India is sensational. Stunning landscapes, rich culture and colors that can soothe your senses. The perfect destination for slow traveling. One such destination lies in the heart of this country. Ever heard of Chhattisgarh ? Trust me your trip to India is incomplete without a visit to this simple yet so amazing land. And talking about places to visit, we are much more than just the Steel City Bhilai or serene landscapes of Bastar. Today we are going to take you to a destination which is overshadowed by big cities. I am talking about the village Damru in Balodabazaar district of Chhattisgarh.
The village of Damru
Oceans where you could surf, ice glaciers where you could go skate boarding and cliffs where you could go bunjee jumping, Chhattisgarh has none of the above but it has lots of stories to tell you. And if you are willing to listen, it is the place to be.
We have the tradition in which maternal uncles show reverence to their nephews by touching their feet. (Even if nephews are less than half of their age.)
Do you know why it’s done ?
School Chale Hum…
Chhattisgarh was known as Dakshin Kosala (where Lord Rama was believed to have spent a considerate amount of his life) Queen Kaushalya is treated as a sister by Chhattisgarhiyas. And her son Lord Rama is treated as nephew. And hence this custom of showing love to nephews by touching their feet. Isn’t it incredible.
There’s also a tradition of “Bhancha Prasad” (Eating on the same plate in which nephews eat.) It is considered auspicious and is believed that maternal uncle and aunts score some browny points for this which helps them later in attainment of Moksha.
With an incredible mixture of beliefs, myths and simplicity. Chhattisgarh is a place to be experienced!
Driving through some difficult roads, (at times there was no road), we reached the village of Sankri. You have to try some Samosas with Kadhi chutney and chai. After all It’s about the journey more than the destination.
Houses made of mud, openly lying paddy husks (referred as Pairra in Chhattisgarhi language) on top of which random kids jumping up and down. Now a days Chhota Bheem has changed past time of Pairra playing people. That’s a lot of P in one statement :p
Places to Stay :
Damru being a small village doesn’t have any hotels. The best option is to stay at Balodabazaar or Bhatapara district. Or you could stay in the capital city, Raipur and go on a day trip from there. If you’re amongst the adventurous types, befriend a local and stay at his place.
Places to Visit :
1). Buddha Excavations :
It is surprising and a very good news for the history lovers that a set of Buddha footprints have been found during the excavation in the village of Damru. The footprints represent the first discovery of such significance in central India till present day.
Part of the Excavations… as old as 15th century
The footprints could date to the Satvahana (230 BCE–c. 220 CE) or Gupta period (c. 320–550 CE). Just imagine what must have gone through those villagers who had spent their whole life in the same village where Lord Buddha might have crossed sometime. Now the plan is to promote Damru as a major tourist attraction much like other tourist attractions of Chhattisgarh like Sirpur. I feel lucky enough for the fact that I got the chance to visit this spot now itself, before commercialization takes over.
Perhape this TOI article on excavations will help you to understand the history better.
2). Mahamaya Temple :
On the way to these excavations you will also come across the temple dedicated to Mahamaya which is greatly worshiped by all the devotees. For those who are unaware about the concept, Mahamaya celebrates the divine feminism. ie). Goddess Kali. You will find 52 recognized Shakti Peethas throughout the country. Apart from that you will come across several small temples in the country. How many of them have you visited ?
3). Tonhi Dabri :
Dabri means pond in Chhattisgarhi language. Although the practice of Witchcraft has been banned by government, but there was a time when there was an entire pond dedicated for people who worshiped Black Magic. It was termed as Tonhi Dabri. Villages claim to have had several encounters of witnessing fire like thing flying in the air. In a flash of seconds, ‘it’ disappears. There is a harvest festival called Hareli in the month of July-August, which is considered as the peak time for practice of Tantricism.
FYI : All these practices are no more practiced in open light presently but I am sure they haven’t completely faded.
Now that was Damru for you!!!
A place where there is so much to experience without any commercialization.
Go and have lunch at a villager’s house. They are great hosts.
Travel for the sake of traveling.
Go jump in that pond.
Talk to your grandparents, ask them about stories of Ramayana.
You will be spellbound to realize that all are so skilled when it comes to storytelling.
And one more thing, when you’re done with the beaches and mountains there are some places not part of any guidebooks, yet so special.