We never knew that Chhattisgarh boasted palaces before we started planning this road trip. When we started doing some research on stay options, i stumbled upon some real gems – Kanker, Kanwardha and Chiukadan palaces. We decided to stay at least in one of the palaces and Chiukadan was the chosen one. Thanks to Outlook traveller, we were able to get some information about this place and planned our routes to make sure we spend a night in this palace. But we did not want to miss visiting others either. So I called up Jai, the Yuvaraja of Kanker – who also runs Bastar jungle resort where we stayed in Jagdalpur - to tell him that we will have lunch in his palace on the way to Chiukadan.
We left Jagdalpur after breakfast and reached Kanker comfortably by 1 PM. The road was excellent and had a row of trees on either side. It was virtually like going through a green tunnel. It was nice to see that majority of them were mango tress which had just bloomed. We kept our windows open to savour the aroma of these flowers. The road took us through beautiful views of Kanker ghat as well.
Kanker town is the headquarters of Kanker district. It is a small quaint town. This must have been a small principality during British days. The Kanker palace is a huge British Bungalow built for British resident commissioner. It had all trademarks of a good old British bungalows – long corridors, large living room spanked by large bed rooms on either side. The high ceiling kept the interiors cool.
|Ravi standing next to tiger and yours truly on the sofa|
|Notice the hunting trophies on the wall|
As per Jai, the Yuvaraja of Kanker, the original palace which was bigger was donated by his grand father to government and is now the Government office. The living room was decorated with hunting trophies of bison’s horns, tiger heads, stuffed tiger, old crystals, weaponry etc. Jai said that the forests of Kanker had many tigers and his grandfather was a good hunter. We could now fathom the reason for dwindling tiger population in these forests!
The rooms were big and elegant. The rooms sported the charming “Pankha” or “Fan” which was being pulled by servants to generate air in the room in good old days.
The lunch was good and the "mutter paneer" was god sent. The “Pankha” in the dining hall gave the room a subdued elegance.
As we left Kanker, we were bidding good bye to Bastar and entering the western Chattisgarh area of Rajnandgaon. Just outside the palace on the highway we saw this small lake with Shiva statue in the middle which was glowing in afternoon sun.
We were now heading to the interesting palace at Chiukadan and looking forward for our stay there.