Chhattisgarh – A Rural Retreat

8th March, 2019 | Article By Akanksha Dureja

At the forests of Barnawapara (Chhattisgarh, India) I felt closer to nature than I have ever felt before. The day and a half that I spent there has made sure that Barnawapara goes straight into a list of a few repeats I allow myself. I would have loved to spend a few more leisurely afternoons roaming around the lush green forests but we had to move to our next destination. I say afternoons, because I am not a morning person really. More on that some other time.

Barnawapara Forest gets its name from the villages of Barna and Wapara that surround it. The forest between the two villages is immensely beautiful, but the villages themselves took my heart away. To me, it seemed like they were straight out of an old school text book. Chhattisgarh is called the Rice Bowl of India because farmers from villages like these, sweat it out day and night. They are hardworking people who create miracles from the earth so we can have our pricey Basmati.

The villagers I met were simple people with huge hearts. They even welcomed us into their homes. A few of us who went for a morning walk were lucky enough to have long, leisurely conversations with them and came back with amazing stories. Here comes a glimpse of village life, right from the heart of India, Chhattisgarh.

A woman waved, as we passed by. The child she was holding seemed to react as if we were from another world, which I suppose, we literally were. Our worlds don’t coincide, but if we make an attempt, they can. Chhattisgarh Tourism is trying to bridge that gap. Rural Tourism is a trend that is picking up with the urban Indian population and it could be a way to connect our kids to our roots.

After all, where else except in villages like these could we witness pure calm all around weaved with eternal greens. Not in our cities for sure. Even though spotting a cow in the middle of a road is not uncommon in India, the sight of a few of them bathing in a pond is something we associate only with our villages. I wish I could know what it is like to take a dip without a care in the world.

There was this government office where the forest officials work, which was too pretty to be a government office. They are managing without a mobile that connects and definitely without an internet connection. Maybe, living a life free of those addictions.

A less travelled road is so beautiful it makes a perfect canvas and we found many of those in Chhattisgarh.They reminded me of that small village from the movie ‘Billu’. Yes, you can take me to a village with no connectivity with the outside world, but I will still think about SRK. That’s true love for you.

The lush green fields of the area made a really pretty sight. Some ladies were working on the farms and they made me swell with pride. Even though our villages are way behind in terms of modernization, it seemed they have embraced the working-woman culture with open hearts. Whatever is the reason behind this change, it is a pretty good one.  Since there are no child-care centres to take care of the kids while they work, the women bring them to the farms. I wonder if their kids go to school. I couldn’t find a school in the village though. 🙁

I had not seen a farm since the last time I travelled on a train from Kanpur to Delhi during the day, which was at least a couple of years ago. The only difference being that these were paddy fields in Chhattisgarh and those were fields of groundnut, sunflower and wheat. Wouldn’t it be an enriching experience to spend a day in fields doing what the farmers do, to feed the nation? #RuralTourism could be the answer! 🙂

And then, both the worlds met. A farmer was on his way to the paddy fields when we requested him to pose for us. He agreed and posed, consciously aware of being the centre of attraction for a bunch of girls from the city. He asked us where we were from. Technology charms men like nothing else, and this old farmer was no exception. He smiled an ear to ear smile when he saw his picture captured on a phone camera. Isn’t his expression just priceless? As was our trip to this #tribalplanet.

By Akanksha Dureja

Akanksha Dureja
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