Do you want to travel to Chhattisgarh? Not sure. I am giving you 5 Reasons why you should travel to Chhattisgarhright now! Ok, now you wonder if Chhattisgarh is safe? Based on my personal experience after living and traveling extensively in Chhattisgarh, I have already shared my opinion on – Is Chhattisgarh safe for tourists? I can confidently say that Chhattisgarh is absolutely safe for tourists. Having said that, safety is never absolute. You have to take basic precautions everywhere you go. So, here I am sharing travel and safety tips for your trip to Chhattisgarh.
Chhattisgarh is unique; on one hand Chhattisgarh boasts one of the best and unexplored natural topography, inhabited by culturally rich indigenous tribes of India; on the other hand, the pockets of impenetrable forests serve as safe havens for Naxalites/Maoists. The strife between the Naxals/Maoists and the Government has made some parts of Chhattisgarh extremely sensitive.
Let me assure you, traveling to Chhattisgarh is just like traveling to any other State/city in India. So, all the basic travel or safety tips, which are applicable to any other part of the world, are also applicable in Chhattisgarh.
I have already shared a separate three-part blog post on25 Safety Tips for Solo Travelers, which is equally relevant for all kinds of tourists, and not just solo travelers.
However, traveling to the interior parts of the State demands little more caution. So, keeping in mind the sensitivity involved, I am sharing 7 safety tips for your trip to Chhattisgarh.
NOTE: Just to be clear, all the safety tips for your trip to Chhattisgarh mentioned in this post focus on the issues/problems that you might face while exploring deep interior tribal villages and dense forests all alone. All the cities and tourist locations like Sirpur, Barsur, Chitrakote waterfall, Tirathgarh waterfall, Kanger Valley National Park, Jagdalpur, Mainpat, Jashpur, etc. are absolutely SAFE and can be visited any time without any hassle.
1. Don’t go solo
I am a solo traveler, so don’t get me wrong when I say – don’t go solo!
Let me explain – for me, a solo trip is something you do all by yourself, without relying on any friend, guide or tour operator. So, when it comes to Chhattisgarh, you can comfortably and safely travel alone in main cities like Raipur, Durg, Bhilai, Bilaspur, etc; you can even take buses to small towns like Jagdalpur, Jashpur, Dantewada, etc. all by yourself.
In fact, whenever I have to go to Jagdalpur or Dantewada (Southern Chhattisgarh), I prefer taking night buses that leave from Raipur around 10:30 pm and reach the destination early morning around 6 am; and it is absolutely SAFE.
But, when it comes to traveling to villages and interior forests, instead of going there all by yourself, I would recommend going there along with at least one local person like a guide or a local friend. During all my trips to Chhattisgarh, including my visits to conflict affected areas, I was always accompanied by at least one experienced local guide from Unexplored Bastar.
Also, don’t venture out alone after dark. Do not venture deep in forests. Always steer clear of areas that are located far off the national/state highway.
2. Hire a local guide
Always hire a local guide from a reputed and recognised local travel/tour agent. Trust me, hiring a local guide is very economical in Chhattisgarh.
Mostly, these local guides are tribal youth, who are properly trained to assist tourists, show them the real beauty of a given place, provide sufficient information about that place and help in exploring the area and tribal lifestyle.
Reputed tour agents and local guides are extremely important from security point of view – they know local language and can comfortably converse with the tribals; not only are they well versed with the places and its topography, but also aware of all dos and don’ts. Such local guides and reputed tour agents know how to deal with any contingency or misunderstanding and they have important local connections at all necessary levels.
3. Don’t take sides on sensitive topics
Understand that Naxalism/Maoism is a sensitive topic in Chhattisgarh. So, although you might have your own opinion about Naxalism/Maoism, avoid taking sides – either for or against – when you visit towns/villages and meet local/tribal people.
Please understand that for most of the people like us, Naxalism is more of a radical concept or theory, which we do not face in our daily lives; but, for most of the local and tribal people, Naxalism is a reality, which they have been facing since decades.
You might have your views and opinions, but you are not aware about the ground realities. So, you may discuss these highly sensitive topics, but refrain from taking sides.
4. Be aware of current developments
99% of the time , life is as simple and normal here as in any other city of India. However, do not forget that since conflict is still going on in the deep interior areas; things and situations can change quickly.
So, one of the safety tips for your trip to Chhattisgarh is to always keep yourself updated with the latest developments as regards the political scenario make good use of your internet!
Apart from reading the information available online and in local newspapers, also talk to local people about recent developments. These local people are the best source of information; follow their advice!
5. Respect local and tribal culture
Remember, you are visiting their (tribal) place and home. Tribals’ way of life and culture are very different from the one we are used to seeing. You should not judge them or make fun of them for their way of life.
Don’t stereotype tribals; not all tribals are Naxals/Maoists, and not all Naxals/Maoists are tribals.
Local alcoholic brews like Salphi, Chindras, Mahua, etc. are very common in tribal menu and part of their way of life. In fact, it is not uncommon to see women or even young kids having these beverages; don’t express shock or raise your eyebrows at such sight!
Also, understand that tribals, by nature, are generally very shy and do not speak much with strangers; so, don’t take their behaviour as rude.
Follow general travel etiquettes like not clicking pictures, especially of women, without taking their prior permission.
6. Don’t show any ties with media, the establishment or the anti-establishment
Understand that the entire struggle here is between the establishment (the Government/State) and the anti-establishment (the Naxals/Maoists). Media also plays a very important role in this struggle.
So, for your security from the anti-establishments, do not show your ties with any media house, police/CRPF/security forces or the Government; and on the other hand, as regards the establishment, do not give them any suspicion of having links with any media house or being a Naxal-supporter.
As long as you maintain safe distance from the people involved in the struggle, there is nothing to worry about. A tourist is very much welcomed here by all.
7. Be truthful
Since this is a sensitive area, always be truthful about yourself and about the information you share with hotels/homestays and the police. Any dishonesty or lies will only raise suspicion about you and your presence in the area which might land you in trouble.
Don’t panic at the first sight of security personnel (police/CRPF). First of all, you will find the security personnel only in few areas; secondly, the presence of security personnel doesn’t automatically mean that the entire area is unsafe; it only means that they are being vigilant and taking precautions.
So, if at all you find any security personnel, always co-operate with them, be truthful to them and follow their advice. Also, always keep your ID handy.
These security personnel get all the necessary insider information from time to time. They allow tourists to explore the interior areas only when it is safe for tourists; in any case, tourists are not allowed to go to conflict areas.
These safety tips for your trip to Chhattisgarh are extremely practical. Following these basic rules will save you from a lot of unnecessary trouble. So, just be little cautious and you will have the experience of your lifetime in Chhattisgarh. Safe travels!
Have you been to Chhattisgarh? What safety tip do you follow while traveling to Chhattisgarh? Let me know in comments.