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

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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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

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

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