bonda tribe orissa india

Bonda girl, Orissa

The Bondas, divided into Lower Bondas and Upper Bondas, are a very ancient and fiercely independent tribe. We meet Bondas and other tribal groups as they gather at weekly tribal markets.

Photo by Keren Su

display information about this photo

Tribal India

Traditions, Tigers & Temples from Madhya Pradesh to Orissa
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 20 days
Arrive: Delhi, India
Depart: Delhi, India
Lodging: 9 nights in comfortable hotels, 8 nights in basic hotels
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours


  • Unique tribal cultures of central India, including the Baiga, Gond, Paraja, and Dhuruba peoples
  • Traditional villages, unique artisans, gems of Orissan architecture
  • Gameviewing at world-famous Kanha National Park, home to royal Bengal tigers
  • Konarak, a dazzling 13th sandstone temple and a World Heritage Site

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Join Trip Leader Extraordinaire Hashmat Singh for a journey that brings us into the ancient heart of tribal India! India has hundreds of unique tribal groups, known collectively as the adivasi (literally “first people”) and believed to be descended from India’s pre-Aryan inhabitants. Each has its own distinctive dress, language, arts, dances, and unique cosmology that often combines pagan and Hindu elements. The tribes live apart from modern India’s mainstream, congregating in small communities, often in the forested hills, and living by their own tribal laws. As we explore villages, temples, and tribal gathering places from the hills of Central India to Orissa on the Bay of Bengal, we learn about ancient art forms and meet a wonderful array of peoples from all walks of life.

Our journey includes Kanha National Park, one of India’s renowned wildlife refuges and haunt of the royal Bengal tiger, as well as the heartland of the Baiga and Gond tribes, with their bustling haats, or weekly markets. As we cross the Indian state of Orissa, we explore the land of the Paraja, Kondh, and Bonda tribes. We also visit Bhubaneshwar, whose celebrated pilgrim temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath is one of India’s most important sacred sites, and the World Heritage Site of Konark, a dazzling 13th century sandstone temple and one of India’s architectural treasures.

Hashmat Singh writes “In my travels around India, I have often marveled at the ethnic diversity of the peoples. I know that our special tribal heritage is unique—and disappearing fast—and I’m eager to share the wonders of this little-known world.” Hashmat is one of our most popular Trip Leaders, with a wealth of knowledge and a passion for introducing people to the hidden treasures of his homeland—this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime journey!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Delhi / Kanha National Park / Baiga and Gond Tribal Villages

After an overnight at in Delhi, we fly to Raipur and head to Kanha through a landscape of lush rice terraces. In Kanha National Park, the Indian subcontinent’s greatest reserve and tiger country par excellence, we explore by open vehicle and by elephant-back. Interspersed with gameviewing, we visit fascinating tribal villages and markets of the Baiga and Gond people.

Days 5-9
Karwardha / Jagdalpur / Muria and Abujmaria Tribes

We explore Karwardha's fantastic Bhoramdeo Temple, built between the 7th and 11th centuries and the perfect blend of erotic and religious sculptures. After visiting the large weekly tribal market at Tharegaon, we head to Jagdalpur, with a visit en route to a Muria village, where we'll hear traditional music. We also encounter the fascinating Abujhmarias, semi-nomadic people who live in the forest, and the Bison Horn Maria, known for their dances. We'll have a chance to see a village dance performance.

Days 10-11
Kotpad / Kakiriguma / Kondh Tribes

In Kotpad, we meet traditional ikat weavers who make fabrics for many tribes of Orissa, and we visit the weekly market at Kakiriguma, where the Paraja people gather. We also meet the Kondhs, whose women tatoo their faces in different designs, depending on their clan. In this very remote area, there are no hotels, so we overnight at a basic tented camp.

Days 12-13
Dongariya Kondh Villages / Bonda Tribes

On these two days, we are among the villages of the Dongariya Kondh, excellent horticulturalists, as evidenced by the bounty of vegetables and fruits at their market. We also see the very interesting Bonda tribe at their weekly market. Of Tibeto-Burmese origin, they live in isolation in the hills, so the market is the only place to see them.

Days 14-15
Rayagada / Gopalpur-on-Sea

En route to Rayagada, we visit the market of the largest Paraja group, with a special visit to the potters' area to see them working at their wheels. We continue to Gopalpur-on-Sea, a sleepy fishing town along the Bay of Bengal.

Days 16-17
Puri / Jagannath / Konark

We cross Chilika Lake by car ferry, then take a boat ride to look for dolphins. In Puri, one of the seven holiest pilgrim towns in India, we view the great Jagannath Temple (from the outside, as non-Hindus are not allowed inside) then explore the stunning World Heritage Site of Konark, one of the major architectural treasures of India. The entire 13th century sandstone temple is built in the form of a giant chariot.

Days 18-20
Bhubaneshwar / Udaiguri / Khandagiri

In Bhubaneshwar, a city in the lush green delta of the Mahanadi River, we explore exquisite temples that are gems of Orissan architecture, including 7th century Parsuramesvara. We also visit Raghurajpur, an official Heritage Village of Orissa, known for its artisans as well as its ancient Gotipua dance tradition, and we will be able to watch a dance performance. After exploring the remarkable rock-cut Jain caves of Udaigiri and Khandagiri, depart on Day 20 via Delhi.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2, Easy to Moderate. It is a vehicle-based cultural adventure. Accommodations are in comfortable hotels as well as some basic hotels. On at least seven nights of our trip, the hotels are quite basic, so please be prepared for this. On Days 10 and 11, we stay at a simple tented accommodation in Jhigidi, where hotel facilities are not available. These more basic accommodations have been chosen for their proximity to the tribal villages and are not up to the standard we use in larger cities on the trip, but they are the best available in an area with little choice, and they give us access to fascinating and remote areas well off the beaten path.

The emphasis on our trip is on India’s culture—its markets, villages, and people—along with some wildlife viewing and exploring historical temples. Much of the trip visits areas that are not tourist destinations (in fact, few non-Indians venture into the areas where we are on some days), so this journey is not recommended as a first-time visit to India unless you have experienced similar destinations—this is a trip designed for those who are adventurous in body and spirit!

Travel is by minivan or small bus. While this trip is not expected to be physically strenuous (there is no hiking), the long travel days and rural road conditions may be quite demanding. Trip members must be prepared for drives of at least four hours on most days, sometimes on rugged, serpentine mountain roads, with our longest driving day at seven hours.

Please remember that travel in India can be an adventure. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Hashmat Singh

Hashmat Singh has led over 150 journeys on three continents for us since 1990. He holds a BA in History from Delhi University and is a noted photographer. His book, Trekking in the Himalaya (Roli Books), features photographic essays from Ladakh to Bhutan. Born an army brat, Hashmat traveled extensively as his father was posted in various remote regions of India. His first big Himalayan trek was at age 12, with his school group, and during college, he headed into the Himalaya to take mountaineering courses. “Big mountains of the world, whether they are in the Himalaya, Alps, or the Andes, hold a special fascination for me, as do the people living amongst them, holding on to their ancient cultures in a world where everything is rapidly changing.” A passionate traveler, Hashmat has been instrumental in designing new adventures for us throughout Asia. The profession of Trip Leader combines several of his interests—hiking, exploring the mountains, photography, and meeting new people. Hashmat lives in Delhi with his wife and two children.

Upcoming Trips:

Treasures of South India, January 8-21, 2016
Royal Rajasthan, February 8-18, 2016
Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: From Bali to Borneo, March 1-15, 2016
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms, April 11-25, 2016
Journey to Ladakh, June 26-July 7, 2016
Classic Haute Route, July 13-24, 2016
Great Alpine Traverse, July 27-August 9, 2016
Hiking the Haute Route, August 11-18, 2016
Trekking in Dolpo, September 10-October 7, 2016
Royal Rajasthan, November 4-14, 2016

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Client Testimonials:

Hashmat was totally unflappable, careful, candid, delightful, strong, encouraging, professional, yet warm and friendly. We plan to seek out trips led by him. He is unique and extraordinary! Gail E., Bethesda, MD
Great Alpine Traverse
Hashmat is a marvelous leader—knowledgeable, sensitive, funny, and passionate about his country. Andrew L., Bridgewater, CT
Hidden Rajasthan and the Holi Festival
As always, Hashmat was the perfect leader! His sensitivity, compassion, patience, and humor are second to none. Elizabeth P., Santa Fe, NM
Hidden Rajasthan and the Holi Festival
Hashmat is fabulous (but you already know that!). We were so fortunate to be able to enjoy his expertise and learn from him. Barbara B., Redmond, WA
Journey to Ladakh
Hashmat is the best guide we have ever had. His enthusiasm and friendliness were never-ending. I felt like I was his special friend (but I'm sure everyone else in our group felt the same!). Susan C., Alamo, CA
Royal Rajasthan
Hashmat was a terrific guide and host. His passion for the area was contagious and his knowledge invaluable. David R., Port Alberni, British Columbia
Abbott Trek to Upper Dolpo
Hashmat is the best trip leader we have had on our 10 trips with WT. He knows culture, religions, food, nature—you name it. He is simply outstanding. Tom A., Urbana, IL
Treasures of South India
Hashmat remains one of your "superstars." His helpfulness and knowledge are unsurpassed and I'd recommend him as a guide to anyone. Jeff P., Paradise Valley, AZ
Treasures of South India
Hashmat is a wonderfully knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader. James S., Washington, DC
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
Hashmat is an exceptional leader. His love and knowledge of Indian history, culture, religions, current events, etc. gave me a deeper appreciation of the country. His warmth, high spirits and wit made the journey all the more delightful. Sandi H., New York, NY
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
Cannot say enough about what an excellent leader Hashmat is. That a number of our group had been with him on several other trips is a testament to his guiding prowess. Ed F., Annapolis, MD
Tribal India
Hashmat is an incredibly talented leader and it's no wonder clients follow wherever he goes. We are now Hashmat groupies! Ann & Jon S., Orlando, FL
Royal Rajasthan - Pushkar Fair
Just a consummate professional. Would rate him at the top of his field. Incredible enthusiasm, energy and knowledge. Most importantly, the man cares about his people and clients. Karen W., Greenwich, CT
Ladakh: The Tso Moriri Trek
Hashmat is a great trip leader—there are very few individuals who are as knowledgeable about culture and natural history of the region. Henry P., Boston, MA
Snow Leopard Trek to Shey Gompa
My fifth trip with Hashmat, all of which have been outstanding. His knowledge and experience are unsurpassed, and he is a great trip companion. I'm looking forward to the next trip! Marilyn H., Barnstable, MA
Snow Leopard Trek to Shey Gompa
One could not ask for a better guide than Hashmat: knowledgable, kind, funny, resourceful. Priscilla H., Cockeysville, MD
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan
Twelve trips with Hashmat so far. Need I say more? Jack H., Cockeysville, MD
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan
I get why so many people go on journey after journey with Hashmat. He is knowledgeable, professional, and always knows just what to do. Mary M., Superstition Mtn, AZ
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan
Hashmat is a treasure. He knows the country, loves it, makes everyone around him enthusiastic and comfortable, and gets along with an incredible variety of personalities. Lisa T., Hamden, CT
Treasures of South India
Hashmat always brings all his heart to his trips, teaching history, culture, the sense of India. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Expedition to Hampi and Ajanta
Hashmat was simply the very best. He has great knowledge, knows how to share it to the group, interacts with us on a personal basis, is considerate of our needs, and has personality second to none. Mark L., Melbourne Beach, FL
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
This man is an amazing treasure! He made the trip so memorable, and made us crave more. Abbe L., Melbourne Beach, FL
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
Once again Hashmat knocked one out of the park! So many wonderful sights and new experiences all brought to life with his brilliant leadership. Can hardly wait to travel with him again. Peter F., Cambria, CA
Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan
Eleven trips with Hashmat so far. What more is there to say? Jack H., Cockeysville, MD
Hiking the Haute Route
Wow—best trip leader I've ever encountered! Always personable, informative, organized yet spontaneous, thorough, pro-active. A real treasure. Elizabeth L., Santa Barbara, CA
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
Hash is a terrific guide in every way, the consummate professional, concerned with individual's needs. His passion for India is palpable and contagious, and his leadership is an integral part of what makes this trip so special. Kristin E., Morristown, NJ
Royal Rajasthan - Nagaur Fair
Hashmat is truly one of your 'stars!' Jeff P., Paradise Valley, AZ
Hidden Kingdom of Mustang
Hashmat is an inspiring trip leader, extremely knowledgeable, both in terms of cultural and historical aspects and the area traveled, and very supportive of staff and trekkers. It was a real privilege to trek with him and I hope I have the opportunity to do so again. Henry P., Boston, MA
Around Manaslu
I cannot imagine a better guide...always helpful and knowledgeable about the history and culture of the trip! Craig K., Sewickley, PA
Royal Rajasthan - Pushkar Fair
This is my fifth trip with Hashmat. He is affable and unflappable. Lisa C., Seattle WA Hashmat was terrific. He is so knowledgeable and proud of his country. He made India come alive for all of us. We loved his enthusiasm and encouragement. Barbara C., Toronto, Canada This is our second trip with Hashmat–he’s a great leader. Betty R., Lexington MA
Royal Rajasthan
This is my fourth WT trip and second with Hashmat. He is the best! Matthew H., Ukiah CA
Treasures of South India
Again, Wilderness Travel exceeded my expectations! Hashmat and Ang Tsering took extra care to locate beautiful, quiet, set-apart campsites off the main trail. Amy S., Denver CO
Ultimate Evereset
We couldn’t have asked for a better trip leader than Hashmat Singh. This trip raised our standards to a new high! Ann and Fred S., Wyoming OH
Royal Rajasthan
Hashmat is simply the best! Mary C. Farnsworth, Fort Mills SC
Royal Rajasthan
I can’t tell you how comfortable I feel traveling with Hashmat. The experiences he provided for us were unforgettable. Melinda M., Berkeley CA
Treasures of South India
As always Hashmat organized a rich and full trip experience. Not only was he, as usual, an incredibly well organized and knowledgeable leader, but added to our experience by keeping away from the usual tourist crowds and arranging special events to entertain, relax, and teach us. He remains an ideal leader who deserves his superb reputation. Michel and Deborah W.
Hidden Rajasthan
Hashmat Singh is without question the best leader, hiker, and friend any WT client could hope to have. His enthusiasm and curiosity is contagious. Stephanie B., Cambridge, MA Hashmat Singh’s knowledge, experience, and professionalism are of the highest order. Philip and Sally M., Wersham, Wrexham Hashmat Singh is a remarkably effective leader. I think I have joined the Hashmat Fan Club. John N., Monarch Beach, CA Hashmat is always on task, behind the scenes as well as during events. Nancy W., Prescott AZ
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms Photo Expedition
What can I say? He’s the best! Fulton W., Prescott AZ
Himalayan Mountain Kingdoms Photo Expedition
I understand why Hashmat has a committed group of fans who will follow him anywhere, who choose trips according to his leadership. He is knowledgeable, passionate, wonderful. Andrea L., Brooklyn NY
Annapurna Adventure
Hashmat is simply the best. Knowledge, communication, attention to detail, adding special experiences, and he’s a really fun person to be with. William N., Long Beach CA
Treasures of South India

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:


Dharamsala and Amritsar Extension

The Dalai Lama's Mountain Abode & the Sikhs' Golden Temple

Cultural Adventures, Walking
5 days  -  Level 1+

South India Extension: The Malabar Coast

Cochin and a Cruise Along the Backwaters of Kerala

Cultural Adventures, Walking
4 days  -  Level 1+

taj mahal agra india cultural tour

Taj Mahal and Jaipur Extension

Romantic Rajasthan, Land of Princes

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Varanasi and Khajuraho Extension

Holy City Along the Ganges, Magnificent World-Famous Temples

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1