Monsoon in tribal Orissa

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#1 Jun 15th, 2010, 17:54
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  • vinceorian is offline
#1
The monsoon in tribal Orissa
The monsoon is almost upon us here in tribal Orissa and our world is reawakening from the slumber of summer, with fields being turned and composted while diverting water from streams to flood them for rice cultivation.
Another season is beginning with the afternoon storm clouds and their spectacular displays of lightning with the thunder rolling around the hills. These storms are a softening up for the real rains which will arrive in a few weeks’ time and then Mother Nature goes into overdrive with vines , creepers and bamboo exploding before our eyes. In the evenings the fireflies in their thousands synchronise their flashing like a Mexican wave of light flowing through the big old mango and jackfruit trees.
The streams and rivers will be flowing almost blood red in most places due to the colours of the soils. This richly coloured red soil contrasting the lush greens make for stunning photography as everything including the harsh Indian light is beautifully softened by the monsoon, while making the colours of the tribal women's saris leap out at you as you pass them working their small fields.
The weekly markets (haats) are a visual and mouth watering treat with baby caulie and various species of fresh forest mushrooms mingled with the smell of spices to start of one’s gastric juices flowing well before lunch time. There are bewildering variety of root and leaf vegetables to speculate on, not to forget the ubiquitous chilli and brinjal ¬(eggplant) with their multitude of shapes and colours.
The storms, the rain, the red mud underfoot, the strange vegetables , new sights and sounds mixed with the indigenous languages, while negotiating hundreds of others buying and selling their small amounts of produce surrounded by a kaleidoscope of multicoloured tribal sari’s is as exotic as it is intoxicating.
Visiting this unforgettable and truly enchanting world is easy
.

Visiting the tribal district is not expensive, and booking a hotel for a few days in and around Koraput and Jeypore is easy. Before booking explore their websites then inform them of any specific interests’ e.g. tribal markets and villages, textiles at Kotpad or other craft villages. Plan together and then let them do the rest as they can run their tribal tours with much more flexibility and without locking you in as the tribal tours from Puri and Bhubaneswar do. A good vehicle with local guide should cost at tops Rs 2,500/- per day all up, depending on type of vehicle and distances.
There is no need to spend much time and money travelling to and from the tribal district as the main hotels are online and you can easily book accommodation with tribal tour yourself. Jeypore is 220klms from Visakhapatnam and 5-6hrs, or 520klms or 12 hours by overnight train to Koraput from Bhubaneswar or the traditional tribal tours that take 2 days each way by road.
In this online world these days it is a very simple matter to look, book and pay on line for all your accommodation and transport needs including Indian rail www.seat61.com/india.htm and be here in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.
Tribal Orissa is a perfect place for families to visit and discover an unspoilt ancient culture that is readily accessible but little known about outside the state of Orissa.
Coming by morning train from a very well connected port city of Visakhapatnam 200klms away is only Rs36/- and takes 6 hours through the beautiful Araku Valley to reach Koraput.

There are a couple of low to mid range hotels where one can stay in Koraput, or prearrange for your booked hotel at Jeypore (20klms) to collect you and check in by lunch time.
From Koraput there are a number of day trains and also the overnight Hirakhand Express (Sleeper Rs250/-) to Bhubaneswar for the Puri and Konark leg of your Odisha (Orissa) odyssey. Travelling by road to and from Bhubaneswar wastes far too much of your precious time and depending how you structure your travel itinery you can save 3 full days and 2 nights that would be lost on the road. Why not spend that extra time exploring the tribal district instead?
Suitable hotels are pretty limited in these towns so the choice is fairly small to save any confusion while suitable restaurants are even fewer outside of the hotels.
At Koraput there is the Atithe Bhaban which is centrally located at the foot of the Jagannath temple, the rooms are not large and the hotel restaurant serves a set veg meal. A/c rooms are R/s 400 and good tribal tours can be organised. The Atithe Bhaban has affiliation with, and is also near, the tribal museum.
Raj Residency is a new hotel with large clean rooms and a restaurant attached. Prices range from Rs600/- to Rs1800/- and tribal tours can also be arranged.
Jeypore has a number of hotels that can be used with the Hello Jeypore on the edge of town at the top of the list. It has refurbished large bright rooms and a couple of restaurants. Tribal tours and onward ticketing can be arranged. Prices range from Rs800 to Rs3000/-.
Hotel Madhumati is near the old palace in Jeypore.
Hotel Sai Krishna and Hotel Manikrishna in Market Street and closer to the town centre.
Away from the towns in a pottery/tribal village is Chandoori Sai guest house which specialises more in village tourism although tribal tours can be arranged.
At Rayagada there are the Sai International and the Jyothi Mahal among others.
Rolex Tour Operators, who do tribal tours, are at Koraput.
Koraput Tribal Festival (Paraab) is held for 3 days usually around the 16th November every year which includes various tribal dance groups and handicrafts. The second night is usually the best.
The mega religious festival of India, the Puri Yath Yatra is coming up on the 17th July. Why not visit the Koraput Yath Yatra, or the Kakiriguma Rath Yatra and Narayanpatna Rath Yatra as well. These local car festivals are very heavily patronised by the tribal population and are also a merging of the tribal and mainstream Indian religion. It’s much less crowded, and more comfortable and very, very colourful also.
#2 Jun 15th, 2010, 18:20
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  • Jorge Reverter is offline
#2
Great information about south of Orissa.

How are things with Naxalites as it seems according to your post that the dark side of this area doesn't exist anymore:co nfused: ????

All the best

Jorge
#3 Jun 16th, 2010, 13:36
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#3
The naxals do exist though have an impact on the more isolated border areas rather than the faint and limited tourist routes here.
Kalimna, Balima, Chitrakond, Sileru, and sometimes Narayanpatna/Bandhugoan on the Andhra side then in the forests of Chhattisgarh are affected. Only people like me who live here( no others) and the more adventurous tourists take those routes (usually on their Enfield) anyway, because of the time, the isolation and road conditions not to mention lack of amenities.
The naxals target the corrupt and the para military generally not even worry your local police. They are more highly trained than the govt forces and rarely seem to miss their mark and even more rarely getting someone who was not their mark. On reading between the lines of the reports on naxal actions, they isolate an area by felling trees and blocking the only road for scores of kilometres well before they make a strike, so on the very isolated chance of some tourist being in the area, well he wouldn’t be in the area.
I would not venture too far into the forests of Chhattisgarh at present mainly because you could not see the forest for the military, but I would have no hesitation in going Malkangiri through Sileru to Andhra and I do go to places like Narayanpatna regularly (which is one of my favourite areas and also attend the Rath Yatra there every year without fail as it is stunning) These routes are extraordinarily beautiful but unfortunately never visited by the adventurous self driver/rider because they are unknown although only a couple of hundred kilometres from the main Kolkata/Chennai route.
Most of the tourists who visit the tribal district research it on the web first therefore are aware of the naxals but there still coming therefore consider the risk minimal as I do. In all seriousness Jorge I consider the risks a thousandfold greater driving 800 klms on the highway from Visakhapatnam to Chennai or Kolkata than driving anywhere in the tribal district and I think you would agree with me after giving it some thought.
I do appreciate and understand your point and thank for bringing it up as it should be but is something that was difficult to include in the post, but I do worry much more about driving(not mine) on the highways in this country than I do about going into or through these very isolated areas, which I eagerly look forward to.
#4 Jun 16th, 2010, 14:36
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#4
Thanks for the complete information. I've been several times in south Orissa and in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh and love it but in the last months things with naxalites seems to be worse and worse even if daily life is always going on. I'm not sure if to encourage people for traveling to this areas is a good idea.


Jorge
#5 Jun 16th, 2010, 17:35
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#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Reverter View Post Thanks for the complete information. I've been several times in south Orissa and in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh and love it but in the last months things with naxalites seems to be worse and worse even if daily life is always going on. I'm not sure if to encourage people for traveling to this areas is a good idea.


Jorge
The choice is theirs Jorge, in this enlightened age where all info is available on the net, whether it be the BBC, or sensationalist news channels, NGO's , to the govt blaming every train accident on naxals, to more importantly, from people that live here and have lived here for years with their finger on the pulse.
What these forums are for is for those who have first hand exposure and knowledge to help and enlighten others who are interested of the facts, not lead them up the garden path. The main point that the initial post was making is that people who want to visit the tribal district don’t have to spend an extra Rs 20,000/- for a vehicle, driver and guide, wasting 3 days and 2 nights to and from Puri like they do, instead of spending a couple of hundred rupees on train tickets and do it themselves. People will still come in increasing numbers but with the information I am posting, their options have more than doubled and their costs will be more than halved right from the start.
More importantly they will gain 3 precious days for quality tourism and not be thrown around the back of a Quails for over a thousand kilometres while having to stay overnight in places with no point of interest. Those who come directly will research more diligently and very probably understand what risks much more than those who use the traditional tribal tour operator from Bhubaneswar or Puri and blindly believing everything they and the guide tells them.
My feet are on the ground here in the tribal district of Orissa and there has been little increase overall in the past few years. The incidents in the general areas have been declining and increasing in the more remote border areas such as the other side of Malkangiri and Chhattisgarh etc. These areas are where the govt is throwing more poorly trained cannon fodder with their untrained commanders, hence the high casualty rates in Chhattisgarh and therefore higher media exposure. If the govt was effective in any way there would be far fewer incidents and far fewer CRPF deaths, but they struggle to learn from their mistakes. I hope that this clears things up a bit.
Next time you are in India Jorge, come again to tribal Orissa for a few days and re-experience the serenity and tranquillity that you have forgotten exists in this part of the world and you will be quickly satisfied that it is an extremely safe place for all but a few chosen by the Indian govt. Probably safer than most of India for one fact alone and that is there is very little traffic here as you will recall. Keep up the good work. Vince
#6 Jun 16th, 2010, 23:26
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#6
Many thanks again for all the clarifications. I understand and agree with your point of view. Tribal areas are by far the most interesting experiences for a traveler in India.

All the best


Jorge
#7 Jul 7th, 2010, 01:55
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#7
A beautiful description of Orissa in the monsoon in post 1 vinceorian, great writing

And really good information too, thanks.
#8 Jul 21st, 2010, 23:08
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#8
Many thanks for all theses infos!!!

But, do these tribal people like when travellers are visiting and take pics?
I'm a woman alone, and I speak only 10 words of hindi...
I like to be off the tracks, but sometimes, when nobody speaks English, and no other traveller are around, hum... It can be very lonely...
Thanks again
#9 Jul 21st, 2010, 23:31
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#9
The Dongria Kondh do not like their photos taken while the Bonda have aggresively capitalised on it.
As for the rest of them, like most Indians, they love it, especially when they receive hard copies which they pin up in their houses.

All to many people, including myself take the camera and the photos we take for granted, but the printed copies recieved by the people who are in the photo are treasured.
#10 Jul 22nd, 2010, 02:32
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Two years ago while in India we also spent some time in Orissa and when in Koraput arranged from there a guide and car.We found that for us it was not to expensive by arranging it on the spot (we travel on a budget - S/C not much of a pension!) and had a very intresting time and will be remembered for a long time.Have many pic's from there, some got money and others sweets or biscuits. Just by chance we were there when there was the Koraput festival was realy great to see the crowds and of course the dances. Well worth a visit
#11 Jul 22nd, 2010, 21:26
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#11

I would love to go but alone, during the moonson, with a budget of 1000 rps (extra and all included) per day...
I'm not sure it's a great idea...
?
#12 Jul 22nd, 2010, 23:17
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#12
Maybe if you can team up with another one or two would be feasible. Looking at our notes three days cost us a bit less than 6000Rps for guide an car (Ambasador) hotels around 200-300 a night for the room and food around the same for both of us.
That way would be in your budget.
#13 Jul 23rd, 2010, 15:36
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Originally Posted by Chundi View Post
I would love to go but alone, during the moonson, with a budget of 1000 rps (extra and all included) per day...
I'm not sure it's a great idea...
?
Email atithebhaban@hotmail.com as they have rooms starting at 120/- and see what they can do for an older Ambassador and driver, you could try to find a travel partner/s through the appropriate IndiaMike forum (add some of the tribal links) to share costs, then on your budget it would be feasible and well worth it.
#14 Jul 24th, 2010, 07:34
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#14
I must admit that visiting Orissa under de storms ...
"These storms are a softening up for the real rains which will arrive in a few weeks’ time and then Mother Nature goes into overdrive with vines , creepers and bamboo exploding before our eyes. In the evenings the fireflies in their thousands synchronise their flashing like a Mexican wave of light flowing through the big old mango and jackfruit trees.
The streams and rivers will be flowing.../..."

Roads also will be flooded...

If I had 6 months time, I would not mind one month rain, but I live in Belgium, where the rain is typical So I'm very sorry but I will wait another trip to visit Orissa...
#15 Jul 24th, 2010, 08:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chundi View Post I must admit that visiting Orissa under de storms ...
"These storms are a softening up for the real rains which will arrive in a few weeks’ time and then Mother Nature goes into overdrive with vines , creepers and bamboo exploding before our eyes. In the evenings the fireflies in their thousands synchronise their flashing like a Mexican wave of light flowing through the big old mango and jackfruit trees.
The streams and rivers will be flowing.../..."

Roads also will be flooded...
If I had 6 months time, I would not mind one month rain, but I live in Belgium, where the rain is typical So I'm very sorry but I will wait another trip to visit Orissa.
No.
In all my travelling around here I have only encountered one unpassable culvert which receded after an hour. Trees across the roads are a bigger problem after the ground becomes waterlogged. Some areas suffer from isolation for a few days due to flooded creek crossings but these are places where the regular tour operators do not take their guests because they are "off the beaten track" so to speak.
Monsoon rains are not like the typical rains of the colder or temperate climates, which I used to detest in Adelaide, "cold, wet, windy and miserable".

"Monsoon magic" is a common expression.
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