Adventure Tourism in Dantewada Chhattisgarh; Visit Dholkal and Phoolpad Waterfalls
Dantewada surprised me! Its untouched pristine forests and mountains charmed me beyond words. The amount of green cover Dantewada easily makes it an ideal tourism spot from several angles. Adventure tourism in Dantewada can take off very well. Hidden in the interiors are 2 destinations in hill top worth trekking to; Dholkal and Phoolpad Waterfalls. Locals consider Dholkal a purely pilgrim destination but for trekkers this is one challenging spot to conquer. Phoolpad on the other hand is Mother Nature’s gift to Dantewada, it has a beautiful waterfall.
Adventure Tourism in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh
Trek to Dholkal
This trek to Dholkal is 16kms both ways. There are 2 temples in the 2 mountain tops side by side, one Surya Temple and another Devi Mata temple in Dholkal of which nothing remains except a huge idol of Lord Ganesha. Our destination was Dholkal. The 9kms uphill took almost two and half hours. I had stuffed myself with a good south Indian breakfast, hoping the energy would last the 16kms trek. It was through a forest, the green trees provided good cover from the rising blazing sun. Sights of little streams, huge human size ant hills, hanging roots, and balancing rocks made the journey uphill interesting. But we didn’t pause at the spots long lest the whole trek gets delayed.
250m before the final destination the terrain changed. There were huge boulders of rocks, it was an indication we neared the hill top where no more trees grew. This part is much more difficult than the 8kms+ I had covered. Yet we went on, all thanks to the encouragement and motivation from our tour guide, Mr. Jeet Singh Arya (scroll down to read more about him).
My Trishanku Moment
Just 20m prior to the tip I faced my Trishanku moment, frozen with fear. The view from this part of hilltop, however gorgeous it may have been was scary for me. The thought that I can slip off the rocks or the rock on which I was standing will give away froze me. I was neither able to get down nor able to move up further. After some time I found myself alone and I had to decide something. And as if God sent, a group which had completed the trek were descending. They left behind a guide, a local tribal, for me. Thank God for him I completed the next 20m a thin narrow stretch. Not once did I look down. The idol was exactly 180degrees opposite to the place I stood for so long. 10 minutes approx, but it seemed ages to me!
Lord Ganesha at Dholkal
The divine sight of elephant headed, pot bellied sitting cosy, Lord Ganesha in Dholkal was worth all the effort. This is right at the peak of dhol (drum) shaped mountain, Dholkal. All round is green forest cover of mountain sides. It is presumed that the idol was made during the rule of Nagvanshi dynasty in the 9th or 10th century. This spot has ruins of Devi Mata Temple, the structure lays scattered there. From this spot we saw the Surya Temple in the next peak.
Walking down 9km to start point would be easy I thought but that was equally strenuous. Since there was no clear cut path, and loose gravels here and there, it was an effort holding back and place steps carefully lest we slip. We halted at several places devouring the sights we had rushed past while on our way up. Finally I spotted cow dung and I was so happy… you know why? It meant the plains are close and that meant we were closer to start point. This trip too took close to two and half hours. By the time we all assembled together again it was 3.30PM, a good 6 hours spent in trekking.
Trek to Phoolpad Waterfalls
Mother Nature has blessed Chhattisgarh with several little pockets of scenic spots. Though land locked the hilly terrains have created some very beautiful waterfalls. Chitrakoot Waterfalls being the most famous of all. The state has immense potential for Eco tourism. We trekked to an offbeat destination of Dantewada, the Phoolpad Waterfalls.
Comparatively this Phoolpad trek was much easier than Dholkal trek. The distance was roughly 3kms to and fro. Half the distance was covered through concrete steps. While descend was easy, ascent had my lungs bursting. The entire trek can be covered in 2 hours
Jeet Singh Arya, the Trek Guide
Mr Jeet is an MBA graduate who has no passion for corporate jobs. Instead he has turned into an entrepreneur promoting tourism in Chhattisgarh. It was his childhood desire to be a local guide to the various tourist destinations in his state. Fortunately his father understood his passion and has always encouraged him to pursue his dream.
I interacted closely with him during the trekking episodes. One sentence of his which comes to mind is: “Ma’am darr ke aage jeet hain!” which translates to “Ma’am there is success beyond fear!” This was a tag line for one of the beverages in India some years back. Mr Jeet uses this quote, which coincidentally is his name, wisely to inspire the trekkers to overcome fear and climb new heights. While at Dholkal he single handedly encouraged and inspired all of us to cross the last 250m treacherous path. I was amazed how he knew each boulder so well. Mr Jeet constantly kept guiding where to put the foot, which edge to be gripped. To his credit he has guided trekkers aged as old as 70 years to trekkers as young as 12 years! Indeed commendable!
Check out his website: Unexplored Bastar. He actively participates and promotes trekking, camping, hiking, adventure sports, culture tourism and adventure tourism. He also has contacts with some ‘home stay’ there. For all that he is doing for his state Mr. Jeet Singh Arya deserves to be rewarded. Our country needs more youngsters like him!
Thanks to Dantewada District Administration I could experience this adventure tourism facet of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh.