Situated in the heart of India, Chhattisgarh is one of the least explored and known parts of the country. It is one of India’s newest states but its Gond people were some of its earliest inhabitants.
Although Chhattisgarh's boundaries overlapped with several surrounding kingdoms it is surrounded on three sides by hills and covered in dense jungle protecting it from outside influence so that it evolved its own distinct identity. Rich in forest products and mineral resources , (high quality iron ore has been extracted in vast quantities since the mid 20th century) while rapid urbanisation is occurring in some areas, 42 different indigenous peoples cling to their age-old traditions, animist beliefs and forest based culture, particularly in the Bastar region.
The people of Chhattisgarh are guided by the former princes of 14 erstwhile royal states, some of whom are now active in politics. Staying in their converted palaces and retreats gives privileged access to hidden villages and forest shrines, incredible festivals and weekly haats (rural market and great social gatherings), music, art and crafts.
Though Chhattisgarh has a good road network and new airport other tourist facilities and services are less well developed but if you’re prepared to be flexible and have a genuine interest in meeting and interacting with local people you’ll discover a fascinating culture far off the beaten track that’s not to be missed.