The drive from Kanker to Chhiukhadan was very good except for few KMs in Rajnandgaon town.
Chhiukhadan – many including us would not have heard of this small town in Chhattisgarh. When we were browsing Outlook Traveller, we stumbled upon this palace and its painted rooms. We had made up our mind that we should stay here some day. We were excited that that will happen today.
Giriraj, the Yuvaraj of Chhiukhadan - a young man in late twenties - met us as we arrived at his palace. This is not a huge palace like the ones you see in Rajasthan or elsewhere. It looks more like a large Haveli. We were disappointed when Shivraj told us the painted rooms were under renovation and offered us different rooms.
Chhiukhadan palace is built over 10 acres of land by Giriraj’s grandfather. With abolition of privy purses, the family moved to Raipur and the palace had gone to ruins. Jai, the Kanker yuvaraja during one of the visits to the palace happened to see these beautiful paintings in the rooms and that was when he and Giriraj - they are cousins - thought of restoration of the palace into a heritage hotel. They have started the restoration and lot of work is needed to bring back the place to acceptable standards. Once done, I have no doubt that this will be sought after place in Chhattisgarh.
We went around the painted rooms and were zapped to see beautiful paintings on all sides of the room. No one knows who and when these were painted. There are scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Ras leela and surprisingly there are scenes of British dancing, dining etc! The rooms somehow look surreal and once done up should provide a different expertise for guests.
The evening was exciting. Giriraj offered us a night picnic to a nearby reservoir in the middle of jungle. He is the Chairman of Town municipal council and has huge clout. But the guy looked simple. We drove up a small hill overlooking a reservoir under clear night skies. The whole place was pitch dark and quiet. He had got his team to cook and serve hot dinner.
It was an experience we had not bargained for but came as a sweet bonus!