Jagdalpur is the ancient capital of the princely state of Bastar region. It is an absolutely must-see city in Chhattisgarh due to its proximity to numerous archaeological sites and nature reserves and its unique tribal culture, which is shown during the exhuberant festival of Dusserha.
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 totally unique and it is surely the most amazing Dussehra you will attend.
Dussehra is usually linked to the Ramayana, the great Indian Hindu epic, and with Lord Rama and the demon Ravana.
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)
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. It was built by the leaders of the Bastar. We can only visit one room (the entrance) where are portraits of the various Maharajas of Bastar. The other rooms are reserved for the family of the current Maharaja.
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 Maharaja is active in promoting Bastar region. He also continues the tradition by presiding over the famous 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 famous 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.
A museum not to be missed!
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.
Dalpat Sagar lake is located 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 is an island with a small temple dedicated to Shiva. we can reach the island by boat or motorboat.
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 temple of Mavli. The famous Goncha festival (Rath yatra or chariot festival) starts from this temple. It is the second biggest festival in Jagdalpur after the one of Dusserha.
Danteshwari Temple is located about 84 km south-west of Jagdalpur in Dantewada, at the confluence of the Shankini and Dhankini Rivers.
This 600-year-old temple built by the Chalukya kings is one of the most important spiritual centers of the region. It houses the goddess Danteshwari, the patron deity of the Bastar, chiselled in the black stone. It is also venerated asa the 51 Shakti Peethas; It is believed that a tooth of Sati fell here.
Every year, during Dussehra, thousands of tribes from surrounding villages and jungles gather here to pay tribute to the goddess.
Chitrakote Falls, 50km from Jagdalpur in Bastar district, are in a horseshoe-shaped gorge on the Indravati river, and affluent of the Narmada. At 30m high they are India’s biggest falls and have been called “India’s Niagara”. Although they are only a third as wide as their Canadian counterpart, they are just as impressive…
=> KNOW MORE ABOUT THE WATERFALLS
Located in Kanger Valley National Park, 36 km from Jagdalpur, the Tirathgarh waterfall is among the most beautiful waterfalls in the Bastar region along with the Chitrakote falls. An absolute must-see nestled in the middle of a lush nature.
The waterfall splits at the base in multiple falls, which stream on rocks creating a pittoresque panorama. Steps lead you down to the waterfalls where several old temples stand.
Others waterfalls : Mandawa Falls, Chitradhara Falls and Thamada ghumar falls
Located on the banks of the Indrawati River, about 75 km south-west of Jagdalpur, Barsoor was once an epicenter of Hindu civilization. It is believed that there were originally 147 temples. Some remains of these temples, dating from the 10th and 11th centuries, can still be visited.
The main attraction within the barsoor temples is the twin Ganesha temple. While the temple itself is in ruins, two sandstone images of Ganesh, in the aspect of Maha-Ganapati, are still intact. The largest of them is about 8 feet high and over 17 feet wide.
The Chandraditya temple located near a pond is dedicated to Shiva. The Garbhagriha is attached with a square pillared mandapa in front. It is beautifully decorated with gods and goddesses and also with some erotic carvings.
Mama-bhanja-ka-mandir, is attributed to the two family members (mama or uncle and bhanja or nephew) who are supposed to be the builders. The temple, dedicated to Ganesha, is well-preserved with a curvilinear shikhara over the garbhagriha (Shrine)
Battista temple with its 32 symmetrical pillars is dedicated to Shiva. Its particularity is that it has two sanctuaries with two shiva-lingams whose upper part pivots.
The Kailash and Kutumsar caves are located in the dense forests of Kanger Valley National Park, near the Tiratgarh Falls.
The Kutumsar Caves are underground caves that are located 35 m below ground level and have beautiful formations of stalagmites and stalactites. They are considered the second longest natural caves in the world and consist of five rooms and several blind wells.
Kailash cave is located on a small hill and was discovered in 1993. It has a length of almost 100 m. A stalagmite in the form of Lingam, the emblem of the Hindu god Shiva is located at the end of the cave.
The caves are flooded during the monsoon season, from mid-June to mid-October. The sites are therefore closed to tourists during this period.
The Dholkal hill is located in a dense forest south of the Bastar. Above her, on a flat rock, stands a magnificent idol of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, attributed to the Chhindak-Nagvanshi dynasty in the 11th century AD.
The Dholkal’s Ganesha has remained unknown to the outside world for a very long time. It is believed that in 1936, the idol had been spotted by a British geologist, Crookshank, while inspecting the area. But later, especially after the area became the Maoist stronghold, the idol came out of public memory.
It was only in 2012 that a local journalist climbed the Dholkal hill and took pictures of the idol that became viral.
It takes about an hour trek from the village of Pharaspal (25 km from Dantewada) to reach the hill and see the idol.