This is the 12th point in a journey by motorbike in India to visit 16 confluence points. The story starts at 22N 86E and this visit follows on from 21N 81E. The next point in the series is 21N 83E.
From Raipur we took the NH 43 south west to Abhanpur and then a smaller road to Rajim. Rajim is 45 kms from Raipur. We approached the point from the west although I had planned to come from the north – all roads seemed to go further south than we expected. Soon after leaving Rajim we came across houses with slate walls and other walls of slate. This was very unusual in our travels. The slate became more and more common as we approached the point until we reached villages where many people were chipping away at pieces of slate to split and shape them. Turning east along a rough road we came upon the source of the slate – a large number of quarries some of which had been worked out and were now flooded. These quarries reminded me of the slate quarries on the west coast of Scotland which have long since closed. These quarries probably use very similar technology and have a similar safety record to those Scottish quarries of 150 years ago. The track led us through the quarries and after crossing a wide sandy river bed we eventually picked up a new dirt road heading the final 1 km north toward the point. The CP itself was on top of a small rise about 20 metres from a small side track. It was in a perfect position for its view and had a tree for shade. In the area around the point there was a lot of mechanical digging – we were not sure if this was for new quarries or for the new road that was being extended northwards.
Degree of Challenge:
2 – Disorientating roads, quarries and a river bed all conspired to make this a difficult approach – better to attack from the east west road 5 km due south of the point. (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
2 –Different from the normal farmland if not exactly pretty!. (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
4 – Interesting to see this medium-scale quarrying operation and labour intensive manual slate dressing. (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)
Another 2 point day! On leaving the point we headed north along the new road but it ended with the road building operation and we were told to take the same road south 5km until we hit another road and then head east to Figeswara. As usual we stopped several times to check the previous advice that we had been given. If we received conflicting advice then we would ask again till we were happy with a consensus! Despite there being small roads heading east we were advised to go north to Mahasamund and then take the NH 217 to get to our next destination Kharhial Road on the Chhattisgarh/Orissa border. Once in Orissa we had been planning to go on to Nuaparha but we called in at a hotel in Kharhial Road just 10 km short of Nuaparha. They were full and told us that Nuaparha had no hotels. But they did say that there was another hotel and we were mightily relieved when we found that the Hotel Koh-I-Noor had a room for us. The best in the house cost nearly £10. The owner and his son could not have been more helpful and arranged for us to have dinner at a “restaurant” a kilometre up the road. John jumped on the owner’s bike and I road pillion behind the owner’s son to the restaurant. This 13 year old boy entertained us at dinner and was very happy to practice his excellent English. In any case, by now, John and I had used up most of our stories and extra company was very welcome!
The story continues at 21N 83E.