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Home > Travel > Destinations > Chhattisgarh to Nagaland: The most enriching tribal destinations in India
Chhattisgarh to Nagaland: The most enriching tribal destinations in India

Eminent author RC Verma, in his book Indian Tribes Through Ages, opines that tribals are the most indigenous people of the land. Tribals are said to have been the earliest settlers of the Indian Peninsula. Their traditions, customs, costumes, arts and crafts, dance and music, festivals, and cuisine make for an enriching experience for ethno-tourists. Allow us to offer you a glimpse into the lives of tribals in India.

Tribals in India have resided in conjunction with nature for centuries now. This has lent them a great understanding of their surroundings. The tribal communities of India possess a comprehensive knowledge of plants and herbs. They enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the environment they inhabit. From their tattoos and clothing to their music and dance, every tribal community in India has its distinct identity.

Visiting their humble settlements and getting to know a thing or two about their everyday life is an experience that will stay etched in your heart forever. Brace yourself to get away from the frantic world you live in and prepare for a slow-paced journey of discovering India’s incredible tribal heritage.

Meeting the tribals in India

Jharkhand

 

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The beautiful forested state of Jharkhand is home to as many as 32 tribal communities. These are classified as hunter-gatherers, shifting cultivators, artisans, and settled agriculturalists. However, with time, most tribes of Jharkhand have taken to agriculture. They inhabit the forest areas of the Chotanagpur Plateau and the Santhal Pargana divisions. The villages they reside in are known as tolas. Their mud-thatched homes are embellished with tastefully-painted traditional patterns and figures. Prominent tribes of Jharkhand include Munda, Oraon, Santhal, Ho, Chero, and Gond.

Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh lures the offbeat traveller with its incredibly layered social fabric. Its districts are home to a robust tribal population. Some of the major tribes in Chhattisgarh include Gonds, Murias, Halbas, Dorlas, Bisonhorn Marias, Abhujmarias, Bhatras, Gadbas, and Baigas. When divided into sub-sects, these make up almost 42 tribes. The state is also home to the popular Ramnami community, who get the word ‘Ram’ inked all over their bodies. For the best experience, try exploring the Bastar region and the villages of Jagdalpur with a trustworthy local.

Odisha

Known for its built heritage, pristine beaches, and incredible wealth of natural resources, Odisha is home to several tribal communities. The Kondh community is one of the state’s largest tribal communities and its people worship nature and hills. Then there are the Sauras, who have been mentioned in ancient Indian epics like the Mahabharata. Other prominent tribes of Odisha include Santhal, Bhumia, Bonda, Oraon, Gond, and Sora. You can travel to places like Mayurbhanj, Koraput, Balangir, and Sambalpur to get a glimpse of the tribal lifestyle in Odisha.

Rajasthan

 

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While Rajasthan is mostly known for its larger-than-life forts and palaces, the desert state is also blessed with a remarkable tribal heritage. Udaipur and Barmer promise delightful experiences to those looking to meet the tribes of Rajasthan. Major ones include Bhils, Garasias, Damors, Sahariya, and Sansi tribes. These tribes have their own set of unique traditions, festivals, music, and modes of artistic expression. Watching them dance during cultural festivals in Rajasthan makes for an unforgettable experience.

Gujarat

Next on our list of tribal destinations in India is Rajasthan’s neighbour Gujarat. Embarking on a tribal trail in Gujarat is one of the most vibrant and colourful travel experiences you can have. Visit bustling village haats or markets, explore the terracotta settlements of the tribals, watch Ahir women do beautiful embroidery, and more. A typical tribal trail in Gujarat includes villages that can be visited from Ahmedabad, Patan, Little Rann of Kutch, and Bhuj. Visit Hodka village to see the Rogan Art of the Khatri tribe. Similarly, Dhamadka is famous for block printing by Khatris. Then there are the villages of  Vadiara Rabari and Bharwad tribes, which also make for memorable experiences.

Nagaland

Nagaland is famous for inhabiting the Konyaks. Meet them in the untouched region of Mon. Mon is home to a cluster of villages, where you’d come across tattoed men dressed in traditional warrior dresses and attractive tribal necklaces. The most popular among the villages in Mon is Longwa village, where you could go and meet the village headman and witness the Konyak culture at his house. Apart from the Konyaks, you can also meet the Angamis at the tourist village of Tuophema or in Khonoma. Don’t miss exploring the tribal heritage of Nagaland at the Kohima State Museum.

Arunachal Pradesh

 

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Arunachal Pradesh boasts the highest concentration of scheduled tribes in India. It’s one of the last remaining outposts of India where tribes still live in a primitive existence. They depend on their land for livelihood and maintain a harmonious relationship with nature. Prominent tribes in Arunachal include Mishmis, Singpho, Nyishis, Lisu, Monpas, Sherdukpens, and Apatanis. Among these, the Nyishis are the most populous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Meet them in the Papum Pare, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, and the Lower and Upper Subansiri districts.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 

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Not many travellers are aware of the tribal wealth of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There’s more to the archipelago than scuba sessions and azure blue waters. The Strait Island is home to The Great Andamanese tribe. Another important tribe is Onges, which is also one of India’s most primitive tribes. They live in Dugong Creek and South Bay on Little Andaman Island. The Jarawas were once known for their hostility but today, they are a friendly tribe, that resides on the western coast of Middle Andaman and South Andaman Islands. The Sentinelese tribe inhabits the small North Sentinel Island.

Feature and hero image courtesy: Shutterstock

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