The little-known state of Chhattisgarh has remained off the tourist radar for decades, but as it slowly opens up to tourists it’s ripe for exploration. Main sights include Amarkantak – straddling the border with MP, this is one of the least-visited major Hindu holy sites in India, and offers a pleasant, hassle-free way to experience an important pilgrimage destination – and the nearby Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary, the only place in Chhattisgarh where tigers can be seen. Meanwhile, in the south, the tribal heartland of Bastar is rich in cultural and natural attractions. The easiest way to travel in and out of the state is by train via Raipur, the state’s busy and scruffy capital – but there’s little to see there otherwise.
In addition to the major sights there are many other places worth a visit – for full details, contact the Tourism Board (see opposite). In the north, for example, 85km east of Raipur, Sirpur, the region’s former capital and now a village, has a few fine fifth- to eleventh-century Buddhist and Hindu temples. Sirpur borders the hilly Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, which offers the chance to see leopards and even elephants. Way up in the north, towards Patna in UP, the state’s hill station, Mainpat offers relief from the hot season and has a sizeable Tibetan population. Meanwhile, just across the state border from Kanha in MP, exquisite erotic carvings based on the Kama Sutra can be seen on the eleventh-century nagar-style temples at Bhoramdeo, which make those at Khajuraho seem tame by comparison.