Alone (not really...) in Orissa and Bastar

#1 Nov 19th, 2012, 23:12
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#1
Thanks to you, I've decided to spend the most of my indian trip in Bastar area...

My itinerary and feelings in all the places I've visited :

- Delhi : My first CouchSurfing experience like a guest... Not so good. My host was supposed to be very interested in culture and travel, but he was actually only able to talk about girls, alcohol and parties... My best experience there was a beautiful Sikh temple where there was a festival.


- Vizag : I was hosted by A., a couchsurfer, in his wonderful museum flat overviewing the Bay of Bengal. That was really the beginning of my indian trip as, with A. and his friends, I really explored the indian culture. I have visited two buddhist places in Sankaram, but there's some other historical places cause Ashoka was in the area. We wanted to go to Bavikonda and Thotlakonda for the sunset (the best time to go), but A. was unfortunately sick.


- Train from Vizag to Padua : As a lot of people, I strongly recommend it.

- Padua : I stayed in Diamond Lake View Resort. The situation along the lake is perfect, the family and staff very kind (plus I was the only customer), the food delicious and cheap. But they really need to improve the bungalows. I think I paid too much, especially because I was supposed to have hot water but didn't, there was often electricity cuts and I had a numeric TV without signal (not so important, but when travelling alone, it's not so bad to watch TV on evening). When I left, I discovered that I had a Deluxe bungalow and it was more expensive that the price they first told... Padua is a small lovely village in Araku valley and there was no tourists. There's a lot of villages with Adivasi people around, and the thursday market is really nice. People are very friendly and curious. I didn't need to ask for pictures : they asked me !!!



A very beautiful hike is to go to Nageswari caves from Balda village (I walk the 4kms from Padua to Balda, then to the cave). It's impossible to get lost by following the large trail in the middle of the forest. On the top, the view on the lakes is wonderful.
All the pics there : https://skydrive.live.com/#cid=4391F...6F4FFC%2115744
And the video of Nageswari here (unfortunately it was cloudy) : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...aves-la-video/

- Koraput : I stayed in Raj Residency hotel. I strongly recommend cause it's clean and cheap. I especially liked Jagannath temple, with the room where the god is representated in different forms and clothes, the sunday markets in Semiliguda (from there, a guy told me that there's a lot of very interesting and not so touristical markets) and Koraput, the monday market in Tokapal. The tribal museum is disappointing.




I'll tell you later about Bastar, my soul is still there...
You can watch all the pics in the different files there : https://skydrive.live.com/#cid=4391F06A356F4FFC
#2 Nov 19th, 2012, 23:18
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#2
Lovely start Haidaloup - So you made it to Tokapal, well done. Did the 'ghadvas' (bell metal craftspeople) of Erakote show up? I had to wait and wait till they did ... I still have an amazing brass horn I bought from there and it gets good company from another I bought from Kondagaon.

Bastar is amazing, isnt it!! I cant believe it'd be a year soon since I went.

I look forward to reading more

- Vaibhav
Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Nov 20th, 2012 at 07:37..
#3 Nov 20th, 2012, 01:50
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#3

Tokapal

Actually, in Tokapal market, I haven't seen Ghadvas. But it was so nice to walk around with people, smile to them, laugh with them, try to communicate... Everywhere it was the same, I was always the only tourist. About your bell metal horn, you wondered if it was authentic or not. My feeling in this area is that it's still very authentic and people don't really think about cheating others.
They also try to give the right informations to visit the different places. I always told them that I wanted to go by my own (no guide and local bus or collective taxi only), and they gave me the informations. I think it's not so common. i could trust people and didn't need to ask several ones to get the true information.
And about Bastar... It will certainly stay my best travel experience. Next august, A. and his friends want us to go to Ladakh with A.'s driver. As he lives in Vizag, I've planned to return to Jagdalpur and visit my friend there again !
And maybe next time, as my main flight will certainly be to and from Delhi, maybe you'll show me your new city
Last edited by Haidaloup; Nov 20th, 2012 at 01:53.. Reason: Add Delhi
#4 Nov 20th, 2012, 05:09
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#4
Wonderful write-up and beautiful photos, Haidaloup! Thank you for sharing with us!
#5 Nov 21st, 2012, 00:26
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Opening of Bastar Dussehra

Thanks Daisy !

I chose the date of my trip totally by random. Generally, my second annual trip in Asia is in september, but this time I had decided to travel on october. Lucky me, that was the time of Durga Puja, called Dussehra in Bastar ! Of course, when I learned that this festival was so important in Bastar (it longs last 75 days !), I couldn't resist and decided to stay longer in Jagdalpur. And I had two amazing and wonderful weeks. I tried three different hotels. The first one, Hotel Athiti was only awful - dirty, noisy and bad service - and far from the center (it's close to the railway station). The second one, Suri International, was recommended by a young guy. Sure, it was very clean but it was very expensive for a place like Jagdalpur, and I think they didn't use to receive foreigners. That's why I felt like in a jail, cause they were always so afraid for me that they didn't want me to enjoy processions on evening ! The last one, Hotel Shradha Suman, was both clean, cheap and central (close to the palace). I paid 600RP/night, AC included. I didn't have to pay more because of the festival (in Suri International, they pretended that all the hotels in Jagdalpur were full...).

It's very hard for me to express my feeling about Jagdalpur. There's no words to describe all the love I received there.

I arrived on the first day of Navratri. The first evening of this festival is also the official opening of Dussehra, Kachan Gaadi. I was visited the palace when the Raja of Bastar left for a procession : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...dant-dusserha/
You can watch a video and a photo of Bastar newspaper (I was very famous in Jagdalpur as soon as I arrived )
With the link below, you'll watch a video where the Raja walks with Munda people from the village of Potanar (each tribe / cast has a special mission during the festival. For Munda, it's singing). There's also a lot of mediums in transe. They are supposed to have the god of their village inside. There's also a decorated berth. The men with the berth move a lot cause the goddess is supposed to be above.
http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...han-gadi-puja/
The procession stops in a sacred place where is a swing of thorns. A young girl of Mirgin Mahara cast will arrive to bless the Raja and the festival.
http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...la-balancoire/
The kumari (little girl) arrives. She's in transe because the goddess is supposed to be inside her. She first fights with a sword and is quickly put on the swing of thorns. She offers flowers to the Raja and his relatives. The festival can go on.
http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...i-puja-kumari/

I hope you'll enjoy as I did !
#6 Nov 24th, 2012, 02:41
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Welcome to Dantewada...

The next days, I decided to visit the city and around on day, and enjoy as much as possible the different festivities. More and more people arrived in the city, especially tribal ones walking sometimes 90 kilometers to come. The citizens also returned from Dantewada temple. Entire families made the 84 kms trip on foot to see Maoli deity before her departure to Jagdalpur.


But for me, even if I had a hard bus trip to Dantewada, it was just impossible to see her ! Before my departure, I put long pants as usual, and a long-sleeved shirt despites of the hot weather. But before approaching the sanctuary, the youths of the security pretended I wear jeans... I tried to explain that my pants were exactly the same that some of indian women. I was so upset by their bad threat (fortunately, during my trip, that was the only time it happens...) that I decided to enter by force I arrived close to the door of the sanctuary, rang the bell three times and... "You can't enter !" Those young people were really bad with me. An old brahmin was sitting on the ground, looking at me with understanding. "Why do they treat me so bad ? I wear the same clothes than these women and nobody can see my skin." Actually, it was possible for tribal women to enter with uncovered breasts, and, as I was a foreigner, despites of my respectuous attitude and clothes, I couldn't... "Put a belt, they will probably let you enter." "But I don't have." "Okay, you can go." But it was too late for me. Even if I'm not so religious, by respect for people beliefs, I didn't want to appear in front of Maoli in a so bad mood !
I walked around the temple for a while. Before leaving, I decided to rent a longwy in a pandal. "You're a woman, you don't need it." "But they don't want me to enter because of my pants. If I don't wear a belt or something, I won't be able to enter." "You want to wear a longwy ? So, if you want to wear one, it's okay." "But I don't want, I have no choice, I only want to enter the sanctuary !"
Second try... That time, I didn't need to enter by force. As there were less people, I decided to take my time and take pictures.


A few meters before the door of the sanctuary, another young guy arrived... and took agressively my bag "Give me your bag." "My bag ? Really, it's a joke ! First, it was my pants, no it's my bag ! Do you think I'll let my video camera to a stranger ???" I took my bag back. "Hey, no ! Give it to me !" "Do you really think so, it's my bag !"... And I left, furious and without a prayer for Devi Maoli...

When I explained that bad experience to my indian friends, the reactions were always the same : "they can't forbid you the enter, everybody can pray." "unfortunately, that is Naxalites..." "next time, we'll go together and you will wear your normal western clothes without long-sleeved shirt. We'll see if they will dare to act like that !"
My sweet friends... I only think that I would have understood if the sanctuary was only for hindu and tribal people. They would only had to explain gently...
#7 Nov 24th, 2012, 08:12
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#7
Haidaloup ---

Great job! An outstanding presentation, thank you.
#8 Nov 24th, 2012, 16:06
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Markets and waterfalls

Thanks a lot professorm ! I was lucky enough to meet a lot of people explaining me the traditions of Bastar Dussehra.

It's possible to go to Dharba wenesday market by local bus. Note that the markets are generally most interesting in the afternoon. The road is really beautiful, often through the forest and Kanger valley. On the way, there's also a view point from where it's possible to see Tirathgarh waterfalls. If you want to take the local bus, you can stop there then walk along the road with the forest all around, waiting the next bus. You can also contact my indian friend Raj. He comes from the city, but decided to marry a tribal girl in Dharba and lives there. He does a lot to help tribal people : english courses, volleyball trainings, accomodations for his students... He can also provides a couch, food and guides you. His number is 9406286850. I can't give you price informations, cause I was invited for lunch and spend the afternoon watching old tribal pictures on his computer, laughing with his family and female students, especially his lovely daughter, and supporting them when playing volleyball. Unfortunately, I couldn't meet them again (we planned to go with the students through the forest and have a picnic, but I was with my friends in Jagdalpur), but it's really a very nice place and lovely people.






Lohandiguda is also a nice place where there's a big beautiful friday market, plus it's on the way to Chitrakot waterfalls. As for the other places I've visited around Jagdalpur, it's possible to catch local buses or collective taxis on some of the parts of the way. Collective taxis are a very good option : cheap and easy to find on the days of the weekly markets. As always, people provide good informations, and I was again in all these places the only foreigner




I especially like this pic, as these women were very happy to notice how I liked the different colors of their sarees.



You certainly remember about Kachan Gaadi, where the young girl laid on a swing of thorn ? This is the same kind, devi's (deity) swing...



On the same day, I also spend a long time at Chitrakot waterfalls.





Thanks to Vaibhav I didn't miss the tribal sanctuary. When I was there, I remembered his story about Tirathgarh and the human sacrifices. I couldn't help to think it was the same here cause of the numerous cut heads we can see on the statues... I haven't the answer...


If you want to watch the videos of Chitrakote, it's there : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...de-chitrakoot/

On the way to Chitrakot, I met an indian market seller. I met him again when I was back in Lohandiguda market. We drank a coke together... Actually, his coke was a bit special... with local alcohol inside ! This man really had trouble with alcohol, but on the evening and next day, I was lucky enough to have dinner, evening puja and lunch with his nice family. I was introduced everywhere, visiting the different houses of the district, and it was always the same reactions "please, take a snap of my kitchen." "Are you sure you don't work for Discovery channel ?" "please, take a shot of my mother in law and I." "Look, we even have a car !" "This is my birthday, so you have to eat my cake, and this is chocolate for you." Sure, with all these invitations, I won't loose weight this time !


Last edited by Haidaloup; Nov 24th, 2012 at 16:12.. Reason: My english...
#9 Nov 25th, 2012, 16:13
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In the meantime in Jagdalpur...

Now that Dussehra is officially opened by the kumari and the Raja, Durga statues arrive by truck in the pandals. Pandals are some kind of big tents representating temples where Durga is installed for several nights (it depends on the day people chose to go to the river and immerse the statue, but it's always after Dussehra night).



The installation is always full of joy, music, dances, offerings... You can see one here : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/les-pandals/

Rangolis are also painted to protect the pandal.




During the installation, Durga's face is always hidden, but later on evening, people arrive to pray and the statue is shown. Videos here : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...ouse-jagdapur/

Raths (chariots) are constructed by the carpenters of Beda Umargaon village (you remember that each tribe and cast has it own task).


Each evening, except on the two nights before Dussehra night, the 4-wheeled flower-chariot is pulled by the youths of Kachorapati and Agarwara parganas (this is theory, because other people often help) and circumbulate Maoli temple (the temple of the palace also called Danteswari temple). As I didn't have a torch on my video camera and was there only on the last day during an electricity cut due to the storm, I unfortunately couldn't have a good video of this event. But you can see the palace and rath here : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...star-dussehra/

Everyday, there are special pujas full of colors. It's also sometimes possible to meet by random a tribe wearing its festive clothes, dancing and singing in the streets...

On evening, in Hatta ground, there are tribal dances. The performers are not professional, but people from the tribes !!!






Here are the videos : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/categ...nses-tribales/

According to me, Dussehra is the best time to discover the different tribes : there's no need to go to the markets, the local tribes are in Jagdalpur, they wear their festive clothes and participate to a lot of rituals as processions, dances, pujas... That's just an amazing time...
#10 Nov 26th, 2012, 19:00
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#10

Nisha Jatra Puja

Amongst the impressive processions, is Nisha Jatra puja, the late-night festival. This night takes place two nights before Dussehra. All the tribes and deities are close to the palace compound. Some Adivasi wearing festive clothes dance when some others are in transe, wear deities umbrellas or sticks, sing, play music... Of course, the Maharaja is here also as he leaves his normal activities for the 10-days festival. Everybody takes part to a procession of lights. The candle lights also symbolized the venue of Maoli deity. When the procession arrives in a sacred place, Itwari, there's a big puja, with flowers, powders, milk, but also goats offerings. I didn't stay for the puja cause my friend Sunny told me it would last the whole night... and the smell of the goats was also very strong...

You can watch the videos here : http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...star-dussehra/
#11 Nov 26th, 2012, 19:30
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#11
Thanks for sharing this with us Haidaloup. You're too generous with your compliments. I've read this thread with great interest so far. I'm surprised you had such a bad experience at Dantewara temple. Mine was just the opposite - one of the least hassle temple experiences anywhere at any time. I walked around in a lungi and photographed everything including the deity with abandon.

Sorry to hear about your delhi experiences too, maybe next time will be better
#12 Nov 27th, 2012, 16:28
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#12
Actually Vaibhav, I'm not sure I would have visited Chhatisgharh without your post. Maybe I would have visited Odisha only...
About Dantewada, it was crowded because of the festival. That's why there were a lot of policemen, soldiers. But they weren't a problem. They only care about naxals and were afraid of an attempt because of Dussehra. They knew I had no bomb The problem was that they designated a lot of teenagers to work for the security. They wanted to show how they were important and I was the best occasion for them to show to female teenagers how they were... Even if they had to treat a foreigner so bad to show
About Delhi, unfortunately some CouchSurfers make confusion between free couch and free girl... It was clear that that guy only tried to have fun and parties with his numerous female couchsurfers... As he's a hansome guy, it certainly often works. He only had good reviews on CS... And I didn't care to get a free couch. My only interest was to discover the town and culture with someone of the place. It couldn't match.
#13 Dec 2nd, 2012, 22:03
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#13

Maoli Phargav Puja

One night before Dussehra, Maoli Devi, her sisters and the other tribal deities are brought during a very colorful and noisy procession to Maoli temple in the palace compound. Maoli is the pre-Kakatiya (the Kakatiya is the actual dynasty) presiding deity of Bastar and the elder sister of Danteshwari Devi. She's the chief in the congregation of deities. Despites Dussehra is devoted to Danteshwari, Maoli, as her elder sister, has a very important place also in the 75-days festival.
The procession is full of traditional music, flowers, fireworks, oil lights, dolis (deitys' berths) in transe, mediums.
These are the videos :

http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...star-dussehra/

In two of the four final videos, it's possible to see the Maharaja with a flowers hat, wearing Danteshwari Devi to the temple.

Thanks to my indian friend Sunny and my video camera, the policemen accepted us to go on the roof of the palace. Lucky us, because downstairs it was really a mess...

I also had a TV interview there

Main Dolis in transe again :

http://haidaloup.wordpress.com/2012/...ar-dussehra-2/
#14 Dec 3rd, 2012, 21:13
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#14
Oh!!!! haidaloup (what it means please )

EXCELLENT trip report and the Photos..... awesome.

The narration is so beautiful, I just loved it.

Padua is one of our chosen destination to visit and you added some more with some more desires too.

Kudos
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#15 Dec 4th, 2012, 02:21
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#15
Thank you !

Haida was the name of my husky dog. I chose it because it's also the name of an indian canadian tribe. And "loup" means "wolf". She was my little wolf... Haida is also very similar to the opera Aida that took place in Egypt. And I like antic Egypt. Her eyes seemed to have khol around, just like ancient Egyptians had...

"Padua is one of our chosen destination to visit". He he, that's why I said I promise to write about this place

I really hope you'll visit Jagdalpur during bastar Dussehra. This is really an incredible festival. I still can't believe I was really there, it's just like it was to incredible to be true
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