- Shivani Singh
Bastar, Chhattisgarh : Where Tradition Meets Adventure
Chhattisgarh has long been considered a state crippled with naxalism, making it a region that's often perceived as dangerous for tourists. However, the reality is quite different from what people think. Chhattisgarh is no more a state that's unsafe for travel. In fact, it's a hidden gem that's yet to be explored by many.
Recently, we travelled to the inside of Bastar, a region in Chhattisgarh that's known for its tribal culture and natural beauty. To be honest, I was little apprehensive about the trip, given the state's history of naxalism. However, what I experienced on the ground was completely different from what I had anticipated.
Lets begin with by talking about the safety aspect. We travelled extensively across Bastar and not once did we feel unsafe. We interacted with the locals, went to their markets, explored their villages, went to their homes and explored the natural beauty of the region without any hindrance. The people of Bastar are warm, welcoming and hospitable. They were always eager to help us, guide us and make our trip comfortable. We encountered no untoward incidents during our travels! It was as smooth as it could be!
Now lets talk about the beauty of Bastar: a beautiful district located in the southern part of Chhattisgarh. It is famous for its rich tribal culture, unique handicrafts, and breathtaking natural landscapes. The region is home to several indigenous tribal communities such as Gond, Muria, and Dhurva, who have preserved their traditional way of life and culture for generations. Each of them has their own unique customs, traditions, way of life and even languages.
To fully immerse oneself in Bastar's tribal culture is by staying in a homestay within one of the villages which is highly recommended. This provides an opportunity to experience firsthand the daily life of the locals.
We started our trip by taking a heritage walk in Jagdalpur. Jagdalpur is the district headquarters of Bastar and is an ideal starting point for discovering the region. The heritage walk takes you through the city's historic landmarks, including the famous Bastar Palace, Chitrakote Waterfall, Anthropological Museum, and Maa Danteshwari Temple.
Built in the early 20th century by the rulers of the Bastar kingdom, Bastar palace was designed to blend in with the natural surroundings and reflect the local culture and traditions. It is a stunning example of architecture that exudes simplicity, elegance, and a deep sense of cultural pride.
The walk provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and traditions of Bastar.
Another great way to explore Bastar's tribal culture is to visit Nangur Haat Market, which is known for its vibrant atmosphere and unique products. The market is a hub of activity for the tribal communities in the region. The market offers a vast array of local handicrafts, such as bamboo and cane products, metal crafts, and terracotta pottery. You will also get. A large variety of local food and drinks like Mohua and salfi. It is an excellent place to witness the local culture and interact with the tribal community.
We also tried Mohua here, which is a traditional alcoholic drink that is popular among the tribal communities here. The drink is made from the flowers of the Mohua tree, which are harvested in the summer months and fermented to produce a sweet, tangy, and slightly sour drink.
Mohua is often served in earthen pots or bamboo cups. It has a smooth and refreshing taste, with a mild aroma that is reminiscent of the Mohua flowers.
Now, What makes the Nangur Haat unique is the fact that it is a space where different tribal communities come together to trade, share their culture, and build relationships. It is a place where visitors can witness the diversity and richness of tribal culture in Bastar.
The market offers a unique opportunity to connect with the tribal communities of the area and experience their way of life.
An additional aspect of Bastar that is worth discovering is its dokra art, which is an ancient form of metal casting and involves creating intricate sculptures and figurines using the lost wax casting technique, which dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is believed that dokra art has been practiced in India for at least 4,000 years!
Now to really experience the tribal way of life, it is crucial to visit their villages and engage in conversations with the locals. This is precisely what we did during our trip. We ventured into a village called Gudiapadar and were warmly welcomed into a local's home. Our gracious host provided us with valuable insights into the tribal way of living, including their food, music, hunting practices, and more. Through this experience, we gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the unique and fascinating culture of the tribal communities. We also learnt about the making of the famous red ant chutney here.
Now let me share with you another cultural traditional practice called the Kaanta Jhula or the swing of thorns. It is observed during festivals where shamans who are believed to be possessed by ancestral spirits or deities of the region sit on the swing and communicate with the higher beings.
Another very unique cultural treasure are The Memory Pillars which are ancient stone pillars that serve as a repository of tribal history and culture. The tribes of Bastar have a rich oral tradition that dates back centuries, and the Memory Pillars help to preserve and pass down this knowledge from one generation to the next.
The pillars are typically made of granite or sandstone and can be up to several meters tall. They are often decorated with paintings and intricate carvings.
The Memory Pillars play an important role in the cultural identity of the tribes of Bastar. They serve as a tangible link to the past, connecting present-day communities to their ancestors and their cultural heritage. The pillars are also a reminder of the deep respect and reverence that the tribes have for their history and traditions.
Now when it comes to natural beauty, Bastar is home to dense forests, picturesque waterfalls, and scenic hills.
bastar is also home to ghost trees. These trees are called "ghost trees" because they appear as if they are the skeletal remains of dead trees, even though they are still alive and growing. These white trees shimmer under the moonlit sky!
The region is also a wildlife hotspot, with several national parks and sanctuaries such as Kanger Valley National Park, which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Here is the complete video of Bastar:
Here are some pictures as well: