Friday, December 05, 2014

Amravati - Buddhist Relics

After the Buddhist Temple Caves at Undavalli, we drove on to the nearby town of Amravati, which was an important Buddhist center in the 2nd and 3rd Century BC, and has a number of important relics from that period. But first, a bit of the lovely Andhra countryside, on the route from Undavalli to Amravati on narrow country roads...

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Guntupalli - Bhuddist Temple Caves

After Yanam, we turned inland towards Vijaywada, taking a long detour to take in the Buddhist Temple Caves at Guntupalli. These 2nd Century rock-cut temples are not terribly well known outside Andhra Pradesh (at least, I'd never heard or read of them before). We arrived there after hours of biking through country roads. Here was our first view of the caves, nestled in the hills...
This is a general shot of the terrain...

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Bamboo Temple

Still on the way home from Kunduli market, we stopped at a rather interesting temple - it is a bamboo grove that doubles up as a temple to Durga. There is no idol, as in conventional temples, the bamboo trees serve as a representation of Durga. Here is the entrance to the grove: it is the only bit of masonry in the temple.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chez Blandine - Édition spéciale

Bon anniversaire à Clara, toute seule à St. Martin !

A village of the Mali Tribe

After Kunduli market, we stopped over at a village of the Mali tribe. The Mali tribes people are great agriculturists. They have been doing crop rotation, rain water harvesting, water conservation and all the latest fads for several centuries. They have amongst the most productive fields in all India - and it is all 100% "bio", as we would say.Here was a woman painting her hut red.
The Mali do seem to like glitzy colors, unlike the relatively more drab houses we saw in villages of other tribes.

The ladies of the village in conference. Were they discussing us?
A lovely painted door...
A girl with Mhendi on her hand - much like in the rest of North India, but note the tribal motifs...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blandine's Farm - 10

Chez Blandine - 10

Onkudeli Tribal Market

On Thursday, we went to what was supposed to be the highlight of our Orissa Trip - The Thursday Market of the Gonda tribe in Onkudeli. The Gondas are supposed to be one of the oldest tribes on Earth. We went there early morning, and stationed ourselves on the banks of a narrow stream, from where we could watch the Gonda tribespeople walking over meadows and hills and fording the stream to get to the market. It was a lovely sight, with some funny moments. A tribal man was herding his goats over the stream. In the melee, one clever goat slipped off and hid himself in the bushes. The goat had no intention of being sold. The tribal went off, none the wiser. Whoever said goats were stupid? Another little old lady was carrying an enormous fish, still live. It slipped off her shoulder and fell into the stream. She grabbed at it before it could swim away.

But, sadly... no pictures. The good old Govt. of India has forbidden photography of the Gonda tribe. The silly thing is that this ban came into effect just a few years ago - the Internet is full of pictures of the Gonda taken before that. So the ban seems kind of pointless. Also, foreigners need a special permit to visit the Onkudeli market, and need to be accompanied by a licensed guide. Since Blandine is technically French (although she claims to have been Indian in a past life), we had to get the permit and guide. There are horror stories in the Internet of foreign tourists being turned away from the market because they did not have the permit. There are also stories of cameras being confiscated when tourists attempted photography. There are even scarier stories of how the Gonda are allergic to people photographing them, and can become violent of you point a camera at them.

We found it all overblown. We did not see a single policeman within a 100 km of that place. No one checked our permits. We were rather disappointed, having gone to all the trouble of getting one. There was no one to stop us pulling out our cameras. Far from being allergic to cameras, a couple of the Gonda approached us and offered to let us photograph them - for the payment of the nominal sum of Rs. 100. Unfortunately, we could not take them up on the offer. Our  guide acted the spoilsport. He insisted he would get into trouble if he allowed us - he could lose his guide license.

Now I'm a law-abiding citizen. I kept my hand firmly off the iPad. But Blandine, being French, hates laws of any kind: she sneaked off a couple of photos of a Gonda tribeswoman when the guide wasn't looking. Here they are: very poor quality because taken in a hurry, from behind a concealing paper bag.
Dear Govt. of India. If you see this post, please don't blame our guide. He did his best to stop us. Don't blame me either. I'm a law-abiding Indian citizen. Blame my crazy, lawless French girlfriend, if you must.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kunduli Tribal Market

The following morning we headed for Kunduli village, where every Friday there is the weekly market of the Paraja, Mali and Kuvi Kondh tribes. It is also the biggest tribal market in Orissa. Here we are, just at the entry to the market, watching the tribes people coming over with their goods, walking over through meadows from their own villages..
This is the cattle market.
This is the goat and sheep market

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Village of the Paraja Tribe

After the pottery village, we passed by a village of the Paraja Tribe. We went in and confabulated with the denizens. We dropped in on this lady pounding millet and tending to her baby, by turns.

Here's a little old lady wearing a traditional dress made of a thick rough cloth that she had woven herself from wild cotton, many years ago. She is the oldest citizen in the village. No one has the time for that kind of work, nowadays. They buy saris in the market. Even this old lady takes out this dress only when there are foreign visitors in the village.