Tribal heartland aims high with pilgrim and ethno-tourism

Tourism in Chhattisgarh is not only confined to tribal tourism but is quite diverse in aspects of adventure, water sports, pilgrimage, and heritage. MICE and wedding tourism are gaining significance. The Bastar tribal way of life allures the Western world while the Ram Van Gaman pilgrim circuit is for the devouts.   

Swaati Chaudhury

If exploring the tribal way of life is on your agenda, then there is no better destination than the land of Chhattisgarh comprising around 32 percent tribal population. There are over 200 destinations and sound resorts in the pristine areas of the state. In contemporary times, the younger generation of travellers prefers active holidays while Senior citizens go for experiential tourism. The state provides facilities for both groups of travellers. Ethno tourism forms the unique selling point and the MICE tourism wave is sweeping across the state.

In a significant development, Chhattisgarh Tourism has signed a MoU with IRCTC and the Youth Hostel Association of India for tourism development in the state. Speaking at the sidelines of Travel and Tourism Fair 2023, Anil Kumar Sahu, Commissioner of Tourism, Government of Chhattisgarh and Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, informed, “The state has a plethora of offerings in experiential tourism and is the perfect destination for those in search of adventure and experiential tourism. The state tourism department is coming up with a light and sound show at Chitrakote Waterfalls in August end. The destination will also gear up with an impressive ropeway by the end of next year that will form its major attraction. As such tourism visibility will increase in the upcoming period. There will be tourists from all the seven neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh.” The horse-shoe-shaped Chitrakote Waterfalls in the district of Bastar is famed as the Niagara Falls of India.  

The tourism board has taken the initiative to highlight MICE in a big way. Sahu said, “There are a number of five-star luxury hospitality groups in the state that have set up their convention centers. A lot of corporate activities are hosted at convention centers. Raipur and Bastar are the two emerging MICE destinations with air connectivity in the state. Raipur has a huge convention center and is well-geared to host G20 Meet in September, this year. The state is all set to brace for a third airport at Ambikapur in the current year. There are hill resorts in the northern part of the state that form tourist getaways for the corporate sector.”

The state has wedding activities all around the year. Sahu further said, “Bastar and Mayfair Raipur are the two prominent wedding destinations. Wedding tourists mostly come from Ranchi and West Bengal.”

State tourism is offering a major thrust on adventure and water sports tourism. Gangrel Reservoir in the district of Dhamtari is a well-known water sports destination. The state prides itself in cave tourism and the natural limestone Kotumsar cave in the vicinity of Jagdalpur deserves special mention. Besides, the land is replete with heritage and culture and the ancient Bhoramdeo temple is known as the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh. In the context of pilgrim tourism, the Bamleshwari Mata temple at Dongargarh is highly revered. Palace tourism is coming of age with the historical landmark of Girivilas Palace at Sarangarh in the district of Raigarh.

For those with a penchant to know more about tribal life and cuisine, head to the district of Bastar. “The Bastar region is highly popular among global travellers. The 75-day Dussehra in Bastar attracts European travellers. Our tribal tourism circuit has earned repute in the world tourism market. There are homestay facilities for tourists on a tour of the Bastar region. There is the Ramnami community with their body tattooed in the name of Lord Rama and the community resides in the districts of Janjgir and Bilaspur,” added Sahu.  The three-day National Tribal Dance Festival 2022 held in Raipur is the flagship event of the state. The festival had the presence of 24 global countries.

The state government has rolled out its flagship scheme- Ram Van Gaman Tourist Circuit which has identified nine locations visited by Lord Rama during his 14-year exile.  The destination of Chandkhuri in the district of Raipur associated with Lord Rama’s mother Kaushalya has been included in the circuit. The scheme aims to preserve the age-old memories associated with Lord Rama.

The domestic tourist footfall stood at 1 crore last year. “Our major focus has been domestic travellers and we are expecting to have similar footfalls this year,” signed off Sahu.

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