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Tour Diary Tour De Chhattisgarh-Hills edition

| 14/08/18 Eve of flag off

Raipur the capital city of Chhattisgarh was the starting point of “Tour de Chhattisgarh- Hills edition”, a four day cycle tour through the pristine and beautiful northern region of the state. About 40 riders who had assembled to participate in the tour were a diverse group belonging to Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Gujrat, Orrisa, Bhopal, Nagpur and Buldhana. Also there were ones from Sweden and England who lent an international flavour to the group. Their ages ranged between 16 years to 76 years with quite a few female participants as well.

The preparations started on a sombre note as news of the demise of the Governor Hon’ Shri Balram Das Tandon reached us. At the eve of flag off, during the initiation meet a 2 minute silence was observed to pay homage to the departed soul.

Later Shri Sanjay Singh, General Manager, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board 'CTB' gave a scintillating presentation about the unexplored pleasures lying in store for the riders in the next few days and thus lighted a flame of anticipation amidst them.

| 15/08/18 Day 1.

Flag off was from Simga – 40 kms from Raipur on the Bilaspur road. The riders and crew reached Simga at 7.30 am. Had breakfast – poha, boiled eggs, fruits – apples and bananas with tea/coffee/appy to top off. The spread was sumptuous in spite of jalebi being cancelled on account of state mourning!

The first support station (SS) was at 25 Kms. The riders started reaching it by 10 am.

They proceeded forward post refreshments. Two cyclists suffered punctured tube and were attended to, by the accompanying technician.

One rider gave up the struggle owing to exhaustion. Otherwise the ride was generally smooth although the softly inclining gradient was taxing. The second SS was at Kawardha, approximately 50 kms later. The last rider left it behind by 12.30 pm. There was a minor issue about the locations of the SS- the first one being too early and the second one being too late- say by 10 kms in both cases.

However this minor hiccup was sorted out subsequently. The third SS was at Nagmodi Resort- Boramdeo.

Bhoramdeo is a group of four temples dedicated to Lord Shiva or the Shiva panchayatan. The outer walls of the temples depict sexually explicit carvings from bottom to top which indicates the Sun god and the cycle of life. The erotic sculptures similar to those in Khajuraho and Konark has earned Bhoramdeo the sobriquet “Khajuraho of Chattisgarh”.

From here everyone proceeded to the day 1 concluding destination at Saroda dadar’s Baiga Resort- through the beautiful terrain of Chiphi.

The last rider reached the Resort by 4 pm, a total of 120 kms.

Margareta Benson had an unfortunate crash and had to get treated in the accompanying ambulance for bruises over her arm and leg.

That aside, it was a pleasant and eventful day 1. The meticulous planning and rigorous implementation along with the catalyzing presence of CTB all resulted in one seamless experience for the riders. In the evening we held a get together and had a reinforcing introduction session. Ms. Sanjeeta Singh Negi related about how the local police helped them to get out of turn darshan at the Boramdeo temple. The Officer, she said, told her that the entire government machinery from patwari level upwards had been informed about the tour and that all of them were geared up and attuned to be of help and to take care of the safety of the riders.

Mr. Meher Gadekar shared interesting facts about the etymology of the names of the local places. Chilphi was so named because the British had experienced a “chilled feeling” when they came here. Saroda dadar means unpleasant smell of carcass of animals killed by the tigers. This was the place where the tigers dragged their kill to consume in leisure. The word and its meaning belongs to the local Baiga tribal language. The lunch and dinner at the Baiga Resort were sumptuous and satisfying fares.

| 16/08/18 Day 2.

Started from Saroda dadar after breakfast at 7 am. Reached flag off point at village Koko by 8 am. Crossed quaint villages like Fonk and Gudli enroute. Requested Koko village Sarpanch Shri Rai to flag off the riders. He accepted magnanimously.

Koko village Sarpanch flagging off day 2 ride

Thus started the day 2 ride through the rolling landscape made soothingly lush by the monsoon showers.

A significant part of the overall appeal and beauty of the land lies in the simplicity of its people.

Today was interspersed with catchy slogan writing on the road while marking the route for the benefit of the riders as the rally proceeded onwards. Some of the slogans blended quite well with the surrounding beauty all around us.