October to March are the most clement months as far as weather goes. To observe tribal culture at its vibrant best, it is best to plan a trip in Bastar during key fairs and festivals. Most of them happen between January and March. Bastar Dassehra, in particular, draws travelers from around the world. It starts as early as July and runs for 75 days, with the most exciting days in early to mid-October. Note that dates of festivals depend on the local calendar, so contact Chhattisgarh Tourism from an update. The state’s famous waterfalls, meanwhile are at their thundering best just after mansoons.
Modest, breathable clothing, sunscreens, hats, comfortable walking shoes, insect repellent.
Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, is connected by air, rail, and road to major metros and cities. Bastar lies south of Raipur and is best reached by car.
Air: The state’s airport is situated about 15km from Raipur. Air India, Jet Airways, JetKonnect and IndiGo connect Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Indore, Nagpur, Kolkata, Chennai and other major cities.
Train: Raipur railway station lies on the Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai line, with connectivity to key cities in north, east and central India.
Bus: Local buses run between cities, but take much longer than a car. The best option between Raipur and Jagdalpur is Kanker Travels and Mahindra Travels. The company offers air-conditioned and air-cooled buses.
Hiring a guide for your trip is highly recommended, especially if you are interested in accessing tribal villages. A guide will be able to arrange a meal in a village, organize a special dance performance and so on. Jagdalpur based Awesh Ali is a reservoir of in-depth knowledge and ha close connection with the tribal community.
The two main bases to explore Bastar are Kanker and Jagdalpur. Don’t expect world-class amenities but it is not difficult to find reasonably clean rooms with TV, AC, hot water in the bathrooms and room service. Most mid=range hotels have Wi-Fi and accept credit cards; else and ATM is never too far away in the larger towns.
In Jagdalpur, you are best off eating at a hotel. You will find small dhabas along the highway and even in the villages, which make for great snack stops. If you’re particular about hygiene through, consider bringing your own picnic. Eateries reviewed in this book have been assigned the following rate categories, based on the price of a meal for two.