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Bhopal Chhattisgarh Holiday Package
It’s every passionate traveller’s sole purpose to explore off-the-beaten-tracks and for those yearning for such an experience, the road from Bhopal to Chhattisgarh is a must-visit because, enriched with Bhopal’s treasures and Chhattisgarh offering an extraordinary range of experiences in the form of tribal dances, waterfalls, ancient architectural marvels, and nature at its very best – here’s what you could do! Cover top sites on this `Bhopal-Chhattisgarh’ Holiday Package!
The story of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, takes in kings and begums, charming mosques and cooling lakes, some pleasant green areas which provide a balm to the eyes and moments of leisure on summer evenings and wintry afternoons. The river Kolas meanders in from Sehore and merges with the Betwa River near Vidisha. A boat club, walkway and aquarium serenaded by the pleasant breeze, makes the Upper Lake area delightful for a rendezvous. The lake also has a Dargah of Shah Ali Shah, a maulvi. The cacophonic chowk north of the Lower Lake, is the heart of old Bhopal and its most famous shopping area. It is lined with mosques and ramshackled havelis. You would find shops stocking silver jewellery, beadwork, embroidery and sequin work. Stop to admire the fretwork in the balcony, bearded warmly smiling owners will emerge from within to offer you tea.
The market place has the atmosphere of a medieval souk, where you look for famous beaded batuas (purses), in a variety of colours, with fish and peacock motifs, crafted by skilled Muslim artisans! Interact with them to explore about their hard work involved in this awesome craft!
Visit the largest stone mosque in Asia, the `Taj-ul-Masjid’, literally acclaimed as the crown of all mosques, and recognized as Shah Jahan’s dream project. The huge main hall, inter-arched roof, smooth marble flooring, spacious courtyard is thronged daily by the devout, with a magnificient canopy spanning the complete mosque! The Jama Masjid is situated in the old city and is a beautiful work of art crowned by gold spikes atop minarets. The smallest mosque, Masjid Dhaiseedi is hidden within the confines of the local medical college. Go towards Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil,which houses Government offices, at the entrance of the walled city. Gohar Mahal sits behind Shaukat Mahal on the banks of the Upper Lake.The Bharat Bhavan known as the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts houses a museum of arts, a repertory theatre, a Tribal Art Gallery, indoor and outdoor auditoria, rehearsal rooms and libraries of Indian poetry, classical and folk music. The Museum of Mankind on the Shamla Hills showcases the tribal art and culture of India, spread over a large area and worth a visit! The Archaeological Museum houses centuries-old Jain bronzes, photos of the Bhopal begums and copies of Bagh Cave paintings. Situated on the Arera Hills, is the Laxmi Narayan Temple surrounded by a museum having a fine collection of ancient sculptures.
Bhimbetka, a short drive from Bhopal, a stretch of rock shelters, is set in the middle of the Ratapani Sanctuary famous for its leopards, jackals and sloth bears, Here lies South Asia’s richest collection of prehistoric paintings with the etchings depicting the lives of the cave dwellers as they are executed in a colourful medley of reds, greens, yellows and whites. Scenes of hunting, dancing, horse and elephant rides, animal fights, masks and household tableaux, chronicle lives long gone.
Move on to Orchha, the enchanting citadel, rising regally over the flat Bundelkhand countryside. Its picturesque setting on the Betwa River makes it a destination difficult to resist! The village here is fascinating, and along with shops and several hotels make for a pleasant riverside vacation. The place combines the architectural novice of a medieval town with the out-of-the-way charm of a village. The atmospheric monuments of a fort, palaces, temples and cenotaphs form an impressive collection and are magnetic enough to attract tourists to roam around the area. The town is also infused with an air of romantic nostalgia, inviting families and travellers to breathe some of it into their lungs, but with a full appetite, loaded with love and fresh air. The main street is flanked by neat houses, many with tidy white borders and a verandah to sit outside the house. Pilgrims saris and turbans spred out on the riverside rocks at Betwa, adding colour to the scene. There is a protected forest that yields a delightful patch of green on the gushing river, with sublime views of cenotaphs, whereas the path on the other side meanders through the woods to the confluence of the Betwa with the Jamuni. A visit to the Jehangir Mahal is a must, a striking tiered palace crowned by graceful chhatries. Complementing the noble proportions of their exteriors are interiors which represent the finest blossoming of the Bundela School of painting. In the Laxminarayan temple, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes bring the walls and ceilings to rich life. The Chatturbhuj Temple dominates the town and everything from its vaulted roof to the massive doors and the large hall, reinforces a cathedral-like impression. The Ram Raja Temple is the only temple where Ram is not worshipped as God but as King. The Oont Khana or camel stable was possibly a pleasure pavilion but offers splendid views. Strewn around the area are little shrines and memorials, each with its own poignant history, contributing to the nostalgic key of Orchha. You may also indulge in some river rafting or take a river safari for a close interaction with the enticing Betwa on the `Bhopal-Chhattisgarh’ Holiday Package!
Head from Raipur with a stopover at Bassi Titra Resort, the drive being lined with lush paddy fields and have a quick snack at a roadside `dhaba’, to get a rustic flavour, quite different from an urbania outlet! You may then briefly stop at the Kanker Palace Heritage home, which is the perfect place for those who want to experience life, as it was, for the royals when they lived in this tribal wonderland. From this historical town, the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, a home to thick forests, wildlife and species of birds is an easy northerly journey. Make a move to Champaran where the 520-year old shrine houses one of India’s 108 jyotirlingas.
Next, you could visit Kondagaon, a charming little village known particularly for the tribal handicrafts created here. Also make a trip to an NGO called Saathi who have their hands full with training artisans and educating children. Saathi also sells authentic Bastar craftwork here at extremely reasonable rates. Mingle with the village folk giving them a sense of belonging and unity, throwing away the snoot values! Together, children of a universal God!
You may then head to Jagdalpur, capital of Bastar District in Chhattisgarh, the place to be if you really want to explore tribal Chhattisgarh. The town hosts a haat every Sunday where you would see adivasis (tribes people) buying, selling and bartering alongside town traders, but the essence lies in the surrounding villages where adivasi life can be fully appreciated. Do visit the Anthropological Museum here that holds a fascinating collection of artefacts collected from tribal villages and gather some in-depth knowledge of the tribes.
Finally you could reach the Chitrakote Falls, just in time to soak in the view at sunset, and what a sight it would entail as you find the broadest waterfall in India, at its roaring best just after the rains, but beautiful all year round. You could spend the night at the Chitrakote Log Huts, a peaceful place to stay with fancy tents as well as modern cabins, some with fantastic views of the falls.
Move on to another adventurous land of Dantewada to see the ancient Danteshwari Temple, which is said to be one of the Shakti Peeths where Sati’s tooth fell. The presiding deity Danteshwari is the Kuldevi (family goddess) of the Bastar state. The famous Bastar -Dussehra takes place here every year, and thousands of tribals from surrounding villages and jungles gather to pay homage to the Goddess. Her idol is taken out of the Danteshwari temple and moved around the city in an elaborate procession.
On your way back, visit another little tribal village where you would meet and interact with the delightful Bison-Horn Maria tribes people, who would happily perform their traditional tribal dance for the guests, in their traditional gear, and perhaps offer them a delectable meal made with their own hands.
Your next stop would be the Tirathgarh Falls, right next to the Kanger Valley National Park entrance, where water drops through three sets of cascades. Open all year, they are best visited after the monsoons. There are three caves with stunning, pristine formations, worth a glance on this `Bhopal-Chhattisgarh’ Holiday Package!
Your last stop would be the historical Gangrel Dam, where you could spend the night and then visit Chhattisgarh’s largest Dam.
Forty five kilometers from Raipur, lies Rajim, which harbours some beautiful ancient temples particularly the Rajiv Lochan Mandir, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the historic Mahadeo Kuleshwar Temple at the confluence of the Mahanadi and Payari rivers. You could then move further on to the Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary to experience a beatific blend of history and wildlife!
Rajim and Sirpur are full of excavations, and have got their status from inconspicuous towns into internationally recognized tourist hot spots. In fact, the Dalai Lama visits Sirpur annually to visit the landmark where Buddha himself is thought to have meditated. The famous Laxman Temple (dedicated to lord Vishnu) is also located at Sirpur after which you may have a quick cup of tea and snacks at the government rest house, and head back to Raipur.
In Bhopal, the market place has the atmosphere of a medieval souk, where you look for famous beaded batuas (purses), in a variety of colours, with fish and peacock motifs, crafted by skilled Muslim artisans! You would find shops stocking silver jewellery, beadwork, embroidery and sequin work and attractive fabrics in silk, cotton, chanderi and georgette!
Around the Chhattisgarh region, reserve a trip to Nagarnar which is famous for terracotta handicrafts. Enquire about visiting a weekly haat for some crafts and handmade products. There is Narainpur known for bell metal, wood, wrought iron and bamboo handicrafts, and Bastar bell metalwork was evolved to supply bells and trinkets for kings’ horses. Using the lost wax technique, tribal blacksmiths mould wrought iron into peculiarly elongated, haunted figures, now famous the world over for their artistry and design and bought as collectibles! You may also find some woven and attractive fabrics here!
Bhopal is famous for its jalebis and piping hot poha and also offers a variety of Mughlai cuisine made by authentic Bohra Muslim women serving preparations of risalas, a chicken dish with rich gravy and sumptuous biryanis, non-vegetarian and vegetarian, and great meal curries. The faludas are mouth-watering!The city also offers a blend of Indian and International culinary fare to cater to tourists from all over the globe, and customized food is also available at all the hotels and resorts!
The markets would be lined up with dhaba style restaurants in the Chhattisgarh region and most of them would be able to serve you Indian and Chinese food, besides dal, roti, rice, vegetables and to taste a slice of local life, you could try a pot of fresh mahua in a haat or a food outlet. There are enough decent eateries serving snacks like samosas and chaat papdi! Also the guest houses and lodges could customize a cuisine to serve to International taste!
In Bhopal, though the summers are fairly hot, yet it is recommended for a visit throughout the year! Of course October to March would be pleasant with enjoyable sunshine during the day and cool evenings!
The best season to visit is from September to March as the wildlife parks are closed during monsoon. However, if you simply want a break from the daily grind of life, you may visit this place any time of the year, just to stay indoors or move a little outside, in these unusual surroundings caressing the splendour of the entire avenues, on an enigmatic Bhopal-Chhattisgarh Holiday Package!