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Shrines overlooking the pond at Mahamaya temple complex, Ratanpur

Chhattisgarh is a state in central India. It is the 10th largest state in India, with an area of 135,194 km2 (52,199 sq mi). With a population of 25.5 million, Chhattisgarh is the 16th most-populated state of the nation. It is a source of electricity and steel for India, accounting for 15% of the total steel produced in the country.Chhattisgarh is one of the fastest-developing states in India.The state was formed on 1 November 2000 by partitioning 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking southeastern districts of Madhya Pradesh.Raipur was made its capital city. Chhattisgarh borders the states of Madhya Pradesh in the northwest, Maharashtra in the southwest, Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari District) in the south,Telangana (which includes eastern parts of old Bhadrachalam constituency which was part of East Godavari District prior to 1956 and later added to Khammam district and most of which was retained by Telangana after Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation in 2014) in the south, Odisha in the east, Jharkhand in the northeast and Uttar Pradesh in the north. Currently the state comprises 27 districts.

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In ancient times, this region was known as Dakshin-Kausal. This area also finds mention in Ramayana and Mahabharata. Between the sixth and twelfth centuries, Sarabhpurias, Panduavanshi, Somvanshi, Kalachuri and Nagvanshi rulers dominated this region. Kalachuris ruled in Chhattisgarh from 980 to 1741 AD. The Bastar region of Chhattisgarh was invaded by Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.Chhattisgarh was under Maratha rule (Bhonsales of Nagpur) from 1741 to 1845 AD. It came under British rule from 1845 to 1947 as the Chhattisgarh Division of the Central Provinces. Raipur gained prominence over the capital Ratanpur with the advent of the British in 1845. In 1905, the Sambalpur district was transferred to Odisha and the estates of Surguja were transferred from Bengal to Chhattisgarh.The area constituting the new state merged into on 1 November 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 and remained a part of that state for 44 years. Prior to its becoming a part of the new state of Madhya Pradesh, the region was part of old Madhya Pradesh State, with its capital at Nagpur. Prior to that, the region was part of the Central Provinces and Berar (CP and Berar) under the British rule. Some areas constituting the Chhattisgarh state were princely states under the British rule, but later on were merged into Madhya Pradesh.The present state of Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000.The demand for a separate state was first raised in the 1920s. Similar demands kept cropping up at regular intervals; however, a well-organized movement was never launched. Several all-party platforms were formed and they usually resolved around petitions, public meetings, seminars, rallies and strikes.A demand for separate Chhattisgarh was raised in 1924 by the Raipur Congress unit and also discussed in the Annual Session of the Indian Congress at Tripuri. A discussion also took place of forming a Regional Congress organization for Chhattisgarh. When the State Reorganisation Commission was set up in 1954, the demand for a separate Chhattisgarh was put forward, but was not accepted. In 1955, a demand for a separate state was raised in the Nagpur assembly of the then state of Madhya Bharat.The 1990s saw more activity for a demand for the new state, such as the formation of a statewide political forum, especially the Chhattisgarh Rajya Nirman Manch. Chandulal Chadrakar led this forum, several successful region-wide strikes and rallies were organized under the banner of the forum, all of which were supported by major political parties, including the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.The new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government sent the redrafted Separate Chhattisgarh Bill for the approval of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, where it was once again unanimously approved and then it was tabled in the Lok Sabha. This bill for a separate Chhattisgarh was passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, paving the way for the creation of a separate state of Chhattisgarh. The President of India gave his consent to the Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000 on 25 August 2000. The Government of India subsequently set 1 November 2000, as the day the state of Madhya Pradesh would be divided into Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

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Water buffalo

The water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is a large bovid originating in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, and some American countries.The wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) native to Southeast Asia is considered a different species, but most likely represents the ancestor of the domestic water buffalo.

Common hill myna

The common hill myna (Gracula religiosa), sometimes spelled “mynah” and formerly simply known as hill myna, is the myna most commonly seen in aviculture, where it is often simply referred to by the latter two names. It is a member of the starling family (Sturnidae), resident in hill regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Sri Lanka hill myna, a former subspecies of G. religiosa, is now generally accepted as a separate species G. ptilogenys. The Enggano hill myna (G. enganensis) and Nias hill myna (G. robusta) are also widely accepted as specifically distinct, and many authors favor treating the Southern hill myna (G. indica) from the Nilgiris and elsewhere in the Western Ghats of India as a separate species.

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Shorea robusta

This tree is native to the Indian subcontinent, ranging south of the Himalaya, from Myanmar in the east to Nepal, India and Bangladesh. In India, it extends from Assam, Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand west to the Shivalik Hills in Haryana, east of the Yamuna. The range also extends through the Eastern Ghats and to the eastern Vindhya and Satpura ranges of central India.It is often the dominant tree in the forests where it occurs. In Nepal, it is found mostly in the terai region from east to west, especially, in the Churia range (the Shivalik Hill Churia Range) in the subtropical climate zone. There are many protected areas, such as Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park and Shukla Phat Wildlife Reserve, where there are dense forests of huge sal trees. It is also found in the lower belt of the hilly region and inner terai.

Chhattisgarh has coverage of mostly 2-lane or 1-lane roads which provides connectivity to major cities. 11 national highways passing through the state which are together 3078.40 km in length. However most national highways are in poor conditions and provides only 2-lanes for slow moving traffic. Many national highways are on paper and not fully converted into 4-lane highway. This includes 130A New, 130B New, 130C New, 130D New, 149B New, 163A New, 343 New, 930New. Other national highway includes NH 6, NH 16, NH 43, NH 12A, NH 78, NH 111, NH 200, NH 202, NH 216, NH 217, NH 221, NH30NH 930 NEW.The state highways and major district roads constitute another network of 8,031 km.Chhattisgarh has one of the lowest densities of National Highway in Central and South India (12.1 km/100,000 population) which is similar to the North Easten state of Assam.Almost the entire railway network spread over the state comes under the geographical jurisdiction of the South East Central Railway Zone of Indian Railways centred around Bilaspur, which is the zonal headquarters of this zone. The main railway junction is Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur Junction, which is also a starting point of many long distance trains. These three junctions are well-connected to the major cities of India.

The state has the highest freight loading in the country and one-sixth of Indian Railway’s revenue comes from Chhattisgarh. The length of rail network in the state is 1,108 km, while a third track has been commissioned between Durg and Raigarh.Construction of some new railway lines are under process. These include Dalli-Rajhara–Jagdalpur rail line, Pendra Road-Gevra Road Rail Line rail line, Raigarh-Mand Colliery to Bhupdeopur rail line and Barwadih-Chirmiri rail line.Freight/goods trains provide services mostly to coal and iron ore industries in east-west corridor (Mumbai-Howrah route) . There is lack of passenger services to north and south of Chhattisgarh. Current train stations are mostly over crowded and not maintained well for passengers.The air infrastructure in Chhattisgarh is small compared to other states. Swami Vivekananda Airport in Raipur is its sole airport with scheduled commercial air services. A massive reduction in sales tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from 25 to 4% in Chhattisgarh in 2003 has contributed to a sharp rise in passenger flow. The passenger flow has increased by 58% between 2011 and November 2012.Other major areas in the north and south of state, and industrial cities such as Bilaspur, Korba, Raigarh are not served by any airline. The majority of population in these area is not able take advantage of low cost airlines due to poor road connectivity and high cost of taxi fares. The State Government has signed a MOU with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in July 2013 to develop Raigarh Airport as the state’s second airport for domestic flights.

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Cuisine

The State of Chhattisgarh is known as the rice bowl of India and has a rich tradition of food culture.Most of the traditional and tribal foods are made of rice and rice flour, curd and a variety of green leafy vegetables like lal bhaaji, chowlai bhaaji, chech bhaji, kaanda bhaaji, kochai patta, kohda and bohar bhaji. Badi and Bijori are optional food categories; gulgula (bobra), bidiya, dhoodh fara, bafauli, kusli, balooshahi and khurmi fall in sweet categories.

Crafts

Chhattisgarh is known for “Kosa silk” and “lost wax art”. Besides saris and salwar suits, the fabric is used to create lehengas, stoles, shawls and menswear including jackets, shirts, achkans and sherwanis. Works by the internationally renowned sculptor, Sushil Sakhuja’s Dhokra Nandi, are available at government’s Shabari handicrafts emporium, Raipur.

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Dance

Panthi, Rawat Nacha, Pandwani, Chaitra, Kaksar, Saila and Soowa are the several indigenous dance styles of Chhattisgarh.Panthi, the folk dance of the Satnami community, has religious overtones. Panthi is performed on Maghi Purnima, the anniversary of the birth of Guru Ghasidas.Pandavani is a folk ballad form performed predominantly in Chhattisgarh. It depicts the story of the Pandavas, the leading characters in the epic Mahabharata.Soowa or Suwa tribal dance in Chhattisgarh is also known as Parrot Dance. It is a symbolic form of dancing related to worship.Tribal groups like Gonds, the Baigas and the Oraons in Chhattisgarh have Karma dance as part of their culture.