The capital of the Bastar region is an ideal base for exploring tribal Chhattisgarh. The town itself hosts a haat every Sunday where you’ll see Adivasis (tribespeople) buying, selling and bartering alongside town traders, but it’s in the surrounding villages where Adivasi life can be fully appreciated. Some villages are extremely remote, and only really accessible with a guide. Others, though, are just a bus ride away and, particularly on market days, can be explored independently. For eight particularly lively days in October, Jagdalpur’s streets transform into race tracks as immense, homemade chariots are pitted against each other in an unusual climax to the 75-day festival of Dussehra.
Sanjay Market, which hosts the Sunday haat, is the heartbeat of Jagdalpur. Hotel Rainbow is opposite, while Main Rd, a lively shopping street, is 200m away (turn left out of the market, then first right). The bus stand and train station are 3km and 4km south respectively (₹20 and ₹25 in a cycle-rickshaw).