Sri Narendranath Datta, who became Swami Vivekananda later, was born in 1863. He had his education at the General Assembly’s Institution and graduated from Calcutta University in 1884. He became a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and adopted the monastic life in 1886. He was a son of Sri Vishwanath Datta, an Attorney at The High Court of Calcutta.

Naren’s father, Sri Vishwanath Datta, was in Lahore in 1876 when Naren was 13 years old. He went to Lucknow in January 1877 and after some months he went to Raipur in Central Province (Now Chhattisgarh). Seeing the nature of work, he arranged for his family to be shifted to Raipur from Calcutta. At that time, Naren was in Class 8 and his final examination was in the month of November after Durga Puja. So, it can be inferred that the family moved to Raipur after this period.

At that time, there was no train between Calcutta and Raipur. One had to go to Nagpur via Allahabad, Jabalpur and Bhusaval by train. From Jabalpur, there was no main road to Raipur and from Nagpur there was no train to Raipur till 1879. Travelling of Datta family consisted of Vishwanath Datta’s wife Bhuvaneshwari Devi, sons Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) and brother Mahendranath, daughter Yogindrabala. They were accompanied by Raipur Lawyer Raibahadur Bhutnath De, his wife Elokeshi Devi and their six month old son Harinath. The distance from Calcutta to Nagpur was 910 Miles (Approximately 1460 km). The party travelled from Calcutta (old Howrah Station) to Nagpur by train. It was a long journey. From Nagpur, they came to Raipur by bullock cart crossing dense forest infested with dacoits and wild animals.

The List of all the above books describing Swamiji’s journey from Nagpur to Raipur is as follows-

In the year 1877 Narendra’s father stayed for some time at Raipur in Central India for his work. Knowing that he would have to live there for a long time, he arranged for his family to shift to Raipur from Calcutta. The charge of taking them was entrusted to Narendra. He was then only fourteen or fifteen years old. The place was not then connected by railway. So, one had to travel by bullock cart from Nagpur to Raipur which took more than a fortnight through the dense forests full of beasts of prey. Although he had to suffer many physical hardships, he did not feel it at all. On account of the wonderful beauty of the forest regions which he enjoyed during the long journey, his heart was altogether charmed when he was directly acquainted for the first time with boundless power and endless love of God who had adorned the earth with such incomparable natural beauty. He said, “What I saw and felt when going through the forest has forever remained firmly imprinted in my memory, particularly a certain event of one day. We have to travel by foot of the Vindhya Mountains of high peaks on that day. The peaks of the ranges of both sides of the road rose very high in the sky; bending under the weight of fruits and flowers, various kinds of tress and creepers rocky fall produce wonderful beauty on the sides of the mountain; birds of various colours flying from arbour (thicket) to arbour or down on the ground in search of food, filled the quarters with sweet notes. I saw all these and felt an extraordinary peace in my mind. The slowly moving bullock carts arrived at a place where two mountain peaks, coming forward as in love, locked themselves of in an embrace over the narrow forest path. Observing carefully below the meeting points I saw that there was a very big cleft (hollow) from the crest to the foot of the mountain on one side of the path and filling that cleft, there was a hanging in it an enormous honeycomb, the result of bees’ labour for ages. Filled with awe, I was wondering over the beginning and the end of that kingdom of bees, my mind became so absorbed in the thought of infinite power of God, the controller of the three worlds, that I completely lost my consciousness of the external world for some time. I don’t remember I was lying in the bullock cart in that condition. When I regained normal consciousness, I found that we had crossed that place and come far away, It was perhaps the first time when with the help of a strong power of imagination he entered close region of deep Trance and was completely merged in it.”
There was no Highway No.6 at that time. It was under construction. (Reference- Answer to Question of the Famine Commission by Surgeon Major J. F. Barter and G. J. Nicholls, 1878 Published by Nagpur Press). So the road to Raipur from Nagpur was via Kamptee Cantonment, Tarsa, Bhandara, Tumsar, Paraswada, Kati, Kamtha, Amgaon, Salekasa, Darekasa Pass, Ghodtalao, Dongargad, and Rajnangaon, one had to cross the rivers like Wainganga at many places (Reference-The Imperial Gazetteer of India, W. W. Hunter, Director General of Statistics to the Govt of India Vol-II 1885). All this information is available in the Gazetteer. This road is called Military and Postal Road. The route, caves and the dense forest as mentioned by Sri Mahendranath Datta existed only in and around Darekasa pass. “The hills near the pass contain some curious caves possessing a good water supply, the difficulty of approach through the dense bamboo jungle, and the advantage of a spring of water close by, justify the name.” Today also we can find the old route going through nearby the springs like Hazra Fall and current train tunnel. Just below the pass, the Kuardds stream (now called Hazra Fall) falls from a height of about 50 feet into a large pool of very deep water. After Darekasa Pass, Narendranath’s family reached Ghodtalao which is near today’s Bortalao railway station. There is a mention of having special feast at Ghodtalao in Mahendranath Datta’s book. Both the Datta and De family reached Raipur in the middle or the last week of December 1877 and stayed together as mentioned by Mahendranath Datta.