The state Chhattisgarh has many ancient monuments, rare wildlife, exquisitely carved temples, buddhist sites, palaces, water falls, caves, rock paintings and hill plateaus. Most of these sites are untouched and unexplored and offer a unique and alternate experience
Critically contemplating why this place was never in my bucket list like many others around me, I am listing down some of the unique highlights of this state which will give anyone a reason to visit this state.
Tribal Tourism - Among the very few destinations in the world, Chhattisgarh still boasts of its tribes that are well preserved since centuries. Bastar is the land of tribes in Chhattisgarh. About 70% of the total population of Bastar comprises tribals, which is 26.76% of the total tribal population of Chhattishgarh. The major tribes of the Bastar region are the Gond, Maria, Bhatra ,Muriya, Halba,Dhuruva.
The tribes of Bastar region are known for their unique and distinctive tribal culture and heritage. Each tribal group in Bastar has their own distinct culture and enjoys their own unique traditional living styles. Each tribe has developed its own dialects and differs from each other in their costume, eating habits, customs, traditions and even worships different form of god and goddess.
The Bastar Dussehra is the most famous festival of the region. A walk through the tribal haat will give one a detailed insight into the norms of tribal civilization at its best. While strolling this haat one should try local alcohol called mahua (the local version of butter milk), the bamboo shoot and the very famous and nasty cock fights.
If got any local contacts one can also visit any tribal village, spend a day there in a local household, have a taste of their local cuisine.
Local arts and crafts - The state is a never ending resource of age old traditional skills that comes in all forms – be it tribal painting, textile (kosa silk) weaving, bell metal artifacts, coin jewellery or terracotta pottery making. The tribals of Bastar were also amongst the earliest to work with metal and have expertise in making beautiful figurines of tribal gods, votive animals, oil lamps, carts and animals. The Bastar district specializes in the preparation of items from the Dhokra Handicraft & bell metal handicraft and wooden craft. An area where Handicraft is most widely practiced in Bastar is Kondagaon.
Dense jungle & waterfalls - Chhattisgarh has 41.33% of its area under forests and is one of the richest bio-diversity areas in the country. There are 3 National Parks and as many as 11 wildlife sanctuaries in Chhattisgarh The Kanger Valley National Park based in Bastar has amazing wilderness and rich biodiversity. This park has some amazing falls like Teerathgarh fall, some natural caves like 330 meters long Kutumsar Cave & Kailash cave. These caves are pitch-dark, enclosing stalactite formation of the Shiva Lingam.The horse-shoe shaped Chitrakoot fall is the largest waterfall in India and located in Bastar district. A safari ride in Baranawapara sanctuary is also recommended.
Archaeological sites - Chhattisgarh is full of archaeological structures that are thousands of years old. Sirpur is a place where lot of recent discoveries has been made by archaeologists related to Buddhism and Hindu religion. The beauty of Sirpur has beckoned the presence of His Holiness Dalai Lama too in March 2013. He quoted that he felt eternal peace in Sirpur and would love to meditate here. In January 2014, the Dalai Lama meditated at the ‘Chanda Dai caves’ near Sirpur. These hills are located around 17 km from Sirpur and house more than 15 caves. According to the Archaeological experts, Nagarjuna, who is considered the most prominent Buddhist philosophers after Lord Budha, had meditated in these caves somewhere between first and second century.
There are number of places in and around Raigarh & Kanker where you can find many Cave Paintings and Rock Paintings of Pre-Historic ages and most of those are as old as Palaeolithic ages. The paintings are almost unexplored and little exposed to the world.There are several beliefs among locals in these villages. While few worship the paintings, others narrate stories they have heard from ancestors about people landed from sky and taught their ancestors about the importance of nature, animals and many more with these drawings & paintings.
Heritage Homestay - In Chattisgarh one can treat himself with royal luxury in Kanker which is near to Bastar. Home to the famous Kanker palace in which lives the royal family, this colonial style architecture is open for a heritage homestay. Here one can have home like conversation with prince & princess of the family, also have grand meal of the royal kitchen served in common dining room. Kawardha palace which is near to kanha National Park is also another option for heritage homestay.
The places which I have covered in my recent trips of Chhattisgarh is very less of all the places and things which I have mentioned above. As of now I will start my travel experiences from the places which I have seen & experienced and will update accordingly as I visit new places. Chapter – 1 Bastar
Day - 1
My trip to Bastar was 3D/2N affair. My plan was to stay first night in Jagdalpur (Resort – Naman Bastar) and second night near Chitrakote fall (Resort – Dandami Resort, Govt Property). The distance from Bhilai to Jagdalpur was approx 300 kms and we (me, my wife & my 3 yr old kid) covered this distance in approx 6.5 hrs. We travelled by our car and the road condition was more or less good. We reached Jagdalpur by 2.00 PM, checked into resort, after having lunch and some rest we were ready to explore this place. My first target was to visit tribal haat. Tribal haat is held once in a week at different locations (villages) like Tokapal, Dharba, Lohandiguda, Jagdalpur markets. All places have different days to held the haat. The day i reached jagdalpur it was Sunday, so on that day haat was held in jagdalpur itself.
The problem was that I was not knowing any local person who can guide me through the route and haat. So I contacted resort manager and requested him to provide me a guide, which he obliged immediately. But he told me that haat closing time is 4.00 PM which I was totally unaware of. It was already 3.15 PM, so we rushed to the place, but when we reached there most of the people have gone. The guide told me that these people are coming from different villages which are far from Jagdalpur so they have to pack it earlier. I enquired on Monday i.e. tomorrow in which village the haat is held, then the guide told that tomorrow haat will be held in a village called tokapal which is enroute to kanger valley national park where we were scheduled to go tomorrow as per itinerary. Since it fitted in our scheme of things, we included tokapal in our tomorrow’s itinerary.
Our next destination was Bastar palace where the royal family still lives. The Bastar Palace located in Jagdalpur is a historical monument which has an impressive art and architectural work with exquisite carvings and engravings on walls and ceilings. Bastar Palace was built by the rulers of Bastar and speaks of many legends of gallantry and heroism of these kings. This palace is only partially open for tourist, but during dussehra the whole palace is open for everybody. We also visited Danteshwari devi temple near bastar palace.
Inside Palace, only one room was open for tourist
Our next destination was Anthropological Museum. The Anthropological Museum provides a valuable insight into the history, culture, and lifestyle of the various tribes of Bastar. But after reaching there we found that it’s closed as it was Sunday. Then we thought of going to Chhattisgarh state emporium workshop campus but came to know that it was also closed due to Sunday. Look like it was not our day. Totally frustrated, we came back to our resort, as we have nothing much left to do today.
Resort - Naman Bastar
My daughter - Mohi
Day - 2
Today we had planned for Kanger Valley National Park. It was approx 50 kms from the resort. Roads were in excellent condition. Here our point of interest was Tirathgarh Fall. Kutumsar cave & Kailash Cave was closed due to monsoon. So we planned to go to Dantewara for visiting Danteshwari temple. The Danteshwari Temple is an ancient temple of Devi Danteshwari and is said to be one of the 52 sacred Shakti peethas of the Hindu Mythology. The problem with Dantewara is that it is naxal infected area and I was reluctant to go there. But the day we reached Jagdalpur, in evening we met a family in resort who went to Dantewara that day and according to them it was perfectly safe to go to temple. This was confirmed by resort manager also. So I included it in itinerary. It was 90 kms from Jagdalpur and tirathgarh fall was in between.
Entrance of the park
For seeing the fall one has to take the ticket here
First view of the fall
The majestic Tirathgarh fall
Never seen such a huge fall before
It was magical, only us and nature
We had spend good amount of time here, which resulted in delay for other places. We decided to skip dantewara, as we have to checkout from resort by noon and go to Chitrakote fall also. On returning I have enquired about tokapal village for tribal market visit. I was unsuccessful in locating the place. I think you should have local contacts if you want to visit the tribes. Anyway , I would better leave it for my next trip. This time there was too much on my platter , I had planned many things to visit in two days which was not possible. Came back to resort , had lunch and after some rest checked out. First thing we did was we went to Anthropological museum.
Inside the museum, all photos taken by mobile
Bell metal artifacts
Wrought iron artifacts
After the visit to this wonderful museum we headed to our new destination, Chitrakote fall which was approx 30 kms from jagdalpur. We had booked Dandami Resort for our night stay which is the property of Chhattisgarh Tourism, situated just next to the fall.
This fall is also called the niagara fall of India, also the widest fall of India
The opposite side of the fall
Some wooden craft being sold
Photo taken of the fall from the balcony of our room at night
Next morning we went down the river bed
Water Water everywhere
By this our trip concluded. After breakfast we checked out from the resort and headed back to bhilai. In between we stopped at kondagaon for purchasing of some crafts . One can also see how the crafts are made here. I have seen very little of what this place has to offer, you need at least 1 week time to see and know all the places and culture. Very soon I will be visiting again to this place, I think during dussehra with more time and with local contacts.
Mainpat is a small hill station located on a plateau near Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh. This plateau is perched at height of 1100 m/3200 ft. The road climbs up approx 30 kms from base of the hill through forests of sal. This place is also popular because of Tibetan Refugees living there for the last four or five decades. This is one of the regions where the Indian Government has settled Tibetan Refugee’s in the wake of Chinese invasion of Tibet.
Last month I went to my hometown Patna by road and this place was falling in between. So I planned 2 day visit to this place while returning. Stay option is very limited here. One is Chhattisgarh tourism resort and other is Mercury resort. I opted for former one. While searching on net about mainpat I came across a new resort “tiger fall resort” which is about to open there. This resort is part of godo traveller’s group. When I contacted the resort manager Tenzin who was a Tibetan, he offered to me his services as a guide which I accepted.
The journey from patna to mainpat was smooth and we reached mainpat by evening.
Plains of ambikapur while ascending
Mainpat up on the hills
When we reached mainpat, it was dark, reached the resort safely. Since we were tired, we just had dinner and slept.
View of main building of resort from balcony of our room next morning
Different rooms of resort
I called Tenzin and informed him about our arrival. He told me that some tibetan festival is going on today and he is busy in that festival. He invited us to join them which i accepted readily. It was totally unplanned, I was unaware of the festival so it came as sweet surprise for us. Quickly we got ready, had breakfast and reached the place where the festival was going on.
Tenzin greeted us and took us to the place where festival was going on. The people were dressed in their traditional dress. I was told that in this festival they pray to god for good rain so that they can have good crops. They walk around the villages, stops at different locations, pray to god, have food, then they dance and afterwards move to different location.
When we reached there they were having food, they greeted us warmly, offered us food.
The lady was serving chhang which is their home made alcohal.
I was first served butter tea, then three types of chhang. You are on holiday, misty morning, beautiful people around and you are served chhang, what more could you ask in life .
My wife and kid with the ladies
It was raining lightly
Now it was the time for dance and music
It started too rain heavily , so all people gathered inside the room and dancing continued on tibetans number. Although I couldn't understand anything but I was enjoying the ambience.
Lovely people all around
After some people , all the people left for another round of village. Tenzin decided to stay with us. He told us that these people will come back again after 1 hours approx to a community hall where we will catch them again. Meanwhile we can visit some local place of intrest and he will take us there. Athough I didn't accepted his offer b'coz it means he has to leave his festival and his people but he insisted that it is ok for him. He felt that we are his responsibility. It was so sweet of him. We went to a fall called tiger fall. Name is tiger fall b'coz few years ago tiger used to be spotted at this place at the base of the fall. I don't know about the present time.
Water was less at that time
We went downward at the base of the fall
The steps were really slippery
This place was fully of bees, tenzin had warned us not to throw any stone, it can be fatal
There was no other people around
Front view of the fall
Mohi got a new friend
Tenzin with my kid
After that we came back to the community hall.
My kid having good time
Those people came back after having round of the village
Some rituals going on
Audience enjoying the show
Now, it's masti time
ready for music and dance
After that, it was lunch time. We also had lunch with them. After that we went back to our resort for some rest. Tenzin told us that he will come to our resort after some time so that we can visit other places of interest.
Now it was time for us to leave mainpat. We left the hotel by 10.00 AM. We roamed around mainpat for 1 hour. It was misty all around.
Resort where we stayed
Plateau of mainpat at its best
Nice smooth road with greeneries all around
We went to another resort "mercury resort" to check their properties.
Front view of the resort
They conduct all kind of adventurous sports here.
There are 5 rooms at this resort.
These are the sports they conduct all around the winter except monsoon time.
Scenes en route
Now we started our journey back to home
By this our trip to mainpat ended. There are lot more places in mainpat which I couldn't cover due to lack of time. But this gave us the reason to come back again to this lovely place an enjoy its beauty.