Some road-trips are destined to be memorable especially when it is a long distance road trip to your native place. The 2500+KM road-trip from Delhi to & fro Chhattisgarh is one such incredible road-trip that we took last year during Diwali. It was unplanned and in many ways a forced one. As per our traveling plan for 2015, we (My wife Sonam and I) wanted to utilize long holidays of Diwali for Bhutan Road Trip from Delhi. Self drive road trip to Bhutan was one of our dream trips. However, Diwali being the most auspicious festivals for us, my father vetoed it and asked us to be in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh to celebrate with family. We were kinda in a fix as our dream trip to Bhutan had to be cancelled and further to make the matter worse, due to Diwali Flight tickets were exorbitantly high and in trains there was a long waiting list. So, eventually and happily, we decided to take up the road trip to our hometown which is approximately 1200 KM from Delhi and this last minute decision turned out to be a true blessing in disguise.
Exploring central India has always been in our long term agenda but was never a priority as love for Himalaya always took over. Hence, we wanted to make most out of it and thus decided to cover few en route locations and live some offbeat experiences. This time, it was, though, all about fulfilling the wish of my parents but we also added right amount of travel spirit to it.
Although I have done extensive road trips across central India some as part of official duty and few as family trips but for my wife it was a new territory. Nonetheless, both of us were too excited with the prospect of doing it our way i.e. self drive road trip, which actually filled us with more excitement.
During the self drive road trip, we drove through five Indian States, relished sumptuous street food at many places, crossed many rivers, made umpteen pit stops to shot rural landscapes and meandered through Teak laden Vindhya & Satupura Range before reaching our state Chhattisgarh which is famous as The Land of Surprises. And today, in retrospect, we have to admit that this road-trip was one of our most memorable trips as we got the chance to explore our native states and experience many close to heart moments that ignited sheer nostalgia.
Now, we would list down 10 incredibly high moments from this trip which will certainly give an itch to your travel thirsty soul. Central India is the heart of Incredible India and we hope these gorgeous moments from my road-trip would give a new perspective to your perceptions.
1. Sumptuous Street Food at Sadar Bazar, Agra
Over the years, it has become a more of a ritual for us to visit to Sadar Bazaar for its street food if Agra is an en route location during our road trips. No matter how many times you have been to this aroma filled lane, the craving for tangy flavors would always take you there again. Street food culture of Agra has made it famous across India and in every part of India, vendors from Agra have earned name and fame serving sumptuous street food specially Aloo Tikki and Golgappa. Being die heart street foodies, it was but natural for us to make a stop at Sadar Bazaar and head to Chaat Waali Gali.
Tip 1: Do buy authentic Petha from original Panchhi Petha Outlet and also try their Dalmoth
2. Golden Hour shot near Jhansi
When I travel, I eagerly wait for The Sun to rise as then it shows its vibrant dominance on us. During golden hours sky looks divine and the golden rays energize the soul. For the photographer in me this is the real time to bow myself and feel lost in the soul elevating surrounding. On second day of trip, we left Gwalior at early morning and were somewhere near Jhansi when a perfect setup was right in front me which had all the classical elements: A slow roaring fishing boat, tranquil lake and the soothing reflection of the golden sun.
It was all mesmerizing. Moments like this, truly, motivate me to take the pain and hit the road again and again.
3. Super Awesome Road & Rural landscapes from Central India
I have been traveling across MP every years since 2010 as part of my official tours and have seen how this state has improved upon road infrastructure lately. This time, I particularly find roads in MP really awesome and super worthy for driving. Although these were not the road untraveled for me, but the pleasure of self-driving could be relished only this time as i had the liberty to control the pace of the travel. So, during this trip, as soon as, we entered MP from Jhansi side, we were awestruck by the smooth 4 lane roads all the way up to Jabalpur. Further, landscapes on either side of the road were icing on the cake. The smooth drive for miles and miles on the fine tarmac road complemented by great landscapes kept us refreshed.
4. Bhedaghat: The Naval of India
During this journey Bhedaghat was the tipping point that changed the mood and left incredible imprints on our travel thirsty soul. Bhedaghat is almost at the centre of India may be called the Naval of India with its whirling Narmada River meandering through natural marble rocks. The one word that most perfectly describes Bhedaghat is evocative. Every view from anywhere is truly evocative. The intangible side of its existence exudes thousands of color each representing one or other emotion. Every hour of day, it changes the purpose of its being there. It is imposing, it is inviting and it is right there. And because it is there… GO THERE!!
To read more on Bhedaghat and its perpetual beauty click here.
Tip 2: Stay next to Water Fall at Vrindavan Resorts and enjoy your dinner watching the water fall amidst the roar of flowing river.
5. Road-Tripping Amidst Sagaun laden Vindya & Satpura Ranges
After Bhedaghat, when we left district headquarter Jabalpur, road snaked through verdant Vindya and Satpura Range. We zipped through the dense Sagaun laden forest road passing through Kanha national park. Vindya and Satpura ranges constitutes world’s one of the oldest mountain systems. They are home to many wild life ecosystems like Kanha National Park, Pench National Park (Home to Mowgli), Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhoram Deo Wildlife Sanctuary and robust Narmada Valley. This was my third road trip from Jabalpur to Bilaspur and I have to admit that traveling through this virtuous geographical part has always been fulfilling and humbling experience.
6. Mahamaya Devi Temple, Ratanpur, Chhattisgarh
Mahamaya Temple is a part of my early childhood’s road trip memories as it used to be regular affair for us to visit this temple in our good old Maruti 800. Every time, whenever any relative was at our home, Ratanpur used to be the designated first place to visit. In those days this 50 KM to & fro road trip was filled all the fun.
11th century Mahamaya Temple is in Ratanpur which is situated at 25 KM from Bilaspur and home to goddess Mahamaya the family deity of Kalchuri & Haihaya dynasties hich ruled this part of Central India for many centuries. Ratanpur as a town has a rich cultural and political importance as it was the capital of Kulchuries until the british arrive. Remnants from past still exude the glory of past.
As a perpetual habit, we also pay our visit this time from Bilaspur the very next day to Diwali. It is a must visit place whenever in Chhattisgarh to seek the blessings of Adishakti Mahamaya.
Tip 3: When in Ratanpur, make sure you visit nearby picturesque Khutaghat Dam and do not forget to visit Bherobaba Temple on your way back to Bilaspur. Also if time permits, Ram Tekri can be visited which is a hilltop temple where, as per local legend, Lord Rama spend few days during his exile.
7. Golden Hour Inside Bhoram Deo National Park
So far, we always felt that Himalayan Fiefdom offers best golden hour opportunity to photographers, however, when we entered Bhoram Deo National Park right at when dawn was breaking and we could witness verdant heaven having an aura of Golden Sun rays. The Sun rays were sieving through dense woods and thus presented yet another mesmerizing morning from central India.
8. Erotic Architecture of Bhoram Deo Temple
This was a true blessing in disguise. We never knew that we would be exploring a real hidden gem which is an epitome of love, beauty and spirituality yet so unknown and miles away from everything. 11th Century Bhoram Deo Temple, situated amidst picturesque landscape of dense green forest, is a blend of religious and erotic architecture which has earned it an apt sobriquet: The Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh.
Built by Nagvanshi rulers thistemple has significant tantric value attached to it also. In sanctum sanctorum, along with Lingam of Lord Shiva you would find Ganesha in “Warrior Posture” which is specific to only Nagvanshi Heritage. After having visited Sirpur, Barasur, and this time Bhoram Deo, Nagavanshi heritage and their mysterious architecture have intrigued me to the core and would be a topic for further exploration. Meanwhile, Bhoram Deo Temple enveloped within Bhoram Deo Wildlife Sanctuary is a MUST GO TO PLACE.
9. Hirni River: Photographer’s delight
On our last but one day, we traveled for 750 KM from Bilaspur to Jhansi and while in morning it was Bhoram Deo National Park , in the late afternoon it was Hirni River near Jabalpur that gave us reason to celebrate nature. Hirni river presented itself in its best curvaceous form and a fisherman in his small makeover boat was right there. It was a very delightful moment to be right there to capture this.
10. The Bridge Across Chambal River:
For everyone belonging to Central India, Chambal invokes dreadful connotations for being infamous as an abode to notorious dacoits. The Chambal valley which can be classified as the barren land has umpteen hillocks and treacherous roads which has made it fruitful hideout for many infamous dacoits since British era. Its topography could not be breached for years and years by law enforcement agencies thus it became the preferred abode to legendary dacoits some of them followed the so called path of Robinhood also but mostly in vain.
So, while coming back to delhi, on the last day we finally got the opportunity to zip through Chambal Ghati (Valley) and took a pit stop right under the Chambal Bridge. Bridge across Chambal starts from Madhya Pradesh and ends at Rajasthan which sums up the importance of Chambal River for the people of Central India. After spending sometime in clicking few photographs, we have no reservation in concluding that Chambal Bridge is one of the most photogenic bridge of Central India.
After this soulful road trip, we decided to enjoy the festivity of Diwali always in Bilaspur with family but every year it would a road trip to Bilaspur from Delhi exploring one hidden gem of Central India each time. We could experience a lot while traversing through our native states during this self drive road trip which otherwise was not possible. Our enriched memory bank confirmed our belief that India is best experienced through road trips and we would continue to do so in this life time !
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