The capital of Chhattisgarh is making quite a name for itself as a prominent industrial town in Central India. But its rise as an education hub is what gives it, the edge. It is perhaps the only Indian city with an IIT, IIM, NIT and AIIMS, and is considered the spiritual birthplace of Swami Vivekananda. Sounds all very academic? Read on to find out how to have an enjoyable stay in Raipur.
Best time to visit: October to March is the best time to visit Raipur.
How to reach
By Air: Swami Vivekananda International Airport is 15km away from the south of Raipur, and it is the only international airport in Chattisgarh. IndiGo operates more than 100 flights between Raipur and key locations across India.
By Train: Raipur Railway Station connects the city to the rest of the country via several significant trains.
By Bus: Raipur is well-connected to all major parts of the country through Interstate buses as well as private buses.
Getting around: Raipur has a good network of buses provided by Raipur City Bus Limited (RCBL), Raipur Municipal Corporation and Raipur Nagar Nigam Transport Limited (RNNTL) that runs within the city. Other than the city buses, you can also try auto-rickshaws, tuk-tuks and taxis.
One of Raipur’s oldest and certainly its most iconic restaurant, the Girnar is where you go for a hearty Indian meal. The vegetarian thali is easily the most popular dish, followed closely by the chicken bharta.
The restaurant offers precisely what you’d think it does—a meal in the dark. Part of a global initiative to encourage differently abled individuals, DiD serves the meals in absolute darkness, guided by the staff. The concept forces you to focus all your senses on your meal, creating a truly delicious experience. It helps that the food is excellent.
Raipur’s favourite halwai, this one gets busy the moment it opens. While the samosas and kachoris are famous, it is the kulfi that pulls in most crowds. Good to know: they even offer sugar-free sweets for people with diabetes. Want to take some home? Their travel-friendly packaging will take care of it all.
The place is home to one of the oldest tribal societies, who masters in the skill of creating handcrafted items from natural raw materials. There are various unique things that you should buy from Raipur.
Handicrafts: This should be on the top of your shopping list. Buy dark metal figurines, Dokra statues, bell metal sculptures, fibre dolls, woodcrafts, terracotta pots either for gifting purpose or as souvenirs.
Handloom products: You must include locally made Dhruva Saree from various handloom stores in Raipur such as Togita Kosa handloom and Barlota Enterprises.
Clothing products: Another particular item that should pick up is colourful textiles. Ample textile shops are selling superior quality cotton at reasonable rates. You can check out several shops including Bombay textiles, Satguru textiles, Basant textiles amongst others.
Hyatt Raipur, Lalbhandi With its location in the heart of the commercial district the Hyatt Raipur means business. The 105 well-appointed rooms and suites offer all the creature comforts, while Café Oriza and The Bar offer dining options. The fact that it is inside a mall means that you are a few steps from the best of Raipur’s shopping and entertainment.
Premier InnCourtyard Raipur, Lalbhandi Barely 15 minutes from Raipur airport, this Marriott property is another excellent option for business travellers. An all-day dining restaurant, a full-service spa, a fitness centre and a pool complete the package, while the complimentary Wi-fi is the cherry on top.
The Gateway Hotel GE Road, Lalbhandi Another option in the same locality, the Gateway does everything you expect from a mid-range business hotel. But it is the rooftop infinity pool that is the object of delight. The location, right behind Magneto Mall and its multiplex, means those evenings will never be dull.
Wildlife reserves: Best admired from a safe distance, Raipur comprises of a bunch of national parks and reserves. Closest among them is the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, which has an impressive list of animals. Tigers, leopards, black buck, chinkara, antelopes, porcupines, this one’s worth checking out. If you want more traditional safari experience, try the twin nature parks in Madhya Pradesh. Kanha National Park is about 180km away, while Pench is further out at 320km, but well worth the ride.
Chitrakoot Falls: If an overnight adventure is what you’d like, the Chitrakoot Falls or Chitrakote Falls, is a thundering spectacle. It is worth making the 280-km drive from Raipur to see this wonder. The Chitrakoot Falls are arguably the widest waterfalls in the country. That and the horseshoe shape has earned them the tag of the “Niagara Falls of India’. The falls are perennial but are particularly awe-inspiring when the Indravati river is in full spate during the monsoon months of June-September.
Sirpur: Try Sirpur, approximately 80km from the city. Here, you can visit the Laxman Temple, one of the oldest surviving brick shrines in the country, built in the 7th century.
A park with science exhibits, horticultural exhibits and musical fountains, the Urja Park is where you can spend an evening or two. One of the exhibition rooms also has a beautiful display of Bastar culture, giving you a peek into Chhattisgarh’s tribal life. The Risali Talab next door is where you can head out for a round of boating. For another aqua adventure, drive two hours from Raipur to Madku Dweep, an island on the Shivnath River. Here, you will find well-preserved ruins of temples. Archaeologists have excavated coins, idols and artefacts from another time, pointing to a community and culture that was likely destroyed by a raging river. The river has now abated enough to allow you a peek at this fascinating site.