With a unique culture and tribal values, Bastar is a district located in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Bastar is a place which is particularly famous for its steel plants and cement factories. However, if you are looking for exploring some really cool urban culture then this is the place where you should be heading next.
Bastar and Dantewada were once part of the Bastar district. In the pre-independence era, Bastar was considered as a princely state. It was founded in the 14th century by a man named Annama Deva. And after India’s independence in the year of 1947, the princely states of Bastar and Kanker came under the rule of the Indian government.
Bastar is the same place that was known as Dandakaranya in the Indian mythological epic Ramayana. In 450 AD, this place came under the rule of Nala King who was known as Bhavadatta Varman. However, if we go according to the chronological order of the details then we will come to know that Bastar was founded sometime in 1324 CE. And the founder king had successfully established this place under the guidance of the local Goddess, Danteshwari. Goddess Danteshwari still remains the prime deity of this place, and the said king successfully ruled this place till 1369. His successor became Hamir Deva, after whom there were many descendant kings who ruled this geographical land.
Later in some point, in the 15th century, Bastar was further divided into two kingdoms. One was Kanker and the other one was Jagdalpur. It is said that the present Halba tribe claims to descend here from the military class of these very kingdoms.
Then till the 18th century, the state of Bastar remained free until the rise of Marathas. Sometime around 1861, Bastar became the part of the newly-formed central provinces. Then in 1863, after witnessing the feud of the Kotapad region, Bastar was specifically given over to Jeypore which was one of the neighbouring states. However, there was a condition of paying a tribute of Rs.3,000.
Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo was the last ruler of Bastar. He had ascended the throne in 1936 when India was still a decade away from its independence. However, he was shot dead after Indian independence while leading a movement that was protesting against the encroachment of land by the outsiders.
Being a tribal territory, Bastar comes across as land which is richly endowed with minerals and immense forest resources. It is famous for the Gond tribe which perhaps remains the least in contact with the outside world. If you are looking for exploring someplace unique then Bastar is the kind of place that you must visit.
Bastar Palace - One of the significant landmarks of the city, the Bastar palace connects the rich history of this place to the abundant geography. Various visitors come to this palace to appreciate its beauty as this monument is now under the supervision of the government. Everything from the engineering to the overall architecture of this place is simply awe-inspiring. You can experience historical sites, scenic beauty, and tribal culture here.
Danteshwari Temple - It’s an ancient temple constructed under the supervision of the king of Bastar in order to inhabit the family Goddess, Devi Danteshwari. Sited close to the Gole Bazar, visitors visit this place during the famous Bastar Dussehra festival season. The temple is decorated with colourful lights during this festival and traditional functions also take place.
Dalpat Sagar lake - This is one of the artificial lakes which was built by a king named Dalpat Deo Kakatiya about 400 years ago. This place is quite famous for fishing, boating which are also a very popular means of getting a livelihood for the locals present in this place.
Kanger Ghati National Park - It was declared as a national park in 1982. Here you get to appreciate the wonderful wilderness of the abundant flora and fauna. One of the most picturesque parks, this place is spread in an area of about 200 square kilometers and is known for its diverse land formations such as valleys, plateaus, slopes, etc.
Bhairamgarh Wildlife Sanctuary - It is truly an enchanting place to explore and visit. This park consists of various varieties of animals such as leopards, gazelle, chital, hyenas, etc. Especially, the species of Chital deer are quite famous in this park.
Bastar Lokotsav - This festival is perhaps one of the most dynamic festivals which happens at the end of every monsoon season. In this festival, ancestral gatherings are common along with the cultural performances. And the overall appeal of this festival is also quite noteworthy.
Goncha Festival - The Goncha festival is celebrated from a period of about 610 years. This festival was started by the rulers of the Chalukya dynasty. Maharaja Purushottam Dev visited Jagannath Yatra of Puri which was known as ‘Gundicha’. It is said that about 22 idols of Lord Jagannath along with Balbhadra and Subhadradevi were specifically consecrated in this temple. At that time, Maharaja offered 4 wheels out of his 16-wheeled chariot. Then of the remaining 12, the chariot was further divided into an 8-wheeled chariot and a 4-wheeled one. It was from that time, that the ritual of this Rathyatra came into being and the Goncha ceremony started.
October to March is the right time to visit here; the temperature remains wonderful. These months are a great time for people to indulge in sightseeing.
The women folk here wear traditional suits made of cotton, silk, and linen. Apart from that, the women in the Chattisgarh state are also known for wearing saris named 'Lugda'. On the other hand, men wear modern clothing like shirts, pants, and jeans. Then further moving on to the food, one can say that some of the popular dishes are Aamat, Chila, Bara, Tilgur, Bafauri, Bhajia, Faraa, etc.
By Air - The Raipur airport and the Vishakhapatnam airport are the two most convenient airports to reach Bastar. One can easily get a flight from major and nearby cities like Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai etc.
By Road - Bastar has good connectivity via road networks. You can reach Bastar in a hassle-free way from Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. It will take you around 20 to 28 hours to reach Bastar from the aforementioned cities.
By Train - To travel to Bastar you will need to get to Raipur first. The Raipur railhead has got very good connectivity with other major and neighbouring cities. And from there one can travel further via some means of public transportation like a cab.