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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Khajuraho - A Break from Temples, and a Tryst with Nature

When I set out for Khajuraho with my son, I made a deal with him. He would come with me to temples, and I would take him somewhere where there were no temples around.

He wanted to see wildlife, and we didn’t have to look too far. Right outside our homestay, was a pond, with plenty of birds to ensure that every single day began with the sight of wildlife!!

Bronze Winged Jacana

Bronze Winged Jacana

Little Grebe? 
Pied Kingfisher

Besides, there was the lake behind the Western Group of temples, which attracted a variety of birds apart from the resident ducks! 

I can identify Cormorants, Egrets, Stilts and Little Grebes among this flock of birds.

Samhith posing with the resident flock of ducks! 

However, I still owed Samhith a day in the midst of nature, far from temples. Our first choice for his day out at Khajuraho – the Panna National Park – was out of the question, since it was peak tourist period, and safaris were completely booked. However, we did have other options, so we decided to start the day with the Pandav Falls.

The Pandav Falls are located within the Panna National Park, but can be visited separately. As the name suggests, it is believed that the Pandavas stayed here, near the waterfalls named after them, during their period of exile.

Though it was December, there was hardly any water in the falls, so it was a tad disappointing. But the location itself was serene and beautiful, and I could imagine how beautiful it would have been, if the rains had been good!

On one side of the falls are some ruined structures, not too old, which appear to have been built by local rulers in the last century. There are small shrines on the upper level, enshrining images of the Pandavas. However, it was slippery up there, so we didn’t take a closer look.

A Grey Wagtail flitted among the rocks, wagging its tail, oblivious to our presence.

The Pandav Falls are also associated with the freedom fighter, Chandrashekar Azad, who is believed to have used the ruined structures as one of his hideouts. They are believed to have hosted a meeting of freedom fighters from the region as well. A bust of Chandrashekar Azad and a plaque serve as a reminder of this event today.

As we drove out, a Nilgai emerged from the bushes, and crossed the road. This was a true spotting of an animal in the wilderness, that too unexpectedly, and our day was made!

Nilgai crossing the road! 

Further on, as we took a detour past the Ken River Lodge, we spotted a cormorant basking in the sun.


A White Bellied Drongo perched on a tree nearby….

White Bellied Drongo

Ducks frolicked in water bodies nearby...

And we  paused to admire the view often, along the riverbank.

We now headed in the opposite direction, towards the Ken Gharial Sanctuary on the other bank of the river. This route was equally scenic…

And we eventually reached our destination… the magnificent Raneh Falls. The only thing was, there was no water here either, due to the poor rainfall. But, unlike at the Pandav Falls, this was a good thing, because we got to see the incredible rock formations which form the canyon of the river!!!

The canyon at the Raneh Falls is known for the pink, brown, red, black and green rocks which are igneous in nature. The canyon is believed to have been created due to volcanic activity in the region. This is the biggest such canyon in the entire region, and it was a fascinating sight! 

Despite being winter, it was terribly hot, and the rocks seemed to glow incandescently in the afternoon sun. The rocks are of different materials – the black ones are Basalt, the green ones are Dolomite, pink is Pink Granite, brown is quartz, and red is Jasper.

The best thing here is that every visitor is sent towards the falls with a guide, who explains the geological importance of the canyon. Apparently, five types of rock in one canyon is a rarity, and seen in very few sites in the world! While I didn’t retain any more information, if you would like to read more, head to this page for more details.

Finally tearing ourselves away from the fascinating sight of the rocks, we headed for a short safari within the reserve, which is part of the Ken Gharial Sanctuary. We didn’t expect to spot much, but did see quite a few deer, Nilgai, Wild Boars, and a variety of birds.

Monkeys and Spotted Deer. The most commonly seen species in any forest!

Female Nilgai,startled by our presence

Another Female Nilgai

Male Nilgai

Male Nilgai

Gai and Nilgai... cows and a Nilgai! 

Another Male Nilgai
A flock of winter visitors  - Wooly Necked Storks, along with some other birds

Wooly Necked Storks

The beautiful Ken River 

Can you spot the crocodile? 

Here is a closer look

And another crocodile... Can you spot it? Hint..Only the tail is visible

The highlight was spotting a crocodile, far, far, away. This pic was clicked with the maximum zoom in my camera! Sadly, we missed seeing any Gharial, which means we need to visit again!

The perfect sunset to end the day! 

It was a satisfying end to the day. A day spent in the midst of wildlife. With no temples, as Samhith had insisted! 

Memories  of a wonderful day! 


  1. I could feel the peace and serenity that nature brings along with itself through your post. Gorgeous pictures Anu and what a way to spend the day. And yes, I did see the tail of the crocodile!

    1. Thank you Arti! It made a nice change for us, away from all the temples and the chaos in the town.

  2. beautiful location ..details and snaps all are soo good..

  3. Love all he nature pics! It took me a minute but I did finally spot the tail of the crocodile. :) The best pic of all was the last one, of course... lovely Mom and son. I had to laugh at Samhith's requirement to have a day with no temples. How many young men have seen so many and know so much about them at that age?? :D I hope it will be something he dearly cherishes later in his life.

    1. Thank you Natalie!! I really hope samhith cherishes these experiences. As of now, while he does come along, the desire to break free and go his own way is already there... since he is now a teen. he wont come along with me for much longer...

  4. A change from the previous posts, Anu. Hope Samhith and you had a good time.

    PS: Do you have contact details of the place where the guides are hired from? I'd like to offer them FREE lessons in Geology to them.

    1. Absolutely, Sudha... Both of us enjoyed the change from all the temples and sculptures :P

      About the guides, well, they have been told or taught what they tell us. dont think they are to blame. If anything, it is the organisation which trains them which is the cause. And, as you have told me, they are wrong in their identification and understanding of the geology of the place, the issue goes way up, cause thats the only information available online as well. I cant find any actual geologists who have actually written about this place... maybe they have written papers, which arent available to people like us. In any case, I dont think they will even be able to understand your free lessons. But i hope you go soon and come back and tell me what these are, so I can update my post accordingly.


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