10 Best Places to Experience the Tribal Culture of Madhya Pradesh

The majority of the Madhya Pradesh tribes reside on hilly slopes and forested valleys cradled by the sacred rivers of Narmada and Godavari. Besides the historical monuments, ancient temples and boundless natural beauty that Madhya Pradesh is home to, it fosters nearly 46 different tribes that resonate with cultures of different eras.

They grace the top ranks of the tribal population in India and can be categorized into a variety of sub-castes and groups. Accounting for about 18-20% of the population of Madhya Pradesh, the traditions, rituals, and lifestyle of these communities are quite fascinating, as they pose a stark contrast to our own lives.

Their lifestyle is rooted deeply in Hindu religion and mythology. Experiencing the tribal communities and their cultures makes for an entirely different approach to tourism in Madhya Pradesh. If you’re looking to venture into the unknown, unexplored and untouched places in Madhya Pradesh, take a trip to the tribal inhabited corners of Madhya Pradesh.

The eccentric ways of the tribals will tickle your fancy like nothing else. The Chhindwara district of the state houses more than 2 tribal communities, while others can be found in Shivpuri, Seoni, Khargone, Ratlam, Jabalpur, Sidhi, Shahdol and many others.

It is possible to locate the tribal people in certain typical regions, though a few communities have adopted the nomadic lifestyle, and embraced wandering for survival and occupation.

Check here the best places to experience the tribal culture of Madhya Pradesh:

01

Gond Tribe

Gonds are arguably the largest tribal group in Asia, with a population crossing three million! Though much is known about them, some of the Gond people remain isolated from the rest of the civilization. They worship Lord Shiva, known as ‘Bahadeo’ in their native tongue.

Though struggling to thrive in the current economic crisis that has befallen them, they indulge in various recreational activities amongst themselves. Their traditional dance is called Madai, which is kind of a celebratory dance, practiced and performed on happy occasions.

Another dance form called Dandari is practiced to convey mythological events. Their major festivals are closely related to agriculture. The commonly known festivals of the Gonds are the cattle festival of Pola, and Nag Panchami, when snakes are worshipped.

Locations of the Tribe: They occupy the sides of the Narmada river, and live in close harmony with Mother Nature. Their native language belongs to the Dravidian family, and they are scattered across the country in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha district of Maharashtra, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

However, the best places to experience the Gond culture are Mandla, Chhindwara, Betul and Seoni districts in Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh tourism resorts offer a wide variety of accommodation choices to suit your taste and budget, no matter you are in which part of the state you will get a resort nearby.

02

Bhil Tribe

The second largest tribal community in India, Bhils are fine warriors with inherent, exceptional skills of archery. The name Bhil literally refers to Bil, meaning ‘bow’, a reference to their great archery skills which are mentioned even in the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Some of their other skills include pottery, painting, and weaving.

Their native language is Bhili, belonging to the Indo Aryan family of languages. The women wear traditional sarees, and heavy embellishments in the forms of jewelry, while men prefer flowing frocks and pajamas. Their major occupation is agriculture and poultry farming, and they are simple and peaceful people who used to be sharp hunters. They believe in an intriguing tradition of getting married through elopement.

Their God is Vaghdeva, Lord of the Tigers, along with deities like Khandoba, Bahiroba, and Sita Mata. They seek recreation and joy in sacred dance forms of Ghoomar and Gair, performed by men. One of the major festivals is the Baneshwar Fair, celebrated as a tribute to Lord Shiva, known as Baneshwar Mahadev.

Location of the Tribe: Their communities can be found in the Jaubha, Khargone, Dhar, and Ratlam districts of Madhya Pradesh. They reside largely in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.

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03

Baiga Tribe

Believed to have descended from Dravid, they reside peacefully in thick, forested woodlands of Satpura. The commonly acknowledged language of the Baigas is Baigani, along with Hindi and Marathi. The art of tattooing is a significant part of the tribal lifestyle, exclusive to the clan.

Women who indulge in the art of tattooing are known as Godharins and are residents of Ojha and Dewar tribes of Madhya Pradesh. They strive to preserve Mother Nature and refuse to indulge in plowing which includes scratching the face of the Earth.

They consider it a sin, which makes shifting cultivation a common and accepted form of agriculture. Their major folk dance forms include Bhoom, Bilma, and Karma, and prevalent tribal music is Rautnacha, along with Soorwa, Dewarnacha, and Banthi.

Another distinguishing feature of this tribe is that the number of females surpasses the number of males. They belong to the forests and refuse to work for anyone else, including the government. Pej, made from the leftover water of rice after it has been boiled, is one of the drinks that is widely enjoyed amongst the tribe.

Location of the Tribe: Found in forests of Mandla, Shahdol, Sidhi and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh has one of the largest forested cover areas in the country and endowed with rich and diverse forest resources and national parks. Click here for the top national parks of Madhya Pradesh.
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04

Sahariya Tribe

Saharias are another tribal group prominent in Madhya Pradesh, sheltered in the districts of Gwalior, Shivpuri, Vidisha, Raisen, Morena, and Bhind. Though some of them may have embraced a nomadic lifestyle and have little to no contact with the outside world. Most of them depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood.

Majority of there also devotees of Goddess Durga, which is mirrored in their name, ‘Sa’ referring to ‘companion’ and ‘Haria’ referring to ‘tiger’. Saharias are peaceful by nature and indulge in shifting cultivation and hunting. They are also skilled woodsmen and hold expertise in gathering wood, tendu leaf, honey, herbs, and gum.

Most of their traditions are largely influenced by the Rajasthani culture which reflects in their dressing style which includes a dhoti, ethnic shirt and safe for men, and ghagra, lehenga, ludga and petya for women.

The most celebrated festivals are Diwali, Hoti, Sehria, Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan and Dussehra.

Location of the Tribe: Found majorly in Gwalior, Shivpuri, Vidisha, Raisen, Morena, and Bhind

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05

Abujhmar Tribe

Amongst other prominent, more civilized tribes in Madhya Pradesh, the Abujhmar tribe is extremely wild and primitive. Their homes are lodged deep within the hearts of dense forests, as a result of which, not much is known about their lifestyle and culture.

One of the few peculiarities that are common amongst them is their food. Ranging from red ants to rats, they are not particularly picky about what they eat. Their dressing sense is yet another eccentricity that dwells in their culture.

They are said to be staunch believers of animism, though not much light can be shed on that. The women are bare-chested, while the only clothing for men is a simple loincloth. The only exception to their clothing can be seen during festivals, where they are slightly better dressed, even though minimally.

Location of the Tribe: They are wildly eccentric in nature, and reside in the mountains and forests of Abujhmar, spanning Bijapur, Narayanpur, in Chhattisgarh.

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06

Baharia Tribe

The tribesmen of Bharia count on agriculture as their main source of livelihood and are adept at crafting items like baskets from bamboo. They are well versed in Dravidian languages and dwell far within the shaded valley of Tamia, Chhindwara, which is inaccessible by road.

Despite being completely alienated from outside civilization, Bharias are expert healers and possess a deep, varied knowledge of various medicinal herbs. Aboriginals of the state, Baharias have their own singular set of remedies that they use to cure illnesses.

They are devotees of the Gond deity Baradeo, known otherwise as Lord Shiva, among other deities like Hanuman. Holi, Shivratri, Diwali, and Raksha Bandhan are the most honored festivals of the tribe, while dance forms of Bahatam, Karma, Saitama, and Shaila are commonly practiced.

Their dressing style is quite simple, including a kurta, dhoti and safe for men, and Sedri saree for women.

Location of the Tribe: The Baharia Tribe is clustered mainly within the Jabalpur and Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh.

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07

Korku Tribe

Dwelling only in densely forested areas, people belonging to Korku tribe of Madhya Pradesh are skilled in gathering food. Korkus build their houses with bamboo and wood, and all houses have a fireplace installed. Like every other tribal community, Korkus also depend on agriculture, poultry farming and animal husbandry for their livelihood.

In Bhainsdehi, Betul, many tribals have acquainted themselves with the cultivation of basic food like coffee and potatoes. Despite having been contacted by several NGOs and offered food materials from the outside world, they religiously practice cultivation and gathering of their own food

Several such attempts of presenting them food items have been in vain, for they strictly refuse to accept them. Their community is headed by a leader referred to as ‘Sarpanch’, who is also the mentor of the Panchayat. They too are devotees of Lord Shiva and rejoice in festivities like Dussehra, Shivratri, Diwali and Holi.

Location of the Tribe: Korkus live in forests of the Hoshangabad, Betul, Chhindwara, Khandwa and Harda districts of Madhya Pradesh. 

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08

Santia Tribe

A tribal group of Malwa, Santias are believed to have been a martial Rajput tribe. Since their lifestyle is extremely nomadic, not much can be said about their habits and traditions. It is quite difficult to locate them.

They don’t dwell in one single place for a long time, and instead, choose to wander into different boundaries for their survival and livelihood. Since they don’t stick to one place for long, they are not very picky about their food choices and will have anything as long as it’s edible.

Location of the Tribe: Santias are essentially nomads. They prefer wandering rather than staying in one place and calling it home.

Here is an ideal list for somebody who is looking for campings in Madhya Pradesh that are just perfect camping destination.


09

Kols Tribe

Residing in the interiors of Rewa, Sidhi, Satna, Jabalpur, and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh, the existence of Kols can be traced back to the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. They are firm believers and devotees of Hindu religion and mythology.

Some of their major activities include construction of palaces, lakes, and forts, but on account of their simplicity, their stationed dwellings were taken away from them. Owing to such adversities, many of the tribals blended with several different tribes, and are on the brink of dying out as an individual community.

Location of the Tribe: Kols are concentrated in the interiors of Rewa, Sidhi, Satna, Jabalpur, and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.

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10

Savaras Tribe

Savaras are a mixture of the Saharia and Sour tribes and are of the belief that they are descended from Sabaras.

Settled on wooded hills and valleys, they indulge in cultivation and agriculture on drylands. They constitute a distinct, independent community with original traditions and rituals.

Location of the Tribe: Savaras are housed in the districts of Sheopur, Isagarh, Narval, and Bhilsa in Madhya Pradesh.

Are you planning an adventure-filled trip? Have a look at this list of trekking places in Madhya Pradesh and make the best of the travel plans with full of adventure.
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09 December 2019
Excellent
Perfect river side camp.we enjoy a lot with our group there is various team building games . delicious food they served to us when we reah there the give us tea and some snaks then we enjoy bornfire nd some songs with the group then we take the food nd go to night walk where we do the star gazing then we come to our tents those who wanted to sleep they but we stay near bornfire nd discuss about life nd then we wake up early mrng nd go to see sunrise nd the we play many games nd take the breakfast after the group picture we move to our homes.
07 December 2020
Harsh Agrawal Fundore Enertainment Park, Indore
Excellent
This is the best park i have visited in Indore with lot of adventure activities.It has the best Go-karting indore with the most reasonable price and has superb hospitality. My kid dropped the plate of the momos that i bought so they served me complimentary momos.Cowboy cafe has really good momos in fundore.
16 October 2018
Excellent
It’s was one of those few trips that I cherish, thanks to Thrillophillia for that experience and a special thanks to Satya Rajput ( the incharge crew ) for his special efforts in everything
"bahut maja aaya camp mein Romance Bhiya thank you aapane bahut Dhyan Rakha ham sabka thank you so much Bhiya ??"
20 November 2019
Excellent
3 Cheers for Thrillophilia???????????? #Satya Rajput #Cooperative ???? Sangam of #NarmadaRiver and #TawaRiver Perfect Scenic Natural Place...????? With Awesome Arrangements ???? #MomDaughterTrip????????????????? #BeautifulMemories???? #CelebratingOurSpecialDay???? #16November #Shubhani???? #AddingMomentsToCherish?? #LifeTimeExperience???? Words cannot describe about my experience ????... Might be some glimpse of our pictures can narrate my story???? Chilling weather with Bonfire???? And savouring cup of Tea ? made on the BonFire... Along with Guitarists ????and Amazing Singers???? Would like to go again with such a wonderful team????
04 February 2021
Excellent
The Bike was well Maintained. And There was no Limit on the distance travelled. Had a Great experience.
18 January 2021
Excellent
The experience here is never to be forgotten, the camp was fantastic in the old district and it was good to see the pond from the camp location. The trekking site location is beautiful.
13 November 2020
Excellent
Me and my friends went camping at Narsingarh for two days and we really had a great time there. We went for a night walk in the jungle and it was really fun. The food was also good. Overall, we had an amazing experience.
Excellent
"BEST EXPERIENCE. MUST VISIT NARSINGHGARH "
12 December 2020
Excellent
Nice place to visit weather is so good our group enjoyed so much water is so clean Very tasty food nice trip enjoyed very well.

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