Travel

The many faces of the Fall

Water, water everywhere: Chitrakote Falls in its full glory; luxurious tents close to the Falls.  

Chhattisgarh, formed in 2000 after separating from Madhya Pradesh, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. When my itinerary for this trip to the State included places such as Bastar and Dantewada, my parents were apprehensive about the journey. However, Chhattisgarh takes no time to put all doubts to rest. The untouched and unexplored beauty here makes it a favourable destination for those constantly in search of the unseen.

Bastar is a place one must visit, if in Chhattisgarh. Officials clarify that it is only the border areas that are troubled, but the rest of the State is absolutely safe. The sights and sounds of Bastar engulf you the minute you arrive and you ask yourself: why hadn’t I heard of this place before?

It’s a treasure chest of scenic attractions and breathtaking surprises. For instance, the Chitrakote Falls makes its presence felt from miles away. The sound of water slamming the rocks warns of something dangerous but what you see is something unexpected.

As the trajectory of river Indravati ferociously gushes down the Vindhya mountain ranges from a height of 95 feet, the brown water creates a mist that rises and clouds half the Falls. The rest peacefully travels for kilometres into the river. So violent, yet, so beautiful. Even the thunderous sound of the water has a calming effect, as it shuns every thought and hypnotises you to just be. Since I visited the Falls during monsoon, it was in its full glory; the river touches both the banks and is filled with silt, making it look brown.

It wears a different look for different seasons. In summer, the water carries no silt and looks thinner but taller. The Fall changes colour because the catchment area of Indravati, where other rivers, rivulets and streams meet, carries different types of soil into the main river.

Because of its shape, Chitrakote Falls is also called the Niagara Falls of India. I haven’t seen the Niagara Falls but no waterfall has had such an impact on me. To me, most waterfalls I’d been to were nothing more than a tourist place where people take pictures to document their presence. This one had me at hello and I knew once wasn’t enough. I didn’t need a book or music for company; I could have stared at it for hours without moving. I came back to it thrice in two days and was awe-struck every single time.

What made the experience so personal was the fact that this tourist attraction is scarcely crowded. Had the Falls been located somewhere else, the scene would have been different. There exists a narrow staircase that takes you to the bottom of the Falls. Here we saw a local tribal catching fish with bare hands.

We were told that the local tourist samiti organises regular boat rides, fishing and camping here. Institutes like youth hostels, sports departments, schools and colleges organise different types of adventure and sports activities in the gorge 4 km after the Falls.

When the water does drape the rocks completely, people also get a chance to see what is behind the Falls. According to the Ramayana, Ram spent his exile in Chitrakote (Dandkaranya). He meditated in the caves here, beside the waterfall. Pictures of deities, gods, goddesses and Navagrahs can be found here on the top right of the waterfalls. This Falls deserves more than one visit. Tourists can stay in resorts and luxury tents close to the Falls. Dandami Luxury Resort located near the falls offers air-conditioned luxury tents and cottages.

You can also enjoy folk dance performances by the local tribes, if you inform the resort staff in advance. Chhattisgarh tourism has special packages for Chitrakote, which also includes visits to other tourist attractions in Bastar. A night at the tent for a Double Occupancy costs Rs. 2,500 plus taxes and the cottage costs Rs. 1,500 plus taxes. Bookings can be made by calling Chhattisgarh Tourism Call Centre 1800 102 4615.

(The author was there at the invitation of the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board)


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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 9:19:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/the-many-faces-of-the-chitrakote-falls-in-chhattisgarh/article6488921.ece

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