Blog by Ashish Sahu
Bastar the Heart of Chhattisgarh: Day Trek to Dholkal
The mystery of the Ganesha idol in Dholkal is not yet resolved. It is said that this idol lasts from the 11th century. It is presumed that the idol was made long ago during the time of Nagvanshi dynasty in the 9th or 10th century. The idol is 3 ft in length and located at one of the highest peaks (3000 feet) of Bastar. The idol remained unknown for many centuries but recently it has been found by an archaeologist in September 2012 in the dense forest ranges of Bailadila. Reaching Dholkal is quite difficult as one has to walk in amidst dense forests with a guide. It is considered as a place of scenic beauty with thousands of archaeological and historical secrets hidden in its torso.
I love to explore the unexplored places to enjoy the glory of nature and today I am going to share my trekking experience at Dholkal.
Lord Ganesha at the Dholkal peak
The best journeys are those which are least planned and this trekking was one of them. The trek to Dholkal is 16kms both ways. There are 2 temples in the 2 mountain tops alongside, one Surya Temple and another Devi Mata temple in Dholkal about which nothing remains except a huge idol of Lord Ganesha.
We started our journey on a bike from Jagdalpur at 7 in the morning. We arrived at Faraspal (a village before Dholkal) after two hours of the bike ride. My group consisted of four enthusiastic people, mainly from Raipur and Jagdalpur. Our trek leader is a passionate enthusiastic young man, who is in love with the mountains. Our group also had a guide from Unexplored Bastar with good knowledge about mountaineering, she guided us during the trip.
Time to trek—
We all started having a comfortable walk through the conifers as we went deeper into the forest. The path changed to rocky–built of sliced rocks a centuries ago, and Mother Nature started showing her beauty.
We glanced a small water source locally called as “Doh” or “Khassa” which is a major source of drinking water for wild animals. Again we continued our trek watching huge anthills locally known as “Dengur” or “Bambi” and other small creatures, climbers and other small animals.
Our next step took us to a natural hammock which is made by a plant hanging on two huge trees, giving me an exotic feeling of nature’s love.
As we moved ahead crumpling a white flower, we got a pleasant fragrance of Jasmine (Mogra) completely making us lost in forests watching a giant tree spreading its arms in the sky.
After completing one-fourth of our journey, we got to know about the “Balancing Rock” which is a naturally occurring geological formation featuring a large rock or boulder. The main trekking starts 250m before the final destination where the whole terrain changed. There were huge boulders of rocks, it was an indication that we neared the hilltop where no more trees grew. This part is much difficult than the 8kms+ I had covered. Yet we went on, all thanks to the encouragement and motivation of our tour guide, the way was full of adventure and the chirping of birds made it more awesome, small snakes could also be seen hiding in the cracks of mountains.
Before I reached the peak, my expectations for the site was continuous increasing, earlier before the trip, I heard that the idol of Lord Ganesha fell down and was again restored to its existing stage, so the question which was arising in my mind was how the idol would be then, what would be its current condition and many other anticipations .
At the Dholkal peak with the trekking group
A step towards a rock answered all my questions. Viewing the whole valley made my day blissful and increased my interest towards the peak. As we went higher, the head of Lord Ganesha was visible and a blow of fresh air stroke our faces giving a pleasant essence. The hardest trek started with a narrow path, a gust of fresh air chasing the clouds while with the help of our team leader and plants nearby, we finally crossed the Dholkal peak in the noon. This is the highest point of our trek, at around 3000 feet. having a beautiful view of Bailadila valley and 1000 years old idol of Lord Ganesha. Taking a deep breath and worshipping the idol, we all relaxed chasing the sky, had our refreshment and moved towards the nearby mound remains of an unknown temple.
As the time went on, the colours of the sky changed and the clouds started pouring, telling us to return. The droplets of water made us energetic enough to move fast towards the arduous downhill trudge of 8 kms in foggy weather. But the views were worth rewarding. Again a wide array of stunning flowers, high and narrow waterfalls in the distance, a bewildering variety of mushrooms mesmerized us.
Dholkal welcomed us again with a sigh of relief and vehicles were waiting to take us to Jagdalpur. Down the hill, we ate the local food of Bastar. It was amazing to have food at home of friendly Gond tribes and their hospitality was outstanding.
This has been one of the best weeks of my life. No internet, no phone, no TV and of course, no office. Serene company of nature and new friends. Hills, brooks, lakes and above all, flowers of paradise. I would like to thank Unexplored Bastar for planning the trip as I can’t wait to get back to the hills again.