Leh, Goa, Darjeeling, and Andamans are a few options that top the bucket list for many people. These are the holiday destinations that most people (at least Indians) want to visit. Similar was my case too during the last long weekend in August. It was a 4-day long break and I hadn’t decided until very late where would I go.
I knew it would be a road trip from Hyderabad, but where was the question? The answer lay in a place that’s on nobody’s bucket list – Bastar. Yes, I visited Bastar, along with my family. For a lot of you, this might come as a surprise as to why I chose to visit Bastar, a place that’s in the news mostly for the wrong reasons.
It was a 2-day road trip from Hyderabad to Jagdalpur with my parents and I tried to explore Bastar as much as I could. And believe me, I’m surely going again to visit the handful of places that I couldn’t visit. In this post, I’ll not exactly mention the places to visit, rather try to share my experience of visiting Bastar and why you should visit Bastar. I’ll have more detailed blog posts about everything that I did in Bastar. So stay tuned for that.
Story of Bastar
Often overshadowed by some of the popular destinations, the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and a few others are often off the travel radar. This lack of attention can be attributed to poor awareness of these places, limited tourism promotions as well safety concerns for some of these areas due to notorious activities in the past. However, beneath the surface are hidden gems waiting to be discovered (Unlike the hidden gems you see on Instagram) and Bastar is one such place.
Amidst all the misconceptions and preconceived notions, Bastar emerges as a place that can change these misconceptions. Unlike its other counterparts, Bastar has a refreshing narrative of exploration and discovery. The allure of Bastar lies in its unique ability to preserve traditions while embracing modernity and blending the old with the new. Bastar is a land of colorful festivals, intricate tribal art, and aromas of delectable local cuisine.
I spent 2 days exploring Bastar and I still feel that there are a lot of places that I wasn’t able to visit. Based on that, let me share 3 reasons for my trip to Bastar that should hopefully change your perception about Bastar and plan your next trip there.
3 Reasons Why You Should Visit Bastar
Bastar’s Cultural Kaleidoscope
Bastar isn’t just a geographical entity, it’s a living testament to the rich culture woven by the tribals. As per official statistics, there are about 27% of tribals in Chhattisgarh while 70% of them are in Bastar alone. Gond, Maria, Muria, and Dhurva are just some of the tribes that add a unique masterstroke to the diversity masterpiece of diversity. Each of these tribes has their unique traditions and folklore that have been passed on for generations which are today unique only to Bastar.
The local marketplace called “haats” is another unique experience that you will not see in many other places. Locals from villages across come to these weekly bazaars where the barter system is still prevalent. From utensils to fresh forest produce to unique tribal dishes, these hats are a must-experience. While you can experience some of these things in museums in Bastar, I’d strongly suggest that you explore them further up close.
Culture Devi, my friend and an exceptional storyteller will help you explore the local culture in a way that you cannot imagine. I also did a Bastar Heritage Walk and was blown away by the plethora of knowledge she has about the town. (Blog post coming soon)
One solid reason for you to visit Bastar is the cultural diversity of the region. The tribals and their traditions are not something that you’ll find everywhere. The tribes’ unwavering commitment to preserving their heritage while embracing change is commendable.
Emerald Symphony of Bastar
How many of you know that Chhattisgarh is also known as the Rice Bowl Of India? I came to know this when I was researching Bastar. If you’re doing a Hyderabad to Jagdalpur road trip, you’ll get to know exactly why. Lush green paddy fields run alongside you as you zip through the amazing roads in the region. These rice fields stretch as far as the eye can see painting the landscape with hues of green and gold. It has the greenery of Kerala with dense forests, water streams, waterfalls, and everything you need to get away from city life and soak in the natural beauty.
The waterfalls of Bastar are a treat to the eyes especially if you visit during the monsoon months. Chitrakote, also referred to as the Niagara of India offers a symphony of nature’s power and elegance. From one fall to another, the landscape changes with unwinding paths of gorges and valleys. The dense forest of Kanger Valley National Park is the jewel of the region with a rich flora and fauna. The hidden gems lie in the caves of Kotamsar and Dandak giving voice to the silent world beneath.
The natural wonders of Bastar are awe-inspiring and humbling at the same —another reason why you consider visiting Bastar for your next vacation.
Tribal Culinary Heritage of Bastar
Traditions and Cultures are incomplete without food and Bastar is home to some of the most unique dishes that you can have. Like their art and traditions, every tribe has its unique dish. For instance, they have a red ant chutney called Chapada that’s popular. Made from red ants, the chutney is zesty. There are a lot of vegetables that are unique to the region. Baasta is a popular preparation made from Bamboo shoots along with Aamat which is another soul-satisfying curry from the area.
Amongst all these exotic delights, the simplicity of daily meals is what caught my attention. Being the rice bowl of India, the variety of rice here is abundant. Fragrant rice paired with comforting vegetables grown locally is what I loved. While I was stunned to see the love for Dosa and Idli for breakfast, the culinary journey through Bastar is an integral part of the culture and heritage that must be experienced.
The third reason why Bastar should be your next destination. If you’re a foodie, you’re in for a gastronomical journey of dishes that you probably haven’t tried earlier, dishes that have a tale to tell, and dishes that are easy on your pocket too!
So, when are you visiting Bastar?
As I reflect upon my trip to Bastar, I’m reminded that some trips have an everlasting impact, and this is surely one of them. Everything right from the Hyderabad to Jagdalpur road trip and back home was amazing. The untamed beauty of waterfalls and valleys in Bastar along with the tribal traditions breathe life into the land. I’ve been moved by the simple joys of savoring local food and witnessing the harmony between nature and culture.
So, when are you visiting Bastar? I hope this blog post has convinced you a little to include Bastar in your bucket list. While this was just an overview blog post, I have quite a few blog posts in the pipeline that will shed more light on each of the reasons listed above. You’ll find more than one destination in Bastar, each having its canvas of experiences ready to color your world with hues of adventure, discovery, and wonder.
If you have any further questions, comments, or suggestions regarding this blog post or a trip to Bastar in general, feel free to share them in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM me on Instagram, or Get in Touch.