Monsoon in India is an off season for traveling in India as plains get flooded, safaris are closed, hills are mostly prone to landslides. But nature has created waterfalls which are at their spate from July to September. Chitrakot and Tirathgarh Falls of Bastar District, Chhattisgarh are two famous falls which are at their very best in grandeur during monsoon. Both Chitrakot and Tirathgarh Falls can be approached from Jagdalpur, a little town in southern Chhattisgarh. Though it has a small airport it is yet to have regular flights to major cities. It is a bit time consuming to reach Jagdalpur from anywhere. It is 8 hours train journey from Visakhapatnam, 16 hours from Raipur, 18 hours from Bhubaneswar and 26 hours from Kolkata respectively. But the long journey is actually a bliss if one can approach it from Bhubaneswar or Visakhapatnam. The slow train chugs through the Eastern Ghats offering stunning views on either side.
We started from Bhubaneswar on 6th July,19 on Hirakhand Express at 19:35. It reaches Parvathipuram Town(AP) around dawn and the thrilling journey through the rolling hills of Eastern Ghats starts a little after that. Vizag- Kirandul Passenger is more famous for its journey through the Araku Valley, but this route (Vizianagaram – Rayagada- Koraput- Jeypore-Jagdalpur) I found to be more enchanting. It goes through the remote and most underdeveloped part of Odisha which is yet to get mainstream tourist traffic. That’s where it scores, it is yet to be spoiled by vagaries of overtourism and crowd. The hills are lush green due to heavy rains, the rivers and dams are on its spate. The region is scarcely populated with virtually very little urbanization and industries meaning no big towns, no big hotels, no billboards, no airport, and no pollution. The stations are small, clean, minimalist and right from the old World. The populace is mostly of tribal origin and simpletons.
The train reached Jagdalpur right at the scheduled time around mid-afternoon. I found the station and the town to be much smaller/simpler than I assumed. Public Transport is minimal and nonfrequent. Hence, travelers with little time have to hire a cab for visits to waterfalls. We have pre-booked a cab and first, we visited the Tirathgarh Falls en route The Dandami Luxury Resort owned by Chhattisgarh Tourism at Chitrakot for night stay. Tirathgarh Falls is located inside Kanger Valley National Park. Kutumsar Caves is a major tourist destination near the falls though it is closed for visitors in monsoon. To reach Tiirathgarh one has to shell out Rs 25 per person as Entry Fee, Rs 50 for vehicle entry, Rs 30 for parking and Rs 10 per head for Wildlife Protection Cess. The reach the falls one has to climb down about 200 steps which can be a bit tiresome for the aged or weak considering the temperature and humidity. The falls is a cascade which comes down as steps creating a heavenly breathtaking sight.
From Tirathgarh we reached The Dandami Luxury Resort, which is right next to the massive Chitrakot Falls. The resort is the only good staying option in Chitrakot. The rooms are large though it needs a facelift. The most remarkable thing is the view of the falls from the rooms. Though not from all rooms, the cottage 101 & 102 offers clear and closest view and indeed it is a jaw-dropping sight.
The approach to the falls is nicely paved and visitors can walk up to the very edge of the falls though it is not advisable due to safety concerns. In monsoon, the falls is widest, fattest and most beautiful. The Indravati River tumbles down the 90 feet odd cliff with a deafening sound. The force and volume of water are immense and it overpowers one’s senses. The speed with the river jumps down the clip is mind-boggling.
There are several lesser-known waterfalls in the area like Chitradhara and Tamda Ghumar etc. Though we could not visit them the next morning due to torrential rains. Jagdalpur town has few little sights like Danteswari Temple and Bastar Palace which can be visited as well.
Airport: Visakhapatnam(291 Km) and Raipur(294 Km)
Railhead:Jagdalpur(JDB), Raipur(R), Visakhapatnam(VSKP), Vizianagram(VZM)
Accommodation: Dandami Luxury Resort by Chhattisgarh Tourism.