An enjoyable way to spend a day off at Raipur is to pack a hamper full of treats and do a circuit of the dams around the city, feasting your eyes on lush countryside along the paddy-flanked roads. The dams may be man-made, but the colossal thundering of water below each is a reminder of the natural abundance of Chhattisgarh’s rivers. Gangrel Dam over the Mahanadi River is the most popular, but others offer more peaceful environs.
This dam comes first enroute from Raipur to Dhamtari. It stands across the Rudri River and is relatively small compared to the more famous Gangrel Dam. A small Rudra temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands on the edge of the water. You can stand on the edge of a canal that runs perpendicular to the dam to admire the expanse of water in front.
From Rudri Dam, it is a short ride to Gangrel, which greets you with bright orange boards put up by the tourism department. Apart from generating electricity, the hydroelectric project on the Mahanadi also irrigates the land around it, allowing farmers to harvest throughout the year. The verdant surroundings are testimony to the potency of the land around this dam. Small snack shops are clustered at the entry of the bridge; walk across it to take in views (the best eyeful is right from the middle).
Also, at walking distance is the Angar Moti Temple. If you’d rather float than walk, take a boat ride. The tourism department-run lodge at the edge of the water can be booked for an overnight stay.
Murrum Silli Dam
The 28km drive from Gangrel to Murrum Silli Dam over the Sillari River (a tributary of the Mahanadi) is the most scenic of all the pit stops for the day. Thick undergrowth, green copses and small village homes in scattered clearings line the narrow but smooth road right up to the dam; the last 1 km is especially enchanting. You can walk across the bridge and watch the water gush furiously below.
You need to drive back to Dhamtari and then head towards Tandula (45km from Murrum Silli). Tandula lies in a small town called Balod. The brown waters of this reservoir are an attractive visual counterpoint to the green surroundings.