Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ratanpur Fort and Kutaghat Dam,Chhattisgarh

First Gate

Ratanpur is a tiny town some 25 km from Bilaspur.Last sunday we made a trip there.Me and siddharth started off from our hostel in Tamnar at 4 30am.We reached Raigarh,had our breakfast then boarded the Azad Hind Express at 7am.We reached Bilaspur at sharp 9am.There Pruthvi and Amit joined us and by 9 40am we were off in our hired indica.After 45 monutes or so we reached near the Kaal Bhairav Temple which comes a little before Ratanpur.This temple is believed to be a Tantric centre.Here we stopped for 15 minutes and Pruthvi,Siddharth and Amit went inside the temple while i stolled around on the road taking in the village sights.After their visit we started off again and reached the main Mahamaya Temple at Ratanpur at around half past ten.Again the three of them went and I had a look around.

Third Gate
        Next on our list was the Fort,the Hathi Qila built by King Prithvi Deva.This fort is near the old bus stand of Ratanpur.It is much better than what is described in the various sites on the internet.The main entrance is a simple structure having a doorway which leads to another gateway.This second gate has some scupltures which the tourism dept brochure describes as Ravana performing Yajana with various gods.From here we moved inside.The area of the fort is moderate, quite more than what one would expect given the vague descriptions on the internet.The fort area is maintained nicely with grass neatly cut and clear footways.We came across a fountain with four paths leading away from it.It is beautiful and one of the paths leads to a building which is in ruins.This is one of the three Rajmahals inside.The other two are no way better off than this one.We wandered around and came to the end where the third gate is.The whole fort is surrounded by water bodies.Two paths cut across which lead to the first and the third gate.
Near one of the Rajmahals some digging was going on and on asking we found out that Archeological Society of India was responsible for it.We started a conversation with one of them.Gauging our interest one of them gave us some ASI Brochures of other places nearby.Mr Neeraj was happy talking with us and gave us some useful info regarding the buildings inside the fort and other areas.The fort can be covered by keeping to the path on the right.It will make a circle around the fort and ends again near the first gate.
We were inside the fort complex for around 2 hours and leisurely covered everything.
Next on our list was the Kutaghat Dam just 10kms ahead.The dam itself is nothing spectacular.Its a storage dam.Good for a picnic.There is facility for a stay overnight.
Next was a visit to the Badal mahal in the small historic town Juna.To reach Juna you have to take a left turn while coming from bilaspur to ratanpur which leads to Kota on the way to Amarkantak.The fort i s totally in ruins with only 4 of the 7 storeys still standing.There are some small pillars which are the only recognizable feature.It is said that King Rajasimha constructed this mahal for his queen Kajra Devi.It is an example of kalachuri Architecture.
Badal Mahal at Juna

Kutaghat Dam
Third Gate

Staying Facilities at Kutaghat Dam
Ratanpur(25km from Bilaspur)
What to see- Hathi Qila (Fort) and Badal Mahal at Juna
And Kutaghat Dam
Car Rental services we used- Maa Travels
Total trip cost us Rs1300.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cycling in the Countryside.

Cycling is one of those activities which excites and relaxes at the same time.Also its ideal for taking in the atmosphere of a place.You get to move slowly and have a look at the surroundings.You dont have to worry about parking or license or fuel.Two months back I bought myself a Hero CityBike Neon.I use it to commute to my work site.Up until this sunday I didnt get a chance to take it out for a ride in the countryside.
This sunday I did and I took it for a ride.As it is winter I covered myself in a sweater,a jacket,a pair of gloves,a beanie and a double pair of socks just make sure I don't catch any cold.And then I took out my cycle and out I went for the much awaited trip.The morning was chilly with fog all around,I could see just a couple of 100 metres ahead. I went as far as 3kms before I decided to stop by a small stream.Here I sat down on a boulder and looked around.The birds were chirping,the stream was calm,the water moving smoothly down stream.I tucked my hands inside of my jacket and for some time played around with the vapour my breath was producing as I exhaled.I sat idly watching the few villagers who were outside and going to their work.After sometime I had a thought that it would be perfect to call up a friend and have a chat in these calm and peaceful surroundings and decided to call shoaib as he would be the only one who would be awake so early on a sunday morning.We talked for sometime and then I hung up and soon I started my return.I stopped by a roadside bandi and had hot local bada(vada).Then I was back to my room having successfully completed my first cycle venture outside the plant.