i was conducting a training for nurses in sarguja district last week at a place called kakna, 18 km from ambikapur. the night train between durg and ambikapur takes about eight hours from usalapur (near bilaspur) to get there, but the journey was comfortable.
my brief glimspe of ambikapur left me wide-eyed: a huge bustling market, good roads (no significant potholes at least in the market areas and the centre of town, unlike in bilaspur which is one endless series of potholes of varying dimensions all over the city), and large showrooms with branded products. when i worked here, first in 1987 for a year, then in 1992-93, it was much smaller, without a rail-head. traveling to ambikapur meant an eight hour bumpy bus-ride from bilaspur, with at least two punctures guaranteed on the way. both towns were still part of madhya pradesh at that time.
kakna is a silent haven, a lush green valley ringed by hills with no internet access, and poor cellphone connectivity. a perfect place for training. the only downside was the prolonged powercuts but an inverter ensured that the projector and laptop could be used without interruption. keeping the 25 nuns and myself company on the campus were kajal and kalloo the dogs, and changoo the kitten. it rained practically incessantly, with occasional spectacular thunder and lightning thrown it for good measure.
the RAHA centre at kakna is a perfect place for a retreat or for solitude if one wants to write a book. unfortunately i do not have any photographs to share.