Bhimkund - Bheem Kund - Neelkund

Useful Information

Location: Bhimkund, Madhya Pradesh 471311.
77 km from Chhatarpur. Highway 34 between Chhatarpur and Sagar, Highway 46 towards Hatta, after 10 km turn left, 1.5 km. Near Bajna village.
(24.438476, 79.376122)
Open: All year daily 6-19.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstDoline KarstKarst Spring TopicBlue Spring SubterraneaCave Church Hindu Temple
Light: n/a
Dimension: Ø=15 m, VR=45 m, L=50 m, A=480 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: G. S. Thakur, H. U. Usmani, S. K. Gupta (2010): Bhimkund and Arjunkund Dolines, Chhatarpur District, Madhya Pradesh Journal of the Geological Society of India, OCT-2010, Volule 76, Issue 4, pp. 369-370. DOI online
Address: Bhimkund, Bhimkund, Madhya Pradesh 471311.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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भीमकुंड (Bhimkund or Bheem Kund) is the name of a spring which is dedicated to Bhim. Kund is the Indian word for a tank, at least that seems to be the official translation. We guess cistern would be a better translation, but in this case it is a natural spring so what they actually mean is the pool of the spring. The Bhim or Bheem part is quite simple, the place is dedicated to Bhima from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the second among the five Pandavas. As a matter of fact there are numerous Bhimkunds in India, cisterns named after Bhima, but this is the Bhimkund.

Originally, there was an almost circular hole in the ground, a collapse doline with a diameter of 15 m and a blue lake 45 m deep below. Today the site is entered through a harmless facade in a shallow depression nearby. This entrance leads to a massive cave which has the pool with deep indigo blue water at its far end, surrounded by reddish dolomite. The blue tint is a result of the sunlight falling through the huge opening right above the pool where the cave ceiling collapsed.

Limestone and dolomite are quite rare in India, due to the fact that it is the core of an ancient continent consisting mainly of metamorphites. Also, limestone is quickly dissolved by the tropical rains. There is the Proterozoic Bijawar Group in the area, which consists of dolomites, shales, sandstones, ferruginous chert breccia and conglomerate. It is overlain by the Vindhyan Supergroup. An intermediate unit of the Bijawar Group called Bajna Dolomites form a small karst area extending from Hirapur to Bijawar, which is about 60 km in length. The dolomite is white or grey, the red colour is a result of the high iron content which colours the rock brown and pink to reddish brown. The karst contains groundwater, an aquifer, which can be reached at this place because of the doline. The spring shows the typical effects of a karst spring, like fast response to heavy rains and the blue colour as a result of the high limestone content. When the government once tried to pump the water out of the spring to allow research of the cave behind, the water was replaced by the spring faster than the pumps. Obviously a sign that the cave below connects the pool directly to the aquifer. Lowering the water level in the pool would require lowering the aquifer.

This place was altered by humans in many ways. The site is surrounded by small temples, there is a long staircase from the parking lot up to a temple. Inside the cave the floor is tiled, there are numerous small buildings and a wide staircase leading down to the pool. There are walkways around the spring, a building was erected on the left side and steps cut into the rock. Even some water pipes were installed, and we were not able to determine for what reason or if they are still in use. An obvious guess would be for pumping drinking water. People take the water home in bottles, and it is said that "the water is mineral water of the same quality as Himalayan water", which in itself is a stupid comparison. On the other side it seems bathing in the spring is quite popular, and in civilized countries this would be forbidden if it was used as drinking water. Of course, this is India, so you never know, probably they think a little sweat makes the water holy.

The site is quite beautiful and due to the lack of water in the area of great importance. As a result it has become a holy place, a place of worship, and a place surrounded by a real jungle of legends and stories.

Weary under the scorching Surya (sun deity), Draupadi, the consort of the five Pandava brothers, fainted of thirst. Bhima, the strongest of the five brothers, hit the ground with his gada, a club-like weapon used in ancient India in 1500 BC or earlier. Water surged out and the pool came into being.
Mahabharata Epos

The Vedic sage Devarshi Narada performed the Gandharva Gaanam (Divine Song) praising Lord Vishnu. Satisfied with his devotion, Vishnu emerged from the pool and the water turned blue. Vishnu's eighth avatar is Krishna. The Sanskrit word Kṛṣṇa means "black", "dark", "dark blue" or “the all attractive” and as a result Krishna is often depicted in idols as black- or blue-skinned. So the idea is that he coloured the water, a really handy superpower. This is why it is called Neel Kund (Blue Spring) and Narad Kund after Devarshi Narada.

According to legend it is impossible to measure the depth of the spring. Even a team from Discovery channel visited Bhimkund and was not able to determine the depth.

Does anyone actually not feel his leg being pulled? The production team of a tv show is actually not competent in cave diving. As far as we know there have never been attempts to explore the underwater cave system, and actually India has almost no cavers and as far as we know no cave divers at all. So we guess this would be a promising research project for an international cave diving expedition. Its unlikely they will come uninvited, there are many promising, submerged caves on Earth, which are less complicated to reach. Actually this is a Hindu temple and while bathing is allowed for believers we are not sure diving would be allowed for non-believers.

People who drowned in Bheemkund vanished in the depth of the pool and never reappeared.

This is quite exceptional as bodies float above the surface, at least after some time due to the gas produced by the decaying. You can see it in crime series, the body, despite the heavy weights, floats up and the crime investigation starts. We actually think this is not a legend but truth, as there is an obvious explanation. The aquifer moves, not very fast but steady, that's the reason why the water is so clear even if people swim in the pool, the water is replaced by fresh water from one side while the dirty water vanishes into the opposite direction. So if someone drowns, the body is pulled into the cave and thus vanishes.

It is said that having a bath in the holy waters during Maha kumbh mela removes your sins.

Another aspect of the same thing. The water remains to be turquoise blue, clean, and transparent despite numerous people coming here daily for a holy bath. A great mystery for our ancestors, so the people started to believe that the water is so holy that any dirt vanishes. And then it's only a small step to the belief that it also dissolves all sins. But it's also easily explained with a slowly moving aquifer.

Every time there is a disaster in India, the water level of this Kund rose by 15 m. Others say the water rose when 2004 a tsunami hit Mumbai, so the rise was actually because it is connected to the sea.

Unfortunately, while this happens quite regularly, it has never been photographed. But there are a lot of witnesses volunteering to tell you the true story. And of course it's not connected to the sea, the karst area is quite small and 400 m above sea level.