The Niyamgiri is a hill range situated in the districts of Rayagada. The hill range is around 15 kilometers from the nearest railway station of Muniguda through which passes the trains to major cities of India. The hills have one of India's most pristine forests in the interiors and its inhabitants have remained secluded from the outside world for a very long time. In the recent past these hills were in media discussions due to the conflict of inhabitant tribals and Indian Mining Company Vedanta which had got mining clearance for these hills from Government of India. Later under the direction of Supreme Court of India, mining clearance was revoked and concerned governments were asked to maintain the natural environment of the region. Approximately 6,000 tribal are inhabiting these mountain ranges [caption id="attachment_6175" align="alignnone" width="667"] The road to the mountains passing through agricultural fields at the base of the mountains[/caption]
- A recently opened road connect the main town to the hills. The road just takes you 8 kilometers inside the hills.
- The water stream flowing from the mountains makes for a spectacular view at the base of the mountains. There is a temple adjoining the water stream and a lot of devotees come to the temple.
- Goat rearing has been very typical of the tribals inhabiting the area. Here is a tribal man taking his goats to a pasture.
- Tribals love their culture and living system. Here is a girl in a typical tribal dress. A few people are also adopting the dresses that they get in the market. But, that too of the villages which have easy access to the market. The villages deep in the mountains still follow the thousands of years old customs and traditions.
- As the motorbike road ends, we reach the very first tribal village, which looks like a modern settlement. Houses are made up of bricks and mud. We coudn't go beyond this due to our limited time. The people say real tribal culture starts from here. I hope my next trip would be deep into the forests.
- A primary school in the village which caters to the children of the tribals and the middlemen who have settled in this village. These middlemen buy products from tribals and sell them in the market. These middlemen are one of the reason, the tribals of area get exploited.
- Stone symbols have been used to depict Gods in India for thousands of years. Here is a stone symbol that depicts tribal God and resembles Shivalinga.
- This is the last one and is very interesting. Tribal people collect wine from this tree, hence I have named it as wine tree. Process of collecting wine is very similar to the one used to collect adhesives. Make a small cut in the tree and put/fix a bowl under that. In 3-5 hours you will have the wine collected in the bowl drop by drop. The tribal men and women, both drink wine in the evening. Its quite different from mainstream Indian culture where women are often not expected to drink wine.