Beyond Bullets & bloodshed : Bastar

The beginning :

“Turn up the volume of the Music System & switch on the lights”, said the driver as soon as we entered the Kanker region.

“Why?? Have we entered the ‘Naxal’ region”,  I asked out of curiosity!  “Don’t use that word again”, I heard from someone sitting at the back. You can use the word “Daadi” to refer to them. These were some of the general or Jungle rules to be followed if you’re going to Bastar )

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                                                  Don’t turn off the lights…

Route  :

1) From Durg

Durg  – Dhamtari – Charama – Keskal – Kondagaon – Jagdalpur..

Or

2) From  Raipur

Raipur Abhanpur road to start with and then reach NH43 and then follow the above route Dhamtari-Charama….!!

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The Ghats of Keskal :

The route we took was NH43 and along the way you will encounter the ghats of Keskal. This stretch, full of blind curves and ascends, will charm and thrill you at the same time.

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There are 12 such turns. And to add more twist there’s a temple situated halfway along the ghats. Most of the vehicles stop here for worship & those vehicles which don’t have the time to stop, honk at the temple and move on. (Modern way of saying hi to the Gods ;))

Makri Dhaba :

Treat for a Dhaba lover!  Don’t forget to stop here whenever you are going towards Bastar.
The first thing that comes to my mind after thinking of Makri is their famous “Special Kheer“. (a popular dish in India made of Rice & Milk). Though they don’t use rice at all,  for preparing this dish, the kheer served here is unique & delicious.

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Price :

Normal Kheer : Rs.60. Special kheer: Rs.130.

Next is “Ghamandi Lassi” :

“A well made lassi not just fills your stomach but touches your soul.”

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Priced at Rs. 70 🙂

Note: The lassi which I had few years ago when I came here was magically tasty. Over the course of time, it has lost it’s flavour. @Makri guys : Are you listening?

FYI : Chana Masala, Tandoori, Rice & Dal fry were exactly how they are supposed to be. ie) ‘Tasty’ 😀


 

CATCH THE VLOG HERE : INCREDIBLE BASTAR 


 

Nature at it’s best :

As soon as you reach towards the Bastar region you will be lost in it’s simplicity. Lush green Sal trees surrounding the roads will definitely charm you, to say the least.
And if you are lucky, you could even spot a Pahadi Maina”,somewhere amidst the virgin forests of this region. Home to numerous waterfalls, natural forests & rustic views, Bastar region has a lot of offer.
Can easily be termed as “A Photographer’s Delight“.

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                                                                                                                Lost @NH 43 😉

“One of the best things about Bastar is its simplicity. You won’t find much commercialized places once you reach here. God created the magic (read Bastar) & it still pretty much remains the same :)”

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                                                                                          Splasss…..shhhh !!  @Chittrakot Waterfalls.

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The pic says it all…

Exquisite tribal culture :

If you’re an art lover & you haven’t visited Bastar, your life is pretty much incomplete 😉 

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“Walk on the streets of Jagdalpur & you can witness the Bastar art even on traffic signals.”

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                                                                                                  Somewhere in the city of Jagdalpur!

But if you seriously want to see hand-made bastar art items, walk inside one of the art shops. There are many such shops in the city of Jagdalpur. I am not the person who understands art that much. But as soon as I entered inside one of those shops, my eyes were awe-struck!

“The attention to detailing & sheer dexterity will leave you mesmerized.”

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The people creating this piece of genius have no clue what they are worth of. The kind of art sold here in some hundreds are exported to foreign nations and are being sold at millions to people who appreciate their art.

“Similarly Kondagaon is well known for its artistic pottery. Do have a look if you get a chance.”

Haat Bazaar :

One should definitely visit the Haat market of Bastar to get a in-depth understanding of Bastar style shopping.
The best time to visit would be during Dussehra or “Dasara” as they call it!

Murga Ladai :

It’s a game in which giant sized hens are made to fight among one another. First the hens are made to stay in dark rooms for several days. When they are out in the real world, sharp blades are tied to their feet and then they are made to fight against each other. The party whose hen wins, gets to own the other party’s hen (whch is dead). The game is abandoned in most parts these days.

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                                                                                              Source –  Twitter handle : @shibo_779

Cuisines of Bastar :

Legend says : “When in Bastar do as the Bastariha do”

1) Live Ants Chutney :

One of its kind paste made from live red-ants!
I can feel your goose-bumps :p

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                                                                                                                            Source : My Pure View

2) Sulfi :

A local beer produced from Sulfi tree.

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                                                                       An art depicting a bastariha climbing on the Sulfi tree 🙂

“Ditch that can of Heineken, try Sulfi when you’re in Bastar!”

( FYI : The legend never said anything, I made it up to sound interesting 😉
And ‘Bastariha’ is a generic term to refer to the residents of Bastar)

The Stay :

We stayed at the luxury tents arranged by Chhattisgarh tourism board just near the Chitrakot falls. Priced at Rs. 2500, the tents are pretty spacious and include an AC, attached bathroom & a TV.  You can book online well in advance to get the tents with best views. Look for discounts as well. Chhattisgarh tourism offers promotional discounts every now & then 🙂

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@Dandami Luxury Resort, Chitrakot.

Places to Visit :

The Dandami Resorts maintained by Chhattisgarh tourism can be used as a base camp. You can just spend a day here & cover all the tourist places in another day. All the places are around 40 kilometers from here.

1).Chitrakot Waterfall :

Known as the “Niagara of India“. I haven’t visited Niagara so far but I must admit that this is by far one of the best waterfall of our country.
Being a Chhattisgadiya myself, I am proud of this place.

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The amazing sight of water falling from a height of 100 feet into the Indravati river is simply wow!
Especially during monsoons, it looks even more beautiful <3 Take your favorite novel & just sit on the rocks in front of the waterfall for hours.

The sound of flowing water in the background will kill you softly with its song.

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I know this has not been done before. But there is lots of empty space near the Chitrakot falls which can be turned into “A Camper’s Haven

2).Kutumsar Caves :

  • One of the must visit places to visit for all those who love adventure!
  • There is no scope of sunlight entering inside the cave. So basically it’s pitch dark inside!
  • And you won’t be able to go inside by yourself. The local guides know this place in & out like the back of their hand. I don’t know how they manage because it’s so damn easy to get lost inside!
  • The rocks inside the caves glitter!
    Caution : Watch out for those bats.

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Note : Caves are closed during the monsoons as water blocks the passage inside. So plan your trip accordingly 🙂

3). Temples of Dantewada :

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I am not an atheist but a seeker.
I am not a die hard fan of temples but I do appreciate the architecture.
I am not God-fearing but God-loving!

So when they said
“You are not supposed to enter the garba-griha with your jeans on. You should wear this dhoti instead.”

I simply asked those people :
“I am ready for it but at least tell me the reason for this clothing.”

The lady had no clue about the reason. She was just telling everyone what she was asked to tell.  And the following were her words :
” Yehi yahan ki parampara hai.”, meaning “This is the tradition & everyone should follow it”

I didn’t reply anything to her but I was boiling from the inside.  At least one should know the reason before blindly following it. I am pretty sure that no God or Goddess would reject a seeker entering in her temple just because of a clothing. Some people even said that “This dhoti Kurta is the kind of clothing what people used to wear in the good old days. So we are wearing it.”

Okay point taken or assumption taken, I would rather say! But then early man didn’t even use to wear such dhotis. They relied on naturally occuring leaves for their clothing. Why aren’t you following that?

But there was no point in arguing. I looked at my dad & we were on the same boat. We just walked out of the scene unconvinced.

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                                                                                                                          @Shankhini Dankini River.

Belief or Superstiton :

There was a pillar just in front of the temple outside. According to the legend if you are able to see the statue of Goddess which is inside the Garbagriha while you are holding that pillar, all your wishes would come true!

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I tried, just for the sake of being a sport. And guess what!! I did see a glimpse of the statue. Well I think so 🙂
But I didn’t wish for anything in return. I just said Thank you God for everything & moved on.

The aftermath :

For the past 24 hours I was not able to connect my goPro with my iPhone. I had forgotten the wifi password which establishes the connection. And guess what just after the above act, I again tried connecting. And this time it worked:) I still feel that its a coincidence. Though others might have to say something else about this 😉

Tirathgarh falls :

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This one is yet another gem of a fall.
Its a real treat to watch falls in a series of steps 🙂

Must do :
Play with water 😉

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How to Reach :

From Raipur Airport, Chitrakot is at a distance of 300 kms. You can easily find a Kanker roadways bus. All the places mentioned above are in the range of 40 kms (max) from Chitrakot. There are no Ola or Uber operating here :p You have to rely on shared autos.

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Ahh… the sunrise along the journey 🙂 #Epic

Budget :

3500 per person. It includes :

  • The cost of resort at Chitrakot booked through Chhattisgarh Tourism’s website.
  • Cost of transportaion.( We had booked a Tavera )
  • Cost of food.

In short, Rs. 3500 is incusive of everything 🙂

Duration :

2 days.
FYI : We booked the resort for just a day. And one day was reserved for sightseeing.

An Open Letter to Chhattisgarh Tourism Board :

Dear all,

Before starting let me first tell you that I am a Chhattisgadiya myself. I am an avid traveller. And I am proud of my state just for it’s simplicity. Our state has a lot to offer in terms of diversity. Be it the Niagara of India (Chitrakot) or the epic tribal culture (Bastar lifestyle), we have everything.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Locals selling delicious fruits.

But have we done enough to attract the International audience or let’s just say people outisde Chhattisgarh?

I would say “No” 🙂

I appreciate the effort that has been put in (When it comes to construction of lavish resorts and hotels just near the famous tourist places).
That’s a welcome step I would say 🙂

Is it enough ?

Let me tell you where we are lagging behind other states when it comes to tourism :

1.Availability of Home-stays :

Home-stays are the best ways to experience the local culture and cusines. It almost gives us a real feel of the place. Be it Ooty, Goa, Gokarna, Kerala or wherever in South India, home-stays are easily available at affordable prices near popular tourist destinations. I couldn’t find any such home-stays near Bastar.

2. Lack of things to do :

We have some incredible places which can be used for adventure sports. For example : Take the case of our Chitrakot waterfalls. Considering its width, it’s one of the best in the business. There is a long stretch of Indravati river flowing around.

This stretch can be used for water sports like “Kayaking” & “River-Rafting” under proper guidance and safety.

If the river “Dandeli” of Karnataka can be used for White water rafting. Why can’t we come up with something like this ?

Similarly when it comes to mountaineering & trekking, we are no where. I have been a resident of Chhattisgarh for the past 22 years but I still don’t know a place popular for treks. On the contrary, I have stayed in Bangalore for just an year now. If you ask me to name some trekking places near Bangalore : I would tell you places like Coorg, Chikmagalur, Kudremukh, Ramnagram etc. The list goes on.

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                                                                                                                        Rappelling!!!

You can yourself read some of my treks here :

Into the Clouds : Chikmagalur

Sky full of Stars : Coorg

I don’t think that we are short of mountains. Its just that there is lack of awareness and accessibility. We do have places like Aakashnagar in Kirandul. Or mountains of Buddha in Dongargarh. And I am pretty sure there must be some thrilling places inside Bastar where we aren’t allowed to enter 😉

Apart from treks we do have places for rappeling and zip-lining.
What do we need for rappeling? Just a straight wall like mountain. We do have many 🙂

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                                                                                                                     Chimney Climbing!!!

Check this place in Karnataka :

Rappeling at Ramnagar, Karnataka 

It’s time to get inspired and do something like this in our state Chhattisgarh as well 🙂

3. Lack of hostels or dormitories :

Not everyone can afford fancy resorts or 5 star hotels! Travelling and sight-seeing should be feasible for everyone not just for a niche audience.
Each individual desires to travel and see the world 🙂

We have many places with rich history and culture like Sirpur, Kawardha & now historical evidences have been found at village “Damru” of Baloda Bazaar Tehsil. I think we need some quality hostels around places like these 🙂

Check this out :

http://lepension.com/rooms-and-amenities/

These guys are offering accommodation in places like Jodhpur just at Rs 400 onwards.

4.Local Culture at doorsteps :

One last suggestion from my side. This one is Chittrakot specific but can be used everywhere. As I mentioned before that we stayed at the Dandami Luxury Tents near the Chittrakot falls. We had the time of our lives out there 🙂 But to witness “Bastar art“, we had to move all the way to the city of Jagdalpur to find such shops. It would be easy for the tourists if such shops displaying Bastar arts are constructed in the vicinity of the resort itself. That way, we can experience the local culture at one place itself 🙂

These were my few suggestions. I am definitely not trying to offend anyone through the blog. All the opionions mentioned above are solely my own. Still if someone feels hurt, I would just say “Bhool Chuk Maaf ;)”. I would like to conclude by saying

“Chhattisgadiya Sable Badiya”

Jai Johar,
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Stay awesome & keep your city clean! And yeah keep reading my blogs 😀

And it’s not how it looks from the outside. Bastar is beyond bullets and bloodshed! It is stunning & it is definitely safe for tourists.

#ThankYouChhattisgarh

A facebook share would definitely help me in showcasing Chhattisgarh to a wider audience 🙂

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  2. Thanks for making this happen, its been long that i have left Bastar, but i will never forget my childhood with welcoming wilderness and culture. I guess you havent explored more, there are lot more hidden places in the township of Kirandul and Bacheli.. lot more to offer in terms of waterfall and amazing high level view points.

    But thanks for the honest post.

  3. Thumbs of for this itinerary. It gives me knowledge about the other culture. That Niagara like falls is indeed amazing. Btw, when is the best time to visit Bastar?

  4. You have just got in new subscriber, the post is really helpful for a reader like me. Everything has been explained beautifully. Let me know when are you posting your next article, would love to read your every article.

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