Raipur, the capital city of Chhattisgarh is the regional hub for Trade, Commerce, Industry, and Education. It features among the richest cities of India (also polluted cities) and is India’s biggest Iron Market. It is also an education hub in Central India, with the presence of institutes like IIM Raipur, NIT Raipur, IIIT Raipur, AIIMS Raipur, Hidayatullah National Law University, Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, Sanskrit College and IIIT (at Bhilai which is 30 km from Raipur). It (Naya Raipur) is also part of the 100 Smart City initiatives by Indian Government.
Historically, Raipur has been in existence since the 9th century; it was part of Dakshina Kosala Kingdom, Maurya Empire, Somavanshi kings, Kalachuri Dynasty kings and Bhonsla Kings (during British rule). It is believed that, King Ramachandra established the city of Raipur, whereas, some believe that, King Ramachandra's son Brahmdeo Rai had established Raipur.
Raipur is well connected with major cities in India via Road (NH6), Rail (Howrah-Mumbai Line; Raipur Junction is grade 'A-1' by the Indian Railways and is one of the highest revenue earning railway stations in India) and Air (Swami Vivekananda Airport) routes.
Tourist Destinations in RaipurBeing raised in Raipur, I have witnessed a major transformation of Raipur City (post CG state formation, in 2001) in all spheres of life, esp. in Tourism & Development. It has got a good mixture of tourist destinations exploring the nature. The best time to visit Raipur is winter season, between Oct – Dec, esp. Nov. period (1stweek) is perfect, as it ties with CG formation day, during which the state organizes events comprising of Trade fares etc. Within Raipur city, the prominent tourist’s destinations are -
- Marine Drive at Telibandha, the road surrounding the lake hosts the largest flag (once). The place offers free wifi and it is best during evening times.
- Nandan Van Jungle Safari, located at Naya Raipur, is the latest offering by CG tourism (opened in Nov. 2016). It is spread across 200acres and has 4 safari zones – Lion Safari, Tiger Safari, Bear Safari and Herbivore safari; a water zone and a zoo. The price is 300Rs per person (for AC) and 200Rs per person (for Non-AC).
- Buddha Lake at Purani Basti.
- Sashtri Chowk, Ghadi Chowk (it used to play melodious Chhattisgarhi folk music every hour with hourly bell chime) & Mahant Ghasidas Museum (Situated near Ghadi Chowk).
- Jain Temple, Kevalya Dham, situated on NH 6 at Sarona (visible from the Humrah-Mumbai Railway line) is a collection of 26 white marble temples arranged in a semi-circle, are dedicated to the 24 Tirthankars, and, with the central (large) temple dedicated to Rishabhdev.
- Jaistambh Chowk, a place where citizen gather to celebrate events like New Year, India’s win in an international event.
Tourist Destinations around Raipur (1-Day Trip)
Situated on NH6 at a distance of 120kms from Raipur, Dongargarh, houses the famous Maa Bambleshwari Devi Temple on hilltop (at a height of 1,600 feet). Apart from stairway path, there is a ropeway to reach the hill top. From the top, we get a good view of the surrounding area. Thousands of devotees flock this shrine esp. during Navaratri period. The temple premise also has a lake where boat rides are offered (Rs. 20 per person for 10 mins). On a Nearby hilltop called Pragyagiri (at a height of 1000 feet), we have a huge “Buddha” idol. Both these places are visible from the Dongargarh railway station (Howrah – Mumbai Line).
Situated at around 50kms from Raipur, Rajim is a famous religious destination; it is also known as ‘Prayagraj of CG’. The famous shrines at this place are the beautiful Rajim Lochan Temple (Lord Vishnu) and Kuleshwar Temple (Lord Shiva temple situated at the Sangam point of rivers streams Pairi, Sondur and Mahanadi). The Rajim Lochan Temple was constructed during 7th century by Nala dynasty rulers. Every day, the idol is decorated in three different forms, as a child in the morning, as a teenager in the afternoon and as an Adult in the evening time. Rajim is also famous for ‘Rajim Kumbh’ mela, which happens every year in Feb-Mar period.
At around 40 kms from Rajim, we have Jatmai Mata Temple and Ghatarani Temples, which are dedicated to Goddess Durga. These temples are located near waterfalls, which add to the charm of the place. For adventurists, these are a must visit places, esp. during rainy seasons. These places offer good picnic spot for families. Rajim, Jatmai and Ghatarani can be covered in a day.
Located in Kawardha region (around 130kms from Raipur) and, considered to be older than Khajuraho Group of temples, The Bhoramdeo Temple complex, is a collection of four Hindu temples dedicated to the god Shiva, namely, Bhoramdeo Temple (stone built temple in 11th Century), Istaliq temple (it is situated near Bharamdeo temple and was the 1st temple built during 2nd and 3rd century), Madwa Mahal or Dullhadeo (situated at around 1 km from Bhoramdeo, is a west facing temple in the form of a marriage hall), Cherki Mahal (situated in forest area it is not easily locatable). The construction of these temples dates back to 7th and 12th centuries and there architectural style resembles to that of the Konark Sun Temple (in Odisha). Other nearby archaeological sites is Janjgir, Kalachuri, Narayanpur and Ratanpur. At kawardha, one can also visit the “Kawardha Palace”, and if possible opt for a stay there.
Located on the banks of River Mahanadi, at a distance of around 80kms from Raipur, Sirpur has a rich past. It was once the capital of Somvanshi kingdom and was a prominent Buddhist centre during 6th century. The famous tourist destinations at sirpur are Lakshman temple, Ram Temple, Gandheshwar temple, Buddha Vihar. There is also a Museum established by ASI. CG Tourism conducts ‘Sirpur National Dance & Music Festival’ every year in Jan month to boost tourism. Nearby Sirpur, we have Barnawapara Wildlife sanctuary (at around 100 kms from Raipur), which is spread across 250 sqkms, and offers night stay too at Hareli cottage.
Champaran, located at around 50 kms from Raipur (on the way to Rajim) is famous for being the birth place of Saint Vallabhacharya and birthplace of ‘Champaran Satyagraha’ (Farmers revolt against in Indigo cultivation in 1914). The main tourist attraction of the place is ‘Champaranya temple’, dedicated to Lord Krishna. CG Tourism conducts ‘Champaranya Mela’ every year in month of Jan-Feb to attract Vishnu devotees.
P.S. Jagdalpur, called the Tourism Capital of CG, is situated at around 300kms from Raipur. It is famous for its natural beauty (Kailash caves and Kutumsar caves), waterfalls (Chitrakote waterfalls, Teerathgarh waterfalls, Chitradhara waterfalls), wildlife (Kanger Valley National Park) and religious places (Danteshwari Temple). I would write a separate blog on Jagdalpur to highlight its beauty.
CG Tourism conducts daily tours for tourist; the booking for the same can be done from http://cgtourism.choice.gov.in site.
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