We did this road trip in March 2011. It was six months after we got our Scorpio. As soon as we got the delivery of the vehicle, we had done a road trip to Maharashtra covering Kolhapur, Pandharpur and Ellora. This time we wanted to go longer. After brainstorming on the places to go, we zeroed in on Chattisgarh, which still remains unexplored. This was a fascinating journey of 5000 plus KMs.
Ride on with us to experience it.
We left early in the morning on 05 March 2011 around 5 AM. The merit of leaving early hit us when we crossed Mulbagal, 100 KMs from Bangalore. The four-lane road ends at this place. Starting early helped, we did not encounter trucks. We could see early morning sun caressing the brown hills of Tirumala when we reached Tirupati around 8.15 AM. It was a lovely sight. A quick breakfast and we were back on the road. When we reached Naidupeta, we were welcomed by a lovely tarmac of NH5.
The green expanse at this time of the year was a big surprise and soothing to tired eyes!! These lovely roads have spoilt all of us as we could comfortably cruise at 130 KMPH. Miles and Miles of Lush green fields, streams and rivers makes drive on NH 5 very pleasant.
|The green expanse on either side of National Highway 5
|………….And the lovely tarmac
Our Initial plan was to stay in Vijayawada. Driving on excellent road, we reached city at 2.30 PM. It was then that we decided to continue to Vizag and spend night there. This would help us leaving comfortably the next day morning to Jagdalpur. Vijayawada looked a clean and good city. River Krishna is wide and there was not much of water. We had good Biryani lunch in Hotel Ilapuram recommended by a friend who is from Vijayawada.
The best part of driving on these Golden Quadrilateral roads is that you don’t encounter any villages or towns as most of them have bye pass, which will help you to maintain the speed. Vijayawada to Vizag drive was again without hassles. As we neared Rajahmundry we were excited to see sun setting over Godavari. But we were disappointed as the span of Godavari is small here as the river splits creating islands unlike while travelling by rail over the country’s longest railway bridge. Nevertheless the sunset over Godavari was still good.
|Sun setting over Godavari
We reached Vizag around 8.30 PM and were ready for a well-deserved rest.
Breakfast done, we started the second leg to Bastar from Vizag. We had read about the train journeys on the famous Vizag – Jagdalpur train by well-known travel writer Bill Aitkin that is supposed to be an experience in itself as tribals extensively use it. Though we were driving, we were expecting to get a firsthand experience of the region ourselves. As we crossed Vizianagaram – any cricket lover will remember this city as Maharaja of Vizianagaram was a great cricketer and Vizzy trophy is named after him – the mountains appeared. Winding roads with beautiful valleys greeted us. The valleys here are quite long and wide unlike the Western Ghats, which are smaller. The land looked brown and dry and must be stunningly beautiful if you come here after rains.
|First views of valley as we climb
|The winding road through the mountains
This is the tribal heartland of Orissa and we could see them attired in colorful dresses at many small towns and markets. Being Sunday, there were many village markets thronged by people. Overloaded jeeps bring them to markets as we saw this one in Pottangi. These tribals looked happy and contented lot. On outskirts of Koraput, we were greeted by this large expanse of clear water from Kolab Reservoir. The setting looked beautiful.
We reached Jagdalpur by 3 PM in time for Lunch.
Bastar jungle Resort is a new resort, which was opened six months ago. Spread over 15 acres next to forest – in fact one has to go through forest check post – it gives one a serene feeling. The rooms are well laid out and really big. The food is good as well. Checked in and lunch done, we ventured out to see Jagdalpur town.
|Bastar Jungle resort
Jagdalpur used to be the headquarters of the largest district in the country – Bastar – before it was split to create four more districts. This is the heartland of tribals in Bastar. The Dasara in Jagdalpur is celebrated over 70 days when tribals from remote areas come to town to celebrate and enjoy the festival. We missed the weekly market in Jagdalpur as it is held on Saturdays.
This is a well laid out clean town with colorful roundabouts featuring statues different tribes. There is nothing much to see in the town except for the Dantedevi mandir – the name Dantevada takes after the name of this goddess – and so called “Jagdalpur Palace” which is more like a huge bungalow than a palace.
As we returned to the resort to enjoy a quite evening under the skies, we were excited to what was in the offing on the next day– Chitrakot Falls, Tiratgarh falls, Kutumsar caves and lal chinti ki chutney or red ant chutney!