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Chhattisgarh full of surprises

The state with rich cultural heritage and natural diversity


full of surprises

The rapid growth of Chhattisgarh has set an example for the rest of the country to see. Chhattisgarh came into being primarily due to regional inequalities and imbalanced growth. After the formation of the state, our economy has grown rapidly. This is evident from the MidTerm Appraisal report of the XIth Plan by the Planning Commission as well.

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board Paryatan Bhawan, GE Road, Raipur, Chhattisgarh Published by: MaXposure Media Group India Pvt. Ltd. Publisher & COO: Vikas Johari CEO & Managing Director: Prakash Johari CFO: Kuldip Singh Executive Editor: Saurabh Tankha Rights: Chhattisgarh Coffee Table Book is printed and published by Vikas Johari on behalf of MaXposure Media Group India Pvt. Ltd. (MMGIPL) for Chhattisgarh Tourism Board and published at MMGIPL, Unit No. F2B, Second Floor, MIRA Corporate Suites, Plot No. 1&2, Ishwar Nagar, Mathura Road, New Delhi - 110 065, India. All rights reserved. All writings, artwork and/or photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the written permission of MMGIPL and Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. No responsibility can be taken for the loss of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. The views and opinions expressed or implied in the book are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of MMGIPL or Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of this book, but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. MMGIPL does not assume any liability for services or products advertised herein.


Head Office: Unit No. F2B, Second Floor,

MIRA Corporate Suites, Plot No. 1&2, Ishwar Nagar, Mathura Road, New Delhi - 110 065 Tel: +91.11.43011111, Fax: +91.11.43011199

I am very happy to inform that our state has been able to achieve GSDP growth of 11.71 per cent in 2007-08, 6.81 per cent in 2008-09 and 11.49 per cent in 2009-10 as against the target of 9.57 per cent for the XIth plan. Our plan size has increased from Rs. 7,413 crore in 2007-08 to Rs. 13,093 crore in 2010-11. I am also very happy to mention that due to financial discipline and better fiscal management, key fiscal indicators of our state are comparable with the best managed states. Almost 80 per cent of our population derives their livelihood from agriculture and allied activities. Out of 35.5 lakh families which are dependent on agriculture, 54 per cent are small and marginal farmers. Paddy being the main crop of our State, Chhattisgarh is traditionally known as “rice bowl� of the country. During the XIth Five Year Plan, growth in agriculture sector was 5.17 per cent, while it has been 3.03 per cent during the first 3 years of the XIth Five Year Plan. Sixty per cent geographical area of Chhattisgarh is Schedule V Area and its 50 per cent area is forest area. Around 32 per cent population of the state is Scheduled Tribes and the State Government attaches highest priority to their Best wishes,

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Raman Singh Chief Minister

development and welfare. I would like to mention that 32 per cent allocation of the plan budget is set apart for Tribal Sub-Plan. Two Regional Tribal Development Authorities have been constituted for the tribal predominant southern and northern regions of the State. So far, an amount of over Rs. 420 crore has been sanctioned and disbursed through these authorities. Also, rights over forest land have been granted to around two lakh 15 thousand tribal families, more than any other State in the country. With a view to expand educational facilities in the scheduled areas, particularly in the field of technical and employment oriented education, a number of initiatives have been taken during the last three years. Some of these are establishment of Jagdalpur University in the Bastar Region and Sarguja University for the tribal northern region, establishment of medical college in Jagdalpur town of Bastar region, establishment of 21 new colleges, 6 new polytechnics and 9 new ITIs and establishment of over 800 new ashram schools and hostels. Towards the end, the state has taken a conscious decision to adopt a fresh approach for tourism development. The tourism policy is focused on creating a unique image for the state and to position it as an attractive destination for both domestic as well as foreign tourists. The wildlife, heritage, pilgrimages, culture, art and craft of Chhattisgarh surely makes it a must explore destination of India. So visit Chhattisgarh that has been always Full of Surprises and experience the real India.


Contents 08 16 30 42 06


Deep gorges and the dense\ forests outside of the Amazon


Explore the majestic caves and royal palaces

art & crafts

Local artisand and craftsmen have grabbed the attention of the world

fairs & festivals

The state pulsates with vibrant festivals and fairs throughout the year




Rugged mountain views, deep gorges and the densest forests outside of the Amazon, all go to make up the perfect environment for varied species of wildlife.



Chhattisgarh gives you the rare opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat as it has three national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries. Major wildlife species include blue bull, chinkara, black buck, sambhar, barking deer, wild dog, wild boar, jackals, hyena, and crocodiles. Some distinct varieties of birds are also found here in Bastar, both resident and migratory. The state bird, the Bastar Myna, is a type of the Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa Linnacus), and an accomplished mimic and talker, adept in imitating the human voice. 010

National Parks Indravati (Dantewada), Kanger Ghati (Bastar) and Guru Ghasidas (Sarguj/Koriya).


Bastar has a fair variety of avifauna, both resident and migratory. Most of the migratory birds visit during winter, to glean the paddy fields after the kharif crop has been harvested. The state bird, the Bastar Myna, is a type of the Hill Myna ( Gracula religiosa Linnacus), and an accomplished mimic and talker, adept in imitating the human voice. For this reason, it has been traditionally prized as a cage-bird, resulting in it being hunted to the point of becoming an endangered species! Today, it is an offence to cage this bird. The Bastar Myna is a colourful bird, glossy pitch black with yellow legs, orange and yellow beak, bright yellow wattles on the head and a dash of white on the side wings. It is seen in pairs or noisy flocks in preferred locations in the


forests and villages. If you are lucky, you might see it in the Kanger Valley National Park. Else, you can visit the Myna Park in Jagdalpur. The Bastar Myna is at its loquacious best between 10 am and 12 noon and 3 and 4 pm. Some distinct varieties of common birds are also found in Bastar. For instance, the Jungle Crow is pitch dark and slightly larger than the domestic crow. It has a heavy-duty bill and a deep and hoarse “caw.� It is more audacious in attacking the nests of gentler birds and even the pups of smaller animals. Its movement in the forest often leads to tiger or panther kills.


Other species of avifauna include partridges (which nest in shrubs outside villages and run almost as fast as they fly), cattle egret, pond heron, babblers, parrots and parakeets, blue jay, wagtails, quails (both black and grey varieties), bulbul , koel , fly catchers, woodpeckers, sun bird and weaver bird.

Sanctuaries Achanakmar (Bilaspur), Badalkhol (Jashpur), Bhairamgarh (Dantewada), Gomarda (Raigarh), Barnawapara and Udanti (Raipur), Pameda (Dantewada), Semarsot


Major wildlife species include blue bull, chinkara, black buck, sambhar, barking deer, wild dog, wild boar, jackals, hyena, and crocodiles. Tigers are in the Kurandi reserve forest and in the Kanger Valley National Park. Panthers are distributed almost all over Bastar, especially in the Northern plains. Indian sloth bears are in the Northern plains around Kanker and in the Southern part around Bailadila. Bison are in the Kutru National Park. Crocodiles are in the riverine ponds in the Kanger Valley National Park at Bhaisa-darha.

As the night sets in wild bears, prowling panthers and snakes can be seen out on the roads. There is no record to suggest any danger to tourists from these animals. However, it is advised not to stop the car and venture into the forest on foot at night. Reptiles found include the Indian cobra, krait, viper, rattle snakes and python. Also look out for giant ant-hills (eight to twelve feet high). And trees that have shot up straight into the sky and branched only after attaining a height of 80 feet or more. This phenomenon is attributed to the density of the forest - the trees have shot up to the sunlight necessary for growth, available only from the top. In the Kurandi forests, there are four ancient (over 500 years old) teak trees, named after the four brothers of the Ramayana : Ram, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan.


Heritage Endowed with rich cultural inheritence, one can explore the enigmatic ancient caves and majestic palaces in Chhattisgarh 016


Exploring the ancient caves housed in the hilly terrain and forests of the virgin Kanger Valley National Park, the epicentre of the tribal Bastar district, can make one feel like Christopher Columbus. Buried deep inside the forest, close to the Tiratgarh waterfalls, are Kailash gufa and Kutumsar caves. Another beauty is Dandak cave, which is a large, spacious, cool cavern, set in a hillock. Definitely explore the spectacular palaces of Chhattisgarh to experience the royal way of life. 018

Ancient Caves


Ancient Caves The caves are closed during the monsoons and for some time thereafter. They normally open around the time of Bastar Lokotsav. Guides take tourists in and out safely. However, it is advised that children below 8 years, those above 60 years, and those suffering from claustrophobia avoid the caves. Wear walking shoes with a sturdy grip as the floor is often uneven and occasionally slippery. A nominal entrance fee is charged. This covers the cost of the guide who takes you in and out of the Caves and also provides a torch.


Kailash Gufa Buried deep in the forest close to the Tiratgarh waterfalls, this underground cave, about 40 km from Jagdalpur, has the most spectacular formations of stalactites (limestone pillars hanging down from the roof) and stalagmites (pillars rising from the ground). Millions of years old, it is deep in a hill, 200 metres long, 35 meters wide and 55 metres deep. If you remember that stalactites and stalagmites are formed drop by drop, and that an inch takes about 6,000 years to form, the huge pillars of the Kanger Caves will leave you speechless. Some of the stalagmites have markings, indicating that they have been worshipped as shivalingams. It is possible to drive right up to these caves.



Gadiya Mountain in Kanker district, Kotumsar cave and Kailash Gufa in Bastar district, Ramgarh and Sita Bengra in Sarguja district and Singhanpur cave in Raigarh district with pre-historic paintings are very famous.


Kutumsar Caves, Kanger Valley National Park

Access to this subterranean cave near the Tiratgarh waterfalls , about 38 km from Jagdalpur, is by a narrow spiral staircase that descends about 40 feet. As you enter, you realise what the phrase “pitch-dark� means. As your guide holds up a lamp, the stalactites and stalagmites come alive as mystic creations of a master sculptor. Look for a special variety of genetically blind fish here.


Dandak Caves This large, spacious, cool cavern is set in a hillock. You have to ascend about 500 steps (a 20 minute climb) to enter the cave. At the entrance, is an extraordinary rock formation, that gives the effect of a carving, so detailed and symmetrical is it. Inside, stalactites hang down in giant halls, much like chandeliers in a royal palace. The floor is smooth.

Picturesque Palaces

Palace Kawardha, Kawardha Kawardha is the natural entry point for visitors coming from Madhya Pradesh (Kanha or Pench). This stunning 20th century palace, made of Italian marble and stone, was built in the 1930’s by Maharaj Dharamraj Singh. An isolated, tranquil retreat set in landscaped gardens amidst the Maikal range of hills, it is still home to the Royal family . The current prince and his wife take an active interest in running the property, and are glad to take visitors out on walks and visits to the local temple. The elegant building is a mix of Italian, Mughal and colonial styles of architecture. Inside are grand staircases and sweeping verandahs perfect for reading, relaxing or having a quiet cup of tea. The main Durbar Hall, a magnificent domed room with Corinthian pillars, is open to all. The top floor, private residence of the royal family, is out of bounds to guests. Accomodation is in the form of six spacious (twin) rooms with very high ceilings and cool marble floors. The rooms retain the original, traditional furnishings, and have large attached bathrooms, with running hot and cold water. Some rooms have large dressing rooms that can accommodate extra beds. While you are here, do try the day walks or an overnight trek, and don’t forget to visit one of the tribal villages nearby. The Rashakrishna and Bhoremdeo group of temples nearby, dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries, are in the Chandela and Orissan styles. Interestingly, the carvings here make Khajuraho’s erotic carvings seem tame!

The palace is open from 1 September to 30 April. Recommended stay: Minimum 3 nights 2 days, one for walking and one for visiting temples.



Kanker Palace The palace is open from 1 September to 30 April. There is a colourful local festival every year, and this is the perfect time to visit.

This small (Three guest bedrooms) palace was originally the Resident’s House in the British Raj, but is now the Royal Family’s main residence. Opened just a few years ago, it is cosy and personal. The family that runs it will be delighted to show you around their farm and the town, or take you walking in the surrounding Keshkal Hills. Every one eats together in the main dining room. The bedrooms are large and spacious, with high ceilings and attached bathrooms and dressing rooms. No bathtubs, though - only showers! The rooms are furnished in the local style, using original palace furniture. While you are here, go walking in the Muria tribal territory or drive out to the Dudhawa Reservoir at Sikanadi where the avi fauna is good and the views stun. Visit the potters and bell-metal makers at Kondagaon in Bastar.


Bastar Palace Believe it or not, you can walk right off the street and into this 70 year old palace, situated at one end of the main street. The erstwhile Royal Family still resides in one part, while another is being used as a medical college. Currently, there are no residential facilities here, but lunch can be arranged. There is a weekly haat (market) here on Sundays.


Bastar Palace is an extensive and impressive fort that glitters in the sun. It was built at the time of the shifting of the capital to Jagdaplur from Barsur.


Arts & Crafts The local handicrafts and paintings of Chhattisgarh truly represent the dexterity of its artisans.



Chhattisgarh is well-known for its metal crafts, jewellery and paintings. The people of Chhattisgarh have proved their mastery in the making of these wonderful art and craft items. These products of traditional craft are an excellent way to decorate one’s home. 032

The people of Chattisgarh use their reserves of natural resources to the optimum potential. The arts and crafts of Chhattisgarh truly represent the dexterity of its artisans. Chhattisgarh is well known for the metal crafts, jewellery and paintings. The people of Chhattisgarh have proved their mastery in the making of these wonderful art and craft items. These products of traditional craft are an excellent way to decorate one’s home. These are the perfect kinds of home decors that render the place an ethnic and vibrant hue. Amazing wood carvings, bamboo work/furniture, bell metal handicraft, figures of terracotta, tribal jewelry, paintings, and clay pieces are some of the specialties from the state. The authentic handicrafts, like any other element of culture, are really mesmerising. If truth be told, Chhattisgarh is a place to behold the ancient as well as refined form of arts & crafts. Different categories of Chattisgarh handicrafts are:



Believe it or not, you can walk right off the street and into this 70 year old palace, situated at one end of the main street. The erstwhile Royal Family still resides in one part, while another is being used as a medical college. Currently, there are no residential facilities here, but lunch can be arranged. There is a weekly haat (market) here on Sundays.


Bell Metal (Dhokra) Bastar & Raigarh districts of Chhattisgarh are popular for crafting bell metal handicrafts using brass, and bronze. Tribes like ‘Ghadwas’ of Bastar and ‘Jharas’ of Raigarh mainly practice this art form, also known as Dhokra art. This is done with lost wax technique or hollow casting.

Amazing wood carvings, bamboo work/furniture, bell metal handicraft, figures of terracotta, tribal jewellery, paintings, and clay pieces are some of the specialties from the state.

Wrought Iron (Loha Shilp) The Loha Shilp or the use of wrought iron to create dark raw forms of the metal artifacts and figurines is another craft form of Chhattisgarh. The raw material used for this craft is mostly recycled scrap iron. Things like lamps, candle stands, effigies of musicians, toys, figurines, and deities are the typical products made out of this craft.



Terracotta Like in many other states, Terracotta has found a place in the handicrafts created by Chattisgarh. Terracotta pottery represents the rituals and customs of tribal life in the state and symbolizes their emotions.

Wood Craft (Kashta Shilp) Another form of craft is the woodcraft. People of Chattisgarh make use of wood for many things. Over the years, they have started using wood for carving objects and other forms of carpentry. A tribe called Badhais is skilled in this craft. Godna: Godna is possibly the most pioneering art form, currently practiced by a handful of women in Jamgala in Chattisgarh. Ladies of this village paint traditional tattoo motifs on textiles. They use natural color obtained from the forest and combine them with acrylic paint to make it more stable on fabric. Tumba: Tumba is a less known craft widely produced in the Bastar region, which originated with the widespread use of hollow gourd shells. Tribals use them as containers to store water and salfi, from which this art is inspired. Cotton fabrics: Cotton fabrics are one of the famous and attractive handicrafts made by the tribals of Chattisgarh. These are made of Kosa thread which is made from a kind of worm found in the forest, hand-woven and hand printed by tribes who trace their lineage to the 14th century weaver-saint-poet Kabir. The hand printing is generally done with the natural vegetable dye extracted from aal , found in the forest of Chattisgarh. These fabrics includes cotton saris - well-known as Chattisgarh Kosa Saree , dress materials and drapes. The major handicraft items that the state of Chhattisgarh is famous for are:



Bamboo Work Bamboo thickets are common sight in the State and tribal’s of Chhattisgarh have been putting their craftsmanship to work. Craftsmanship of Chhattisgarh tribal’s can be seen from varying articles of craft produce they make out of bamboo. Articles for daily as well as decorative use are produced by these artisans. Some of the will known Bamboo produce include agricultural implements, fishing traps, hunting tools and baskets. Wood Carving The woodcarving art has been flourishing in Chhattisgarh from time immemorial and one can find beautifully carved wooden products designed by the craftsman of the State. The skillful craftsmen of the State carve beautiful wooden ceilings, doors, lintels etc using different kinds of wood like shisham, teak, dhudi, sal and kikar. The craftsmen also make pipes, masks, doors, window frames and sculptures.

Handicrafts of Chhattisgarh are essential parts of the lives of the natives and are also related to the availability of the resources in the state and the lifestyle of the people.

Painting Traditional wall paintings of the state is associated with rituals. Floors and walls are painted with colours and in almost every instance the depiction being associated with some ritual. Pithora paintings is a common traditional art form. These paintings originated in the tribal area of the Central India which is presently Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and depicts the offering to gods. These paintings are usually done on the occasion of marriages, childbirth and other occasions of fulfillment of wish etc. Most of these paintings has a horse as it was considered auspicious to sacrifice a horse. In most of these tribal houses one can find pithora paintings. They are colourful and use natural colours. Ornaments Jewellery from Chhattisgarh is available in a variety of gold, silver, bronze and mixed metal. Ornament made out of beads, cowries and feathers are part of tribal costumes. Tribal men and women wear traditional ornaments.




Fairs & Festivals Fairs and festivals of Chhattisgarh tells the multi-hued tale of cultural ecstasy of the state



The ancient times of Chhattisgarh have scripted the history of many tribal and non-tribal festivals. From Dussera and Lokotsav in Bastar to fairs of Hareli, Goncha, Champaran and Korea, the state of Chhattisgarh is brimming with a pulsating palate of festivals. 044

Bastar Dussera As with the rest of India, Bastar celebrates Dassera. In fact, it is the region's most important festival, and all the tribes participate in the 10-day event. But Dassera in Bastar is different from anywhere else. Here, instead of rejoicing over the triumphant return of Lord Rama (the hero of the epic Ramayana) to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, the tribals celebrate Dassera as a congregation of Devi Maoli (Bastar's native deity, revered as the "elder sister" of Devi Danteshwari, the family goddess of the ruling Kakatiya family), and all her sisters. Hundreds of priests bring flower-bedecked local deities to the Danteshwari temple in Jagdalpur, arriving with all pomp and show. Bastar Dassera is believed to have been started, in the 15th century, by Maharaj Purushottam Deo, the fourth Kakatiya ruler. This would make it a 500 year old festival. For 10 days, the king (as the high-priest of Devi Danteshwari) would temporarily abdicate office to worship Danteshwari full time. He would seek, in confidence and through a siraha (a medium "possessed" by the devi ), a report on the state. Though the ruling family was Hindu and the festival has its roots in Hinduism, it has assimilated many


tribal elements and is a perfect example of the unique amalgam of traditional Hinduism and tribal traditions that make up the local culture.


Bastar is in Dandakarnya, where Lord Rama is believed to have spent the 14 years of his exile. Yet Bastar Dassera here has nothing to do with Lord Rama or the Ramayana. Beginning with amavasya (dark moon) in the month of Shravan , Bastar Dassera spans over 75 days, ending on the thirteenth day of the bright moon in the month of Ashwin. It is thus the longest Dassera in the world. Bastar Dassera involves the participation of diverse tribes and castes, each of whom is assigned a specific task, which they continue to carry out 5 decades after monarchies were abolished in India. For example, to build the two-tiered chariot, carpenters come from Beda Umargaon village; the special, massive ropes are twined by the tribals of Karanji, Kesarpal and Sonabal villages; the smaller chariot is pulled by the youth of Kachorapati and Agarwara parganas; the larger chariot is pulled by the bison-horn marias of Killepal. Singing hymns at all rituals is the prerogative of mundas from Potanar village.

It is believed that Maharaja Purushaottam Deo first initiated the festival of Dussera in 15th century.

The festival involves rituals of extraordinary rigor like a girl swinging on a bed of thorns; a youth (jogi) sitting in vigil, buried shoulder-deep, for nine days; mediums, reputedly possessed by the local deities, dancing eerily on the roads. The festival provides a forum for elected representatives, administrators and old-time tribal chieftains to confer on the state of Bastar at the Muria Durbar. One of the most awaited events is the rath yatra. The massive rath (chariot) might look primitive to an outsider, but it is symbolic of the king's desire to patronize locals instead of bringing a fancy chariot from elsewhere and tribal taboos on using sophisticated tools to make the chariot. It is hewn afresh each year, and the sight of 400 marias pulling it leaves a potent impression of tribal faith. Other Important festivals and fairs:

The First Fruits Festival


This is held for a variety of produce, most commonly mango, mahua, paddy and other food grains. It promotes constructive harvesting habits among tribals. A similar festival relates to parad , the annual hunting expedition

Bastar Lokotsav This fortnight-long tourism event, organised to coincide with Bastar Dassera, showcases the best of Bastar. It takes place every year after the monsoons, when the forests and waterfalls are at their best. Tribal handicrafts can be bought directly from artisans. A folk arts festival of tribal dances and music, Bastar Parab, is organized in Jagdalpur. The dates for Bastar Lokotsav are according to the Hindu (Lunar) calendar, which means the date is not fixed as per the Gregorian calendar.

Pola Festival Pola follows Hareli. It is celebrated by worshipping bullocks. Children play with idols of


Nandi bull (the vehicle of Lord Shiva) made of clay and fitted with clay wheels. A bull race is a major event of the festival.

Hareli Festival Farmers celebrate this festival in the month of Shravan, by worshipping farm equipment and cows. They place branches and leaves of the Bhelwa tree in the fields and pray for a good crop, and also hang small Neem branches at the main entrance of their homes to prevent seasonal diseases. For the next 15 days, Baigas (the traditional medical practitioners)

teachi their disciples - this goes on till panchami (the day following Ganesh Chaturthi). On panchami, they examine their disciples, and if satisfied with their performance, grant them the license to practice medicine.

Goncha Festival This comes alive every year during the "Rath Yatra" in Jagdalpur. The tribes participate in the festivity using a goncha (a sort-of pistol made from bamboo) and tukki (a fruit as the bullet) to shoot at each other, in fun, of course.

Lokotsav of Bastar starts with an enticing array of cultural events. On the occasion, Jagadalpur area organises Basta Parab in which dance and song variations of the tribal communities can be seen.

Bhoramdeo Festival The architecturally brilliant Bhoramdeo temples, built by King Ramachandra of the Nag dynasty, in the Satpura hills on the banks of river Sankari, form the backdrop for the annual Bhoramdeo Festival.

Narayanpur Mela In month of February, right after Jagdalpur Dassera, various Bastar tribes gather, with their deities, for the Narayanpur Mela. The fair is marked by worship and celebration.

Sirpur Dance And Music Festival Sirpur Dance & Music Festival, held at Sirpur (Mahasamund district, is a prestigious festival is organized by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. The sole aim behind this festival is to bring in many artistes into its cultural family and creating of international cultural amity and brotherhood. As an initiative to bring together all the various dance and music forms of the country on one platform. This grand festival showcases the diverse art forms of the country, bringing together artists from across the nation in a cultural celebration. This festival has established its own unique identity in the sense that eminent artistes of national and international repute participate and perform Indian Classical, folk and tribal dances and music of our country as well as our state.



Chhattisgarh Tourism Board Paryatan Bhawan, GE Road, Raipur, Chhattisgarh

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