In the golden hour before sunset, Bhedaghat’s 100-foot-high marble cliffs blushed pink and pale gold. The River Narmada has cut a channel through the soft marble rock creating a gorge called Marble Rocks. From our boat, looking at the buttery behemoths rising up on either bank, I visualised faces and animals in the gnarled cliffs. The 45-minute boat ride took us past Shivling Point, named for a rocky protrusion resembling a shivalinga. In sharp contrast to the chaotic ghat where we boarded the boat, the river’s quiet was broken only by the swish of oars and the guides’ lyrical script.
Back on land in Bhedaghat town, I browsed stalls selling intricate hand-carved marble animals, deities, and incense holders. Chatting with a lady sculptor, I was happy to learn that mining, plastics, and fishing are banned here. Craftsmen get their marble from quarries further inland. The tiny marble turtle I buy for ₹20 comes wrapped in newspaper.
A five-minute drive away is Dhuandhar Falls. It was almost sundown when we got there, and I didn’t have enough time to walk the long path for the best view of the waterfall. Instead, I boarded the glass-enclosed cable car for an aerial perspective of the Narmada crashing down over rocks in a nearly 100-foot-high fall. The ropeway deposited me by the riverbank, where I sat for a while on the pink rocks. I grabbed a quick snack from a makeshift shanty: Slices of fresh, forest-grown cucumber, with a spritz of lime and chaat masala, served on a leaf. Nearby, an old marble artisan chipped away at a tiny incense holder. I didn’t need one, but it felt right to take home this piece of local art.
Getting There: Bhedaghat is 25 km/45 min west of Jabalpur.
Boating at Marble Rocks
Open: Operational from Oct 15 – June 15, but can start earlier if the monsoon recedes.
Tariff: Shared boat rides cost ₹50 per person, while a private boat (seats 5) starts at ₹400.
Hours: 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed for lunch from 1.30 p.m.- 2 p.m.; Closed for the monsoon.
Tariff: Round-trip tickets cost ₹95 per person.
Tip: For a snack, try local organic produce like sliced wild cucumber for ₹10—it’s cheap, tasty, and benefits go to the local population.
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