Jagdalpur is located in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state in central India. The city is within the ancient Dandakaranya, as mentioned in the epic Ramayana, which is currently covered with dense forest and inhabited by numerous tribal communities.
The Dandakaranya region is an area of 92,300 sq.km of plateau, spread across the present-day states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It borders the Abujhmar hills in the west and the Eastern Ghats in the east.
Jagdalpur is a municipal corporation and the administrative headquarter of the Bastar district in the southern part of the state. Before independence, it was the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Bastar.
Jagdalpur is famous for its handicrafts, particularly wooden craft, metal work and weaving. The region was ruled by many dynasties such as Nals, Chalukyas and Kakatiyas at different periods of time.
Hindus regard this region as a divine place because of its close links to the events in Ramayana that defined the life of Lord Ram and Mata Sita. With its abundant natural beauty embellished by numerous natural waterfalls, caves, lakes, streams, lush greenery, and the flora and fauna of several national parks, Jagdalpur is regarded as the tourism capital of Chhattisgarh.
Jagdalpur is located at a latitude of 19.0741° N and longitude of 82.0080° E with an elevation of 1,811ft above the sea level. The neighbouring districts are Kanker district in the north and Dante Wada district in the south. Maharashtra State comes in the west and Orissa State in the east.
The city lies about 289 km south of the state capital Raipur and within the reach of 9km of Bastar. The municipal corporation covers an area of 29sq.km.
Jagdalpur has a population of 3,10,478 as of 2017. Around 70% of the population are Hindus, followed by Muslims and Christians.
The majority of the population in Jagdalpur and Bastar region are tribal communities, particularly in the Bastar region. Their living style and practices have a bearing on the overall local culture. The most common tribes in the Bastar region include Abhuj Maria, Gond, Bhatra, Dhurvaa etc.
People speak Hindi, Oriya, Chhattisgrahi and Marathi. The tribes use Gondi, Halbi, Chhattisgarhi Bhatri languages.
People depend mostly on agriculture for their living . The Bastar region is noted for its renowned traditional craftsmen and their expertise in the fields of stone carving, woodcraft, terracotta, bell metal work, iron and bamboo craft.
How to reach Jagdalpur
Jagdalpur is connected by road with major cities including Raipur, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram . National Highways NH30 and NH63 are passing through Jagdalpur. There are regular luxury and ordinary bus services from Jagdalpur to cities such as Raipur, Bilaspur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Warangal, Visakhapatnam, Amravati, Vizianagaram, Vijayawada etc.
The city is also connected by rail line particularly with cities in the eastern part. This includes Howrah, Bhubaneshwar and Visakhapatnam.
Swami Vivekananda Airport Raipur is the nearest domestic airport from Jagdalpur, a four-hour drive from the city. It is very well connected to all major domestic airports in India. The Airport Authority of India is constructing an airport in Jagdalpur and the work is in an advanced stage now.
Jagdalpur experiences the typical tropical climate with long winter and early summer. The average maximum temperature reach .48 °C in the March to June period, while winters are warm and dry with temperature averaging about 15°C. The region gets some relief from hot summer with the advent of monsoon in June to September. However, the season features heavy rainfall as well.
Best time to visit Jagdalpur
The best time to visit Jagdalpur is the winter season that lasts in March from October. The temperature remains comfortable for sightseeing and other outdoor activities.
Jagdalpur is one of the centers identified for the Ramayana circuit under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. The region has close links with some significant events that defined the life Lord Ram and Mata Sita as described in the epic Ramayana.
According to Ramayana, Lord Ram along with Mata Sita and Lakshman spent 13 years of his 14-year exile in Dandakaranya traveling around this region. Sage Valmiki’s ashram was also said to be in this area.
This is the place of many of Lord Ram’s adventures that saw the annihilation of a number of monstrous rakshasas, who were a constant threat to the rishis and rest of the world.
Hindus treat this place with much reverence, as this entire region carries the footprints of Lord Ram and Mata Sita.
Places of interest in Jagdalpur
Jagdalpur and Bastar regions have picturesque tribal backdrops and scenic beauty that offer a wide variety of tourist attractions. Within a radius of 200km from Jagdalpur, you have numerous ancient temples built at places of events taken place thousands of years ago as per Hindu texts. Visitors can explore numerous natural waterfalls, impressive caves, majestic palaces, museums and national parks and wide varieties of rare flora and fauna of the region.
There are wonderful natural caves in the regions including the Kotumsar Cave Dandak Cave, Kanger Cave, Karpan Cave, and Devgiri Cave, among others. There is another cave named Kailash in the regions famous for the natural carvings of Lord Shiva and Shiv Linga in the cave.
The huge Bhainsa Darha Lake located in Bastar district, around 63km from Jagdalpur is home to crocodiles and tortoises. The Dalpat Sagar lake, the largest artificial lake of Chhattisgarh, the Anthropological Museum and the national parks such as Indravati National Park, Kanger Valley National Park, and Bairamgarh Wildlife Sanctuary are among the popular tourist destinations in the Jagdalpur and Bastar region.
Some of the very popular places of interest are described here below:
The Danteshwari Temple is situated in Dantewada, about 84 km south-west of Jagdalpur at the confluence of the holy Dhankini and Shankini rivers.
The temple is dedicated to Goddess Danteshwari, the incarnation of Shakti with her idol in black stone. It is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas- pilgrimage destinations of Shaktism- in India and other countries. The temple believed to be built at a place where Sati devi’s denth (teeth) fell while her charred body was carried by Lord Shiva on his shoulder.
The 14-century temple was built by the Chalukyas in the south Indian architecture style. The temple is the venue for several traditional festivals in the region. During the Bastar Dussehra festival season, the temple is flocked by large crowds of the tribal communities of neighbouring village. There are a number of other temples at this place.
Chitrakoot falls is on the Indravati River about 38km from Jagdalpur. The horseshoe-shaped falls is from a height of about 98ft. During the monsoon season, the falls is at a width of 980ft, covering the entire stretch of the horseshoe, to make it the widest fall in the country. It is also called India’s Niagara Falls.
On the bank of river there is a small temple . You can also see several Shivalingams and images of Hindu deities carved on stone slabs on the banks of the river. Below the waterfalls, boating is allowed in the pond. The stormy part of the pond is often used by adventure sports enthusiasts.
Indravati National Park
Indravati National Park the most famous national park in Chhattisgarh, situated in the adjoining Bijapur district, about 104km from Jagdalpur. The park covers an area of around 2800sq.km bordering the Indravati River in the northern side.
The park is one of the tiger parks in India and also noted for the rare wild buffalo. It is also home to a variety of other animals. This includes gaur, nilgai, blackbuck, chausingha (four-horned antelope), sambar, chital, Indian muntjac and wild boar. Tigers, leopards, sloth bears, dholes and striped hyenas also live in the park.
The flora of the park consists mainly of teak, lendia, salai, mahua, tendu, semal, haldu, ber and jamun among others.
December to June is the best time to visit the park.
Teerathgarh Falls is on the Kanger river in Kanger Ghat, around 35 km from Jagdalpur. The falls is from a height of 299ft as a block type waterfall. The area is full of beautiful rocky hillocks surrounded by forest.
There is an old Shiv-Parvati temple near this spot. There is another cave named Kailash near to it.
Kotumsar cave, a limestone cave formed on the Kanger limestone belt, is situated in Kanger Valley National Park, around 35 km from Jagdalpur. It is located around 10 km from the main entrance of the national park.
The cave’s main tunnel is about 200-meter long. The tunnel has several lateral and downward passages. It is said to be one of the longest natural caves in the world.
The cave can be accessed by a vertical fissure in the wall of a hill, leading to a concrete path built to facilitate the movement of visitors. .
Kotumsar cave is visited by tourists and pilgrims alike as the latter generally experience a divine presence in such surroundings.
During the monsoon season, flooding is frequent inside the cave, thus the cave served as home to species of blind fish, arthropods etc.
The festivals of Jagdalpur
People in Jagdalpur celebrate a number of festivals with lot of fanfare and enthusiasm. Some of important festivals are Bastar Dussehra, Goncha festival, Haryali Amavasya and AamaTihar.
Bastar Dussehra is the unique cultural event of Chhattisgarh and unrelated to the Dussehra celebrated elsewhere in the country. The festival is celebrated over ten days mainly to offer special prayers and poojas to the local deity in the Danteshwari Temple.
The festival normally falls in July every year. It began as an annual event in the 15 century at the time of Maharaja Purushaottam Deo, the ruler of Bastar. It is customary for all the tribes of Bastar to take part in this holy festival.
The Goncha Festival or popularly known Chariot Festival in Jagdalpur is an incredible show of unique tribal culture of the region. The pomp and enthusiasm of the tribal communities from different parts of Bastar is full in display on the occasion. It is celebrated normally in July every year.
It all starts with the procession of three huge chariots (raths), each carrying the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra from Baster’s Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple. The chariots will return to the Jagannath Temple only after nine days. The return of the deities to Jagannath temple is known as Bahuda Goncha.
Several traditional customs are associated with this festival. The main event is Goncha game. In the game, the tribal people use mock pistols made of tukki or bamboo, and goncha as bullet to strike each other. Goncha is a kind of fruit and harmless. People enjoy the fun thoroughly participating in this exciting game. During the occasion.
Haryali Amavasya Festival
Haryali Amavasya festival, referred as the ‘Festival of Greenery is celebrated normally in July- August marking beginning of sowing seeds in the wake of the monsoon. It is observed on the first Amavasya or no-moon day of the Hindu Shravana month.
Amar Tihar is the festival of mangoes celebrated by the tribal community , especially by the Hulba community in the Bastar region during April-May. On the occasion, the tribal community offer mangoes to their God. Before this rites, they don’t eat mango even if they are ripe and the rest of the world already started eating mangoes. Thus. the festival marks the break of their forced apathy towards mangoes.