My father always read to me when I was a kid. Naturally, I grew up believing deeply in dreamy ‘Once Upon a time’ and ‘Panchtantra’ tales, so much so, that even when I close my eyes, the illustrations of RK Laxman and Malgudi days become a real life scene for me. But living in Delhi for almost 26 years of my life never gave me the chance to come face to face with my storybook side of life, until I visited Chhattisgarh, India, a few days ago.
A week-long trip while hopping from one city to another, the state has managed to surprise me with a lifestyle that I would yearn for every once in a while being a true traveler. Critically contemplating why this place was never on my bucket list till date like many others around me, here I do my part by featuring ten unique reasons as to why you need to explore Chhattisgarh today!
#1 – Experience SLOW TRAVEL
Most of us having been reading and talking about ‘Slow Travel’ that is touching the hearts and minds of many travelers for a couple of years now. We look for places that are less and less touristy and more and more homely. Experiential travel tops our state of mind while travelling, which is almost impossible in fast and developed cities. Away from this hustle bustle of life and an almost exhausting era of industrialization – is Chhattisgarh, which has beautifully preserved its lush green farms, acres of rice fields, local village tradition, tribal culture and a slow way of life. Each of its cities, districts and towns from Raipur, Sirpur, Barnawapara, Teerathgarh, and Bastar, have a different experience to offer which can never be enjoyed or understood within a tight travel schedule.
Ideally, Chhattisgarh is a place for niche & offbeat travel which is to be mindfully acknowledged over a long period of time, with its people and customs. You would want to enjoy the sunrise and the sunsets, have a stint into rice farming, learn how to cook their local cuisine or simply ride through its roads gazing at the lush untouched life around you.
#2 – Come face-to-face to TRIBAL TOURISM
Amongst the very few destinations in the world, Chhattisgarh still boasts of its tribes that are well preserved since centuries. Tribal Tourism being one of the highlights of the state, without a doubt became the best part of my trip. Simply observing the dresses, the jewelry, the tattoos, body piercings, and the local traditions of the tribal communities made me feel as if I was on a different planet, which somehow stopped in time and protected its authenticity.
A walk through the Tribal Haat (a weekly market where different tribal households from the nearby villages bring homegrown goods and set up little shops for a local barter system) will give you a detailed insight into the norms of Tribal civilization at its best. Once you find yourself strolling through this tribal planet, do try the local alcohol called Mahua, the local version of butter milk, the bamboo shoot and saag sabji’s and do not hold back to experience as much of what is theirs as possible, including the very famous and nasty local cock fights!
#3 – Relish LOCAL AND TRIBAL CUISINE
Food has always been an integral part of my trips. Not to miss, I am fearlessly innovative with what all I can try and digest, which makes travel even more unique for me. I dig for cuisines and dishes that are closest to the definition of crazy and weird, and I never miss trying out on something new and unheard of. So if you are even remotely like me, the tribal cuisine in Chhattisgarh with delight the foodie you.
Stating an example from my travel diary, on day four of our trip, we got a chance to visit a nearby tribal village, and spend an entire afternoon in a local household of the Dhurwa tribe. Invited for a local meal in their house, not only were we offered to sit through the entire preparation time of the meal, but were also taken by the head of the family into the wild to hunt red ants, which were then used to make a chutney called ‘Chaapar’. A rainy afternoon that it was, our tummies were happily satisfied with daal, aamar (sabji) and bhaat (rice) made with a lot of love and served in Doni’s (Bowls made from leaves). Later the water was happily replaced with a glass of Mahua (the local alcohol, consumed by the tribals as water on a daily basis) which made our day a lot more happy!
#4 – Come closer to dense WATERFALLS
After travelling in India extensively, I would say, I have never seen a waterfall with so much water flowing through it. But, after visiting Chhattisgarh, I truly understand what a dense waterfall means and looks like. If you are a waterfall person, who likes to dip in the wild waters, kayak with a life vest or simply gaze at some dense rush of water from high above the ground – the Chitrakoot Waterfall (The Indian version of Niagara) and the Teerathgarh waterfall is your next to-go paradise.
#5 – Take a safari ride INTO THE WILD
One more valued benefit of traveling to Chhattisgarh is its claim of wildlife. Spot rare birds, wild bison and clusters of deer, wild bears and a lot more around the sanctuaries of Chhattisgarh on a safari ride and delight your camera. A perfect destination for an offbeat wildlife photographer!
#6 – Learn and document LOCAL CRAFTS
A hub of local arts and crafts, the state is a never-ending resource of age old traditional skills that come in all forms – be it tribal painting, textile (kosa silk) weaving, bell metal artifacts, coin jewelry or Terracotta pottery making. If you are an artist at heart and a sucker for long lost skills around the world, each city in Chhattisgarh has a unique craft to offer that is hard to be missed for a believer of cultural travel.
#7 – Dig some history at ARCHAEOLOGICAL SIGHTS
Not only for the wild, but also for a total history lover – Chhattisgarh is full of archaeological structures that are thousands of years old. But unlike the other temples and tilas in India, these ones are still a mystery, with almost huge structures lost in time and mud, making the remains even more intriguing for historians.
While the archaeological department is trying its best to restore what they have been curiously discovering since the past decade, the present state of many such sights is well maintained, clean and photo worthy! With the help of a local guide you can easily take a dive into its rich history and religious / royal tales that will amuse you and make you look deeper into long lost civilizations.
Not to miss are some must-visit sights such as the Surang Tila, Laxman Temple, Twin Ganeshas, Mama Bhanja temple, and the Buddha monastery in Sirpur.
#8 – Stumble upon REAL CULTURAL MOMENTS
Our fast lives and fake tourism build-ups have somehow killed the simple pleasures of in the moment, natural and spontaneous encounters with culture and authenticity in actions around us. Most cities are so focused on the business of tourism today, that they often construct experiences, than let a traveler naturally stumble upon them.
Once again, going back in time, Chhattisgarh is a land that is still untouched with the idea of commercial tourism, and therefore has successfully retained its most simple and day-to-day customs and practices. A light hearted conversation with an old saadhu, a heartfelt aarti in a local temple, tribals and villagers farming and walking along the roads, children riding back on their cycles from school in trails, and locals enjoying an everyday sunset and sunrise is something you will easily capture in your cameras, which are often lost in our big metropolitan cities.
#9 – Live through a HERITAGE HOMESTAY in KANKER PALACE
Not a camper or a remote traveler? Then why not treat yourself with some ‘Raja and Maharaja’ luxury in the city of Kanker. Home to the famous Kanker Palace in which now lives the royal family, this colonial style architecture is open for a Heritage Homestay, offering a stately, elegant, and an old world charm and ambiance.
The highlight of this stay is not only some home-like conversations with the princes and the princesses of the family, but also the grand meals of the royal kitchen served in the common dining room, along with the morning walks in the corridors of this peaceful and quaint palace.
#10 – Bring life to your STORYBOOK FANTASIES
Last but not the least, Chhattisgarh for me is my one true storybook state. Once again, it’s a real life representation of a common man’s life, much like the little tales of Malgudi days, and the illustrations of RK Laxman, just as I imagined…
Because where else will you find a fierce dog still guarding a herd of sheep? A crane still hunting for a fish in the pond? Buffalos soaking themselves in a literal mud pool? And a farmer farming along his pair of cows in lush green grass fields?
More About Chhattisgarh:
- Curious to know more about Chhattisgarh or plan a trip soon? Visit the official Chhattisgarh Tourism Website for more details – http://www.chhattisgarhtourism.net/
- Looking for a luxury experience near the Chitrakoot Waterfalls? Book these breathtaking luxury tents for your next trip – Dandami Luxury Resort
- Best time to visit? Look forward to visiting while the world known – Bastar Dussehra or the International Sirpur festival.
- Is it safe? – Well, it totally is! Go for it.
- Have more queries to ask? – email us at email@example.com