Travel has taught me very many things. One of which is not to judge a place before experiencing it. The first time I visited Chhattisgarh was in January 2006 for a short period of time to Bilaspur. I was dismayed by the roads though it was considered to be a well-developed city, even then. Besides that, I have very limited memories from my few hours’ halt there.

In January 2015, when I visited Raipur and Sirpur, I allowed myself the pleasure of being very pleasantly surprised. Apart from the very awesome roads (yes, I feel strongly about roadways), there were a number of factors that positively influenced my stay there. Would I travel solo to such a state? Yes, I do feel confident. Here are my reasons why you should consider exploring Chhattisgarh soon.

See, the roads?
See? The roads!

Seeing is believing

Warped in misconceptions, Chhattisgarh is not as unsafe as it is touted to be. Of course I wouldn’t recommend walking by the highway in the dark! But having kept the basic rules of safety in mind, any traveller can happily explore the place. One of my key revelations from here was the politness of the locals. Wherever I travel I take some time to soak in the vibe of the place and people, and then interact or keep my distance. (It is a solo traveller habit that remains with me.) In Raipur and Sirpur, I felt comfortable interacting with the locals who were friendly, courteous and non-repulsive.

Signage that make me happy. Translation: Please throw rubbish in the bin.
Signage that make me happy. Translation: Please throw rubbish in the bin, thank you.

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

The sheer interest and organisational skills of Chhattisgarh Tourism Board surprised me. Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival is a young annual event and only in the third edition they have successfully brought in world-famous personalities like Pandit Birju Maharaj, George Brooks, Pete Lockett. Sure, it requires a good financial support but I cannot overlook the fact that it is an equal matter of interest and reputation built from yesteryear.

Santosh Misra, IAS, Managing Director of CTB is closely involved with all the procedures of the festival. While he is backed with an efficient team (Dr. Sanjay Singh and Soumik Sarkar were very helpful), I was yet again amazed by how hands-on he is in his work and interactions with everyone.

My favourite collaboration from the festival, Ustad Shujaat Khan, George Brooks, Prasanna and Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram.
My favourite collaboration from the festival, Ustad Shujaat Khan, George Brooks, Prasanna and Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram.

Wi-Fi, the virtual necessity

I suppose the idea of inviting bloggers to any event is that they would help spread the word through their reach while staying connected on social media. My phone did not have connectivity in Sirpur but I was delighted to constantly tweet my updates from the festival, thanks to the good Wi-Fi that was setup. It was a special arrangement and I was happy to see that CTB not only recognised this as a necessity but also facilitated the big task of setting up the wireless zone in the outdoor venue.

Loved the garden space in Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur.
Loved the garden space around Swami Vivekananda Airport, Raipur.

Rich in crafts and culture

Travelling though India is like travelling across 29 countries. Each state is diverse and blessed with an individual character and culture. These are often narrated by the local practices and crafts of the region. The tribal jewellery, dokra handicrafts, wall painting, Kosi silk and tribal tattoos from this state are worth time and study. I suppose one lifetime is short to get acquainted with the nuances of each tribe in Chhattisgarh!

The colourful homes in Arang.
The colourful homes of Arang.

Scope for improvement:

The festival was honoured by a number of top government officials, including Chief Minister Chhattisgarh Dr. Raman Singh. I understand that top security was put in place for this and often, these officials take their jobs very seriously. In an unfortunate incident, a colleague was shoved aside by one of these guards at the entrance to the seating area, while trying to make space for eminent guests who were leaving. I strongly believe that this kind of behaviour should not be tolerated. I’d suggest separate gates for VIPs and proper training for security personnel, anywhere in the world.

Though I was visiting Chhattisgarh exclusively for the festival, I did not get a chance to use the public transport. However, I was told that Raipur-Sirpur are not well-connected by buses or affordable cabs. Any state is only as good as its public transport (or so I believe) and perhaps, making connections better between villages will only attract more travellers.

Admiring history in Arang.
Admiring history in Arang.

Will I travel to Chhattisgarh again? Without a doubt.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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12 thoughts on “Why Chhattisgarh Has a Bright Way Ahead”

    1. Hey, Chhattisgarh is a state in central India. It borders with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand. Not up on the tourist list yet but I’m sure people will be travelling there soon :)

  1. Hi Amrita,
    I’ve visited the Bastar part of Chhattisgarh during Bastar Dussehra two years ago. I also felt very safe there and people always told me where I could go or not. Sure, there’s only a few busses but it was enough to go to Dantewada or far villages by my own. And there were also a lot of shared rickhshaws. So it was very easy to go to the different market villages around.
    For a solo female traveller, Bastar was very easy to visit and enjoy. actually, I fall in love with Bastar !!!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Good to know about the public transport. Even though I haven’t travelled to Bastar yet, I can definitely say Raipur & Sirpur are safe for solo travellers.

  2. I have been to Chhattisgarh twice. Not many people know but It is great place to travel. I enjoyed reading about your Chhattisgarh trip. Great post thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Chattisgarh seems like an exciting destination. With the recently created states, I was still confused as to which place is now in which state. Seems Chattisgarh is now sorted and ready to handle us all!

    1. Chhattisgarh is lovely and I was taken aback by the hospitality of the people. Pack now! :D

  4. Hi, I am a foreigner woman thinking to go to Raipur. I have (accidentally) booked a flight that allows me to stay there for a day. Would you say it is safe for a female solo traveller? I have lived in India for a year (I went to 11th standard there) but that was in Jaipur not in this area.
    Also, do you think people will understand basic and simple English at least? My hindi skills are very limited. Thank you alot in advance for a reply!!!!

    1. Hi Sanni, Raipur is a safe city, even if you’re by yourself. I’d recommend the general precautionary steps, i.e. not stepping out at late hours and always keep important numbers handy. A lot of people speak English there (perhaps a little broken) but good enough to communicate. Book yourself a good hotel, hire a cab (if you choose to) and go out to explore the city. I stayed at Babylon Inn which I liked a lot. The staff is courteous, rooms are clean and they have free Wi-Fi. There are other hotels you can choose from. Raipur has a lot of history, art and culture you may want to see. I hope this helps and let me know how your trip was :) Take care!

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