Dantewada, to the south of Bastar, derives its name from its presiding deity, Devi Danteshwari, the Goddess worshipped as an incarnation of shakti (strength). It is believed to be one of the 52 sacred shakti peethas (seat of shakti , female power) of Hindu mythology. Lord Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, is reputed to have taken shelter here during his 14 years of exile. At various times, the region has been ruled by the Nags, Satwahanas, Nalas and Chalukyas. Traces of Buddhism and Jainism dating back to the 3 rd century AD can be seen here.
Dantewada's forests are home to several species of wildlife, including 2 that are native to the area - the Pahadi Maina and the Wild Buffalo. The area is inhabited by several tribal groups, including Maria, Muria, Dhurwa, Halba, Bhatra, and Gonds. They are renowned for their artistic excellence and produce outstanding terracotta, bell metal and bamboo-craft artisans.
Dantewada is extremely mineral rich. Bailadila has one of the largest deposits of Iron Ore in the world. Uranium, corundum, granite, graphite, limestone and marble are also found here.
Dantewada shares borders with three states - Maharashtra to the west, Orissa to the East and Andhra Pradesh to the south - each with a very different culture. As such, Dantewada's culture is a rare and unique blend of all of these, with its own tribal traditions.
This mining area has one of the largest deposits of Iron ore in the world. These are of extremely high quality - the Iron content of the ore is as high as 68%. 14 reserves have been discovered, of which 3 are being mined. Bailadila has two towns - Bacheli (29 km from Dantewada) and Kirandul (41 km from Dantewada). The mines are in the highest peak, Aakash Nagar. You can visit this, after taking permission from NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation). The mile-long iron-ore trains are a sight not easily forgotten. The 22 km road from Bacheli to Aakash Nagar winds through some extremely scenic forests. Another 12 km road from Kirandul takes visitors to Kailash nagar, another peak.
Bailadila means "hump of the ox", and the mountain range here has peaks that look like the humps of an ox.
Buses and private taxies are available from Dantewada for both Bacheli and Kirandul.
- Located on the banks of the Indrawati river, about 75 km (a one and a half to two hour drive) to the south west of Jagdalpur, Barsoor was once an epicentre of Hindu civilization. It is believed that there were once 147 temples and an equal number of ponds here. The ruins of these temples, dating back to the 10 th and 11 th centuries (i.e. over 1,000 years old) can be seen even today. Some beautiful images of Lord Vishnu can also be seen.One Shiva temple, with 12 carved stone pillars, has nude figures on the outside. Another Shiva temple has 32 carved stone pillars, a black granite Nandi (Shiva's carrier) bull, and two sanctum sanctorum, with a common court. The ruins of this temple have been recently restored. A 50 foot high temple, known locally as Mama-bhanja-ka-mandir (temple of the maternal uncle and nephew), is in good condition, but lacks an idol. It is not clear to which deity the temple was consecrated, or even if it was ever consecrated. The biggest attraction though, is the Ganesha Temple. While the temple itself is in ruins, two sandstone images of Ganesh, both in the aspect of Maha-Ganapati, are amazingly intact. The larger of these, and the more impressive, is about 8 feet high and over 17 feet wide.
- 6 km from Barsoor, the river Indrawati splits into 7 parts to form one small waterfall, Saath Dhara. This has lovely views of the river and is a very peaceful picnic spot. Avoid visiting Barsoor on the day of the haat (market) as the market place is close to the temple and the tranquillity gives way to noise and activity.
- 14 km from Dantewada, on the way to Bacheli, the small village of Gama Wada has giant stone pillars, erected centuries ago by the local tribes in memory of their deceased relatives.Getting There :- Buses and taxies are available from Dantewada at regular intervals.
- This ancient temple is at the confluence of the Dankini and Shankini rivers, about one and a half hours from Jagdalpur. It was built by the Chalukya kings of Bastar in honour of their family Goddess, Devi Danteshwari, who is venerated by both Hindus and tribals in the entire Bastar region (Danteshwari is believed to be the new name of Manikeshwari, the family Goddess of the Naga Dynasty who preceeded the Chalukyas). The temple is divided into four parts - Garbh Griha, Maha Mandap, Mukhya Mandap and Sabha Mandap. The first two are constructed using stone. The temple itself has been constructed at various times, but the sanctum sanctorum is believed to be more than 800 years old. A Garud Pillar has been erected in front of the temple entrance.The Danteshwari Temple really comes to life during the Bustar Dassera festival season. Men have to wear a lungi to enter the temple.
How to Reach
- Dantewada is connected with Jagadalpur, the nearest town, by State Highway 9.Private Luxury Bus runs regular bus services from all the big cities of Chatthisgarh - Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Rajnandgaon - to Bailadila, and these go via Dantewada.Dantewada is also connected by road with Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, the neighboring state. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) runs a regular bus service on this route.
- There is a train (South East Railway) from Vishakhapatnam to Bailadila which stops for a while at Dantewada.
- Nearest Airport is Raipur