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Monday, December 8, 2008

Patalkot - the bottom of the Earth

We were traveling in a hired vehicle from Raipur to Pachhmarhi via Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh (India). After a drive of about 62 km's. on a plateu like terrain, we came across a sign board on the right side of the road reading "Patalkot". We were reminded of the people living in the bottom of the earth and indeed it was!. We alighted from the van and saw an extremely deep gorge surrounded by high mountain ranges. The place looked heavenly beautiful and scenic. In a way the formation resembled the great canyons of the Americas. But it was not barren. There was plenty of greenery. All of us climbed down carefully using the stairs provided but when we reached the bottom of the 3000 feet cliff, we were told that we need to walk for about 3 km's to reach the nearest human habitat. Since we were required to reach Pachhmarhi the same evening, we found our way up with a heavy heart.
There were people standing near our vehicle to greet us. We then spoke to them and learnt many things about the place. We also supplemented ourselves with additional information about the wonderful place and now we share it. Here it goes..
Deep in the valley, in an area around 79 square km's, there are tribal hamlets in 12 villages situated approximately at a distance of 2 km's apart. The inhabitants are tribal of Bharia and Gond denominations. They are above 2000 in number and solely depend on the mother earth for their livelihood. The vegetation in the valley is more akin to the tropical forests. The Doodh river which flows inside the valley lends grace to the terrain.
The important aspect of the flora and fauna is its bio diversity and abundance of rare plant species, medicinal plants and herbs. The inhabitants are skilled at using the forest plants and herbs to make effective medicines for every known ailment. The Bhumkas who provide health care in the hamlets have inherited the divine knowledge from their ancestors. However, the modern world was completely unaware of the existence of Patalkot and the people of the valley had an isolated existence until recently. Now there are increasing threats of deforestation and exploitation of the people.
The State Government has formed a Patalkot Development Agency which has been entrusted with the responsibility of welfare of the tribals. A middle school, primary health centre and veterinary services have now been made available. Self Help Groups have also been formed for the effective use of forest produce. Pure vegetarian Honey which comes out of Patalkot is really something to relish.

Incidentally, we may add here that one Dr. Deepak Acharya, a research scholar, who hails from that area, has been engaging himself in understanding, protecting and preserving the unique bio-diversity and the traditional knowledge of medication of the adivasis (Ethnobotany). Clicking the highlighted words will lead you to the respective sites.

Reports suggest that out of greed, a cartel of traders is active in the area and are engaging themselves in smuggling out the rare herbs and medicinal plants which are even being exported abroad. Their activities, unless checked, may lead to further deforestation and loss of the unique bio-diversity found in the valley.
Here is a video of Patalkot. Please do listen to the drum beats at the end.

Photos: Dr.Deepak Acharya हिन्दी में यहाँ देखें


  1. ....traditional knowledge of medication of the adivasis (Ethnobotany).
    Oh probably these are the people Pankaj Awadhia used to write about on my blog!

    Your post is very nice.

  2. i know a lot about madhya pradesh...it is really beautiful piece of earth...though i'v never been there....but ya i wud love to go there, atleast once in my life...r u jst travelling India or u were thr to find out smthng...?

  3. Very nice post on Pataalkot Sir, very beautifully presented by yourself. Thanks a lot for the post. Regards and Namaskaar.

  4. Mr Subramanian

    This is great. I appreciate the lead you have given through your blog. I hope it serves as one the best own-experienced source for the Patalkot. Its been such a tough time till now, I tried a lot to raise issues related to Patalkot through www.patalkot.com. proving the fact that he only wins who thinks, the site really helped me and my mission to translate traditional knowledge into finished products. I hope you gather and pool people those who really care for the nature and its treasure.

    At the age of character crisis, there is a greater need to pool like minded people from different stream under an umbrella.

    God bless and keep in touch.

    Dr Deepak Acharya

  5. very nice journey of pataalkot.
    i really really enjoy this journey a lot.

  6. do watch ibn7...today only, there was a report on pataalkot...it was really amazing.Watever u hv written...i cud jst feel it through them......u might get a chance to watch it...if they hav repeat telecast.....

  7. My family visited Pachmari and lived there for two months when I was barely 9 -- hardly an age when children remember much. Yet that trip has left indelible memories.

    This article, though not directly connected to Pachmari, did take me instantly to that place.

    Great that people like Dr Deepak Acharya are there to preserve the Patalkot heritage.

  8. Thanks for the link to your blog. I have indeed watched the video; it was interesting to learn about education of tribal children - and hear the drums and see the dancing at the end. Thank you!I must say, I am impressed with your site; it is inspirational and makes me want to create my own. However, I have still a lot of study to do here at the university.
    With warmest wishes, your friend in Scotland, Tom

  9. क्या बात है!बहुत सुंदर!http://pinturaut.blogspot.com/'http://janmaanas.blogspot.com/

  10. This post reminded me about my trip to Pachmarhi in 2004. Our route was also same as described in this post i.e. Raipur to Pachmarhi via Chhindwara. Patalkot is certainly eye-feasting. On the way, Sahastradhara is also a very good place to see.

  11. aap ka blog kafi jankari dene vala hai.hindi ka page nahi khul raha hai.

  12. fonud your interest in echo tourism

    i got feeling of happiness

    yes with pataalkot
    pictures are really speaking some truths

  13. Good write-up

    I had read once, that the world is a book; and all those people who never travel, read only the first page.

    You're reading the book further; felt good.

  14. A very interesting post..ive been reading abt this region ..the post educated me a little more

  15. traveling is a destination in itself. To cover the whole of India & then to travel to the world is my dream. I feel one life is not enough for that. your article inspired me to keep MP as my nxt travel destination.

  16. Hi,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. My travel blog is at http://cuckooscosmos.com/Travel

    I liked this article very much, have linked to Blogbharti. Here is the link.


  17. नववर्ष की हार्दिक मंगलकामनाएँ!

  18. Hello,

    Landed here from DesiPundit. I simply loved this post and the descriptions. I never knew such a place existed; although I am fairly a travel buff myself. I would love to visit this place.

  19. What a pristine and beautiful place! And thank you for the link to Dr. Acharya’s site. Fascinating! Glad you visited my blog or I guess I wouldn’t have found you. I read through your blog here and enjoyed the visit thoroughly! Never in a million years would I have found the expression “Elephant walk policy”,for my only extreme outburst, but that resulted in the desired effect you describe:-)) You must have a very interesting job if it brings you to places like Gatadih, and of course, your piece about Kochi/Kerala invoked memories from when I visited a few years back. India is so rich in history, beauty, people and so much more, that I am constantly fascinated. So I am glad to be here and learn from your insight knowledge. Have a very blessed New Year.

  20. पातालकोट के बारे में अनूठी जानकारी से भरी इस पोस्ट के लिए आपका धन्यवाद!

  21. This very nice article. Any person who goes to hill area, feels like this, which you wrote. But it is also true that the people living in hill areas of india, they are suffering very much. Most of naxlites belongs to hill area. Everythig is hard there, even to live.

  22. Interesting to read about the Gond and Bharia tribals of Patalkot and the unique bio-diverse region they live in. There are so many fascinating places within India!

  23. This is really very nice...very informative..and the video is great.

  24. Thanks for this informative post.
    We are planning to visit these places soon.