Cradle of Rare Revelations
If there is one state whose gems are yet unexplored and enchanting in their raw, untouched territories, it is Chhattisgarh. Its unique cultural and ecological identities, ageless monuments, extraordinary wildlife, skillfully chiselled temples, Buddhist sites, fortresses, waterfalls, caves and rock paintings make it like no other territory for the discerning traveller.
With 44 per cent forest cover and 32 per cent tribal population, the state attracts nature-lovers from around the globe. With three national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries resplendent with natural wealth in flora and fauna, the state marks itself as an important wildlife destination on the tourism map of India.
Moreover, its archaeological sites and temples boast a rich heritage of carvings and sculptures, and the state was once a thriving centre for Buddhism – a legacy that continues to shine even today.
Located within a single complex and standing adjacent to each other, the remains of the legendary Devrani and Jethani temples on the banks of river Maniyari at Tala or Talagaon are a sight to behold.
Better known as the Niagara Falls of India, the Chitrakote Waterfalls fall from about 100 ft and widen up to 150 m in monsoon. The source of this horseshoe-shaped waterfall, located near Jagdalpur in Bastar district, is the river Indravati, a tributary of river Godavari. The falls can be best experienced during and after the monsoon months of July and October, and the Dandami Luxury Resorts and Cottages offer a good stay option nearby.
Standing mighty and popular as the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh, the Bhoramdeo Temple is famous for the captivating 11th century Lord Shiva Temple on the banks of River Sakri. The temple, situated at Bhoramdev, 21 km from Kawardha, was built by King Ramchandra of Nagar dynasty.
Surang Tila: Excavated in 2005-06, Surang Tila was built by Mahasivagupta Balarjun in the 7th century. It is dedicated to the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Built in Panchayatan style of architecture, with the main temple in the centre and four others in the corners, the temple can be reached by a flight of 37 steep limestone steps.
Teevardeo Buddhist Monastery: The Teevardeo monastery, as revealed by excavations, is believed to date back to the times of Somavasi King Teevardeo. The doorway to the monastery depicts in stone chapters from Buddha’s life, and stories from the Panchatantra.
Lakshmana Temple: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is believed to have been built in Circa 625-650 AD. Historians suggest it was built by Queen Vasata, the widow of King Harshgupta, and stands on a platform inside a pillared mandapa.
The village of Champaran, located around 60 km from Raipur, is celebrated as the birthplace of the saint Vallabhacharya, the founder of the Vallabh sect. A majestic temple has been built here as a mark of reverence for the sage. The Champakeshwara Mahadeva temple is yet another marvel to visit.
Kutumsar Caves and Kailash Gufa
The Bastar district, with the Kutumsar Caves and Kailash Gufa in its Kanger Valley, is endowed with rich natural beauty. Exhibiting splendid formations of stalactites and stalagmites, the Kutumsar Caves are about 1,327 m long and about 35 m below ground level. Kailash Gufa sits atop a small hill and resembles the Kutumsar Caves. Discovered in 1993, the Kailash Gufa is 100 m long and striking with its stalactites and stalagmites galore. The echoes here are strangely musical, and the darkness in the interiors make it a mysteriously enthralling experience.
Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary
Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary is a small but significant wildlife area spanning 245 sq kms in the Mahasamund district. The plants primarily comprise tropical dry deciduous forest of teak, sal, bamboo and terminalia. The animals include tigers, sloth bear, flying squirrels, jackals, four-horned antelopes, leopards, chinkara, black buck, jungle cat, barking deer, porcupine, monkey, bison, striped hyena, wild dogs, chital, sambar, nilgai, gaur, muntjac, wild boar, cobra and python. The sanctuary has a large bird population with the major ones being white-rumped vultures and green avadavat.
The Chhattisgarh Tourism Board’s Sirpur Heritage Walk and Walk With The Tribe make travel easier in the region. In an agreement with New Delhi-based India City Walks, the tourism board is also promoting water sports, hill biking, camping locales, cycle tours and caravan tourism.