The journey didn’t appear to finish. It virtually felt like we had been plunging deep into the recesses of the earth. Our vacation spot was the legendary and mysterious Patalkot Valley, a horse-shaped valley surrounded by hills, layered with granite and sandstone rocks, carpeted by medicinal herbs and crops in dense forests, and residential to a handful of tribal villages huddled subsequent to one another. Our tryst with the Bharia tribe of Madhya Pradesh began with this hidden valley .
It was the second day of the Instances Ardour Path with Madhya Pradesh Tourism and our first foray into the tribal heartland of the state as we drove into Patalkot Valley. The bus stopped close to Tamia and we had been packed into two matadors, (considered one of them got here with a vibrant mattress) as we chugged our approach by way of the treacherous mountain roads, surrounded by dense wilderness
Montages of tribal villages whizzed previous us as Dr. Vasant Nirgune, our Expertise Architect advised us that there are 12 villages which are inhabited whereas one other 13 had been empty lands, cultivated by the tribes – primarily Bharias and Gonds. The truth is, the Bharia tribes, who contemplate themselves as youthful brothers of the Gonds have been residing right here, remoted on this valley for over 500 years.
Legends of the Patalkot Valley
Patalkot Valley 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. Meghnad, who was thought-about the God of Rains was worshipped by the tribes, an agrarian group for the fertility of their crops and a few villages have a pillar known as Magnad Stamb within the neighborhood.
As we lastly reached Kharyam, one of many final tribal villages, we understood why it was known as Patalkot. It was early night however the hills wrapped the hamlet in its fold, actually shutting out the sunshine. For a second we felt that we had been misplaced contained in the crevices of the valley. I used to be advised that in winters, one will get barely six hours of pure gentle and a lot of the valley is impenetrable throughout monsoon.
Kharyam has one other legend connected to it, that took me again to my childhood – the story of the demon Bhasmasura. The demon bought a boon from Lord Shiva that if he locations his hand on anybody, they may cut back to ashes. The cheeky demon tried the stunt on Lord Shiva himself who vanished and plunged into Earth, creating this huge gap. The demon was later tricked by Mohini, the feminine type of Lord Vishnu to put his hand on his personal head as he burst into ash.
One other legend refers back to the Ramayana, the place Sita vanished into Mom Earth, into the lap of her mom and it was known as Sita’s Patal Pradesh, in line with the tribes. Certainly your complete valley appeared like a deep pit formed like a bowl, surrounded by hills and forests.
Assembly the Bharia tribes
The Bharia tribes have nearly been the unique inhabitants of the land and therefore they’re titled Bhumia or Lord of the Soil. Bhumia can be the title given to the village priest. As conventional healers or Bhumkas, with skilled data of the flora, they know each herb and shrub within the valley and their medicinal and poisonous qualities. They’re conscious of each hidden route and path within the mountains and may navigate their approach by way of the wilderness. Traditionally, they are saying that the Bhonsle kings had dug a hidden tunnel and had escaped the British by way of this underground passage. Though roads have slowly been paved right here, the valley itself has been found solely not too long ago.
The Bharias might have lived in isolation for years, however it has most likely made them self-reliant. The Dravidian tribe had nearly been lower off from the surface world till not too long ago and therefore they’ve tailored their existence and customs round their atmosphere. As we interacted with them, they 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 will not be exploited. “We have now what we’d like.”
Tribal Village Exploration
In one of many thatched homes of the tribal village, I met little Kasi, wanting slightly resplendent in a vibrant yellow gown and twinning with the flowers within the backyard. There have been a couple of goats wandering round and one of many children got here as much as us. Kasi was a bit shy, intentionally avoiding a little bit of eye contact, however we quickly grew to become good buddies. This carefree however curious little one walked with me as I pottered across the village, speaking to individuals who invited us into their houses.
We visited her grandparents who had been type sufficient to permit us to see their houses. Stacks of vibrant corn lay scattered round on the entrance, These homes are constructed with pure supplies be it wooden, stone or bamboo, and are slightly sparse however self-sufficient. A few cots, some family articles, easy earthenware pots, and pans had been all that they wanted. Even the kitchen was conventional however minimalistic. I made a easy observe to self-, to not hoard or litter.
Just a few of the larger homes had an open compound with gardens whereas others stacked corn close to the doorway. Some homes had no doorways and there was only a curtain or a fence and the whole lot was merely rustic, uncooked, and actual. A single rest room was positioned behind the primary house. Chickens and goats merrily pranced round whereas a few canine had been in a deep siesta. Haystacks and coops for birds had been positioned within the compound.
As we walked round, we chatted with among the villagers who had been sitting on the verandahs. A woman was mendacity down, saying she was a bit exhausted, whereas one other was getting back from the fields with some greens, primarily tubers, and greens in a basket. Some had been making ready dinner as sundown was approaching. Kasi merrily walked together with me as we met one other lady who was promoting handcrafted merchandise made from native wooden. There have been a couple of cups and a few collectible figurines formed like snakes, and mongooses amongst others. I introduced house a small cup, which was hand-painted by one other Gond artist. Many of the Bharias are artisans, creating arts and crafts out of bamboo and native wooden and different sustainable handmade merchandise.
The older technology of the Bharia tribes might have been disconnected from the city world however the youthful technology is eager on being part of it and in addition on schooling. We met each women and men who’re graduates, one of many women had graduated in Arts whereas one other man was a Put up Graduate in Maths. Even little Kashi stated that she goes to high school.
All the valley is wealthy in herbs, berries and medicinal crops and the Bharia tribes have a radical understanding of the flora. The medication males visited us at our campsite at Tamia, with their skilled data of herbs and spices, powders and potions that may heal something from the widespread chilly to aches and pains, indigestion to allergic reactions, melancholy to diabetes. The normal healers or Bhumkas as they’re known as have a treatment for each ailment, extracted from nature.
Later on the campsite at Tamia, we met the boys once more from the village after they donned one other avtaar – in vibrant costumes as they danced for us and sang songs narrating extra legends. Whereas most dances are typical of their tribes, they’re totally different themes comparable to fertility, and ritualistic dances comparable to worshipping nature and wars. Nonetheless the 2 important dances are categorized as Bhadam or Bharam and Saitam or Setam. Bhadam dances are largely carried out by male dancers particularly throughout weddings and so they embrace percussion devices like the normal dhol with timki and cymbals. Saitam is extra vibrant and contains each women and men whereas the dhol is carried out by a person dancing on the centre of the group. The opposite dances are known as Saila and Ahirai.
Because the solar got here down at Patalkot Valley, darkness slowly descended within the valley as there appeared to be no transition between twilight and night time. As we huddled collectively within the matadors, I couldn’t assist however assume how we’ve got forgotten the essence of simplicity and sustainability in our lives.
The place is Patalkot positioned?
Situated 78 kms from Chhindwara district headquarters and 20 kms from Tamia, Patalkot Valley is nestled deep 400 meters under the picturesque Tamia. The River Dhudhi flows right here and the traditional rocks right here have been fashioned over 2500 million years in the past. Just a few years in the past, nobody knew concerning the existence of this valley, however in the present day it’s going through threats associated to deforestation. The native tribes- Bharias and Gonds have lived in Patalkot Chhindwara sustainably for years, gathering simply sufficient herbs and berries, wooden and bamboo for his or her every day sustenance, be it for meals or shelter.
Nonetheless, whereas they’re now rising into the actual world and are getting educated and are searching for higher alternatives, I personally really feel that you will need to be sure that the pure atmosphere together with their customs and traditions are preserved. As travellers, we must be accountable and delicate and be mere observers with out influencing their lives, whereas studying extra about sustainability from them.
Have you ever been to a tribal village earlier than?