A place mysterious, untouched, hidden, offbeat, and aloof from the outside world. I am speaking of Patalkot, hidden as if in a cocoon in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. A phenomenal destination with quaint hamlets and surreal calmness being its treasure trove. The place is adorned by breathtaking landscapes and mystical views wrapped in lush greenery. Populated by tribal inhabitants leading a simplistic and harmonious life, you must definitely add the place to your travel bucket list. Let us venture out virtually, deciphering the origin and mystery behind Patalkhot.
The History behind the origin of the name
The word “Patalkot” is a Sanskrit word. “Patal” means very deep or underground. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that Prince Meghnad, the son of the demon king Ravana, had worshipped Lord Shiva and went to Patal-Lok. Also, studies have revealed that in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Bhonsle Kings had ruled Patalkot. They had hidden deep inside the forest of Patalkot after defeating the British army. Believed to be the entrance to “Patal” or underground, the place was completely disconnected from the outside world and was left undiscovered. Only a few years back, the place came to be known to the public.
Where is the place located?
The village is situated at height of about 2750-3250 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by majestic hills and beautiful hamlets. Spread across an area of about 79 sq km, its intriguing natural beauty is mesmerizing. The valley is shaped like a horse-shoe located at the banks of the river Doodhi, in the Chhindwara district. About 13 hamlets and 12 villages are present in the valley.
Who are the Tribal inhabitants of the village?
The main tribal population of Patalkot constitutes Bharias and Gonds. The Bharias have been staying in the villages for more than 500 years now. You can walk and stroll across the villages, meeting the tribal people and engaging with them to learn their habitat and culture. The main villages to visit are Chimtipur, Gujja Dongri, Sahra Pachgol, Harra-ka-Char, Sukhabhand, Dhurni Malni, Jhiram, Palani Gaildubba, Ghatlinga, Gudichattri, Gaildubba, Kareyam, Ghana, etc.
The tribals are ritualistic and religious, worshipping many gods and goddesses. The key among them being Shiva, Badadev, Madai, Madmi Mai, Doolhadev, Nandia, Surjadev, and Agiadev. During the festivals and religious occasions, they wear their traditional dresses and ornaments named as Chulki, Mundri, Binoria, Toda, Hasli, Kardona, Paijan, Mohanmala, Kushmala, Mungiamala, Markadhana Mala, and Patli.
They love music and songs as well, being fun-loving too. The typical traditional instruments used during the religious ceremonies, and festivals are Nagda, Timki, Shehnai, Chakule, Singa, Tambura, Chikara, Bansuri, Ghunghru, Khadtaal, Madar, Dhol, Dahak, and Tudiya. The popular dance names performed by the tribes are Holi, Gusai, Karma, Rreena, Saila, Gendi, Dadariya, Jharpat, Bilma, Tapadi, Cherta, Sing Madiya, Hulki, Rela, Choli, Ghanti, Madri, Gour, Sahul, Tunta, Karama, Dumkuch, Dhuriya, Thapti, etc.
The traditional food of the tribes is roti, rice, daliya, pulses, and different vegetables like Kaddu, Tumdi, Karela, Gataru, Rethu, Bhura, Bhata, Kacharia, Kunduru, Bathua, Chirota, Rajbhaji, and Rirua.
Things to do at Patalkot
You can engage in a lot of activities at Patalkot.
Attend the Satupura Adventure Sports festival in the month of October. The festival happens yearly once with the option of participating in parasailing, paragliding, rock climbing, trekking, bird watching, and water sports.
If you love hiking, then you will truly enjoy being at Patalkot. You can walk along the mountain trails and the dense mangrove forests. Do not miss visiting the Raja Kho and Zingaria waterfalls along the way. Besides you can enjoy river rafting at the river Doodhi.
Spend your time with the tribal people, learning about their culture, tradition, and habitat. You can enjoy the food cooked by them, especially ‘Patalkot ki rasoi’. The dishes prepared from the farm-fresh vegetables is nutritious and tasty.
The tribal communities specialize in preparing herbal medicine from forest plants. You can visit the “medicine men” to buy those medicines. The medicines are found to be very useful for natural ailments. You can even spend time with them, acquainting yourself of the various plants, the ways of extracting the pulp, and preparing the medicines.
You can check out the handmade products made out of wood and bamboo by the locals. There are jewelry, baskets, brooms, home decor items, and household items to select from and purchase. The most phenomenal part of the traditional artwork is the Chhind art or Khajoor art, made from the leaves of wild dates.
Best time to visit Patalkot
If you want to visit the valley, stroll across the villages and be a part of the festival, then the months between October and February are the best. But if you just wish to visit the valley from outside then the months between July and September is a perfect time.
How to reach Patalkot?
Patalkot is situated in the Chhindwara district, which is well accessible by air, rail, and road. The nearest airport is at Nagpur, 125 km from the district. There is a railway station at Chhindwara which is connected by broad gauge trains. If you want to travel by road, buses and cabs are available from different parts of the state to Chhindwara.
Few interesting facts about Patalkot
The knowledge of the tribals on the herbs, and forest plants along with their useful medicinal effects is incredible. They use the natural way of healing. By using natural herbs as medicines, the immunity power of the tribes is much higher. Hence their body can sustain any ailments or diseases. Electricity was not there in Patalkot till 2018, especially due to the topography of the place. Now after many tries, power has been brought to the place. Even there were no roads, the means of transportation was via ropes.
The villages receive only about 4 to 5 hours of sunlight since they are located in the deepest parts of the valley.
Truly a strange place, a destination which must be visited and checked for its unusual way of living and survival.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.