Located in the eastern part of Maharashtra, the Vidarbha region also known as Berar shares its borders with Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, accounting for almost 75% of the state’s forest cover. The topography ranges from thickly wooded hill forests to deciduous forests in the plains. Wildlife, cultural, archaeological and historical treasures are in plenty here.
Though political issues have concealed the real potential for tourism in Vidarbha till now, resulting in a lacking tourist infrastructure, the region is definitely worth exploring.
52,000 years ago, a meteor weighing 2 million tonnes struck our planet creating a 2 km wide hole in eastern Maharashtra. The crater gradually turned into a lake with an ecosystem around it that is so unique that scientists from all around the world have come to study it. The lush jungles that surround the lake are home to some of the most breathtaking species of plants, animals and insects.
Several medieval temples ring the crater including one with beautifully carved sculptures in various erotic postures reminiscent of the ones in the nearby town of Khajuraho and the most important one dedicated to Daityasudan, an avatar of Vishnu who is said to have played the demon Lonasura after whom the village is named.
It is a mere four hour drive from Aurangabad and there are several option available for lodging including a MTDC resort. Don’t forget to carry an insect repellent.
This sole hill station in the Vidarbha region is famed for being witness to an episode of Mahabharata where Bheema killed Keechak, an army commander who lusted after Draupadi. Mythology aside, this beautiful little hill station lies on the Deccan plateau, in northern Maharashtra ,surrounded by verdant jungles, only 230km away from Nagpur. Also closely lies the eerily beautiful mountain fort of Gawilghur, once a stronghold of the Maratha empire. Since the fort was originally constructed by a king of the Muzaffarid dynasty, the fort bears several inscriptions in Persian on each of its seven gates. Gavilgad is big – within the 36km circumference of its walls are a palace, ten ponds, seven cannons, a royal palace, several temples, turrets, bastions and a Muslim dargah. Chikaldhara has several options for staying.
Muktagiri Jain Temples
This beautiful cluster of 52 Jain temples is dramatically set around a thickly wooded hill, with waterfalls and loud, surging streams running past the temples. The layout and choice of location is symbolic of Jain ideas on life, existence and enlightenment. The experience of walking barefoot up the mountain amid the flow is meant for pilgrims to subconsciously absorb these concepts, as they make their way from temple to temple on the steep steps.