Just a tribal Land ?- think again

I grew up in Bhilai, a steel city in Madhya Pradesh (Now part of Chhattisgarh). I always lived under this illusion that Chhattisgarh is a state seeking a lot from every quarter. It was renowned tribal area and also thriving with dacoits. Phoolan Devi hailed from this place! I was secretly very happy when dad left Bhilai for work reasons. This place showed no promise of any development or progress ever. India was making giant leaps in every way, tourism included. And look at this pathetic state! Apart for the steel plant, coal mines and the best forgotten Tribal warfare, what did this state have to showcase?

My father is now residing in Bhilai and we spent our new year’s there. And I was in for a huge surprise. The way the state has transformed is unbelievable.  Amongst the tourism ads this state’s Ads are the best (I used to think all this is a trap, false claims to tempt and lure tourists). Every architectural monument has been renovated new colleges and institutions have come up not to miss out on the innumerable flyovers, mall and multiplex movie theatres.

Chhattisgarh has the best Tiger reserves, lush green forests and abundance of flora and fauna. The Kanha tiger reserve has cent percent chances of sighting a tiger! We went to Mudumalai Tiger reserve (Chennai) ,Jim Corbett reserve (Uttar Pradesh), went on an evening, morning, noon safari  hoping to catch a glimpse of the majestic animal; all futile.  We chanced upon this wondrous beauty in all its glory strolling in its natural habitat in the Kanha tiger reserve! This state also boasts of India’s best, largest waterfalls, second to the Jog falls in Karnataka called the Chitrakot falls.  We can marvel at the 100ft drop throughout the width of Indrāvati River. Very rare caves called Kutumbser caves to mention a few. A very ancient temple site called the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh is also in this state. The ‘Bhoram Deo’ temple epitomizes eternal love and beauty. Not to miss the Tribal Land Bastar. The government has made attempts to reconcile with the tribal’s, and made mutually beneficial agreements. A lot of their handicrafts, made in metal are up for sale. A weekly haat amongst the tribal’s takes place, barter system is prevalent here. Pench Tiger Reserve (Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book), Kanger valley National Park and Tirthagarh Falls are some other interesting tourist destinations.

We went to Kutumbser caves this time. We saw natural limestone rock formation and amazing stalagmite, stalactite formations. It is very narrow underground opening, pitch dark and very hot. It lacks oxygen and has a wet feeling through the stretch because of the lake flowing overhead. A small Shiva temple is inside this cave, a pundit lives their! In that dark low oxygen cave, we were sweating profusely, many Bengali tourists found it hard to breathe and beat a hasty retreat. The rock formations are of different kinds. The guide showed us formations which resembled the unicorn, the elephant head, a lion face many more that I am unable to recall now.  A Small stream flows here in which you can see small fish, blind fish. They die the minute you take them out into the sunshine.  A very unique experience it was.  My father says we have seen only the tip of the iceberg.

My illusions shattered, I am eager to visit this amazing state and explore its wondrous places. You are invited too. Come and get surprised.