Monday, February 15, 2010

Narmada River flows through Marble Rocks

Photo: Narmada flows through Marble Rocks

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‘Marble Rocks’ is a gorge on the Narmada River in central India where the river narrows to a width of 10 meters and carves very deep through a large area of white marble, creating a beautiful gorge of about 3 km in length. The Marble Rocks is located near the city of Jabalpur in the Madhya Pradesh state of India. It is a very popular tourist destination.

The River Narmada originates from a small tank called Narmada Kund located on the Amarkantak hill at a height of 1,057 metres (3,467.8 ft) above sea level, in Anuppur District of Madhya Pradesh. The river descends from the Amarkantak hill range at the Kapildhara falls over a cliff and flows through rocks and islands up to the ruined palace of Ramnagar. Between Ramnagar and Mandla (25 km) the course is comparatively straight, and then it flows northeast in a narrow loop towards Jabalpur city.

Near Jabalpur, there is a fall of 9 metre (29.5 ft), called Dhuandhara (the fall of mist). From there it flows for 3 km (1.9 miles) through a deep narrow gorge in the magnesium limestone and basalt rocks called the Marble Rocks which has a width of about 90 metres (295.3 ft) at the top, narrowing down to 18 metres (59.1 ft) at the bottom of the gorge through which the river flows.

Considering its size, Marble Rocks is perhaps the only one place in the world where a river near its origin cuts through very hard marble and meanders around hills and gorges. At some places in the gorge, while you travel through the river in a boat, you can see interesting shapes and figures resembling artistic sculptures on the marble through which the river has cut and made the gorge in the course of centuries of flowing through the marble. Boats are available on hire for visitors at very reasonable rates.

While travelling from Jabalpur to Marble Rocks, visitors can also reach Dhuandhara and Chausath Yogini temple (temple of sixty four yoginis) which are on the way. The ancient temple situated on the top of a small hill houses the idols of sixty four yoginis, all of which are broken due to vandalism by invaders in the past. The broken pieces are kept by the side of the broken idols.

After Marble Rocks, Narmada river enters its first fertile basin and flows westwards over a length of 1,312 km (815.2 mi) before draining through the Gulf of Cambey (Khambat) into the Arabian Sea, 30 km (18.6 miles) west of Bharuch city of Gujarat. It is the largest west-flowing river and the only river in India that flows in a rift valley flowing west between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges, although the Tapti River and Mahi River also flow through rift valleys but between different ranges.

The Narmada River valley is extremely important for paleontological studies. Several dinosaur fossils have been found in the area including Titanosaurus indicus found in 1877 by Richard Lydekker and the recently discovered Rajasaurus narmadensis.

Kanha National Park located in the upper reaches of Narmada, about 18 km (11.2 miles) from Mandla, has several species of wild animals including tigers. Two tributaries of Narmada, Hallon and Banjar, flow through this park. It is one of the best National Parks of Asia which has been described vividly by Rudyard Kipling in his famous ‘Jungle Book’.

Jabalpur is well connected by road, rail and air. Jabalpur Airport, known as Dumna Airport, is about 20 km from the city. Jabalpur is connected by road to most of the Indian cities. Jabalpur is the headquarters of West Central Railways and is connected by trains from Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Kolkata, Vadodara, Patna, Lucknow, Chennai, Bangalore, Nagpur, Pune, Jaipur, Jammu, Hyderabad, Varanasi and Goa.

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