September 25, 2022

Tribes of Madhya Pradesh – A Journey into the heart of India

It is just apt that I begin my travelogue on the tribal routes with the story of Narmada River who was more than simply a travel buddy. She was our muse, a concept that travelled along with us, motivating us and artists. Stories influence Art and Art has actually been inspired by Nature. This is the mural painted by Artist Durga Vyam together with others, right at the entryway of the ethereal and mystical tribal museum in Bhopal. This is where the story begins. The story of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh, their cultures, their legends and misconceptions, their beliefs, and their lives. And their love for the river. This was my very first intro to the #tribaltrails arranged by Madhya Pradesh Tourism and Times Passion Trails which took us into the heart of India.

Har Narmadhe! Rivers are a hotbed of stories. a lifeline to neighborhoods. Civilizations have actually been produced and ruined by rivers. And rivers tell their own tales, even if its terrible and mythical. The story of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh also revolves around the River Narmada and our tribal routes start here, as we journey into the heartland of Madhya Pradesh with Times Passion Trails.

The course of River Narmada which stems in a little khund in Amarkantak is a terrible love story too. A mythical tale of lost love and relationship, betrayal and grief, and yet the strong-willed, gorgeous river changes her course from East to West and rebels against the gods and mortals who rejected her the destiny that she desired. In fury, Narmada altered her course and discovered her destiny in the ocean.

Bhopal Tribal Museum

Later, I recognized that there was a reason that the tribal museum was the starting point of the trail. It was not simply a window to the world, which we were going to explore, but a deeper understanding of their universe with a much wholesome viewpoint. It is easier for us to dismiss these customs as rustic beliefs and primitive misconceptions, however is it truly? And what are misconceptions? When I was checking out about the museum, I came across this paragraph on the site that hit house. “Myths were not produced by male in the manner when he develops art. Misconception is not a creation of male, however a part of his unknown, unnamed, cumulative consciousness. It can also be stated that what is accomplished in arts through the conscious mind, currently exists in its natural type in the environs of myths.” And what we interpret as the simple and obscure matter might have much deeper significance for them, “like a roadside stone may have powers to deflect catastrophes and damage their ill results for that community.” We are lost in the pursuit of development, but we have undoubtedly lost is our own connection to the land we live in, the nature around us, our roots, and our customs and beliefs which has provided their identity.

The journey however started at the Bhopal Tribal Museum, which was a microcosm of the world of tribals. As my eyes got utilized to the psychedelic lights, I recognized that the museum was more than simply a regular screen of objects. It was an experience. The lighting contributed to the aura. There was a seamless circulation from one gallery to another as the very style drew you into a totally various universe, where you left your clinical, reasonable world behind and participated in a land of mysticism. But Bhopal Tribal Museum was not simply a curation of tribal beliefs and custom-mades, customs and routines. Strolling around, I found that there were six galleries that gave me a look of their lives, their homes, their cultures, their gods, their marital relationship traditions and their origin stories. The tribal museum reflected the inner consciousness of their lives in all totality.

There is more to life and after that there is the afterlife. Whatever around them is spiritual, be it the natural world of rivers and hills, trees and forests while an easy rock or a stick become gods and demigods. This is where the supernatural and the spiritual world mixed.

Tribal Trail — Journey to meet the Tribes of Madhya Pradesh

And on that note, the journey began to meet the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. We checked out forts and went to temples in Mandla and Ramnagar and even had a glance of the supernatural and learnt about exorcism, the tribal method at Chaugan, a town near Mandla.

And we were grateful to have had Dr. Vasanth Nirgune Sir as our “Experience Architect,” who is a walking encyclopedia on the tribal way of living and has spent years dealing with the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. The opening event was unique with the many dignitaries on phase and as the inauguration was by the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, His Excellency Shri Ram Naresh Yadav. And the emphasize was the performance of the genius, Teejan Bai who took the phase by storm. Granted the 3 Padmas, she is an exponent of the Pandavani and she enacted scenes from the Mahabharata. And it seemed to be the best note to embark on this tryst to fulfill the people of Madhya Pradesh.

At Patalkot Valley to satisfy Bharia people

Mandla for me was a treasure house of stories. The colourful however dirty town located on the banks of the Narmada revealed its legends through ancient temples and monoliths. At the Raja Rajeshwari temple, we saw ancient idols carved by the Gonds, based upon the method they had actually perceived these deities.

The Bharia people who live here nevertheless were warm and congenial, opening their doors to us and giving us a peek into their lives, which provided us the true meaning of sustainability.” Jungle aur Pahadon mein rehne ke liye, hamein aur kya chaiye.” Simplicity is a method of life. Less is more. Natural deposits are not exploited. “We have what we require.” Later on at the campsite at Tamia, we satisfied the men once again when they danced for us and sang songs telling more legends.

Nearly every Monday a ritual takes place in this “temple”. All there is a stairs to paradise and a ladder thought to be the house of the Goddess Kali.

The medication guys visited us at our campground at Tamia, with their professional understanding of herbs and spices, powders and potions that can recover anything from the cold to aches and pains, indigestion to allergies, depression to diabetes. The traditional therapists or Bhumkas as they are called have a remedy for each condition, extracted from nature.

There are over 650 people in India and 45 recognised distinct people in Madhya Pradesh, of which the Bhils and the Gonds make up the maximum number. In this tribal trail, we satisfied Bharias, Baigas, and the Gonds and attempted to get an understanding of their customs and cultures. The something that I do take house with me from my interactions with the people of Madhya Pradesh is to live merely and sustainably and live carefully with nature and not to exploit her resources in the name of advancement

The whole region around Mandla was once ruled by Gond kings and we visited the 17th century Moti Mahal, likewise referred to as Ramnagar or Mandla Fort built by the Gond Ruler Hriday Shah. While we walked the marvelous fortress, we were treated to a lively efficiency by the nimble-footed dancers as we tried to match their rhythm with our actions. An open exhibition of their crafts and arts was curated for us inside the Mandla Fort as we tried our hand at pottery while interacting with the craftsmens.

Fulfilling the Baiga Tribe of Madhya Pradesh.

Notes on engaging with Tribes of Madhya Pradesh.

Mandla Fort- Bastion of the Gonds.

Patalkot is indeed steeped in mythical folklore as it was believed to be the haunt of Meghnad, child of Ravana who they praise obviously and the Patalkot valley was thought to be their website to Patal-Lok. As we went to Kharyam, among the last towns, we understood why it was called Patalkot. It was early evening but the hills covered the town in its fold, literally locking out the light.

Individuals thought to be possessed by wicked spirits come here to be liberated by the spiritual powers of an exorcist. At the tribal museum at Bhopal, I learnt that the ladders are called sarag naseni, and it is where the deities dwell.

When we speak of colour and art, we believe of the Gond Tribal Art. Every inch of walls to ceilings was painted with stories and the dynamic colours splashed on our faces.

The story of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh also revolves around the River Narmada and our tribal trails begin here, as we journey into the heartland of Madhya Pradesh with Times Passion Trails.

Chougan Temple, where supernatural and spiritual worlds satisfy.


We stayed in splendid tented camps managed by MP Tourism in Amarkantak when we travelled to the twin villages of Silpidi and Patangarh to satisfy the Bharias and Gonds. Amarkantak however had a divine aura around it with numerous ancient Hindu and Jain temples around it. The Vindhyas and the Satpura range of mountains satisfy, just stitched together by Maikal Hills. It likewise house to the really river, Narmada that had streamed with us throughout the journey. And it was only apt that we ended our journey where she began her life, in the little khund.

Well, the journey didnt end with Amarkantak. We flew out of Jabalpur and I had to have my last tryst with Narmada, on an unscripted river cruise as we saw the shimmering marble white rocks showing in the waters, taking different types and shapes, teasing our imagination and producing impressions.

The entire journey was for a week as we drove from Bhopal to Jabalpur and our ports of halt were at Tamia, Mandla, and Amarkantak and we travelled between 100-200 kms every day to fulfill the different people of Madhya Pradesh. Along the method, we remained in a few of the best hotels. On the opening night, we were at Taj Lake Front at Bhopal, where we first got a flavour of the tribal designs and regional art and craft which was incorporated with their interiors and design.

Tribal beliefs might be rooted in symbols and our logical minds may not understand the mysticism, but every routine has a much deeper significance and a connection to their identities and roots. When we satisfied the gorgeous Baiga females in Silpidi, and that is what I found out. Finally, we fulfilled the mascot of our path– the ever-smiling Chotti Ma who in addition to her friends from the village showcased their remarkable tattoos to us, as they were inked from head to toe.

Lost in the shades of Gond Tribal Art.

The tented camps at Tamia and the MPT Holiday Home at Amarkantak were very comfortable. Nestled in nature, we felt refreshed in the verdant landscapes. The hills and valleys of Patalkot were a treat to the sleepy eyes as we looked upon them for eternity from the perspectives. The hotel, Shikar Palace in Mandla was fundamental and basic but very tidy. We had a beautiful remain at Shawn Elizey at Jabalpur where the trip came to an end. Every experience was special.

Epilogue– Fact File.


The journey ends where Narmada begins.

Someplace the stories of the people of Madhya Pradesh had combined and flowed with the story of the Narmada River, which was their lifeline. I stood there for a while, lost in my own reverie, wondering how lots of more stories are there, waiting to be discovered.

As animists and pantheists, Gond Artists draw their motivation from the natural world around them and each painting informs a story with their traditions, beliefs, culture, and lifestyles etched into them. The signature design of each artist depends on the detailing and the art is created around finely drawn lines. Dots, dashes, and these lines produce a sense of motion in the painting, while the striking colours and tales of the Gond Tribal Art take you into a different world.

For these ladies, the tattoos are their identities and are signs of their tribe. Every tattoo is considerable and has actually a story connected to it.

We heard more stories of the tribes of Madhya Pradesh as we continued our journey to Mandla, among the historic regions of the Gonds. In the middle of the melee of the colourful market we saw a large banyan tree where 21 flexibility fighters were martyred throughout the 1857 War of Independence versus the British. A statue of the valiant Rani Avantibai paid a homage to the brave queen who led a triumphant army against the British around the very same period. While history books have largely forgotten her, she remains nevertheless immortal in the folklore of the Gonds, among the prominent people of Madhya Pradesh. Mandla had a historical tryst with them

At the Tribal Museum, we had a sneak peek of their spiritual and legendary world, but when we satisfied them in their environments and homes, we recognized that even a few days were not enough.When we fulfilled Mr. Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Principal Secretary, Tourism, and MD of MP Tourism Board, he did say that this trip will just be just a teaser and it will make us want to come back once again and once again. I am currently having withdrawal symptoms. And he encouraged us to leave our reasonable thinking minds and our scientific personalities aside when we connect with them.

We were likewise dealt with to some scrumptious tribal cuisine as a special menu was curated which was a blend of foods from various tribes of Madhya Pradesh. I tried the vegetarian food, consisting of Tamatar Badi, a specialized of Baigas, Thetra Rabdi, and Dahi Ki Mirchi which was from Bharias and Putu Pihri of the Gonds.Throughout the journey, we stopped at several local restaurants, primarily handled by the local federal government and tourist board where we were treated to delightful regional fare.

We left Bhopal only to plunge deep into the recesses of the earth, into the mythical and strange Patalkot, a horse-shaped valley surrounded by hills, carpeted by medical herbs and plants, and house to a handful of tribal villages huddled beside each other, inhabited by Bharia tribes and Gonds Our tryst with the Bharia tribes of Madhya Pradesh began with this concealed valley.


It is just apt that I begin my travelogue on the tribal routes with the story of Narmada River who was more than just a travel buddy. The journey nevertheless started at the Bhopal Tribal Museum, which was a microcosm of the world of tribals. And we were grateful to have had Dr. Vasanth Nirgune Sir as our “Experience Architect,” who is a strolling encyclopedia on the tribal way of life and has actually invested years living with the tribes of Madhya Pradesh. At the Tribal Museum, we had a sneak peek of their spiritual and mythical world, however when we satisfied them in their habitats and homes, we understood that even a few days were not enough.When we met Mr. Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Principal Secretary, Tourism, and MD of MP Tourism Board, he did say that this trip will just be just a teaser and it will make us desire to come back once again and once again.

I believe that was very crucial for us to get a much better perspective of their way of lives and lives. And all they desire is for us to have a simple chat and to listen to their stories due to the fact that people make places

When they become moms as it stands for fertility, the tattoo on their chest for instance is tattooed. As we spent hours talking with them, listening to their stories, we were dealt with to another round of music and dance while the whole town came out to welcome us, worn their finery.