We were in Bilaspur when we took a trip to Mainpat, a hidden hill station in Chhattisgarh. The place is known as Shimla of Chhattisgarh and boasts of beautiful landscapes and a few interesting places like Ultapani, Daldali (also Daldala or Jaljala) and Magnetic Hill. It was a wonderful trip with few other bloggers from Kolkata where we explored Bilaspur and these hidden gems of Chhattisgarh.
“Have you ever heard of a place called Mainpat”?
“Main part? What is that?”
“No, no. Not main part. It is Mainpat. The place where the ground is always shaking and you can also see water flowing in the opposite direction.”
This is how Mainpat was first introduced to me. The two facts presented before me was enough to pique my interest in the place. I always believed that Chhattisgarh is a hidden paradise in terms of tourism. The new state is yet to blossom fully in terms of travel and tourism. And I am sure there are a lot of interesting and captivating places in the beautiful state that are yet to be discovered.
Well, coming back to Mainpat. So the places Ultapani (where water flows in the opposite direction) and Daldali (where the ground shakes 24X7) made me want to know more about Mainpat. Incidentally, I also came to know that there is a place in Mainpat just like the Magnetic Hill in Ladakh! It is a place where your car defies gravity and moves uphill if you keep it in neutral. That was too much excitement for a place and we knew that we had to be there.
We usually keep an open mind while travelling. You never know how and where the road will spring up a surprise. And India is so full of incredible places, things and people, travelling in any part of the country is so fulfilling. If the landscapes do not satisfy, the people will. If you do not find the culture interesting enough, the vistas might stun you. This is our incredible India!
So, where is Mainpat located?
Mainpat is a small hill station in the Surjuga District of Chhattisgarh. Located in the northern part of the state, the nearest town is Ambikapur, 75 km away. Mainpat is around 250 km from Bilaspur. We were in Bilaspur, so started quite early from the city. It takes around 7 hours to Mainpat from Bilaspur. We did not have time in hand, so had to return on the same day. But we recommend you to spend at least 2 days in Mainpat.
Did you know, Mainpat is known as the Shimla of Chhattisgarh?
Mainpat is located on the Vindhya Range at an altitude of 3500 feet above the sea level. The place is extremely beautiful surrounded by greenery all around. There is also a Buddhist settlement at Mainpat and a beautiful monastery. Mainpat seem to tick all the boxes when it came to my favourites! Agni and I have a keen interest in Buddhist monasteries and traditions. With the other interesting places like Ultapani, Magnetic Hill and Daldali, we were quite upbeat that the trip to Mainpat was going to be quite interesting.
The journey to Mainpat – the hidden gem of Chhattisgarh Tourism
We started at around 8 AM from Bilaspur. The distance to cover was 250 km. The road was long, but as they say, good company makes the journey better. We, 3 ladies, were in one car while the gentlemen in another car. Our car driver Bilaluddin was a jolly chap who also entertained us with his stories, especially while returning.
The road towards Ambikapur was quite a good with occasional rough patches here and there. We could understand that the roads are being constructed. The journey was quite scenic as we passed through highways, forests and elephant corridors.
Finally, after a long drive, we were at the start of the hill roads. There was a board saying “Ghat begins” just like the same we saw on our way to Daringbadi. The winding road towards Mainpat had started. The road consisted of some turns and bends that would require a good driver to navigate. The temperature changed going on the cooler side. The surroundings became greener. The air was pure and crisp. We were moving away from the polluted city and town towards a greener and cleaner hill station.
Before we arrived at Mainpat, we could spot the signboard for Ultapani. Excited we were, we turned our car to take the road towards Ultapani.
Places to visit in Mainpat
Mainpat is an interesting place with a lot of attractions. Since tourism is not yet well developed in this part, we had to search for these places. There are signboards on the way, but it is always better to ask the locals.
Ultapani – Does water really flows in reverse direction?
Our first destination was Ultapani and Magnetic Hill. As I mentioned before, Ultapani lies just a few kilometres before entering Mainpat main area. Well, you will find a signboard only on the main road pointing to take the diversion towards Ultapani. Once you take the diversion, there are no other signboards or anything to guide you to the place. Ultapani is located in the Bisarpani Gram Panchayat of Mainpat.
If you search for Ultapani in Google, you will come across a few images showing a waterfall flowing in the reverse direction. A few YouTube videos also have the same picture of the reverse waterfall as its thumbnail. But do not expect anything of that kind. There are no waterfalls flowing in the reverse direction there. But that does not mean the place is not interesting.
There is actually a small stream flowing inside the village. A few locals pointed us to the source and endpoint of the stream and explained to us the phenomenon. There is a small stream that starts from a hillock, flows uphill for a few metres before flowing downhill again. There is a signboard saying “Udgam sthal” (meaning starting point) that shows 0 metres. They have perhaps taken this altitude as the starting point and standardized it at zero. After the stream flows through a few metres, you will encounter another board saying “Antim Ksher” (meaning the endpoint) showing 185 m. If you put a grass blade or a piece of paper in the stream, they actually flow in the reverse direction. The piece of the paper flows towards the endpoint away from the Udgam Sthal.
The stream was narrow when we visited Ultapani. During the monsoon, the size of the stream increases. I guess it would be a better view during the monsoon. The villagers of Bisarpani says that there are no such ground in the village from where water is not found. Actually, the water level of Bisarpani is quite high and so the farmers usually do not face irrigational problems while farming.
Reason behind the reverse flow of water at Ultapani
Even if it seems that Ultapani is proving the science textbooks that we read in school as wrong, actually it is not so. There are scientific reasons for almost all that occurs in the universe.
Do you remember reading about siphon action in your physics classes? It was the phenomenon where liquid flows from a reservoir at a higher elevation to another reservoir at a lower level when the two reservoirs are separated by a hill or high-level ground.
Here too, the case is somewhat similar to siphon action. The stream starts from a point then flows uphill for a certain distance before again flowing downstream. Well, that was too much of science for now. Whatever be the reason, for the first time, Ultapani does seem like a miracle. Ultapani actually means reverse water.
Magnetic Hill – where the car defies gravity
Another interesting place just near the Ultapani stream is Magnetic Hill. I had known all these years about the Magnetic Hill near Leh town where the car moves uphill without having to drive.
Our very own Chhattisgarh also boasts of having a Magnetic Hill. On the way to the Ultapani stream, there is a signboard on the road saying where to stop the car and witness this strange phenomenon. We stopped the car, set the gear in neutral and released the brake. The car started moving backwards automatically and that too in good speed. Having been to Ladakh this was not new to me, but here too I was on the lookout for the reason for such a phenomenon.
What is the reason behind the Magnetic Hill phenomenon?
Just as in the case of Magnetic Hill Leh, the Magnetic Hill in Mainpat can also be explained scientifically. The answer lies at the zero point, that is where the car is initially stopped before is starts moving backwards. There is a slight dip in the road for some distance. As you release the brake, the car moves downwards first, gains momentum and then moves the rest of the distance uphill. The dip is not evident from the viewpoint, neither from the hilltop. It is a great example of optical illusion as well.
Daldali, Daldala or Zalzali or Zalzala
It was quite an excitement seeing Ultapani and Magnetic Hill. But the best one was reserved for later. The place was called Daldala or Zalzala or Daldali. It was called by numerous names, but it was the place where the ground shakes all the time. I had seen Magnetic Hill in Ladakh before, heard of places similar to Ultapani, but had never heard of anything like Daldala. I did not know any place where the ground vibrates all the time. So visiting Daldai was definitely on cards.
After Ultapani, we arrived at Mainpat market. But the location of Daldala was not found easily. There was obviously no clear road signs and after taking a number of wrong turns and driving on wrong but beautiful routes, we took the help of some friendly locals and arrived at Daladala.
It was just a nondescript place with a signboard saying Daldali. There was also a sign asking people to be careful in Daldali. After all, Daldala actually means “swampland” or marsh. Chances are there you could get stuck in the mud. One of our friends had actually stuck his leg on the muddy area of Daldala. So be careful when you are there.
We took a flight of broken stone steps and suddenly a vast expanse of greenery was right in front of us. It was a huge field with trees seen at a distance. A few people were already on the field, some of them jumping up and down. While walking to the place, I kept on wondering what is so special about the place and what was the reason for jumping.
I finally came to know when I felt a tremble beneath my feet! Startled at first, I looked around and saw surprising expressions on the faces of my friends too. This was Daldali, the place where the ground shakes. If you jump a little, you can feel the ground shaking. It is just like a huge trampoline. Remember, as kids when we used to go to fairs and there was a huge trampoline-like surface where we used to jump up and down? The surface used to jump with us. Daldali is exactly like that but on the earth!
It was more like bouncing and the more we jumped we could feel the bounce. It seemed that the earth had turned into a huge chunk of jelly and we were dancing on top of it.
Why does the ground shake at Daldali?
Well, Daldali is actually a bog. According to Wikipedia, A bog or bogland is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material, often mosses. Bogs occur when the water in the ground is acidic and is of low nutrients. These types of landmasses usually have a thick upper layer but the lower layer has watery subsoil. The upper layers are usually bouncy in nature. Some portions remain weaker and water usually seeps up making them dangerous. Heavy objects tend to sink in those weak layers. So it is better to be careful at Daldala or Zalzala.
Tiger Point Waterfall
There is a beautiful waterfall located in Mainpat known as the Tiger Point Waterfall. Surrounded by dense foliage, it falls from a drop of 60 m. it is said that tigers used to been in this area long back and so the name given. To see the Tiger Point Waterfall, you have to climb down almost 150 steps.
Mehta Point is located 8 km from Mainpat and it is a beautiful viewpoint situated on the borders of Surjuga and Raigarh. You can get lovely views of the mountains and surrounding landscapes from Mehta Point.
Machali (Fish) Point & Fish Point Waterfall
This is located near Tibetan Camp 6. Enveloped by deep forests a river flows through and plunges from a height of 80 m. This place is known as the Fish Point Waterfall. Be careful while visiting. The rocks can be quite slippery.
Mainpat has a considerable Tibetan population who have settled here after coming to India from Tibet. The Dhakpo Monastery is a quaint monastery in Mainpat in a peaceful surrounding.
Mainpat Tibetan Settlement – A bit of Tibet in Chhattisgarh
In 1962-63, when a number of Tibetans migrated to India from Tibet, Government of India had allotted them lands at various places for settlement. About 3000 acres of land was given to the migrated Tibetans at Mainpat area. Initially, around 1400 Tibetans settled down at one single camp. The Tibetans chose to live at the hill area as the heat of the plains were unbearable to them. Mainpat was a forest area at that time. They cleared some forest land and built up a camp to settle down. Now there are about 2300 Tibetans residing in Mainpat and they have been spread across seven camps now. After settling down, they started agriculture for a living along with making handicrafts. You can easily make out the Tibetan houses by seeing the colourful prayer flags. You can also visit the stroll around the Tibetan camps to see hoe Mainpat in Chhatisgarh has become a “Mini Tibet”.
Visiting Mainpat was one of the surprises of our Chhattisgarh trip. Due to time constraint, we could only visit Ultapani and Daldali and the monastery from a distance. We had to return to Bilaspur that day itself, so we started our journey back towards Bilaspur at around 5 PM. It was again a long journey back and this time we were quite tired. We three ladies in the car were sleepy and drowsy, but Bilal, while driving the car also kept us totally entertained with his jokes. While returning, I silently wished to come back to this place again and stay here for a few days.
How to reach Mainpat
The nearest Railway Station is Ambikapur. It is connected from Raipur and Bilaspur by trains. The nearest airport is at Raipur. Buses are also available from Raipur and Bilaspur to Ambikapur. From Ambikapur, you can take a car to Mainpat.
Places to stay in Mainpat
We saw a few hotels in Mainpat. We heard a positive review of Shaila Resort. Contact for Shaila resort: +91-9584003002. There are a few other hotels that we saw on the way.
There are a few Tibetan Restaurant in the market area from where you can eat momos, thukpas and other Tibetan food.
Disclaimer: We were invited to Bilaspur, Chhatisgarh by the Aananda Imperial Bilaspur to explore Bilaspur and around. We thank them for introducing us to Bilaspur. The views in this article are, however, completely ours.