav Falls is on the left side of the National Highway few kms ahead of the Mandla gate of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Mandla gate is on the right side. Although Pandav Falls area too comes under the Panna Tiger Reserve, but actually there are no big cats on the left side of the highway, almost all of them are towards right, where the core area is. There might be some occasional or accidental crossings but they return. Besides, all other wildlife can be seen in the forest area around the Pandav Falls. Distance from Khajuraho to Pandav Falls is 34 kms. Actual falls are less than one kilometre from the main gate right on the national highway.
Entry: Entry to Pandav Falls is not free. There is a fee per vehicle, exactly the same as Raneh Falls. This fee of Rs 495 per vehicle carrying 1 to 8 persons is collected at the forest entry gate. Similarly, there is also a guide fees of Rs 75. But, if yo have purchased a safari ticket for the vehicle to enter the Panna tiger reserve, than you can enter the Pandav Fall area too on the same ticket. There is absolutely no provision to stay in this area. But if you are less people and don’t want to pay vehicle fees, than you can walk down to Pandav Fall by paying individual entry fees of 55 Rs.
There is a parking area on the top and then there are 294 stairs and ramp to take you down to the pool. But these stairs are comfortable not too steep.