I thought 25 in my list would make a big number to sum up its exquisite presence but by the time I was done with all the 37 booklets, a mix of Incredible India (Chhattisgarh Tourism Board) and lonely planet pocket guides, forty seemed a small figure. Yes, I have been reading around the state of Chhattisgarh for a week now and the written words have made me high on art, culture, history, tribes, forest, temples, handicrafts, legends, architecture, festivals, caves, Buddhism, waterfalls and greenery. Honestly, I am surprised to learn that this state ( a chunk of Madhya Pradesh), that came into being in the year 2000 is a store-house of incredible beauty and rich cultural inheritance.
What made me so curious about CHHATTISGARH?
I am sure you must be wondering whats made me so curious around this electricity and steel producing state of India. Interestingly, I had to travel to Chhattisgarh with TWC (Travel Wizards Club) gang last week but due to small leg injury I had to postpone it. Of course it took buckets of ice-cream and stacks of chocolate bars to nurse a heartbreak but I also helped myself in another smart way. While my friends kept me entertained with real time pictures and experiences from the state on social media, I read the travel guide books which acted like binoculars and helped me see both far and near into Chhattisgarh. No less, I feel amazing to have unearthed fascinating facts about the state’s beauty and rustic charm.
Lets count the blessings and charms of Chhattisgarh
If you love nature travel, just head to this part. It is a beautiful hill station with gurgling streams, waterfalls, sal and teak forests. It is famously known as the ‘Shimla of Surguja’, also ‘Tibet within Chhattisgarh’. One town that boasts of Lord Buddha temple. The legends say Lord Rama visited this place during 14 years of exile. Mainpat is one of the greenest place of the country.
Water of Indravati thunders down deep to emerge as India’s largest waterfall- Chitrakote falls, lovingly known as the country’s Niagara.
The farmers here sow 23,000 varieties of indigenous rice. Yes, we are talking about the rice bowl of India.
For the people, for the human connect, for the rich tribal culture, one is ought to find solace in Bastar . The Gonds of Bastar are a famous tribe family. 75 days of celebration marks Bastar Dusshera. It is celebrated in the honor of local deity ‘Shri Danteshwari Mai’. I am itching to see the Rath Yatra.
Heart of Chhattisgarh, centrally located is Janjgir-Champa. It produces the maximum amount of food grains.
It is the place of unrestrained revelries. Devotees in thousands flock in to the famous Shivlinga at the ‘Shri Champeshwar Mahadev Temple’ every Mahashivratri festival. The founder of Vallabh sect, the famous saint Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya was born here. Champaranya also called Champaran deserves a visit for sure.
Cutting trees is sinful in this state. Chhattisgarh respects nature and the local believe that harming the trees can lead to natural calamities. Don’t dare to axe a tree here.
Devi Bhilai or Bilai Mata, the statue of the Goddess has risen from the ground in here at Vindhyavasini Temple. Gangrel is the place where exists the biggest and longest dam of the state. Mahanadi river originates at Sihawa Mountain. It is painted beautifully by nature’s stroke and thus luxury cottages make a great stay. No less, you may find an adventure camp here too.
A great picnic spot in the forests is Kanger Valley National Park. Tiratgarh waterfalls enthralls visitors in here. A 35 kilometers drive from Jagdalpur brings you here.
The mysterious caves are in plenty here. I wish to see the stalagmite and stalactite formations inside the Kutumsar Cave.
The Dalai Lama has visited Sirpur twice in one year. A pilgrimage site for the followers of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, it bring cultural amity and draws attention from art lovers internationally. The National Dance and Music Festival of Sirpur (3 day extravaganza) showcases classical, folk, tribal dance and music in the land where the stones do the talking.
The capital city, Raipur has a history that knocks the ninth century.And there is a unique solar energy education park in the city to educate people around the renewable energy resources. I have learnt that Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum is a museum to go for.
A jungle trail to the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary promises not only sal and teak trees in abundance but sights of wild boars, deer, birds, and leopards too. Keep your eyes wide open.
Talking around the local food and drink, this comes totally new to me too. Broth of ‘basta’ (Aamath) thats made of fresh bamboo shoots and there is chewy mushroom called ‘phooto’.
Ramgarh, Surguja District, Chhattisgarh makes a tourist destination for Sita Bangra Caves (Goddess Sita lived here), Renuka River and a little stream called Turrapani. Find out about Ramgarh Mahotsav !
Where did Rama devotee, Mother Shabari feed sweet Ber fruits to Lord Rama?Shivarinarayan is of religious importance. Three holy rivers -Mahanadi, Jonk and Shivnath meet here.
Anyone whose been inside 2 km caves? I dint even know about them. Kailash and Kutumsar caves, 40 kms from Jagdalpur are about 2 kms in stretch but due to lack of oxygen they had to be restricted beyond certain point.
Chitrakoot happens to be Ramgarh hills, those mentioned in Ramayana. Dandakaranya from Ramayana is this. The belief says Kalidas ji penned down his poetry ‘Meghadootam’ here.
Bamboo is used to make houses, fences, bows and arrows, hunting tools, fish, bird traps because Bamboo is easily found in the forests of Chhattisgarh. The craftsmen are called Kamars of Raipur.
If you love history, conquer it by reading about this state. Located on the oldest rocks, 250-300 million years this one will entangle you deep and deeper.
The name ‘Chhattisgarh’ came into being in an official document of the Maratha period in 1795.
Tala district dates back to the 7-8th century AD. It is the land of archaeological excavations. Timeless sculptures, stone engravings have amazed and mesmerized historians. Many ages old sculptures have been preserved here. The Devrani-Jethani temple, famous for Indian sculpture and art is here.
Bhoramdeo Mohatsav means a trip to Bhoramdeo temple, situated amidst mountain ranges dates back to 7th to 11th century AD. It is carved in Nagara style.
Arang is famous as a temple town of Chhattisgarh. The Bhand Deul temple here is one unique place where 24 tirthankars of Jainism can be seen engraved in one single stone.
The much-visited Laxman temple at Sirpur connects us to Gupta architecture and takes us to 7th century. In Sirpur, Surang Tila temple is a must do.
Dewar and Danda songs enliven and bring us closer to the rich musical heritage of the state. The song style for the growth of crops is called Cher Chera.
Who said only foreigners loved tattoos? The Adivasis of Chhattisgarh practice tattooing. Tattoo art is a way of exchanging their group codes. The tribals believe in getting tattooed all over except waist and hips. They follow, no tattoos after marriage.
Dokra Art is one amazing part of bell metal handicraft of the state. It uses wax technique and hollow casting and the materials used are cow dung, paddy husk, red soil, beeswax.
Meet the Baiga tribe here in the Bastar region. They are primitive and rule the tribal culture in Kawardha. Women exceed the men in count.
The Hill Myna is the state bird and wild buffalo is the state animal of Chhattisgarh.
They say, if you visit Sirpur, you must go to Pragyagiri. It is a spiritual destination for the Buddhists. A 30 ft. statue of Gautama Buddha is installed here and it shines in the glory of the sun-rays. 6th of Feb means International Buddhist Meet for this place.
Sonakhan, 150 kms from Raipur has its name for its patriotic connection and contribution. Here, a great freedom fighter, Veer Narayan Singh fought the British rule bravely and is remembered as the the famous ‘Swatantra Tirth’. On the eve of independence I am glad to have read about him.
If you thought you have read enough about temples, I must tell you there exists Rajim which is called the ‘Mandiro ki Nagri’ or ‘ Town of Temples’. Also known as Prayag of Chhattisgarh, this place fascinates devotees, archaeologists, art lovers and historians.
A king’s palace that became a art school because his princess Indira who died early was extremely passionate about music. Kamal Vikas Mahal is now Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya at Khairagarh.
The idols and seals that have been found here take us back to Satavahana Period. The world famous is the terracotta sealing, that carries the legend ‘Gamasa Kosaliya’. It means ‘ Of the village Kosala’. We are talking about Malhar.
Baba Syed Insan Ali Shah spoke in Chhattisgarhi and his Dargah in Luthra is a sacred shrine. There are amazing stories of his miracles and those who visit Bilaspur never forget to pay respect to Luthra Sharif Dargah. People of all religions are welcome.
Chhattisgarh can be easily called the land of excavationsand architectural brilliance. Madhku Dweep, 79 kms from Raipur takes us back to the stone age. 19 temples have been excavated here. It is located in the middle of a flowing river. This is gonna make a great place to go.
Kabir ashrams are all spread through Chhattisgarh. And there is Kabir tirth at Damakheda. To find Saint Kabir within, the Kabirpanthis cannot miss this place.
I am amazed to learn about Ratanpur, 25 kms from Bilaspur. A town that has so much spiritual significance, believed to have flourished for four yugs. Shri Mahamaya Devi Mandir is religiously celebrated.
1000 stairs you must climb to reach the Goddess here. She thrives at a height of 1600 ft. This place has an old world charm. Dongargarh has names in its name, dongar means mountains and garh means forts. It is situated amidst lush greenery, lakes, hillocks.
Naxalites in Chhattisgarh are one reason not to go there but there are 100 and 1 reasons to visit the place. Their areas are defined, just keep away from them. Until you enter their restricted region, its an absolutely safe and amazing place for the spirited traveler in you.