Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India. It is bordered by the States of Uttar Pradesh in the north, Jharkhand in the north-east, Madhya Pradesh in the north-west, Maharashtra in the south-west, Andhra Pradesh in the south, and Odisha in the east.
There are several opinions on the origin of the word Chhattisgarh. The most popular view with experts and historians is that Chhattisgarh is the variant form of Chedisgarh which means ‘Empire of Chedis’. In ancient times, this region was called Dakshin Kosala. The name Chhattisgarh was popularized during the Maratha period and was first used in an official document in 1795. Chhattisgarh was under Maratha rule from 1741 to 1845. It stayed under British rule from 1845 to 1947. After Independence, the Sambalpur district was transferred to Odisha and the estates of Sarguja was transferred from West Bengal to Chhattisgarh, a part of Madhya Pradesh. The present state of Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh on 1 November 2000.
The central part of the State lies in the fertile upper basin of the Mahanadi river and its tributaries. In the north lies the edge of the Indo-Gangetic plain. The eastern end of the Satpura Range and the Western edge of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau form an east-west belt of hills. Forests occupy 41.33% of the total area of the State, and thus it is one of the richest biodiversity areas in the country. The climate of this area is tropical. Summer temperatures in Chhattisgarh can reach 45°C. The monsoon season is from late June to October. Winter is from November to January, and it is a good time to visit Chhattisgarh, as it is pleasant with low temperatures and less humidity. According to the 2011 census, the total population of Chhattisgarh is 25,545,198 (25.5 million). It is the 10th largest State in India and the 16th most populated State of the nation. The sex ratio in the State is one of the best in India with 991 females per 1,000 males. And the literacy rate is 71.04%, including female literacy at 60.59%.
As for religion, 98.30% of people are Hindus, 1% Muslims and 0.7% Christians and Buddhists as per the census of 2011.
The State is governed by the State government under the federal of India, with 90 members in the Legislative Assembly, 11 members in the Lok Sabha and 5 members in the Rajya Sabha. Raipur is the capital city of Chhattisgarh at present. The official language of the State is Hindi. However, Chhattisgarhi, a dialect of Hindi language, is spoken by the majority of people in Chhattisgarh. Telugu is also spoken in parts of Chhattisgarh.
The State was supposedly a major Buddhist centre in ancient times. But now the Hindu culture is predominant. The Oriya culture is prominent in the eastern parts of Chhattisgarh bordering Odisha. Tribal groups like the Gonds, the Baigas and the Oraons in Chhattisgarh have Karma dance as part of their culture. Both men and women arrange themselves in two rows and follow the rhythmic steps, directed by the singer group. The Karma tribal dance marks the end of the rainy season and the advent of the spring season. Panthi, Paduan, Rawat Nacha and Soowa Nacha are other indigenous dance styles of Chhattisgarh.
The economy of Chhattisgarh has grown recently with a growth rate of 11.49 per cent in GDP for 2009-2010. It was possible for the growth in agriculture and industrial production. About 80% of the population of the State is rural people, and the main livelihood of the villagers is agriculture and agro-based industry. However, there is the scope of developing agriculture, as the majority of the farmers are still practising the traditional methods of cultivation. Only about 20% of the agricultural field is under irrigation; the rest of the land depends on rain. Rice is the main crop in about 77% of the cultivated area.
The power sector of the State is, however, effectively developed. Based on the current production of surplus electric power, the position of the State is comfortable and profitable. The steel industry is one of the biggest heavy industries of Chhattisgarh. Along with Bhilai Steel Plant, Raipur, Raigarh, Bilaspur and Korba have now become the steel hub of Chhattisgarh. Today, Raipur is the centre of the steel sector and the biggest market for steel in India.
Chhattisgarh has a wide coverage of roads, and almost the entire railway network spread over the State. The air infrastructure in Chhattisgarh is, however, small compared to other States.
As for tourism, Chhattisgarh is endowed with a rich cultural heritage and natural diversity. It is full of ancient monuments, exquisitely carved temples, Buddhist sites, hill plateaus with waterfalls, caves, rock paintings and rare wildlife for the attractions of the tourists.