Where to go
The village of Goudaguda is situated in the state of Orissa, approx. 200km north of Visakhaptnam (Vizag) and approx. 500km south of Bhubaneswar, while the Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh is 130km westward.
The three major towns in the Greater Koraput District in the south of Orissa are Jeypore, Rayagada and Koraput. Both Jeypore and Rayagada are commercial centres while Koraput is the administrative centre. The small village of Goudaguda in Koraput district lies in the tribal heartland where locals creates terracotta pots and utensils for daily use in the surrounding area and these are sold at the local weekly market or "haat". The surrounding area and the host village is a reasonably developed mixed rural area for this part of Orissa, but still very under developed in comparison with much of India.
Major tribal groups in Koraput are the Bhumia, Bhatra, Koya, Paraja and Kondh while other 26 tribal societies also live here but have very small population. The Bonda and Didayi are considered as rare tribes because of their unique of culture. Their domain and sphere of activity is confined to the dense forests of Eastern Ghats and on the mountainous river.
The Kondhs, or the Kui as they are locally known, are the largest tribal group in Odisha. They are known for their cultural heritage and values which center on respecting nature. Amongst the kondhs, Maliah Kondhs are the majority group and their spoken dialect 'Kui' language is Dravidian and spoken with only slight regional variations.
Their physical attributes are characterised by strength and symmetry. There skin colour ranges from light bamboo to a deep copper shade, the heel in a line with back of the leg. As regards their character, the Kandhas possess a great love for liberty.
Kutia Kondhs another tribe dwells in remote hills. The Kutia Kondh women are marked with beautiful geometric facial tattoos and it is said that these identifying marks ensure that they will recognize each other in once they enter the spirit world.
Dongria Kondhs inhabit the steep slopes of the Niyamgiri Range of Koraput district and over the border into Kalahandi. They work entirely on the steep slopes for their livelihood. The Niyamgiri Range provides a wealth of perennial springs and streams which greatly enrich Dongria cultivation.
The Paraja tribe is divided into two groups, namely Bada Paraja and Sana Paraja, and are hardworking people who once lived in the hills and forests. The women still wear some traditional jewellery, namely armlets, bracelets, necklaces, rings and hair pins made of silver, aluminium and brass. The practice of tattooing is also still common and even girls as young as 5 years old are found with tattoo marks on their faces and hands.
The Bonda are an ancient tribe of people numbering approximately 12,000 who live in the isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of South-Western Orissa. The tribe is one of the oldest and most primitive in mainland India; their culture has changed little for more than a thousand years. Their isolation and known aggressiveness continue to preserve their culture despite the pressures of an expanding Indian population. Perhaps what makes the group stand out the most is the fact that the Bonda are generally only semi-clothed, the women wear colourfully beaded head-dresses and necklaces, thick silver neck bands and a small piece of material around their waist.
The tribal belt of Orissa is a very gentle place with little vehicular traffic. When away from the few towns, there are very few vehicles except for the occasional daily bus and a few jeep taxis that are more prevalent around the weekly markets.
When you are in the countryside you hear the countryside - you can hear the voices of village folk talking while working from up to a kilometre away. No engines! Something very rare in the world today and will be even harder to find tomorrow. You travel back into a time where most people walk and do things as they always have, and nothing much changes except the season.
Rice is cultivated in the many streambeds between the rainy seasons so that you have rivers of brilliant green flowing between the hills. The climate is mild for most of the time. The area receives around 3 months rain during the monsoon, starting around July and tapering off during September, with the temperature rising to the mid 30's by June/July before the monsoon and then a very pleasant daytime mid 20's plus during the rest of the year.