One fine summer afternoon, my head was so heated up I wanted to go to a very unique and beautiful place far away from the maddening crowd. While googling for places around Vishakhapatnam, I stumbled upon some waterfall named Chitrakot Falls which happened to be India’s biggest falls. Instant plans were made to spend three days in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. – Yes, in the hot burning month of May with my family!
Visiting this state was definitely a revelation. I never expected the central part of India to be so beautiful. I always had a hot, dry and arid mars-like impression and I am glad to have been proven wrong! For all those who are looking for a more commercialized tourist experience, Chhattisgarh is not there yet. But if you are the kind who loves to explore the rustic and unknown then this is the place to be! With gushing waterfalls to lush greenery, deep caves to ancient temples, colorful cultures to creative crafts, this place has it all.
Destination One – Chitrakote Falls
Easily one of the best kept secrets, you’d be surprised to see the scale of the falls. Falling from a height of 100 ft and spanning over 200 meters approximately, the river Indrāvati creates this magnificent cataract 40kms away from Jagdalpur – the district headquarters of Bastar. Now please keep in mind that my visit was during summer when temperatures soared as high as 47 degrees and hence the very less water in the falls. But I was amazed nevertheless. The water was shimmering in a brilliant green in the afternoon light as we watched the fishermen do their daily chore. A morning well spent.
Where to Stay – Chitrakote resort built right in front of the falls or Jagdalpur which makes for a day trip to Chitrakot and back.
Destination Two – Kanger Ghati National Park
This beautiful Forest is situated around 30kms from Jagdalpur in the opposite direction from the falls. The main attractions here are Tirathgarh Falls and Kutumsar Caves. Flanked by high rising Sal trees on both sides, the journey in the National Park to reach these two places is no less beautiful than the destinations itself.
Tirathgarh falls are at a distance of 5 km from the main gate. Cascading over a height of over 100ft, it is a famous picnic spot among the locals. The falls were almost reduced to a trickle when we went but the place a charm to it looking so desolate. There steps which leads to the bottom of the falls and a small island sort of hillock in the middle with a group of old shrines on top.
Kutumsar Caves are a distance of 9 km from the main gate and there is a jeep track leading here unlike the tarmac leading to Tirathgarh falls. These 330 meter long caves have formed over many years which led to beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations inside. There is absolutely no light entering these caves and a particular species called blind fish have evolved over the years to become totally independent of sunlight. At the forest check post, a guide with a solar torch-light would be provided for the caves cannot be entered without a guide or a torch-light for that matter. The caves are closed during monsoons and are open from 9 AM to 4 PM. By the time we reached it was already 4 and on top of it, it was raining. It was an awesome feeling to experience such rain in the middle of the Sal and moist deciduous forests. We went a bit inside and it was dark and steep. Due to lack of guide we had to return back.
Destination Three – KumharPara , The Craft Village
On the third day, we went to a craft village 70 km from Jagdalpur, KondaGaon to see the beautiful crafts in the making. The bell metal and terracotta crafts were wonderful and the craftsmen were more than happy to show us their work and how it was done. We spent a full day talking to them and watching them.
And now some general information:
Where did we stay – Hotel Rainbow in Jagdalpur and Chitrakote Resort near Chitrakote Falls.
How was the road condition – the roads were in pretty good condition from Chitrakote – Jagdalpur – Kanger Ghati NP. The roads were good on the third day as well – Jagdalpur – Kondagaon
What else to do – Haat, the village fair, visit the tribes if interested, Ancient Temples.
When is the best time to visit – Post monsoons when the forests are greener and waterfalls are fuller
And when did we visit – In May 2008! yea.. I know, crazy! :)
What about transportation options – Jagdalpur is well-connected by road to many major cities and buses ply regularly. Raipur and Vishakhapatnam are major cities nearby from where you could get a train to Jagdalpur.