Now that we’ve seen the natural beauty of Bastar, let’s get to the cultural tourism that prevails here. Being home to the indigenous tribes, this district boasts of a varied style of craftwork. For instance, the bell metal handicraft called Dokra is famous all over the world. I am sure you must have seen those tribal artifacts with long hands and legs and slim bodies in stores like odyssey or landmark and wondered which famous designer designed them. Well these are the bell metal handicrafts produced here native to this region.
Location – Saathi Samaj Sewi Sanstha, Kumharpara, Kondagaon - the craft village.
Distance from Jagdalpur – Around 70-80 kms.
Also one of the other famous craftworks from here is the terracotta crafts and especially the beautiful elephants with bells. There are whole villages dedicated and surviving on the same profession as the terracotta potters or the Dokra craftsmen. The native tribes here have such talent that has been evolving since ages. The main industry here is either craftwork or agriculture.
The wrought iron wall hangings were peculiarly interesting. The sleek frames made out of wrought iron depicting the everyday life of the tribes here were used as window frames, doors and gates. The black frames looked very pretty with their earthy mud houses in shades of red and brown.
For the architecturally inclined, there are hordes of age old temples scattered all along with varied history, style and importance. There is also one temple called “Mama Bhanja ka mandir” meaning the temple of the uncle and the nephew. The name amuses me endlessly! :)
Dussera is a super grand event for these people and you wouldn’t believe if I said they celebrate it for 75 days! But yes, they do. It spans over 75 days, starting with haryali amawasya in shraavan (July) the festival involves participation of all major tribes of Bastar. Bastar Dussehra has several components, each of which has a history of its own. These include Kachan Gadi, Consecration of the couch of Devi Kachan who visits upon a young girl as she swings on a couch of thorns; Jogi Bithai, Installation of the yogi, a youth who sits on vigil for 9 days and nights to ensure festival success; The chariot procession etc. Bastar Dussehra concludes with the Muria Durbar, an assembly of headmen and public representatives. The deities are then accorded a farewell to return to their native seats in the hamlets of the district.
They build a chariot each year for Maa Danteswari, the local deity worshipped here. And the interesting thing is that they do not buy a single piece of stick for that. All villagers pool in whatever they can afford monetary wise or effort wise and build the chariot from the scratch. Considering the tribes love for arts, Dussera at Bastar must be one awesome event! Too bad that I had to go in summer. But if any of you readers are planning a trip to this land of plenty, be sure to make your reservations in October to witness the natural and cultural glory at its highpoint.
And since a picture speaks a thousand words, I present to you a photo essay. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you liked! :)
, by Neelima Vallangi