Life Style

Tribes of Madhya Pradesh – A journey into heartland of India

Har Narmadhe ! Rivers are a hotbed of tales. a lifeline to communities. Civilizations have been created and destroyed by rivers.  And rivers inform their very own tales, even when it’s tragic and legendary. The story of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh additionally revolves across the River Narmada and our tribal trails start right here, as we journey into the heartland of Madhya Pradesh with Instances Ardour Trails.

The Story of Narmada River

” The course of real love by no means did run clean,”.mentioned William Shakespeare.  The course of River Narmada which originates in just a little khund in Amarkantak is a tragic love story too. A legendary story of misplaced love and friendship, betrayal and sorrow, and but the strong-willed, stunning river modifications her course from East to West and rebels in opposition to the gods and mortals who denied her the future that she needed. When mighty Bheem tried to dam her path by putting Lingas on her course, she meanders and disappears and reaches her future within the Arabian Sea. Narmada was to marry Sonpatra however it was not meant to be  Her childhood buddy Jolena went to see the wedding procession, decked as a bride with Narmada’s garments and jewelry to see the groom. However they finally fell in love and merged collectively and didn’t return to Narmada. In fury, Narmada modified her course and located her future within the ocean.

It is just apt that I begin my travelogue on the tribal trails with the story of Narmada River who was greater than only a journey companion. She was our muse, a motif that journeyed together with us, inspiring us and artists. Tales encourage Artwork and Artwork has been impressed by Nature.  That is the mural painted by Artist Durga Vyam together with others, proper on the entrance of the ethereal and mysterious tribal museum in Bhopal. That is the place the narrative begins. The story of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh,  their cultures, their myths and legends, their beliefs, and their lives. And their love for the river. This was my first introduction to the #tribaltrails organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Instances Ardour Trails which took us into the center of India.

Bhopal Tribal Museum

The journey nevertheless started on the Bhopal Tribal Museum, which was a microcosm of the world of tribals. As my eyes acquired used to the psychedelic lights, I spotted that the museum was greater than only a common show of objects. It was an expertise. The lighting added to the aura. There was a seamless stream from one gallery to a different because the very design lured you into a wholly completely different universe, the place you left your scientific, rational world behind and entered right into a land of mysticism. However Bhopal Tribal Museum was not only a curation of tribal beliefs and traditions, rituals and customs.  Strolling round, I found that there have been six galleries that gave me a glimpse of their lives, their properties, their cultures, their gods, their marriage traditions and their origin tales. The tribal museum mirrored the inside consciousness of their lives in all totality.

There may be extra to life after which there may be the afterlife. All the pieces round them is sacred, be it the pure world of rivers and hills, timber and forests whereas a easy rock or a stick change into gods and demigods. That is the place the supernatural and the religious world blended.

Later, I spotted that there was a purpose why the tribal museum was the start line of the path. It was not only a window to the world, which we had been going to discover, however a deeper understanding of their universe with a a lot healthful perspective. It’s simpler for us to dismiss these traditions as primitive myths and rustic beliefs, however is it actually? And what are myths certainly? After I was studying in regards to the museum, I stumbled upon this paragraph on the web site that hit residence. “Myths weren’t created by man within the method when he creates artwork. Delusion will not be a creation of man, however part of his unknown, unnamed, collective consciousness. It will also be mentioned that what’s achieved in arts by the aware thoughts, already exists in its pure type within the environs of myths. ” And what we construe as the straightforward and obscure matter might have deeper significance for them, “like a roadside stone would possibly possess powers to deflect disasters and destroy their in poor health results for that group.” We’re misplaced within the pursuit of improvement,  however we’ve certainly misplaced is our personal connection to the land we reside in, the character round us, our roots, and our traditions and beliefs which has given them their id.

Tribal Path  – Journey to satisfy the Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

And on that observe, the journey started to satisfy the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Thirty of us had been huddled inside a bus, with the hanging face of Chotti Maa, a sleek Baiga lady as our mascot printed on it, and we meandered our approach into valleys and villages in distant Madhya Pradesh. As we drove from Bhopal to Jabalpur, we visited Tamia, Mandla, and Amarkantak and interacted with the Bharias, Baigas, and Gonds, tribes of Madhya Pradesh in villages round Patalkot, Silpidi, and Patangarh. We explored forts and visited temples in Mandla and Ramnagar and even had a glimpse of the supernatural and learnt about exorcism, the tribal approach at Chaugan, a village close to Mandla. We stepped foot into the gateway to legendary Patallok but additionally noticed the stairway to heaven.

And we had been grateful to have had Dr. Vasanth Nirgune Sir as our “Expertise Architect, ” who’s a strolling encyclopedia on the tribal lifestyle and has spent years residing with the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. The opening ceremony was particular with the numerous dignitaries on stage and because the inauguration was by the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, His Excellency Shri Mangubhai Patel. And the spotlight was the efficiency of the maestro, Teejan Bai who took the stage by storm. Awarded the three Padmas, she is an exponent of the Pandavani and he or she enacted scenes from the Mahabharata. And it appeared to be the right observe to embark on this tryst to satisfy the tribes of Madhya Pradesh.

At Patalkot Valley to satisfy Bharia tribes

We left Bhopal solely to plunge deep into the recesses of the earth, into the legendary and mysterious Patalkot, a horse-shaped valley surrounded by hills,  carpeted by medicinal herbs and crops, and residential to a handful of tribal villages huddled subsequent to one another,  inhabited by Bharia tribes and Gonds. Our tryst with the Bharia tribes of Madhya Pradesh began with this hidden valley.

The drugs males visited us at our campsite at Tamia, with their professional information of herbs and spices, powders and potions that may heal something from the frequent chilly to aches and pains,  indigestion to allergy symptoms, despair to diabetes. The standard healers or Bhumkas as they’re referred to as have a treatment for each ailment, extracted from nature.

Patalkot is certainly steeped in legendary folklore because it was believed to be the hang-out of Meghnad, son of Ravana who they worship apparently and the Patalkot valley was believed to be their portal to Patal-Lok. As we visited Kharyam, one of many final villages, we understood why it was referred to as Patalkot. It was early night however the hills wrapped the village in its fold, actually shutting out the sunshine.

The Bharia tribes who reside right here nevertheless had been heat and hospitable, opening their doorways to us and giving us a peek into their lives, which gave us the true which means of sustainability. ” Jungle aur Pahadon mein rehne ke liye, hamein aur kya chaiye.” Simplicity is a lifestyle. Much less is extra. Pure sources should not exploited. “Now we have what we’d like.”  Later on the campsite at Tamia, we met the lads once more after they danced for us and sang songs narrating extra legends.

Mandla Fort- Bastion of the Gonds

We heard extra tales of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh as we continued our journey to Mandla, one of many historic areas of the Gonds. Amidst the melee of the colorful market we noticed a big banyan tree the place 21 freedom fighters had been martyred through the 1857 Conflict of Independence in opposition to the British. Nonetheless, a  statue of the valiant Rani Avantibai paid a tribute to the brave queen who led a victorious military in opposition to the British across the identical period. Whereas historical past books have largely forgotten her, she stays nevertheless immortal within the folklore of the Gonds, one of many distinguished tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Mandla had a historic tryst with them.


All the area round Mandla was as soon as dominated by Gond kings and we visited the seventeenth century Moti Mahal, additionally known as Ramnagar or Mandla Fort constructed by the Gond Ruler Hriday Shah. Whereas we walked across the majestic fortress, we had been handled to a full of life efficiency by the nimble-footed dancers as we tried to match their rhythm with our steps. An open exhibition of their arts and crafts was curated for us contained in the Mandla Fort as we tried our hand at pottery whereas interacting with the artisans.

Chougan Temple, the place supernatural and religious worlds meet

Mandla for me was a treasure home of tales. The dusty however vibrant city positioned on the banks of the Narmada revealed its legends by historic temples and monuments. On the Raja Rajeshwari temple, we noticed historic idols carved by the Gonds, based mostly on the best way they’d perceived these deities.

Nonetheless, the tribal beliefs got here alive in just a little village referred to as Chougan, the place supernatural and religious energies and forces blended.  Virtually each Monday a ritual takes place on this “temple”. There are not any deities, mantras or prayers, or clergymen on this Chougan temple. All there’s a stairway to heaven and a ladder believed to be the house of the Goddess Kali .

Folks believed to be possessed by evil spirits come right here to be liberated by the religious powers of an exorcist.  Mother and father who haven’t any kids or who cope with well being points come right here to be blessed as properly. On the tribal museum at Bhopal, I learnt that the ladders are referred to as sarag naseni, and it’s the place the deities dwell. The clergymen or exorcists who climb the ladders are believed to be possessed with religious powers, which is how they’re able to exorcise the demons

Assembly the Baiga Tribe of Madhya Pradesh

Tribal beliefs could also be rooted in symbols and our rational minds might not perceive the mysticism, however each ritual has a deeper which means and a connection to their roots and identities. And that’s what I learnt after we met the attractive Baiga girls in Silpidi. Lastly, we met the mascot of our path – the ever-smiling Chotti Ma who alongside along with her pals from the village showcased their fascinating tattoos to us, as they had been inked from head to toe.

For these girls, the tattoos are their identities and are symbols of their tribe. It is usually their approach of dedicating their our bodies to the Gods and exhibiting their gratitude. Their first tattoo is on their brow when they’re barely 12 years outdated after which their legs and arms are inked, adopted by their backs. Each tattoo is critical and has a narrative connected to it.

The tattoo on their chest as an illustration is inked after they change into moms because it stands for fertility. As we spent hours speaking to them, listening to their tales, we had been handled to a different spherical of music and dance whereas your entire village got here out to greet us, dressed of their finery.

Misplaced within the hues of Gond Tribal Artwork

Once we converse of color and artwork, we consider the Gond Tribal Artwork. Each inch of partitions to ceilings was painted with tales and the colourful colors splashed on our faces. Birds flew out of the canvas, the jungle e-book got here alive, timber and flowers instructed their very own tales, mermaids swam with fish in ponds and there have been deities in all places. In Patangarh, we felt like we had been misplaced in a vibrant carnival the place the artists and artisans mesmerised us with their artwork.

As pantheists and animists, Gond Artists draw their inspiration from the pure world round them and every portray tells a narrative with their traditions, beliefs, tradition, and life etched into them. The signature fashion of every artist lies within the detailing and the artwork is created round finely drawn strains. Dots, dashes, and these strains create a way of motion within the portray, whereas the hanging colors and tales of the Gond Tribal Artwork take you into a unique realm.

The journey ends the place Narmada begins

We stayed in beautiful tented camps managed by MP Tourism in Amarkantak after we journeyed to the dual villages of Silpidi and Patangarh to satisfy the Bharias and Gonds.  Amarkantak nevertheless had a divine aura round it with a number of historic Hindu and Jain temples round it. The Vindhyas and the Satpura mountain ranges meet, solely stitched collectively by Maikal Hills. However it additionally residence to the very river, Narmada that had flowed with us all through the journey. And it was solely apt that we ended our journey the place she started her life, within the little khund.

The morning solar mirrored within the waters. The Son and Jolila additionally orinate and meet right here and stream collectively, however solely in the other way to the Narmada. Standing there, I felt a way of deja vu. Someplace the tales of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh had blended and flowed with the story of the Narmada River, which was their lifeline. I stood there for some time, misplaced in my very own reverie, questioning what number of extra tales are there, ready to be found.

Epilogue – Truth File

Nicely, the journey didn’t finish with Amarkantak. We flew out of Jabalpur and I needed to have my remaining tryst with Narmada, on an impromptu river cruise as we noticed the shimmering marble white rocks reflecting within the waters, taking completely different kinds and shapes, teasing our creativeness and creating illusions.

All the journey was for per week as we drove from Bhopal to Jabalpur and our ports of halt had been at Tamia, Mandla, and Amarkantak and we journeyed between 100-200 kms on daily basis to satisfy the assorted tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Alongside the best way, we stayed in a number of the finest resorts. On the opening evening, we had been at Taj Lake Entrance at Bhopal, the place we first acquired a flavour of the tribal designs and native artwork and craft which was built-in with their interiors and decor.

We had been additionally handled to some scrumptious tribal delicacies as a particular menu was curated which was a mix of cuisines from completely different tribes of Madhya Pradesh. I attempted the vegetarian delicacies, together with Tamatar Badi, a specialty of Baigas, Thetra Rabdi, and Dahi Ki Mirchi which was from Bharias and Putu Pihri of the Gonds.All through the journey, we stopped at a number of native eateries, primarily managed by the native authorities and tourism board the place we had been handled to delectable native fare.

The tented camps at Tamia and the MPT Vacation House at Amarkantak had been very snug. Nestled in nature, we felt refreshed within the verdant landscapes. The hills and valleys of Patalkot had been a deal with to the sleepy eyes as we gazed upon them for eternity from the viewpoints. The lodge, Shikar Palace in Mandla was primary and easy however very clear. We had a beautiful keep at Shawn Elizey at Jabalpur the place the journey got here to an finish. However each expertise was particular .

Notes on interacting with Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

There are over 650 tribes in India and 45 recognised distinct tribes in Madhya Pradesh, of which the Bhils and the Gonds represent the utmost quantity. On this tribal path, we met Bharias, Baigas, and the Gonds and tried to get an understanding of their cultures and traditions. The one factor that I do take residence with me from my interactions with the tribes of Madhya Pradesh is to reside merely and sustainably and reside carefully with nature and to not exploit her sources within the title of improvement.


On the Tribal Museum, we had a preview of their legendary and religious world, however after we met them of their properties and habitats, we realized that even just a few days weren’t sufficient.Once we met Mr. Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Principal Secretary, Tourism, and MD of MP Tourism Board, he did say that this journey will simply be solely a teaser and it’ll make us need to come again many times. I’m already having withdrawal signs. And he  suggested us to depart our rational pondering minds and our scientific temperaments apart after we work together with them.

I believe that was crucial for us to get a greater perspective of their lives and life. He additionally suggested that we have to be just a little sluggish and delicate in our interactions. In our zest to grasp extra about them and their tales, I felt that we should not contemplate them as curio objects in a museum,  that we will simply stroll as much as them and thrust a digicam or a mike at them. They might have completely different perception programs and traditions however in my conversations, I spotted that their passions and aspirations are the identical. And all they need is for us to have a easy chat and to hearken to their tales as a result of individuals make locations.









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