The main part of travel is to see something new or is it? How about you see the “Main Part” itself? Confused? To make it simple I am going to tell you a story of a place known as “Mainpat”. I am sure you are confused well trust me even I was when I heard the name first. The confusion amplified when I heard stories about the magical phenomenon’s that this place is famous for. For one this place has a stream known locally as “Ulta Pani” which if you translate literally mean reverse water and secondly people refer to this place as the “Magnetic Hill”.
For all these years of travel the only magnetic hill, that I had ever heard was that in Leh – Ladakh and being from Kolkata this place was very far and travel to Ladakh is always an expensive affair. Therefore, instead of spending so much time and money you can experience a similar phenomenon right here in the central part of India would be truly interesting and exciting.
I would consider Chhattisgarh one of the most underrated states when it comes to tourism, trust me this place is a treasure trove for heritage lovers, nature lovers and in generic every kind of tourists. When I was told that, there is this Magnetic Hill right here in Chhattisgarh I refused to believe thinking that the villagers might have confused the flowing water from a natural spring to be rising up to the surface due to magnetic pull or something. How wrong I was and trust me when I say that this journey really made me believe in “Incredible India”.
How to Reach Mainpat – Ulta Pani – Magnetic Hill
The journey from Bilaspur to Mainpat is nearly 250 Kilometres so it is a long seven hours of driving but it is worth every penny. I would recommend that you spend a night or two at Mainpat instead of returning the same day as Mainpat itself is like a small hill station.
We left the hotel early after breakfast at around 8 AM and hoped to reached Mainpat late afternoon; the journey from Bilaspur towards Ambikapur consists of smooth well-paved concrete roads as well as sections, which bears similarity to a lunar surface. Apart from these small pockets of roads, which are still under construction the drive is fast and is very scenic. The road passes through forest thus do not be surprised to see signboards warning drivers to drive slow due to elephant corridors.
I would recommend that you have lunch or brunch on the way to Ulta Pani – Magnetic Hill since this place is very remote and do not expect any shops nearby. In addition, I would recommend that you visit this place during the daytime before evening since this place is a bit isolated and you do not want to be stuck here after sunset.
After driving in the plains, the road suddenly changes from flat long stretches to winding hill roads consisting of some extreme hairpin bends and almost blind u-turns. Mainpat according to the locals is often considered as the Shimla of Chhattisgarh and in winter don’t be surprised to see frost on the ground. We had traveled to this place in mid-July which is still a summer season and trust me when I say that this place really felt cold and different from the rest of the plains. As the car moved up the hill, you will definitely see a change in vegetation as well as the overall landscape dramatically changing. If not told then you will surely mistake it to a photograph from a hill station somewhere in Northern India.
There are some signboards on the way, which will guide you to Ulta Pani so drive with a watchful lookout to spot these tiny road signage written in Hindi. Else, the best option would be to set up the GPS to guide you to the location.
There are no tourist guides, no curio shop, no eateries just nothing that would tell you that you have reached Ulta Pani. There are just a few scattered village houses and the local villagers busy in the rice fields. Before reaching this place, we were not sure what to expect some team members expected a stream of water gushing out from the surface while some jokingly expected to see a waterfall going up.
There was just this small stream, which looked more like a small drainage channel. Confused we asked some local men and they pointed to this very small stream as Ulta Pani. We were shocked but the villagers quickly pointed us towards the other end of the hill to see the stream and the Ulta Pani phenomenon.
Finally when we reached the other side of the small hillock did we realize what it is all about. This very small stream of water is actually generating downstream but true to its name is flowing uphill and then going downhill towards the other side. To test this you just need to drop a small piece of paper and would clearly see that piece of paper magically flowing up the hill and then flowing downstream. In some sections, you can also see the streams of water generating a wake when you put small pieces of stone in its path.
When we had visited this place the monsoon had not yet started in its full bloom thus the stream of water was less else during the peak of monsoon the size of the stream significantly increased.
To see the video of Ulta Pani scroll to the bottom of this post.
Ulta Pani – Is Ii Really Defying Gravity?
The answer is “yes” it is indeed flowing in the opposite direction and there is a purely scientific reason to it. One being ‘Siphon Action’ which drags the water up from a lower spot to uphill and then there is a sudden drop in the water flow creating a constant surface tension thus slowly but steadily pushing the water up.
The second reason is pure geographic in nature, which can be attributed to the landscape. The location of Ulta Pani is such that it is sandwiched naturally between two hills thus, there is a constant strong wind blowing uphill. This strong wind gives additional momentum to the water when it is hitting its surface thus maintaining the siphon action.
This is where things go crazy. It is located right next to the Ulta Pani stream and to approach Ulta Pani you have to approach through this road only. When you take the final right, turn towards the uphill to reach the Ulta Pani viewpoint there is a road marker clearly mentioning where to stop the vehicle, put the car in neutral, and watch the car climb up the hill.
I have never been to Leh – Ladakh thus this was the very first time I was experiencing this phenomenon and was completely taken aback. When the driven positioned his car, set the gear in neutral and released the brake the car started to climb uphill automatically. Keep in mind that the car was not crawling up but rather increasing in speed and the driver had to brake hard once it had reached the top. We were so shocked that we tried the same repeatedly and the result was the same each time.
I would like to warn here that most modern cars have power steering thus make sure your engine is on while trying this out and do not let the car accelerate too much by braking in between as the road ends uphill.
It would be impossible to show you these thorough photographs thus would request you to please watch the video below.
Video of Ulta Pani & Magnetic Hill
Magnetic Hill – Is Ii Really Defying Gravity?
Well here, also there is geography and physics that plays the trick. If you stand on top of the hill, you will definitely see the elevation from where the car is climbing to the top and from the starting point, you can clearly see the road in front rising to the top. So what is actually happening here?
The answer lies not on the road but at Ulta Pani viewing point from where you can clearly see this road from sideways. There is indeed an elevation from the bottom of the hill to the top but what people do not see when they stand on that road is the slow dip in the ground in the initial few meters. This is clearly seen from the side and this is what makes the car pick up speed and this slope cannot be seen from the top of the hill. This slope gives enough momentum to the vehicle to climb up the steep upward slope ahead.
What Else To See at Mainpat?
Mainpat has quite a few more tourist attractions and that is the reason why I would recommend that you spend a night here. There are few hotels and small resorts which can be a good place to crash for a night and then to explore the surrounding areas.
Tiger Point Waterfalls
There is a very famous waterfall locally known as Tiger Point Waterfalls. Keep in mind that to reach the bottom of the waterfalls you have to take more than 150 flights of stairs so if you want to skip the going down and then coming back up again you can just simply view from the top. It is a relatively small waterfall with a sixty-meter drop from the top to the bottom.
Fish Point Waterfall
This is another waterfall in this area, which can easily be visited during your trip around Mainpat.
Surprisingly Mainpat has a substantial Tibetan population, most of them have settled here after coming to India from Tibet. The cool climate and the hills have helped them to resettle here. The Tibetan villages can be easily made out by the numerous colourful prayer flags that hand all around the villages. Due to the Tibetan population there is a small monastery located here which can be visited during your trip to Mainpat.
Location of Ulta Pani and Magnetic Hill on Map
I would like to thank The Aananda Imperial for inviting me along with other bloggers and vloggers to experience their hospitality and to explore in and around Bilaspur. Other team members included Anusreea Paul Mukherjee & Swarnava Mukherjee, Luna Chatterjee, Amrita Sen, Prithwiraj Ghosh, and Raj Dey.