Located at a distance of 25 km from Bilaspur, Ratanpur is a town situated on the National Highway 200. Ratanpur has remained a witness to vast historical changes brought by different rulers of various dynasties. A nine-foot-tall idol of Baba Bhairavnath Kshetrapal Singh of Haihai dynasty is seen as one enters Ratanpur.
Its importance also lies in being the old capital of Chhattisgarh started by Kalchuri dynasty. It was founded by Ratanraj whose ancestors made Ratanpur their capital in 11th century AD. Later it was also the capital of Haihaiyavansi Kingdom and Bhosle. Finally, Britishers reigned till the nation's independence.
Mahamaya Temple in Ratanpur is very renowned and attracts tourists from all over the state. Ratansen, the Kalchurian king constructed the temple. There is a pond along with few ancient temples by the bank.
Devout devotees are found here offering prayers and seeking blessings at the temple. Budha Mahadev, Ratneswar Mahadev Temple and Laxmi Temple are other temples of Ratanpur. Buses are readily available from Raipur. Ratanpur is 30 km from Pali and 15 km from Nirdhi of Korba.
Bimbaji Bhonsle, the Maratha king constructed Ramtek, another famous temple on the peak of the mountain. An ancient fort at Ratanpur is a significant tourist spot. The fort is not in a ruined condition and as such tourists can explore its history. Ganesha Gate is quite captivating.
Other than the idols of River Ganga-Jamuna, an ancient stone sculpture over the gate remains to be the most attractive part of the fort. Statues of Brahma, Vishnu, Sitchourai and Jagarnath temples and Tandav dance of Lord Shiva are seen as one enters the fort. Khutaghat and Khudiya dams are situated in Ratanpur.
Apart from archaeology and pilgrimage sites, Bilaspur also nestles wildlife. Some of the impenetrable forests along with hills and rivers are found in this area of the country. Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the famous sanctuaries of Chhattisgarh.
It houses innumerable endangered species like leopards, Bengal tigers and wild bison. Other animals include chital, striped hyena, canis, sloth bear, dhole, sambar deer, nilgai, Indian four-horned antelope and chinkara. Established in 1975, Achanakmar is also a tiger reserve.
Sprawling over an area of 557.55 sq km, variety of wildlife resides here. It is situated at a distance of 55 km north-west of Bilaspur. Tourists are prohibited to enter in the monsoon season. It is linked to Kanha-Achanakmar Corridor, which is a part of the tiger reserve of Kanha, Madhya Pradesh. Sal, saja, bija and bamboo are found in high frequency throughout the forest.
Ghongapani Jalashya is a dam situated on the way to the sanctuary. Tourists do not have an option to stay there. The day view of the dam is bewitching. Government guest houses are available beyond the wildlife sanctuary at Achanakmar, Keonchi and Lamni. They are well maintained and the forest guest house at Lamni was constructed during the British period.
Belgahna is the nearest railway station while Bilaspur station is also accessible. Apart from rental cars and buses, tourists can reach this sanctuary by any other vehicle. It is indeed a good place for ecotourism.
Khutaghat is a beautiful dam and reservoir located at a distance of 10 km from Ratanpur in Bilaspur. Being located on Bilaspur-Ambikapur National Highway, the spot is easily accessible by the tourists. Forests and hills comprise the mesmerising surrounding of Khutaghat.
Natural beauty of the place is bewitching here. Rest house managed by the Irrigation Department is close to the dam which can be availed by the tourist. The rest house overlooks the blue water of the reservoir which is a treat to the eyes.
It was originally a lake constructed in 1926 by the Britishers. It is 55 km away from Bilaspur. Constructed on Kharoon river, the dam is majorly useful for irrigation purposes. Of late local inhabitants are also visiting Khutaghat for picnics. Raipur is the closest airport while Bilaspur is the nearest railway station.
Malhar is a 40 km drive from Bilaspur. It is situated on the route of Bilaspur-Raigarh, 14 km from Masturi Block. Also known as Saravpur, it was once the capital of Chhattisgarh. It is famous for its archaeological sites.
Pataleshwar Temple, Devri Temple and Dindeshwari Temple are some of the ancients temples of the 10th and 11th centuries found here. Memorials of Jain religion have been excavated from this place. Vishnu's four-handed idol is what attracts tourists.
Ancient remains from 1000 BC to Kalchuri dynasty have been found at this site. Pataleswar Kedar Temple owns a gomukhi Shivaling which is the centre of attraction. Didneswari Temple belongs to the Kalchuri regime. Also, the Deor Temple has spellbinding artistic idols.
Malhar harbours a museum which is managed by the government. It has an amazing collection of ancient sculptures. Malhar is one of the famous archaeological towns as granted by Archaeological Survey of India. The Chinese historian, Xuanzang, visited Malhar, which also gives prominence to this place.
Tala or Talagram is situated at a distance of 25 km from Bilaspur on Bhojpur-Dagori road. It is a wanted tourist destination for the Deorani-Jethani Temple, which belongs to the 5th century. These temples are found by extraction amongst which Devrani Temple is in a proper condition. Talagram is also known as Amerikapa gram.
An amazing statue with a height of 7 ft and width of 4 ft is present in the temple. It weighs over 7000 kg. People round the globe come to view this statue more than the temple. Even after so many years the deity here has not been named.
Talagram is also famous for Rudra Shiva. Maniyari river flows by Talagram. Raipur is the nearest airport while Bilaspur is the closest railway station. Rest of the route can be travelled by bus.