East India tribes with Original World

By Claudia Kelly
This item appears on page 29 of the September 2018 issue.
Claudia Kelly with village dancers near Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, central-eastern India.

A trip to the tribal regions of Odisha (formerly Orissa until 2011) and Chhattisgarh states in eastern India, Jan. 15-30, 2018, was my third to India, and it was like traveling back in time.

The remote tribes were interesting and colorful beyond my expectations. Tattooed and pierced women seemed to not mind being photographed up close. At the weekly markets, where everything from cows to cabbages was being sold, there were no Westerners in sight.

The accessibility of these tribal people and their engagement with our group of four was thrilling. The playback on our digital cameras allowed the locals to view themselves.

Many of the men we encountered wanted to take selfies with us. They were using Chinese mobile phones primarily to take pictures, as their villages didn't have Internet service.

We didn't see women at leisure in any of the villages. All were carrying containers of water, produce or fish on their heads, or they were harvesting the cotton, rice or sugarcane grown in this agricultural area.

These village women wore beautiful saris every day as they worked, while their other saris hung on fences and branches to dry, thus making for vibrant color everywhere.

This adventure made me truly appreciative of our modern lifestyle, but I'm anxious to return to see more of these tribes before they change and disappear.

Spirit of India (San Rafael, CA; 888/367-6147 or 415/381-5861, www.spirit-of-india.com), a division of Original World and an ITN advertiser, has many trips to Asia, but their small-group tribal adventures are enchanting for photographing exotic village life.

For this tour, titled "Villages, Culture & Crafts of Tribal Odisha," I paid $4,180 (double occupancy) plus $200 for flights within India.

Sausalito, CA

Rasul Kondh woman at the Tuesday market in Kothgarh, Odisha, eastern India. Photos by Claudia Kelly
Bonda woman at the Thursday market in Onukudelli, Odisha, eastern India.
Kuttiya Kondh woman at the Tuesday market in Kothgarh, Odisha, eastern India.