Former capital of the princely state of the Bastar region, Jagdalpur is a simple but unmissable city in Chhattisgarh. Due to its proximity to many archaeological sites, nature reserves and typical villages, this stopover town has become over time a destination in its own right. But it is especially during Dussehra that this city stands out, when the indigenous people of the whole region come together for totally unusual festivities, combining animist rites and Hindu ceremonies.
Jagdalpur was the capital of the princely state of Bastar until 1948 when it was integrated into India; It is now the administrative headquarters of Bastar District.
The principality was established by Annama Deva, of the Kakatiya dynasty (the current Telangana).
One of the important king of this dynasty is Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo (1929-1966), 20th and last king of the princely state of Bastar. He ascended the throne in 1936 and supported the cause of the tribes against the exploitation of their lands. In March 1966, during a tribal movement to which the Maharaja was present, he was shot dead during a “police action”.
The current Maharaja, Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo, 22nd King of the Bastar, is the grandson of Vijay Chandra Bhanj Deo, the younger brother of the Maharaja killed.
Dusserha is a festival celebrated throughout India, mainly in the North. But the one in Bastar is absolutely unique and it is surely the most amazing Dussehra you will attend.
Here, instead of celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana, the tribes honor the goddess Devi Mavli, the native deity of the Bastar, venerated as the elder sister of the goddess Devi Danteshwari (the goddess of the Kakatiya family)KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
The palace of Jagdalpur was the seat of the kingdom of Bastar. It is a historical monument of simple architecture coloured in white and blue. We can only visit one room (the entrance) where are portraits of the various Maharajas of Bastar. The other rooms are reserved for the royal family.
The current Maharaja, Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo, is very accessible and we can ask him for an interview. He will welcome you in his nicely decorated private lounge and talk with you patiently.
Although he has only an honorary function, the king is active in promoting Bastar region. He also continues the tradition by presiding over the festival of Dusserha.
Danteshwari is an ancient temple built by the kings of Bastar to house their patron goddess, Devi Danteshwari (one of the forms of Durga). Devi Danteshwari is the goddess of all Bastar, venerated by the tribes of this region.
The temple is located within the walls of the Jagdalpur Palace and becomes one of the main attractions during the Dussehra festival.
Devi mavli is considered as the elder sister of the goddess Devi Danteswari. The temple is located in front of that of Danteswari. It has a great importance during the Dussehra festival as many of the rituals and offerings are performed there.
The Anthropological Museum of Jagdalpur was established in 1972 to give an overview of the culture and ways of life of the Bastar tribes. It is located 4km from the city center and houses a very nice collection of rare objects relating the rituals and customs followed by the tribes of Bastar. All collections are well documented.
Not to be missed!
Dalpat Sagar lake lies within Jagdalpur. It is one of the largest artificial lakes in Chhattisgarh. It was built 400 years ago by Maharaja Dalpat Deo Kakatiya as a tank to collect rainwater.
In the middle of this lake there is an island with a small temple dedicated to Shiva. We can reach it by boat.
Located near Dalpat Sagar lake, this recent temple is dedicated to Sri Venkateswara Swamy, “Lord of the Universe”, a form of the god Vishnu. It was built thanks to the dedicated efforts of members of the ‘Andhra’ Association.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balbhadra. It is located near the Jagdalpur palace.
The Goncha festival (Rath Yatra or chariot festival) starts from this temple. It is the second biggest festival in Jagdalpur after the one of Dusserha.