We bid good bye to the colourful Bison Horn Maria tribe and head towards discovering Kanger valley park and Tiratgarh Falls.
The drive is nice and through woods. The forests here mostly are dry deciduous and the landscape is generally brown at this time of the year (October). I was asking Chetan, our guide, whether we will be able to spot “Hill Myna” – the beautiful bird which almost imitates human voice – seen extensively in this area. I was a bit disappointed when he said that the probability was remote as these birds have been either shot and eaten by tribals or captured and sold as pets. There could have been a possibility to see them early in the morning. But definitely not at 12 Noon!
The reception kiosk of Kanger Park was not crowded and the lady behind the counter issue us entry ticket to go to caves and falls. There are no safaris or naturalists as guides in this park. Kanger is spread over large area and sustained by numerous streams and rivers. It is a bio-diversity hot spot. The park has Leopards, sloth beer, etc. But still, you don’t have any one to help explore the area which is tad sad.
Kanger has three clusters of caves – Kailash, Kutumsar and Dandak. Kutumsar caves are at a distance of 12 KMS from reception and you drive through the pristine forest. This journey itself was like a safari and we were eager to spot any animals. We were not lucky though. Parking done, a guide with torch joined us to take us into the caves.
|Panoramic view of Kanger national park with Tiratgarh falls in the background
Caving is fascinating. Kutumsar caves were discovered in eighties and are one of the finest stalactite caves in the country. The caves are open only after October and are closed during monsoons. You enter through a narrow creek – one person can enter at a time – and has to struggle to get inside.
Once inside, you will be treated to an awesome array of stalactite formations. Since the roof is high, it gives feeling of huge room. The length of the cave should be around 300 meters. It is very humid inside. There is absolutely no sunlight. This place is also known for “Blind fish” or “Albino fish”. We could not see any. We had seen them in the “Planet earth” documentaries on Caves by BBC. The guide was showing us the formations and I was trying to capture them on camera when the battery drained out. We normally carry additional set and it was kept in the car which was far away. Anyway, we were not able to capture these sights in our camera.
|Narrow entry into the cave. Yours truly in striped Tee….
|Lovely Stalactite formations – I
|Stalactite formation – II
|Entry to the main hall of Cave
We climb up and return to the parking lot. We notice tribal women selling a kind of fruit. We got curious and started talking to the ladies asking them what they were. They said it was “Tendu” fruit and a bowl would cost five rupees. I had heard about “tendu” leaves which are used to make beedis – a kind of local cigarette – but never knew it also bore fruits! The fruit looks and tastes similar to Chiku and has big seeds.
Caves done, we were eager to see Tiratgarh falls. The excitement had started well in advance as we had seen the falls through binoculars from a view point on the way. It looked lovely. Another drive through forests for 10 KMs brought us to the falls.
Every waterfall has its own character and beauty. At Tiratgarh the Kanger River gently cascades over layers of rocks. Thanks to the fact that the river is not dammed, there was enough water even at this time of the year. The best time to see any waterfall is after monsoons. Nevertheless, it made a good spectacle.
|Tiratgarh falls cascading over the rocky cliff
Climbing up from the falls was tiring and it was close to lunch time. We were now in search of good dhabha for a well deserved lunch!
The pictures of Kutumsar caves is the courtesy of Aravind G J. His experience of caving in Kutumsar can be read in his excellent blog here. – Visit to Kutumsar Caves
Next Post – Weekly Haat (tribal market) and Lal Chinti ki chutney (spicy wild ants)
If you are planning a trip to Chattisgarh, you may follow this series. The first two posts in the series can be found here.
Chattisgarh Chronicles 1 – The Drive from Bangalore to Bastar
Chattisgarh Chronicles II – Dancing with Bison Horn Maria Tribe!