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Empire's Plateau

Empire's Plateau
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The usual way of getting from Picadilly Circus to Fleetwood Junction is by tube. In one unique place on this planet, however, it is by floating on your back, down long pools at the bottom of a gorge. In places the red sandstone cliffs that tower above you narrow so much that you have to swim sideways in the gloom. Periodically, the stream opens up into pot-holes where you can warm yourself and peer into the crystalline blue depths to catch the sun's rays flashing on fish turned white through the ages.

Welcome to Pachmarhi, a small plateau atop the Satpuras, which used to be the summer capital of the Central Provinces. Picadilly Circus and Fleetwood Junction are names the Brits gave two confluences on canyons. They're among dozens of picnic spots where families cooled in mossy pools, brushed by the spray and ferns under ancient mango trees joined by massive creepers. The 1936 guidebook, with a topographic map, described the paths to over 60 points in detailed if somewhat colonial fashion "...the descent is not really difficult and coolies with tiffin baskets, etc, can easily manage".

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