- 1 Indravati National Park — a famous Tiger Reserve and park that has hilly terrain, forest and grasslands. This habitat provides a home for the tiger, water buffalo and deer. There is also a rich diversity of birds, smaller mammals and reptiles inhabiting the area
- 2 Kanger Ghati National Park — a dense area with several waterfalls and limestone caves. Several species of animals and a wide tribal population are present in this beautiful park. The diversity of landscapes makes ideal habitats for many species. Wildlife includes tigers, langurs, sloth bears, lizards, snakes, peacocks and parrots to name a few.
Chhattisgarh was formed on November 1, 2000, as India's 26th state, carved out of Madhya Pradesh. It is surrounded by the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh in the north, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the south, Odisha in the east, and Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in the west.
Of the 135,133 sq km area, about 45% is densely forested. Many of the state's 29 districts used to be princely states. Its major cities are Raipur, Durg-Bhilai (twin cities), Bilaspur, Rajnandgaon, Korba, Raigarh, and Jagdalpur.
The 3 National Parks and 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries provide a real treat for nature lovers. The forests abound in wildlife like the tiger, leopard, wild boar, cheetal, langur, rhesus monkey, barasinga, sambhar, bison, wild buffalo, civet cat and bear.
The state has numerous rivers and waterfalls too.
The hilly terrain and forests of the virgin Kanger Valley National Park, in the epicentre of the tribal Bastar district, house a number of ancient caves.
The Caves are closed during the monsoons and for some time thereafter. They normally open around the time of Bastar Lokotsav. Guides take tourists in and out safely. However, it is advised that children below 8 years, those above 60 years, and those suffering from claustrophobia avoid the Caves. Wear walking shoes with a sturdy grip as the floor is often uneven and occasionally slippery.
A nominal entrance fee is charged. This covers the cost of the guide who takes you in and out of the Caves and also provides a torch.
Chhattisgarh has India's finest waterfalls, comparable to the best in the world. Some of them are:
- Amrit Dhara Waterfall, Koriya
- Ramdaha Waterfall, Koriya
- Gavar Ghat Waterfall, Koriya
- Akuri Nala, Koriya
- Pawai Waterfall, Surguj
- Kendai Waterfall, Surguj
- Rajpuri Waterfall, Jashpur
- Danpuri Waterfall, Jashpur
- Rani Dah Waterfall, Jashpur
A number of Chhatisgarh's 16 districts were formerly princely states, leaving a legacy of picturesque palaces. Some famous palaces are:
Palace Kawardha, Kawardha Bastar Palace
In ancient times, Chhattisgarh was the region known as Dakshin Koshal, which finds mention in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Over time it was ruled by a succession of Hindu dynasties, and they have left it a legacy of temples, ranging from modest to imposing. Some of the temples are:
- Laxman Temple and Gandheswar Temple, Sirpur
- Chandi Temples, Dongargarh
- Mahamaya Temple, Surguja
- Kudargarh, Surguja
- Shankar Temple, Deepadih, Surguja
- Temples of Ratanpur
- Mallhar (Saravpur)
Chhattisgarh is home to many tribes. In fact, the state has India's oldest tribal communities, and it is safe to assume that the earliest tribals have been living in Bastar for over 10,000 years, since the time the Aryans occupied the Indian mainland and the rich plains became (a) war-infested and (b) de-forested for agriculture.
The main tribes in Chhattisgarh are:
Bastar - Gond, Abujmaria , Bisonhorn Maria, Muria, Halba, Bhatra, Parja, Dhurvaa Dantewara - Muriya, Dandami Mariya or Gond, Dorla, Halba Koriya - Kol, Gond, Bhunjia Korba - Korwa, Gond, Rajgond, Kawar, Bhaiyana, Binjwar, Dhanwar Bilaspur and Raipur - Parghi, Savra, Manji, Bhayna Gariabandh, Mainpur, Dhura, Dhamtari - Kamar Surguja and Jashpur - Munda
The special delicacies like jalebis, rakhia badi and petha are the main appeals of Chhattisgarhi cuisine. The people of the state have an inclination towards tangy recipes and sweet delectables. Maize, wheat and jowar (sorghum) are the staples of Chhattisgarh. The state is quite fertile with an abundance of crops such as rice and oilseeds.
The food of Chhattisgarh is categorized as tribal or non-tribal. The tribes of Chhattisgarh primarily add the various types of fruits that are commonly found in the forest areas. Rakhia badi and petha are the two distinctive food items that are prepared by the tribal population of Chhattisgarh during major festivals.
Jalebi is a lip-smacking sweet which is prepared in almost every household in the state, and the people of Chhattisgarh like to have something sweet at the end of their meals. Lentils such as chana dal (chickpeas) with which a special recipe called bafauri is made in the state are also used as a staple by the locals.
Travellers to Chhattisgarh should beware of the far-left extremists in the state, commonly known as Naxals or Naxalites after Naxalbari in North Bengal.