JATMAI AND GHATARANI TEMPLE & WATERFALL – Less than 100km southeast of the capital, Raipur, the Jatmai Temple commemorates Goddess Durga in a stunning lush green setting. The small white shrine is swaddled between a dense copse. The devotion to the spot by the religious and the weekend picnickers is for reasons much more than spiritual quest; after all, the magnificent Ghatrani Waterfall lies just 25km from here, making it an easy addition to the trip. This is the closest place from Raipur city where the state reveals its extraordinary beauty and biodiversity.
The waterfall doesn’t drop in a deep gorge or plummet from a rocky cliff-side. Instead, it playfully gurgles over the mildly undulating rockscape. This gives easy access to tourists, to plonk themselves in the middle of the rocks and enjoy the view from the cool confines of a watery perch. The gentle stream of water, intense greenery and the intrigue of the jungle make a compelling reason to sit here for hours. When the excitement of the tourists dips and the surroundings are alive with sounds from the, the Hill Myna (state bird of Chhattisgarh) can be heard reclaiming her abode.
KANGER VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – Rich and rugged mountains hiding a network of stunning caves within them, thundering waterfalls and the verdant topography of one of the densest forests of the world are hard to miss when in Chhattisgarh. The Kanger Valley National Park lies in the Bastar region off Jagdalpur in the southern part of the state. With a sizable spread of semi deciduous swathes of forest cover, the national park is home to tigers, leopards, deer, sambar, barking deer, jackals, sloth bears, wild boar, striped hyena, crocodiles and snakes who roam the untouched patches with abandon.
Amongst the lush forests, there are two highlights that draw the traveller more than anything else in this enchanted land; the Kutumsar Cave and Kanger Dhara. To reach the Kutumsar Cave, one has to drive past Dhurva (tribals) settlements into the forest and arrive at a wide clearing in the middle. From here narrow steps wend down to the Kutumsar Cave. The network of Kutumsar, Dandak and Kailash caves were found by a forest official Mr. Bhatiram Taram in 1995. Of these Kutumsar Caves are open for travellers. The narrow entrance opens up with a wide hall, 300 meters in length.