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Demographics - Hearts Still Closer to the Mother Nature

The Valley - the moment one thinks of it, a series of pleasing images of lush green hills, bubbling streams, colorful people and their countless fairs, festivals, songs and dances rush through one's mind.  Tribes inhabit the entire area and there are around 19 tribes. Tribal people who abound with their own folklore and traditions enhance the beauty of this valley. Tribal lifestyle expresses itself in various artistic creations like folk costumes and art literally differing from tribe to tribe. Dhimsa dance is a unique feature of the tribes of Araku Valley.

Nestled in the lap of the gorgeously wooded Eastern Ghats, the enchanting Valley is the home  for all these tribes who, in spite of the winds of change sweeping across, still retain their centuries old traditions and folklore. They seem to lead a happy like quite like their ancestors did, miles away from modern day life.  In the valley you hardly see the concrete buildings and educated people.  If you see a concrete building that must have been built by some government schemes.

It is connected by road and also by the world's highest broad gauge railway laid long ago for transporting iron ore. You can see amazing predawn mist which   hangs in the air. There will be groups of people gathers  by the roadside along the road. You can see gaily attired tribal belles hauling headloads of vegetables, grains and other farm produce. Fridays are market days here where the hum of life echoes as the inhabitants gather to sell or barter their ware - baskets, pottery, farm produce.

In exchange they buy kerosene, cloth and imitation jewellery. Apart from the usual buying and selling, the markets also serve as an occasion for prospective brides and grooms to meet.  Hence they come in al their traditional finery and colourful apparel.  A stroll through these Friday markets is tantamount to walking through a cross section of ancient Indian bazaars.

Women have a great passion for traditional jewellery which usually consists of a pair of earnings, pendants, three nose rings, silver anklets and bracelets. They are also fond of modern beauty aids as evident from a number of wayside stalls selling a mindboggling variety of cheap synthetic plastic beads and hair clips.  Now, come out of the hub bub of the market and take a walk down through the valley's undulating landscape chequered with acres and acres of coffee plantations (in Anathagiri area), swaying eucalyptus and gurgling mountain streams. The valley looks like a green carpeted saucer with rows of haystack houses marking the slopes of hills.

Most of the tribal homes are one-roomed structures with a small  verandah attached to the front. Walls are brightly painted and beautifully decorated with animals, gods and goddesses drawn in indigenous colours. Every hut has its hearth around which the household relaxes and drinks homemade wine and dines on their farm produce. The tribals around the valley donít run behind money, they are happy with the way they are living. You can see lot of women smoking man made cigars in the valley. Life is a succession of festivals and fairs, song and dance for the people of this valley. They celebrate everything from the onset of the monsoon to the simple toils of daily life. During March-April, for  about a month, the people stop all their agricultural activities and  undertake hunting expeditions to nearby forests using spears, bows and arrows. On their return the hunters are accorded a hero's welcome by the women.

The entire village revels through the night drinking and dancing. Araku has a well furnished forest resthouse by the side of a railway line overlooking the sylvan valley and the trickling tributary of the river pathal wends its way through the terraced fields not very far from the resthouse. 

 

The Tribal Museum in Araku Valley explores the tribal culture of Eastern Ghats. The Tribal Museum exhibits rich tribal tradition and several artifacts. One can see the tools used by the tribes and avail information about the social and cultural aspects of the tribal people. There is a stall in the museum where handicrafts items of the tribes are sold.