Travel buffs tell you where to veer off the highway in Chhattisgarh to find some lesser-known gems
Chhattisgarh Tourism Board
In just three days, you will be able to cover everything from tribal villages to waterfalls to some fascinating ancient architectural marvels. It is believed that at least ten of the fourteen years Lord Ram spent in exile was in Chhattisgarh and in a bid to attract tourists, the government plans to develop eight sites as a part of Lord Shri Ram Vangaman Path.
Business Insider reached out to author, travel writer, food critic, and columnist, Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu who co-authored several Lonely Planet guides on Chhattisgarh to share her experience. Here’s what she had to say: "My most abiding memory of Chhattisgarh is that of a verdurous land populated with friendly, easygoing folk. A revisit, when it happens, will be spurred on foremost for these reasons alone. Which is not to say it offers little else; au contraire! Its expansive countryside is dotted with natural, spiritual and architectural assets. Were the history buff in me to pick just one,
Once an inconspicuous little town, Sirpur is now an internationally recognised tourist spot. Buddha himself is thought to have meditated here, and that’s why the Dalai Lama visits Sirpur annually. “Excavation digs have revealed ancient settlements, and a large (now) restructured Buddhist footprint,” Puneetinder said.
Must-do in Sirpur: “To my mind, the sculpted-brick Laxman Temple there, the backdrop to the National Dance & Music Festival (2019), is the most striking monument of its time," according to Puneetinder.
Chitrakote Falls: Around 260 kilometres from the capital
AdvertisementStay: You can stay at the Chitrakote Log Hut. A peaceful place to stay, it features some fancy tents and modern cabins (some with fantastic views of the falls).
Tribal life in
While the Bastar region is primarily known for its tumultuous Naxal (far-left communist) activities, the current state government claims that this has been confined to very few pockets and assures that the problems will soon be done away with altogether.
“I got the chance to visit Chhattisgarh around 5-6 times, to cover the annual Bastar Dussehra for around 40 of the 70 days, researching the role of Gurmayis (women priests) for a fellowship and studying the tattoo culture of different tribals in the state,” says Supriya Sehgal, a Mumbai-based travel and children's book author and the co-founder of a digital marketing and production house, The Content Lab.
Sehgal was fascinated to be privy to centuries-old traditions at such close quarters. “It was more sublime than superlative - meeting the only surviving women priests, interviewing the oldest fully tattooed lady from the Ramnami community.” Considered untouchables, this community found a rather ingenious way to combat the caste system. Since they were not allowed to enter temples, they tattooed their entire bodies with the name of ‘Nirgun Ram’.
“Another unforgettable experience was seeing the Bastar Dusherra's animal sacrifices and other traditional practices. I also found a strange palate for ant chutney and mahua at the many haats during my visits.” - Supriya Sehgal.
Places to visit within Bastar
Danteshwari Temple: Situated in
The presiding deity of Danteshwari is the Kuldevi (family goddess) of Bastar state. This is also where the famous Bastar Dussehra takes place where, every year, thousands of tribals from surrounding villages and jungles gather to pay homage to the goddess. Her idol is taken out of the Danteshwari temple and then taken around the city in an elaborate procession.
Rajiv Lochan Mandir: Forty-five-kilometers from Raipur, is a town called Rajim that harbours some fantastic ancient temples, notably the 8th-century
Getting around: Connectivity within the State is more-or-less limited to roads, but you can easily take an air-conditioned Volvo bus from Raipur to your choice of destination, or better still, hire a cab. The roads are in excellent condition and incredibly scenic.
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