The capital of Chhattisgarh is making quite a name for itself as a major 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 Raipur:
October to March is the best time to visit Raipur.
Most spoken languages in Raipur:
How to reach Raipur
Flights to Raipur: Swami Vivekananda International Airport is 15 km away from the south of Raipur, and it is the only international airport in Chhattisgarh. 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 trains.
By bus: Raipur is well-connected to all major parts of the country through interstate buses and private buses.
Getting around/local transport in Raipur: 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.
There are many local markets in the city. Mahoba Bazar, Pandari Road are some of the famous shopping spots in Raipur from where you can buy various things. The place is home to one of the oldest tribal societies, which master the skill of creating handcrafted items from natural raw materials. There are various unique things that you should buy from Raipur.
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.
Best admired from a safe distance, Raipur comprises many national parks and reserves. The closest among them is the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, which has an impressive list of animals. Tigers, leopards, blackbuck, chinkara, antelopes, porcupines, this one’s worth checking out. If you want a more traditional safari experience, try the twin nature parks in Madhya Pradesh. Kanha National Park is about 180 km away, while Pench is further out at 320 km, but well worth the ride.
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.
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 ‘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.
Try Sirpur, approximately 80 km from the city. You can visit the Laxman Temple, one of the oldest surviving brick shrines in the country, built in the 7th century.
Hareli is one of the prime festivals in the city of Raipur. It celebrated in July. The festivities include farmers putting leaves of the Bhelwa tree on their crops and praying for good harvest. People also hang neem twigs from their household doorframes to keep away seasonal diseases.
Gouri Goura is another significant festival in Raipur that is rejoiced in August with great enthusiasm. The celebrations take place in over six days, and the festival commemorates the marriage of the Goddess Parvati to Lord Shiva.