Chhattisgarh: A Tapestry of Heritage

ChhattisgarhA Tapestry of Heritage

Chhattisgarh, located in Central India, is a vibrant state with a rich tapestry of resources and culture. It stands as the ninth largest state in terms of area and is home to approximately 30 million people, making it the seventeenth most populous state in India.

Bordered by seven states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, Chhattisgarh became an independent state on November 1, 2000, with Raipur as its capital.

Known for its rapid development, Chhattisgarh boasts a Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of 5.09 lakh crore (US$64 billion) as of 2023-24, with a per capita GSDP of 152,348 (US$1,900). The state is abundant in resources, possessing the third largest coal reserves in India and supplying electricity, coal, and steel to the nation.

Moreover, with over 40% of its land covered by forests, Chhattisgarh proudly holds the title of having the third largest forest cover in the country, underscoring its significance in environmental conservation and biodiversity.

Join us as we delve into the enchanting story of Chhattisgarh!

Historical Journey of Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh's history is a tapestry woven with diverse narratives and intriguing origins. Formerly known as Dakshin Kosala, its name, "Chhattisgarh," gained prominence during the Maratha Empire in 1795. The etymology of the term sparks debates, with theories ranging from its association with the presence of 36 ancient forts to its roots in the Chedi dynasty of Kalinga. 


The region's heritage runs deep, echoed in ancient texts like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and evidenced by archaeological finds such as the Sitabengra caves. Over the centuries, Chhattisgarh saw the rise and fall of various dynasties until it came under Maratha rule in the 18th century.

Later, under British governance as part of the Central Provinces and Berar, the demand for statehood emerged, culminating in the formation of Chhattisgarh as a separate state on November 1, 2000, under the Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Chhattisgarh's Diverse Landscape and Biodiversity

Chhattisgarh's geography offers a diverse landscape, featuring hilly terrain in the north and south, while fertile plains dominate the centre. With nearly 44% forest cover, it ranks third in India for wooded areas. Its outline is similar to a sea horse, with hills partitioning river basins.

The Mahanadi River and its tributaries, notably the Shivnath, facilitate extensive rice cultivation. The other important rivers are Hasdeo, Rihand, Indravati, Jonk, Arpa and Shivnath.

Diverse Landscape and Biodiversity
Diverse Landscape and BiodiversityDiverse Landscape and Biodiversity

Rich in biodiversity, Chhattisgarh is home to the van bhainsa (wild Asian buffalo), the pahari myna (hill myna), and the Sal tree, especially prominent in the Bastar division. Its expansive forest cover hosts numerous National Parks and Tiger Reserves, including the UNESCO-recognized Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve. 

Chhattisgarh experiences a tropical climate, marked by hot summers reaching up to 49°C, while monsoons from late June to October bring relief. Winters are pleasant, particularly in locales like Ambikapur, Mainpat, Pendra Road, Samri, and Jashpur.

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Transport Infrastructure

Chhattisgarh boasts a strong transportation network encompassing roads, railways, and air travel. The state is crisscrossed by 20 national highways, covering a total distance of 3,078 kilometres, complemented by an extensive network of state highways and major district roads stretching over 8,000 kilometres.

Railway connectivity, managed primarily by the South East Central Railway Zone, blankets nearly the entire state, with vital junctions located in Bilaspur, Durg, and Raipur. Notably, Chhattisgarh leads the nation in freight loading, a significant contributor to Indian Railways' revenue.

Swami Vivekananda Airport in Raipur acts as the primary domestic gateway, with regional airports in Bilaspur, Jagdalpur, and Ambikapur supporting connectivity. A reduction in sales tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has spurred passenger traffic, signalling substantial growth in air travel within the state.

Governance and Administration in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh's governance structure revolves around its legislative assembly, comprising 90 members, and its representation in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, with 11 and five members, respectively. 

The state is divided into five administrative divisions: Bastar, Durg, Raipur, Bilaspur, and Surguja, which are further subdivided into districts. With 33 districts, each led by a district headquarters, Chhattisgarh is efficiently organised at the grassroots level.

Major cities such as Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Korba, Raigarh, Rajnandgaon, and Jagdalpur serve as crucial centres for governance, commerce, and cultural exchange, driving the state's overall progress and development.

Flourishing Economy and Vibrant Media Landscape

Chhattisgarh's economy is thriving, with a nominal gross state domestic product (GSDP) of ₹5.09 lakh crore (US$64 billion) in 2023-24, making it the 17th largest state economy in India. This remarkable growth rate of 11.2% is credited to advancements in agriculture and industrial production.

Agriculture, focusing on rice, maize, and millet, remains crucial, yet modernisation is needed for increased productivity. However, limited irrigation, covering only 20% of the area, poses challenges. The state's power sector is strong, producing surplus electricity with the contribution of major players like NTPC and private enterprises.

Furthermore, the steel and aluminium industries play significant roles in the economy, leveraging Chhattisgarh's abundant natural resources, particularly coal and minerals. 

The state also boasts a vibrant media landscape, featuring leading print media outlets like Hari Bhoomi, Dainik Bhaskar, Patrika, Navabharat, and Nai Duniya. With growing investments, export opportunities, and an active media presence, Chhattisgarh's economy is on a trajectory of sustained growth and development.

Chhattisgarh's HDI: Urban-Rural Disparities & Challenges

Chhattisgarh's Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.613, ranking 31st among Indian states. Big cities like Raipur and Bhilai are doing well, but rural areas struggle with not having enough resources. There's a big difference in education, too.

Bhilai has an 86% literacy rate, while Bastar only has 54%. Raipur is growing fast, especially Atal Nagar, which is becoming a big financial centre. But, poverty and lack of education, especially among certain groups like the STs, are still significant problems.

To fix this, we must ensure everyone gets a fair chance to develop. Also, we need to protect vulnerable communities from unfair accusations like those related to witchcraft.

Demographics Snapshot

Chhattisgarh boasts a diverse population, with approximately 23.4% residing in urban areas. Scheduled Tribes constitute around 34%, Scheduled Castes 12%, and over 50% belong to Other Backward Classes.

The plains are predominantly inhabited by castes such as Teli, Satnami, and Kurmi, while forest regions are primarily occupied by tribes like Gond, Halba, and Kamar/Bujia. Hinduism is the main religion, followed by Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and others.

Chhattisgarhi, alongside Hindi, serves as the official language, spoken by the majority. The state maintains a commendable female-male sex ratio, ranking fifth among Indian states, with rural women often exhibiting independence and social activism.

Traditional practices like chudi pahanana empower women in marital decisions. Temples devoted to goddesses mirror the state's socio-cultural fabric, yet male dominance persists in societal structures.


Chhattisgarh’s Diverse Cultural Tapestry

Diverse Cultural Tapestry
Diverse Cultural TapestryDiverse Cultural Tapestry

Chhattisgarh's cultural tapestry is diverse and dynamic, boasting a rich religious heritage with sects like Satnampanth and Kabirpanth. The state holds significance in the epic tale of Lord Rama, with places like Shivrinarayan resonating deeply.

Odia culture leaves its mark on the eastern regions, enriching the state's cultural mosaic. Flourishing literature, intricate crafts like Kosa silk and Dhokra metal art, and vibrant indigenous dances like Panthi and Raut Nacha characterise its cultural scene.

The state's cuisine, celebrated for delicacies like Aamat and Bafauri, reflects its identity as the rice bowl of India. Vibrant festivals like Bastar Dussehra and Rajim Kumbh Mela further enhance the cultural vibrancy of Chhattisgarh.

Must-Visit Destinations in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh, nestled in central India, is a treasure trove of cultural heritage and natural wonders. From ancient monuments to unique wildlife, the state offers a plethora of experiences, including intricately carved temples, breathtaking waterfalls, mysterious caves, and captivating rock paintings.

Must-visit attractions include Maitri Bagh, the region's largest zoo, and Mainpat, known as the "mini Shimla" of Chhattisgarh.

With its abundance of waterfalls, hot springs, and national parks, adventure beckons at every corner. Raipur is home to India's pioneering man-made jungle safari, providing an unforgettable wildlife encounter. 

Must-Visit Destinations
Must-Visit DestinationsMust-Visit Destinations

Some other places to visit in Chhattisgarh include Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Shri Rajiv Lochan Mandir, Chitrakot Waterfalls, Rajeev Smriti Van, Mahakoshal Art Gallery, Purkhauti Muktangan, Bhoramdeo Temple, Tirathgarh Falls, and Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum, etc.

Furthermore, sports enthusiasts gather for events such as the Abujhmad Peace Marathon and the annual Chhattisgarhiya Olympics, celebrating the essence of traditional Indian games.

Education Landscape

In Chhattisgarh, education holds a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of the state's development. The 2011 census indicated a noteworthy literacy rate of 71.04%, showcasing a significant improvement compared to previous years. However, a gender gap persists, with female literacy lagging at 60.59%.

Nonetheless, the census data highlights a substantial increase in the number of literate individuals, indicating a growing emphasis on education statewide. By 2011, the total literate population exceeded 25.5 million, a commendable achievement attributed to the efforts of both men and women.

These statistics emphasise the ongoing need to foster educational opportunities and promote literacy for all residents, ensuring a brighter and more inclusive future for Chhattisgarh.

In conclusion, Chhattisgarh, with its rich history, diverse geography, thriving economy, vibrant culture, and commitment to education, stands as a beacon of progress in central India. From its ancient roots to its modern-day achievements, the state continues to evolve, offering a blend of tradition and innovation.

With a focus on sustainable development, equitable growth, and inclusive governance, Chhattisgarh is poised to embark on a journey towards a prosperous future, driven by the collective aspirations and efforts of its people.

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