September 25, 2022

Meeting the Bharia tribes in Patalkot Valley

Later on at the camping site at Tamia, we satisfied the men again from the town when they wore another avtaar– in colourful costumes as they danced for us and sang songs narrating more legends. While many dances are common of their tribes, they are various styles such as fertility, and ritualistic dances such as worshipping nature and wars. However the 2 primary dances are classified as Bhadam or Bharam and Saitam or Setam. Bhadam dances are mostly performed by male dancers especially during weddings and they include percussion instruments like the traditional dhol with timki and cymbals. Saitam is more lively and consists of both males and females while the dhol is carried out by a male dancing at the centre of the group. The other dances are called Saila and Ahirai.

In one of the thatched houses of the tribal village, I satisfied little Kasi, looking rather resplendent in a brilliant yellow gown and twinning with the flowers in the garden. There were a couple of goats wandering around and among the kids came near us. Kasi was a bit shy, intentionally avoiding a little bit of eye contact, however we quickly ended up being buddies. This curious however carefree kid strolled with me as I pottered around the town, speaking with individuals who welcomed us into their homes.

As we walked around, we chatted with a few of the villagers who were resting on the verandahs. A woman was resting, saying she was a bit tired, while another was returning from the fields with some vegetables, primarily bulbs, and greens in a basket. Some were preparing supper as sunset was approaching. Kasi merrily walked in addition to me as we satisfied another lady who was selling handmade items made from local wood. There were a couple of cups and some figurines shaped like snakes, and mongooses among others. I brought house a little cup, which was hand-painted by another Gond artist. Many of the Bharias are artisans, producing arts and crafts out of bamboo and regional wood and other sustainable handmade items.

As the sun came down at Patalkot Valley, darkness slowly descended in the valley as there seemed to be no transition between twilight and night. As we huddled together in the matadors, I could not help however believe how we have forgotten the essence of simplicity and sustainability in our lives

Bhumia is also the title provided to the village priest. As conventional therapists or Bhumkas, with specialist knowledge of the plants, they understand every herb and shrub in the valley and their medical and toxic qualities. Roadways have slowly been paved here, the valley itself has been found only recently.

Fulfilling the Bharia tribes.

Legends of the Patalkot Valley.

Patalkot Valley is certainly soaked in mythical folklore as it was believed to be the haunt of Meghnad, child of Ravana who they praise apparently and the Patalkot valley was believed to be their portal to Patal-Lok. Meghnad, who was thought about the God of Rains was worshipped by the tribes, an agrarian neighborhood for the fertility of their crops and some villages have a pillar called Magnad Stamb in the area.

We visited her grandparents who were kind enough to allow us to see their houses. Stacks of colourful corn lay scattered around at the entrance, These houses are developed with natural products be it bamboo, wood or stone, and are self-dependent however rather sparse. A number of cots, some household short articles, basic earthenware pots, and pans were all that they required. Even the kitchen was conventional however minimalistic. I made a simple note to self-, not to hoard or mess

Another legend describes the Ramayana, where Sita vanished into Mother Earth, into the lap of her mom and it was called Sitas Patal Pradesh, according to the people. Indeed the entire valley seemed like a deep pit formed like a bowl, surrounded by forests and hills.

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It almost felt like we were plunging deep into the recesses of the earth. Our tryst with the Bharia tribe of Madhya Pradesh started with this covert valley

Montages of tribal towns whooshed previous us as Dr. Vasant Nirgune, our Experience Architect told us that there are 12 villages that are occupied while another 13 were empty lands, cultivated by the tribes– primarily Bharias and Gonds. In reality, the Bharia people, who consider themselves as younger siblings of the Gonds have been living here, isolated in this valley for over 500 years

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The Bharias may have lived in isolation for years, but it has actually most likely made them self-reliant. Simplicity is a method of life. Natural resources are not exploited.

The entire valley is rich in herbs, berries and medicinal plants and the Bharia tribes have an extensive understanding of the flora. The medication males visited us at our campground at Tamia, with their specialist knowledge of spices and herbs, powders and potions that can heal anything from the acute rhinitis to aches and pains, indigestion to allergic reactions, depression to diabetes. The traditional healers or Bhumkas as they are called have a cure for every single condition, drawn out from nature.

The older generation of the Bharia people might have been detached from the city world but the younger generation likes belonging of it and also on education. We satisfied both guys and women who are graduates, among the girls had finished in Arts while another male was a Post Graduate in Maths. Even little Kashi said that she goes to school.

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A few of the bigger homes had an open substance with gardens while others stacked corn near the entryway. Some houses had no doors and there was simply a fence or a drape and whatever was simply rustic, raw, and real. A single toilet was located behind the main home. Chickens and goats happily bounded around while a number of dogs were in a deep siesta. Haystacks and coops for birds were found in the compound.

The cheeky demon tried the stunt on Lord Shiva himself who plunged and vanished into Earth, producing this huge hole. The devil was later on tricked by Mohini, the female form of Lord Vishnu to position his hand on his own head as he burst into ash.

It was the 2nd day of the Times Passion Trail with Madhya Pradesh Tourism and our very first foray into the tribal heartland of the state as we drove into Patalkot Valley. The bus stopped near Tamia and we were packed into two matadors, (one of them included a colourful bed) as we chugged our way through the treacherous mountain roads, surrounded by dense wilderness.

As we finally reached Kharyam, among the last tribal towns, we understood why it was called Patalkot. It was early night but the hills wrapped the hamlet in its fold, actually shutting out the light. For a moment we felt that we were lost inside the crevices of the valley. I was told that throughout winter seasons, one gets barely six hours of natural light and many of the valley is impenetrable throughout monsoon.

Tribal Village Exploration.

Where is Patalkot situated?

However, while they are now emerging into the genuine world and are getting informed and are seeking better opportunities, I personally feel that it is crucial to ensure that the natural surroundings together with their customs and customizeds are maintained. As travellers, we require to be delicate and accountable and be simple observers without influencing their lives, while finding out more about sustainability from them.

Located 78 kms from Chhindwara district headquarters and 20 kms from Tamia, Patalkot Valley is located deep 400 meters below the attractive Tamia. A couple of years ago, no one understood about the presence of this valley, however today it is dealing with risks related to logging.

Have you been to a tribal town prior to?

Our tryst with the Bharia people of Madhya Pradesh began with this surprise valley

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The entire valley is abundant in herbs, berries and medical plants and the Bharia tribes have a thorough understanding of the plants. Found 78 kms from Chhindwara district headquarters and 20 kms from Tamia, Patalkot Valley is located deep 400 meters listed below the stunning Tamia. A few years back, no one knew about the existence of this valley, but today it is facing risks related to deforestation.

I was told that during winter seasons, one gets barely six hours of natural light and most of the valley is impenetrable throughout monsoon.