Bordered by Orissa on the east, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh on the north, Madhya Pradesh on the west and Telengana on the South, Chhattisgarh state was carved out as a new state from erstwhile Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000 as India’s 26th state. The state which is important both from geological and archaeological perspective got its name from Chedisgarh which means Raj or Empire of the Chedis (Kalchury Dynasty).
How to reach there?
Chhattisgarh is well-connected from rest of the country by Road, Rail and Air. It has 11 national highways passing through the state which are about 2,184km in length. Then there are state highways and other major district roads that are about 8,031km in length.
The railway network spread over the state falls mostly under the South East Central Railway zone, with the zonal headquarter in Bilaspur. Many trains on the important Mumbai-Howrah route pass through the state. Major Railway stations are Mahasamund, Bilaspur, Durg, Raipur, Champa and Rajnandgaon.
Air infrastructure in Chhattisgarh is leaner compared to other states. Swami Vivekananda airport in Raipur is its sole airport with commercial air operation. There is also an on-demand air taxi service available from Raipur to Korba, Jagdalpur, Raigarh, Ambikapur and Jashpur.
There are a number of Bus operators that operate on the popular Raipur-Nagpur and Bilaspur-Jagdalpur-Bailadila routes and that operate Volvo – 2X2 and 2X1 bus services.
Major travel destinations in Chhattisgarh are Bastar, Banjari Chowk Baba, Amarkantak, Chitrakoot, Kangerghati National Park, Indravati National Park, Jagdalpur, Ratanpur and many more.
Tourism in Chhattisgarh has many dimensions. From prehistoric caves and ancient sites of archaeological importance, to wild national parks, scintillating waterfalls and the cultural heritage of the tribes, tourism in Bastar has potential to make it big, and attract visitors from all over the world, though the infrastructure needs to be developed to support that.
Kanger Valley national park which is a medley of hilly terrain and dense forests in the heart of the tribal Bastar district, houses a number of ancient caves. The cave is normally closed in Monsoon and normally opens during the Bastar Lokotsav. Another one, buried deep in the forest close to the Tiratgarh waterfalls is the Kailash Gufa, which is an underground cave and has a spectacular formation of stalactites and stalagmites. Another cave that is set on a hilltop is the Dandak Cave. One has to ascend about 500 steps to reach there.
Chhattisgarh has some of India’s most beautiful waterfalls. Prominent among them are the Chitrakoot waterfall in Tiratgarh, Madawa Waterfall, Ghoomar Waterfall, Bodhdhara Saat Dhaara Waterfall and Jashpur Danpuri waterfall.
Palace Kawardha is a stunning 20th century Palace made of Italian marble and stone. It was built by Maharaj Dharamraj Singh. The main Durbar Hall, a magnificent domed room with Corinthian pillars, is open to all.
Kanker Palace is a small palace (just 3 guestrooms) that was originally the Resident’s House in the British Raj but is the main residence for Royal family now.
Bastar Palace is a 70 year old palace that is still being used by the erstwhile Royal family for residence in one part. The other part is used for medical college.
Chhattisgarh has number of famous temples. Many of them are located in the Bastar district like the Kanger Chandi temple. Others are in Dongargarh (Mahamaya temple), Ratanpur (Durg temples) and other cities.
Chhattisgarh has many famous and venerated Dargah (mazaar or tomb) of Sufis. Prominent among them are the Dargah of Hazrat Sayyed Insaan Ali Shah baba in Lutra Sharif, near Seepat Bilaspur and Dargah of Hazrat Sher Ali Aga in Banjari Chowk, Raipur.
Chhattisgarh has a very rich tribal culture. It is home to many tribes, many of which have been living in Bastar for thousands of years. The main tribes in Chhattisgarh are Gond, Halba, Para, Muria, Kawar, Dhurra, Kamar etc
Hilly terrains, deep gorges, densest forests outside of the Amazon and seasonal wildflowers – all make up the perfect environment for a varied species of wildlife. Bastar has a fair variety of avifauna both resident and migratory. Basta Myna, the state bird, is an expert mimic and talker, found here. Other common birds are Jungle Crow, Patridges, Cattle Egret, Pond Heron, Babblers, Parrots, Parakeets etc. Major wildlife species are Chinkara, Sambhar, Deer, Hyen etc. Sights of wild Bears is common, even in cities like Kanker. Reptiles commonly found here are Indian Cobra, Krait, Python etc
Rakhia Badi, and Petha are the local favorites, especially among the tribal populace as they are prepared from fruits commonly found in forest. Jalebi is popular generally as the Chhattisgarhi people like to have something sweet after meal. There are several restaurants and eating joints in Chhatisgarh, even in major cities of Raipur, Bilaspur and Durg-Bhilai that can help you taste these.
Pasiya (Starch) is locally popular drink that keeps one cool during summer and is full of Carbohydrates.
Chhattisgarh offers exotic and almost virgin tourist spots for visitors, however, given the lack of proper infrastructure it is very important to plan well in advance. There are number of good travel agents in Raipur who know these areas like the back of their hand and can plan the various components like booking tickets, hotels, food etc for you. Take the expert help. It’s always cheaper.