The spiritual draw of being blessed by the Kuldevi of Bastar is hard to resist for culture aficionados as well as religious travellers to Dantewada. Age-old forests, bountiful rivers and exotic vistas complement the town’s divine hook, as if culminating to offer an ode to Goddess Danteshwari.
Unfortunately, Dantewada is a name that today conjures up images of ambush by Naxal insurgents. When you visit, though, the town elicits a sense of peace, thanks to its almost ethereal setting amidst perennial streams, natural beauty and the ancient Danteshwari Temple that was established by Maharaja Rudra pratap Dev, a Kakatiya King from Warangal, There is a reference of Lord Rama roaming this region (Dandakaranya) during his exile for 14 years. The only real sightseeing option in Dantewada is the temple.
The black stone ideal of Danteshwari Devi stands in a Santorum.
It is said that when the Kakatiya King Rudra pratap Dev set out to expand his kingdom in Bastar. he prayed to Goddess Danteshwari to bless him. She agreed in exchange for the king’s promise that he would keep forging ahead. never looking back to check if she was there. He would know that she was with him from the constant sound of her anklet. It is said that while crossing the shankini and Dankini rivers. the sound of the anklet stopped in a sandy patch. The anxious King looked back, and the goddess disappeared. The king went to increase his boundaries, but constructed a temple for Goddess Danteshwari on the confluence of these rivers and accepted her as the Kuldevi of his kingdom. The temple is also considered one of the 52 Shakti peeths. It is the spot where Sati’s(Shakti, Parvati) tooth fell after Shiva danced the tandava with her immolated body in anger at a yagya organised by her father. to which he was not invited.
However, as some of the other notable sights such as Bailadila, Bodh Ghat Saat Dhara and Gamawada are thought unsafe to visit.
The 14th-century Danteshwari Temple, one of the 52 Shakthi peeths, lies at the confluence of rivers Shankini and Dhakini. The Temple draws thousands each year, especially during Navratris and Bastar Dassehra. The Black Stone idol of the goddess stands at the end of a three-tiered hall, in a dark. garbhagriha (sanctrum), her eyes a silvery piercing gaze amidst oil lamps, flowers, increase and other offerings. The first hall is shared by a wooden covering and houses a Bhairav shrine in the middle. The second hall is a concrete structure with two statues of dwarpals (gaurds) at the sides of the door. The third and narrowest hall is often congested with devotees who line up for a glimpse of sanctrum. In front of the temple, a pillar withGaruda sitting on it can often be witnessed being hugged by people stretching their arms behind their backs to touch their fingers – flexibility and longer arms sure to get your wills fulfilled.
Time: 7am-noon, 1.30-9pm; the arrti is held at 9am and 7pm.
09755369144; near PWD Rest house: kailash nagar, Dantewada; Rs 400-900 The only reasonable option to stay in Dantewada. The rooms are quite basic but offer an ensuite bathroom. an AC and TV. there’s an in-house restaurant too, a rairty in this town. Book well in advance if you plan to visit during Bastar Dassehra.
Closest access from Jagdalpur(92 km). Keep a Raipur taxi throughout (Rs 2250/day for 250km).
Drive Time: 1 hr 30 mins one way from Jagdalpur.
Route: Follow NH16 and then turn left to SH5 for Dantewada. Recommended to combine with Barsur(33km).
During Bastar Dasshera(p42), a time of great jubilation in Dantewada, or in winter.