Jungle treks are rare. And here’s a glimpse of one such trek with you. It’s the Chhattisgarh Jungle trek.
“The forests in these regions are untouched and dreamy. I’m not surprised that Rudyard Kipling was inspired by these forests while writing The Jungle Book. They absolutely live up to our imagination of The Jungle Book!” says Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes.
Frankly, these forests are out of bounds for the public. You require special permissions from the forest department to get in. Indiahikes has a special arrangement with the forest department to trek through these forests. As trekkers, it’s a rare privilege to see and feel these near-inaccessible forest reserves.
This photo story gives you a day-wise glimpse of this rare jungle trek.
The Dense Sal Forest
Himalayan treks usually follow a pattern. You start by trekking through pine, oak, rhododendron forest, pop out of the tree line into the meadows and then trek to a high point in the alpine zone.
But things are totally different on the Chhattisgarh Jungle trek.
You trek through dense Sal forest. “The forest is alive with wildlife. You always have this uncanny feeling that you are being watched. There is an invisible omnipresence of wild animals around you. Sometimes it sends chills down your spine,” shares Senior Trek Leader Nitesh Kumar, who was instrumental in designing the current route of the Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek.
The main gate of Guru Ghasidas National Park. It’s not an ordinary gate, it’s the gateway of the future of trekking in India. Welcome to our Indiahikes Chhattisgarh Jungle trek. Photo by Gourab Nandy
You start by walking into the well-spaced sal forest. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The jungle gets denser as you get deeper into the forest. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
These forests are unlike the ones you see in the Himalayas. They are dense, but because trees are well-spaced, your gaze is able to penetrate the depths of the jungle. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Experiencing Ancient Caves in the Jungle
“Entering the cave was a different experience. It’s dark. And the walls of the cave have been uniquely patterned by years of erosion,” shares Nitesh.
Slightly off-trail, you notice an ancient cave in the forest. Photo by Nitesh.
This is a U-shaped cave which opens within 50 meter on the other side. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The insides of the cave quickly transport you to another world. An ancient world where people would often take shelter within such cave to escape from the wild animals in the jungle. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Notice closely and you'll see peculiar pattern created by water dripping in the cave. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The Thrill of Finding Pug Marks
You'll find many fresh pug marks of wild animals on the Chhattisgarh Jungle trail. "These pug marks can be as fresh as a 10-30 minutes ago. And it gives you chills thinking that merely a few minutes prior, a wild animal crossed this path," Nitesh says while sharing his experience of trekking in the jungle.
These fresh pug marks always remind you about the presence of the wild animals. It's like you are always being watched.
Suddenly after crossing the river we got to see this on the trail. But Mowgli couldn’t see Bagheera 🙂 Naseeb mein sirf unka pug mark tha (Fate only consisted of his pug mark)
A fresh pug mark of a hyena. You recognise a hyena by how the nails are dig into the soil. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Staying in a tribal village. Camping by the shores of a lake and river
The camping experience of Chhattisgarh Jungle trek is also unique. On the first night you stay in a homestay at a tribal village called Turripani. This experience takes you close to the lives of villagers who stay so deep into the forest. You also get to savour some local delicacies like litti chokha. You'll notice how intimately their life is connected to the forest cycles.
Our accommodation at Turrapani village. Photo by Gourab Nandy.
The place where villagers bring their crops after harvesting. Turripani is a very rural village inside Guru Ghasidas National Park. Photo by Gourab Nandy.
After the first night, you shift to staying in tents. What's absolutely a delight is the fact that both the camps from now are stationed by a water body. The first campsite -- Tadiyabaan is by the Tadiya lake. The second campsite, Pandupara is on the banks of the Gopat river.
The Tadiyabaan campsite. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Witnessing the sun setting over the Tadiya lake is a dreamy experience. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The Pandupara campsite by the Gopat river. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
There's a stunning silent at night in the forest. Everything goes eerily quiet as stars twinkly above in the sky. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The Enjoyable River Walk
On no other trek do you get this unique experience. "The Gopat river is very gentle, very unlike the roaring, gushing rivers in the Himalayas. This river lazily snakes through the forest. And the water merely comes up to the ankles," Nitesh says while describing the Gopat river.
A trekker walking in the Gopat river. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Most of the trek on the last day is on the Gopat river. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The river bed is soft, devoid of any pebbles. Walking on this river bed, with gentle cold water flowing is an enjoyable experience. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Climbing to the Highest Point
The trail within the jungle of Chhattisgarh may seem like it's flat. But it's not so. There are good ascends and descends on this trek. You climb to the highest altitude of 2,820 ft on this trek.
You can see the Guru Ghasidas National Park stretched in front of you from the highest point on the Chhattisgarh Jungle trek. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
The landscape is undulating. Here you see trekkers descending from the red plateau. Right in front is the Raja Pahad, the highest hill in the region. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
Trekking deep into the jungles of Chhattisgarh is a unique experience. Very different from a Himalayan trek. Do this trek to experience life in jungles in the heart of India. It's a rare experience, not accessible to all. And something that can be savoured only while on a multi-day trek in this region.
To know more about the best time to do this trek, watch this video.