Patalkot, or the hidden world is a mystical valley located in Tamia block of Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh. Located approximately 3000 feet above mean sea level, it is described often for its horse-shoe shape, the deep gorge that segregates the valley, and the scenic beauty canopied with the mighty Satpura mountain ranges and forests.
Within the valley are Patalkot’s 12 villages and 13 hamlets, which inhabit around 2000 people, according to the district website. From the cliff of the valley – a hotspot for tourists, one can easily spot villages of Rated and Chimtipur, amid small patches of cultivated areas, herders rearing cattle, and a spectacular landscape covered with diverse flora. Doodhi river that bifurcates the valley is the primary water source of the region.
People & Local Beliefs
The valley is home to the Gond and Bharia tribes of Madhya Pradesh. The tribes normally engage in subsistence agriculture, cultivation of seasonal crops and vegetables on small patches, collecting non timber forest produce and animal rearing. They also utilise several kinds of grass to weave beautiful bamboo and Chhind (date-palm) baskets relevant for household purposes.
Till a few decades ago, the tribes living here were totally disconnected from the outside world because of the difficult terrain leading up to the valley, and the dense forests sprawling across. Because of this disconnectedness and seclusion, the Bharias and Gonds established a close friendship, and dependence with the ‘sacred’ forests around them.
Since then, the tribes inhabiting the valley have inculcated a strong reliance on forest and natural resources for their survival. It is because of this long term dependency on traditional resources that Bharias are regarded as indigenous knowledge experts in the area of natural medicinal healing, which they have discovered over the years from a wide variety of rare medicinal plants, herbs, barks and fruits found in the valley.
Locals specialize in collecting these, and use those to treat common ailments. This indigenous expertise has come naturally to the locals of Patalkot because of their harmonious equation with forests, highlighting their continued…