To cover my operational area, I was required to travel frequently visiting various centres. While visiting interior centres, I used to travel by a Jeep or a sturdier vehicle and also carry a "Topographic Sheet" (toposheet) of a larger scale (published by Survey of India) relating to the area of my operation. They contain detailed information about fortifications, ruins, temples, hillocks, rivers and rivulets, bridges, ponds etc. which proved very useful for me. Today we have the Google Earth which also gives a satellite view of the land surface sans description. Wikimapia is another facility where you are enabled to identify places/objects and mark descriptions of your own.
Once I was required to visit a far off village known as "Gatadih" in Raipur district. To reach the place I needed to travel upto Saraipali, at a distance of 145 km's on Raipur - Sambalpur highway (Great Eastern Road) and then take a left turn towards the North for another 30 km's or so. The road to Gatadih was once made of bitumen but in the absence of maintenance, developed hundreds of potholes. It was impossible to drive without stumbling on them, giving terrible bone shaking jerks. Nevertheless, I reached Gatadih after a 2 hours ordeal, with every part of my body aching.
After finishing my usual inspection of the office thereat and scribbling my observations, it was time for me to return. The very thought of the return journey brought shivers in my spines. After resting a while, I pulled out my toposheet and spread it on the bonnet of the Jeep. On examination, I found, there was a kutcha road which could take me to the highway, leaving behind Saraipali, at a place known as Basna. Midway there was a large village "Bhanwarpur". I consulted some locals, who were assembled near my Jeep, and decided to take the unexplored road. The driver of my Jeep too was enthusiastic. Instead of going straight to Saraipali, we took the road to the right coming at a short distance. We traversed through the country side on the sparingly metalled road till we were about to reach Bhanwarpur.
While looking out of the window, I came across an unusual land formation on the right. The barren ground was strewn with pillar like monoliths. I gestured the driver to stop the vehicle on the roadside and walked towards the ground for a closer appreciation. In no time I found myself surrounded by a meter high monoliths all around. All the stone pillars were in a slanting position. One was even lying flat, on which I sat for a while. They were more akin to menhirs. I felt a sensation when I realised that it is a Megalithic burial ground. My "Steffy" ( Doggy - Fox Terrier) started making noises as if to tell me to make a move.
On one side of it, adjoining the road, there was a small building housing the Tribal Hostel. There was a guy available there with whom I conversed. He narrated that long long ago a marriage party was resting on these grounds and due to certain reasons they all became stones. That is why the place is known as "Bartia Bhata". A barren plain land is referred to as "Bhata" in the Chhattisgarhi dialect. He also informed me that during the excavations for the foundation of the building some pots, iron articles like knives, arrow heads etc. were found under the soil. He could not positively say if any skeletons were found.
On my return to Raipur, I took up the matter in the District Archaeological Committee meeting emphasizing the importance of the place and the need to protect it and conduct extensive excavations so that we are better informed about the cultural aspects of the tribal life. Subsequently a survey was conducted and I learnt that the site is around 2 to 3000 years old and nothing more. Similar sites have also been encountered one each in Durg and Dhamtari districts but the one at Bartia Bhata is said to be the largest.