“Wait!” “Whose car is this!!?” “Stop the vehicle!” and other sounds came straight towards us as we moved past a group of guys in their mid-20s indulged in a fight on the one way road somewhere in between Shahdol and Bandhavgarh.
Our car was making weird sounds which already had our mind tensed, and then the drunk gang situation added to that. It was scary – to be on an unknown road, around an unknown place.
But, before we get there.. let’s talk about how we reached the spot, right?
This was the day in our Bandhavgarh National Park journey right after we got back from our Safari. It was an early morning safari so we had the full day for leisure.
So when we reached our resort, the security in charge told us about a local “hidden” waterfall that is not much far from the place. The falls are named Johila (or Juhila Falls).
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We asked the guard about the road conditions so he told us the road is smooth, just the last 2-3 kilometers were “a little rugged“.
So we hopped on inside our four-wheeler, set the directions on Maps and headed towards Juhila Waterfall.
The route towards the Juhila Falls is smoother for about 14 kilometers, but the rest approximately 26 kilometers is the local route that goes to the Chechpur Village.
You can easily reach here with your own vehicle or book a cab. If you do not have your own vehicle, you can also ask the concierge from your resort to help you out.
The waterfall sits near a few different villages, which gives it different kinds of names like Cheshpur Falls, Johila Falls, etc.
The falls is situated at a distance of 40 kilometers from Bandhavgarh’s Tala Gate and can be reached with your own vehicle. But there’s a catch, which you will find out only if you read the full story!
The Falls, The Forest & The Ranger
Juhila Falls is situated amidst the Bandhavgarh National Park and the local villagers are upset due to their cattle getting attacked day and night by the merciless tigers. The area surrounding the falls is said to come under a dense area where approximately 14 tigers reside – including males, females and the cubs.
They hide behind the long bushes as the villagers go out with their cattle. And when the time is right, they pounce on the domestic animals and even the villagers. As per the local rangers, approximately 1000 villagers die of tiger attacks near Bandhavgarh every year.
We reached near the entrance route towards the falls near the ranger post, from where the road started to disappear and the natural path started to appear – covered with tree trunks, potholes and whatnot.
We did not see any ranger over at the post, so we thought maybe it’s an older route. I mean how can the Maps be wrong right? Right!?
Well, we found that the route leads nowhere and that it has been closed down with large trees dropped off on the route.
Our vehicle somehow managed to get out from the location back towards the road. As we moved forward we asked a guard – dressed in ranger clothing about the route towards Juhila Falls.
As we talked to the guard, another person on the bike heard us. We found out that the other guy was the Supervisor of the area. The first thing he asked us was where we were from, so we told him we came here from the Allahabad route to spend our Diwali Holidays in Bandhavgarh.
He really got excited, and told us that his wife’s home is in Allahabad or Prayagraj.
This is a fun element in humans, don’t you think? One common thing – a place or even a name – can get you so excited, maybe it’s a sense of familiarity, maybe it feels like home. Or maybe it’s just something else.
Well, so he told the ranger to take us towards the falls through a different route.
When we got to the entrance again, we saw the ranger with something that looked like a rounded axe. We let him sit with us in the vehicle – but the axe had us in a little spooky situation, you know.
I mean the route he was taking us on was no route – just like the dense forest unlocked right in front of us, an unknown person sitting beside us with a freaky axe in his hand – which could easily be enough to murder us all in no time.
But we had no option but to trust the guy. So we chose to do just that. And let him tell us the route towards the Juhila Falls in Bandhavgarh National Park.
Tapping the Untapped – The Juhila Waterfalls
As we moved forward, the forest area started to get a little denser with each kilometer. We kept asking the guard about the remaining distance, to which he simply smiled and answered “Just 2 kilometers more.”
Since we already decided to trust him for the journey, we started talking to him about the area.
To which he told us that the area is filled with tigers and tigresses, and that is why when we go towards the falls with tourists, we need to carry a weapon like this. That made us and our racing minds calm down a little.
But as that happened, the forest got really dense and the route started to get messier and messier – with stones and large rocks tapping through the car, bumpy and rugged road making way and the maze-like route just telling us to go wherever it takes us.
Finally, we reached the parking lot for the Juhila Falls. After a small trek down the steep route to reach the falls, we got to experience one of the most fascinating, blissful, exciting, glamorous, other-worldly waterfalls ever!!!!
The sound of the water gushing down with full force, the hordes of small crabs running from one corner to another, the people sitting at different corners with their barbeque systems and just the whole vibe and mood of the place was just like we never experienced before.
The Juhila Falls made us remember the quote that goes something like “If the route towards your destination is hard, full of adventures, the destination will surely be heavenly“. And that is what defines the entire route and the falls for me.
The falls are about 30 meters high and have a width of about 15 meters. The waterfalls are surrounded by lush green forests and are a popular spot for picnics and hiking.
Juhila Waterfalls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Bandhavgarh and surrounding region.
Note 1 – The falls is a beautiful, untapped and really amazing waterfall that is completely covered with nature from all sides. The important thing to note here is to take for yourself some food and a water bottle if you plan on spending some quality time here with friends or family.
Note 2 – As you know now, the route to reach the falls is to be honest really messed up – you literally have to drive through large rocks hitting your vehicle from all sides, bumpy roads that can curve you up anytime, and a small area amidst the route covered with large amounts of sand and dirt mixed up together. It is suggested that you bring a sports vehicle or one that could easily go off-road without taking much harm.
In our case, our vehicle was XL6, which is a family 6-seater MUV car which has smaller tires as compared to the sports vehicles like EcoSport or XUV, etc. But that does not mean you need to go get a new vehicle just for the falls. People even took their old Wagon Rs, Altos and more through that similar route.
But the end result would not be as good.
The Adventure didn’t stop here.
After spending some time here at the wonderful Juhila Waterfall, we headed back. The guard was right there near us all this time as we also had to get back through the same route.
If it wasn’t for him, we either would have returned back to the resort without visiting this masterpiece of nature, or would have gotten lost in the jungle prone to tiger attacks every now-and-then.
But as we returned back, the car had to go through all the rocky route and sand and what not once again. Which resulted in it making weird noises coming from beneath as a bump came.
We prayed to every God out there to just help us get to the main concrete road before anything went haywire with the car.
As the sound the car made started to get higher, my heartbeats started to sync with it. It sounded as if the tire was pushing out air. I imagined a dangerous scenario: what happens if the car tires are worn out in the middle of the jungle, and the evening starts to prevail upon us.
We didn’t know if we would have made it out, or gotten inside the vehicle till anyone came to help us, or maybe we would have been the dinner feast for the tigers, who knows!
But we thank our vehicle and the gods that we finally reached the concrete road. We thanked the ranger for his help and headed back towards our resort.
But the journey was long, and our car was still making weird noises. And on top of all that, the entire area and market seemed to be closed off due to the holiday season.
As we moved forward, we saw a group of guys standing in the middle of the road, they looked angry and were having an argument over some stuff.
As we moved past the gang, some of them started shouting towards our vehicle. They told us to shut off the vehicle, to stop! We did not stop there, but after going a few blocks ahead, we heard the weird scratching noise coming from underneath our car once again. But this time the sound was like something was hitting the front tire.
As we stopped there, Father got out to check and couldn’t realize what the issue was. A local person stopped his bike near our car and asked what’s wrong. So we told him about the sound. He investigated a little and then said there’s a service or repair shop nearby, we could get some help from there. So my father sat beside him on his bike and went off.
As he went off looking for help, one of the guys from the previous group of road-blockers came to us and asked what’s wrong.
We told him the same and he called out some of his friends to help us. It was kind-a weird to be called out to stop the vehicle from the same group of guys a few minutes back – only to find them being so kind and helpful the next minute.
We even asked one of them why they were stopping us. So he simply smiled and said it was just for fun. The holiday season is here, the shops are all closed, so everyone had a few drinks. But then some other guy said something and an argument went off between them in the middle of the road.
So they had to show who’s the bigger gunda amongst the group. And how do we do that? By telling strange vehicles to stop.
People are full of weirdness, don’t you think!
Well, they told us that there’s a repair shop nearby. We shall go there to get it checked.
So we headed forward, and thought of calling Father and telling him where we were. But as we called him, the phone rang inside the car itself.
Then came another twist in the tale of Juhila for us.
Did the guy kidnapped Father? Where did he take him? How are we gonna find him now? No phone. No bike number. Where’s the police station? It is a small town, everyone’s drunk, how.. what.. why!!
Our minds started to fill with darkness, darker thoughts and scary scenarios.
But as we reached forward, we saw the guy returning back with Father. What a relief we had when we saw him.
We later found out that the engine guard which the vehicle had underneath itself was broken down and it was making weird noises when we moved ahead. It was no big deal.
Look, I know you cannot be paranoid all the time – especially when you are traveling. Also, you should not judge someone beforehand. But when it’s a place you don’t know and people you can’t trust, it makes one wonder.
Note 3 – NEVER LEAVE YOUR PHONE BACK IN THE VEHICLE, HOTEL OR ANYWHERE – especially when you are in an unknown place!!
The Juhila Waterfall is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. Its cascading waters are a sight to behold, and its location in the heart of the Bandhavgarh forest makes it an even more special place.
At the end, the entire experience of reaching the falls, meeting the forest guard, experiencing the dense forest within our own vehicle and then returning back to our resort before the sun sets on our day – we learned a lot.
The experience showed us that people might look or feel dangerous due to the scenario or the setting we meet them in, but they can still be really helpful. Especially, the locals want to help you – everywhere you go. It is after all their own home that you are visiting.
If you have the chance to visit the Juhila Waterfall, be sure to share your experience with others and leave a comment to let us know what you thought of it.