The iron-hilled valley
Originally known as Tarlapal and Dantawali, the little town of Dantewada gained its name from the presiding deity Ma Danteshwari. It is one among the 52 Shakthi Peethas in Hindu Mythology. Dantewada is blessed with an abundance of mineral resources and is one of the famous iron ore mining sites in the country. Deposits of Uranium, Granite, Limestone, and marble are also present, giving the area high economic importance.
What makes Dantewada different from other tourist destinations is that the district administration of Dantewada had taken the initiative to set up community tourism and increase skill training and job opportunities for the locals of the district. So you get the chance to take the tour from the eyes of a local. Also, It is high in cultural diversity with many tribes living in the area like Maria, Muria, Dhurwa, and Gonds. Something one must make sure to see is the special dance performed by the Gonds called 'Dandami Mariyas', where they dance wearing turbans with horns. It is a hotspot of tribal culture and heritage.
The star attraction and engagement that Dantewada has to offer is the 3000 feet trekking expedition guided by a youth of the community, to a peak in the Bailadila Ranges. A 3-foot long idol of Lord Ganesha can be seen at the peak, the history of which is still unknown. A night stay in the wild can be arranged with the assistance of the community.
This serene town is a complete package with gushing waterfalls, majestic hills, and green landscapes.
Naxalism is rampant in the area. So thorough and advanced research before planning a trip to Dantewada is a must.
How to reach
Dantewada is well connected by road and that is the most convenient way to reach the town.
How to Reach by Flight
There is no airport in Dantewada and the nearest airport is the Raipur International Airport. It is a road journey of 350 kilometers to Dantewada and takes about 7-8 hours.
How to Reach by Train
Dantewada has its own railway station called the Dantewara Railway Station and it is connected to most major cities though the frequency of trains is not very high.
How to Reach by Bus
The Dantewada bus station has regular buses running from all major cities on daily basis.
How to Reach by Road
It is very well connected to all major cities by road. Traveling by taxi from both Jagdalpur and Raipur to Dantewada is most preferred and convenient.
How to travel within
Culture and tribes
Dantewada is home to many indigenous tribes. The tribes, their way of life and cultural roots are majorly what attracts a lot of tourists to Dantewada. Their staple food includes a lot of meat and traditionally brewed rice beer or liquor called 'Paje'. One peculiar dish that you must try is the 'Chapda Chatni', which is pickle made out of red ants. Draping of clothes is not seen much, but you can notice a wide range of ornamentation. Necklaces called 'Muhar Mala' and 'Chapsari', braid locks, ear tops called 'Khinwa' and 'Chude/Chudiya' are some of them. They primarily worship nature but also worship their local deities like Mawli Mata, Bhairam Dev, and Seethla devi. They celebrate a number of festivals that are called 'Pandums'. Many bizarre practices, especially in marriage like Polygamy (Bahu-Vivah) and Old-Age marriage (Vridh-Vivah) are seen.
Farming, Poultry Farming, and Animal husbandry are the occupational options for the tribes. They also collect and sell forest produce like fruits and firewood, baskets and soop (an instrument used for winnowing grains) woven from bamboo by the women of the tribe. The tribes are impeccable artisans who work with bamboo, metal, clay, and stone to create the most beautiful handicrafts that they decorate with shells and peacock feathers.
Start the day on a spiritual note by visiting the temples of Battisa and Mama Bhanja. But before anything else, take the blessings of their presiding deity Ma Danteshwari. After a good lunch, visit the highest peak of Akash Nagar, followed by Kailash Nagar. A great view of the valley as it spreads out below can be seen from here.