Chhattisgarh – Overview
It’s true, Chhattisgarh is relatively a new and very young tourist destination, but the state’s warm, friendly atmosphere is quite enough to draw large number of tourists every year. There are verdant lush forests, shimmering waterfalls, imposing palaces, ancient temples, rich customs, vibrant handicraft, delectable cuisine, friendly people and much more, Chhattisgarh’s charms are truly boundless and enduring. Chhattisgarh is the 10th largest state of India and it derives its name from 36 princely states who ruled over this region from ancient times.
Chhattisgarh shares boundaries with the states of Madhya Pradesh on the north-west, Jharkhand on the north-east, Andhra Pradesh on the south, Maharashtra on the west, Orissa on the east and Uttar Pradesh on the north. The state of Chhattisgarh spreads over an area of 135,194 sq. kms and it consists of 16 districts. Around 35 big and small tribes inhabit in the state of Chhattisgarh, the Gond tribes form the largest portion of tribal population with the percentage of 55. The Chhattisgarhi language is the official language of the state, which is often regarded as a dialect of Hindi by linguists.
Predominantly a tribal state, Chhattisgarh is bestowed with rich mineral and forest wealth. Chhattisgarh abounds in plains and hilly regions, the central part is a fertile plain while the northern and southern parts are hilly. The Mahanadi river is the principal river of Chhattisgarh, other major rivers are Arpa, Eeb, Hadeo, Indrawati, Jonk, Kelo, Mand, Maniyari, Pairi, Sheonath and Udanti.
Plan a trip to the enchanting state of Chhattisgarh next vacation, where you will come across a number of spectacular sights. Besides, on your Chhattisgarh trip, you will also get a chance to discover the distinct tribal culture of the state on your own. Moreover, the lovely memories of your Chhattisgarh trip will linger long in your mind.
Chhattisgarh – History
Although Chhattisgarh is a new state, but historically it is an ancient land, finding its description as Dakshin Kosala in ancient texts, inscriptions, literary works and account of foreign travellers. According to epic Ramayana, Lord Ram, during his Vanvas (exile) stayed in Chhattisgarh.
From the 17th century onwards, Chhattisgarh witnessed a number of socio-religious reform movements, seeking to form a more equitable society. The Satnam Panth, the Kabir Panth, the Ramnami Panth and the Rae Das Panth are the prominent movements that emerged out in the region during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The region of Chhattisgarh also witnessed a number of tribal rebellions from the late 18th century to the early decades of the 20th century. Some of the noted rebellions include Halba rebellion (1774-79), Bhopalpatnam Struggle (1795), Paralkot rebellion (1825), Tarapur rebellion (1842-54), Maria rebellion (1842-63), First Freedom Struggle (1856-57), Koi revolt (1859), Muria rebellion (1876), Rani rebellion (1878-82) and Bhumkal (1910).
A renowned Rajput family called as the Haihaya dynasty ruled over this region for six centuries. Later it split into two parts, the older branch continued at Ratanpur, while the younger one settled in semi-autonomous state at Raipur. In 1741, the Marathas attacked Chhattisgarh and destroyed the Haihaya power. In the year 1745, they conquered the region and deposed Raghunathsinghji, the last surviving member of the Ratanpur house. Finally in the year 1758, the Marathas annexed Chhattisgarh and it came directly under the rule of Maratha. Bimbaji Bhonsle became the ruler.
In 1818, Chhattisgarh came under the British control and they made some changes in the administrative and revenue systems of Chhattisgarh. India’s first war of independence in 1857 was invoked in the state of Chhattisgarh by Vir Narain Singh who was a zamindar of Sonakhan. The British arrested Vir Narain Singh in 1856 for looting a trader’s grain stocks and later handed him on 10th December, 1857. In the war of independence, Vir Narain Singh became the first martyr from Chhattisgarh. After India’s independence in 1947, Chhattisgarh remained a part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. On 1st November, 2000, Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh as the 26th state of India.
Chhattisgarh – Tourist Destinations
Chhattisgarh comprises 16 districts namely – Raigarh, Raipur, Bastar, Bilaspur, Dantewada (South Bastar), Kanker (North Bastar), Dhamtari, Durg, Janjgir – Champa, Jashpur, Korba, Kawardha, Koriya, Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon and Surguja. Raipur is the state capital city, which houses a number of tourist attractions. One of the biggest cities of Chhattisgarh, Raipur is fastly developing into an important hub for large and middle scale industries. Apart from Raipur, other towns and villages of Chhattisgarh offer many visual feasts for tourists.
Chhattisgarh – Temples
During the ancient times, the region of Chhattisgarh was known as Dakshin Koshal. In fact, Chhattisgarh has been mentioned in the great epic Ramayana and Mahabharata. Over the centuries, Chhattisgarh region was ruled by a succession of Hindu dynasties who had built several temple ranging from modest to magnificent.
On your Chhattisgarh trip, you can see the imposing temples that include Laxman Temple (Sirpur), Gandheswar Temple (Sirpur), Danteshwari Temple (Dantewada), Shivani Temple (Kanker), Chandi Temples (Dongargarh), Mahamaya Temple (Surguj), Kudargarh (Surguj), Shankar Temple (Surguj), Vishnu Mandir (Janjgir Champa), Pithampur Shiv Mandir (Janjgir Champa), Madanpurgarh Devi Mandir (Janjgir Champa), Ghatadai (Paharia) Tripur Sundar Devi (Janjgir Champa), Shivarinarayan Laxminarayan Temple (Janjgir Champa), Kharud Nagar Laxmaneshwar Temple (Janjgir Champa) and Ganga Maiya Temple (Durg).
Chhattisgarh – Palaces
During olden times, a number of districts of Chhattisgarh were erstwhile princely states. The Chhattisgarh rulers built several massive palaces during their rule, which now provide a glimpse of the bygone era. So, visit Chhattisgarh and get a taste of royal hospitality in the magnificent palaces. Kawardha Palace (Kawardha), Kanker Palace and Bastar Palace are the most important palaces of Chhattisgarh.
The Kawardha Palace was built in the 1930’s by the Maharaj Dharamraj Singh and is open from 1st September to 30th April. The Kanker Palace was originally the Resident’s House during the British rule, but now it is the main residence of Royal family. This palace is open from 1st September to 30th April. A colorful local festival is held every year here and is the perfect time to visit this palace.
Chhattisgarh – People & Culture
According to census report of 2001, Chhattisgarh has a population of 20, 795, 956. Chhattisgarh has the second highest percentage of tribal population in India after the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Scheduled Tribes constitute around 33% of Chhattisgarh’s population, mostly concentrated in the southern, northern and north-eastern districts of the state. The highest concentration of tribals are found in the district of Dantewara (79%), the erstwhile Bastar district has the second largest tribal population (67%), followed by Jashpur (65%), Surguja (57%) and Kanker (56%). The Gonds, the Oraons, the Abhuj Maria, the Bison Horn Maria, the Muria, the Halbaa, the Kawars, the Halbis, the Dhurvaa, the Bharias (Bhumiars), the Bhattras and the Napesias are the main tribes of Chhattisgarh.
Each tribe of Chhattisgarh has its own distinct history and rich culture of music, dance, clothes and food. What’s common among the tribes is their simple, basic and in-tune-with-mother nature way of lifestyle that has been coming for several centuries. Dance and music are essential part of the tribals of Chhattisgarh. Panthi Dance and Raut Nacha are popular dance forms of the state. The Panthi dance is usually organized in the rural areas in marriage ceremonies and some other auspicious occasions, while the Raut Nacha, a traditional folk dance is usually performed by yadavs/yadavanshis as a symbol of worship to Lord Krishna. Chhattisgarh is also known for its rich art and crafts that include wood crafts, bamboo crafts, bell metals, wrought iron and cotton fabrics.
Chhattisgarh – Cuisine
People of Chhattisgarh are known for their distinct eating habits. Wheat, jowar and maize are the staple food of the state. Usually people take dal (lentils) in their meals, most commonly consumed of all is Arhar dal. In addition to these, people of the state are fond of sweets and namkeens. Jalebi is favourite sweet among the state people, Bafauri is another popular dish. However, some tribes have now started using oil as a cooking medium, but the traditional tribal cuisine mostly involves boiling or roasting with almost no spices and condiments. Dried fish, jungle fowl and mushrooms form a significant portion of the tribal diet. Bastar’s Lal chinti chutney (red ant paste) is one of the famous local delicacies of Chhattisgarh, besides, people also like pakodas and samosas found in local haat (market).
Chhattisgarh –Fairs & Festivals
Chhattisgarh boasts of a multihued culture which is beautifully manifested in the various fairs and festivals of the state. People of the state celebrate numerous fairs and festivals throughout the year. The tribals form a major portion of Chhattisgarh’s population, the fairs and festivals of the state provide you an excellent opportunity to experience the tribal culture on your own. Amongst the fairs and festivals of Chhattisgarh, Dussehra festival is celebrated with a great deal of pomp and grandeur. Bastar Dussehra is, by far, Chhattisgarh’s biggest and most vibrant festival. Interestingly, unlike Dussehra in other parts of India, Bastar Dussehra has nothing to do with the triumphant return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya. Bastar Dussehra entirely revolves around goddess Devi Danteswari Mai and the occasion is marked by a congregation of various village deities at the Danteswari temple at Jagdalpur.
Some of the important fairs and festivals of Chhattisgarh include Bhagoriya Festival, Bhoramdeo Mahotsav, Chakradhar Festival, Goncha Festival, Hariyali Kora Navakhani, Kajari Festival, Madai Festival, Narayanpur Mela, Sheorinarayan Fair, Rajim Lochan Mahotsav, Bastar Lokotsav, Champaran Mela, Fagun Wadai, Koriya Mela, The Earth Festival, The First Fruits Festival, Hareli Festival, Pola Festival and Teeja Festival.
Chhattisgarh – Wildlife
Around 44% of the state’s area is under forest coverage, which makes 12% share of India’s total forest area. Chhattisgarh is home to a variety of plant and animals species that include some of the most endangered and rare wildlife. Bestowed with 3 national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries, Chhattisgarh promises a thrilling and rewarding experience for wildlife lovers and nature lovers as well.
Indravati National Park is the most popular wildlife sanctuary of Chhattisgarh, other important national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are Kanger Ghati National Park, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary, Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary and Sanjay National Park. The endangered Wild Buffalos and the Hill Myna are the major wildlife attractions. In addition to these you can see wild animals such as Tigers, Leopards, chinkara, Indian Gazelle, Barking Deer, Chital (Spotted Deer), Chausingha (Four-horned Antelope), Nilgai, Sambars, Gaurs, Muntjac, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Dhole or Wild Dog, Jackal, Striped Hyena, Porcupine, Bison and many more.
Chhattisgarh – Shopping
Any trip to Chhattisgarh is incomplete without shopping. So, whenever you visit this picturesque state, you must not forget to buy a variety of handicrafts and several other locally made items. As the state has a big tribal population, so you will mostly find handicraft items produced by the tribes. Handicrafts of Chhattisgarh have earned much popularity worldwide and they make an excellent option for gift or utility item. Chhattisgarh has numerous Government Emporia and private shops which will surely satisfy your shopping urge. Some of the popular shopping items of the state include Wood crafts, Bamboo crafts, Wrought iron items, Bell metal items, Cotton fabrics, Stone sculpture and Terracotta. On the whole, shopping in Chhattisgarh will provide you a wonderful experience.
Chhattisgarh – Climate
Chhattisgarh has a tropical, humid and sub-humid climate and it varies from region to region. The climate of Chhattisgarh is hot because of its location on the tropic of cancer. In the central plane areas, the temperature soars to a high of 45°C and it drops to a minimum of 10°C. The temperature remains cooler round the year in the higher altitudes in the north and south. April to June are hot months while December to January are cold months. Chhattisgarh is fully dependent on the monsoon for rains which arrive the state by late June and ends by the month of September.
Best Time to Visit
November to March is the best time to visit Chhattisgarh.
Chhattisgarh – Transportation
Airlines : Chhattisgarh has a domestic airport in state capital, Raipur, which is connected to almost all the important airports of the country. Indian Airlines operate frequent flights to Raipur from various destinations of India. From Raipur buses and taxis are available for different parts of the state.
Railways : Raipur and Bilaspur are two major railway heads of Chhattisgarh. These railway stations are served by a number of express trains from all over the country. Raipur is situated between Mumbai and Howrah, two major railheads of west and east, so several important trains pass through this railway station regularly.
Roadways : Good network of roads criss-cross the state of Chhattisgarh. National Highway No. 6, 16 and 43 connect all the important cities and towns of Chhattisgarh with each other and also with other parts of the country.