Map | A virtual journey across time and space

Whatever our own cultural background, there are amazing discoveries to be made, for India’s youth just as for scholars and visitors from all over the world!

Note: toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser.

Learn more about – and from – some of India’s tribal communities by

  1. clicking on the button seen in the top left corner of the interactive map
  2. clicking on any marker in the map
  3. following the links seen there and below

Gondi-Harappan link (2500 B.C.–1750 BC)

Hampi – Karnataka
Possibly “a revolutionary find” that links the adivasi Gond tribe to the Indus Valley civilisation, which flourished between 2500 B.C. and 1750 BC. Eleven of the Hampi pictographs resemble those of the civilisation, according to Dr. K.M. Metry, Head and Dean, Social Sciences, Kannada University, Hampi; Dr. Motiravan Kangali, a linguist and expert in Gondi language and culture from Nagpur, Maharashtra; and his associate Prakash Salame, also an expert in Gondi.If the discovery stands the scrutiny of experts in the field, it would mean that the Gonds living in central and southern India could have migrated from the Indus Valley civilisation. | Learn more:

Paleolithic cultures

Pallavaram – Tamil Nadu
The Kurumbars’ role in South India’s Paleolithic culture: Epigraphical records on Chennai’s ancient history – Tamil Nadu | Learn more:


Hastinapur (Delhi) & Bihar
The forest was never far away from habitation. For instance, excavations of the settlements at Atranjikhera and Hastinapur, which are not too far from Delhi, have yielded evidence of a large variety of forest trees.” The Buddhist Canon states that aside from the village and its outskirts, the rest of the land is jungle.” Even as late as the seventh century A.D., the Chinese Buddhist monk Hsuan Tsang writes of forests close to Kausambi, as also of the extensively forested areas in the vicinity of Kapilavastu and Kusinagara in the terai and north Bihar.” Travelling from one town to another meant going through a forest. Therefore, when in exile, the forest was not a physically distant place, although distant in concept. | Learn more:

Moving on

Sind & Punjab
The nomadic Romany (gypsy) tribe: Credited with amazing contributions to the music and dance of many countries from antiquity to the present – Sind & Punjab | Learn more:


Located on the uplands of Deccan plateau, Telangana is the link between the North and South of India. It is thus no surprise that the region on the whole came to be known for its Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb and the capital Hyderabad as a ‘miniature India!’ | Learn more: Banjara and Dokra: Tribal craftmanship in a state that exemplifies “India’s composite culture, pluralism and inclusiveness” – Telangana


More about this book and its author,
Prof. Ganesh Devy >>

In 1871, the British passed the ‘Criminal Tribes Act.’ It notified about 150 tribes around India as criminal, giving the police wide powers to arrest them and monitor their movements.
The effect of this law was simple: just being born into one of those 150 tribes made you a criminal. | Learn more:

The Role of Adivasis in the Freedom Movement
Adivasi uprisings in the Jharkhand belt were quelled by the British through massive deployment of troops across the region. The Kherwar uprising and the Birsa Munda movement were the most important struggles in late-18th century against British rule and their local agents. […] In 1914, Jatra Oraon started the Tana Movement, which drew the participation of over 25,500 Adivasis. The Tana movement joined the [Gandhian] nation-wide Satyagraha Movement (the non-violent movement for independence) in 1920 and stopped the payment of land-taxes to the colonial Government. | Learn more:


Western Ghats – Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu
Sacred groves foster a sense of togetherness and harmony: Protecting nature in and beyond India’s tribal communities | Learn more:

Indigenous Knowledge
The country can learn much from the beauty of Adivasi social practices, their culture of sharing and respect for all | Learn more:

Gandhi believed that giving more importance, value and relevance to practical skills, and applying traditional knowledge to solving day-to-day problems were essential for the development of rural India. | Learn more:

Fashion for all of India – and the world!

Toda, Naga, Rabari and Banjara costumes figure in internationally acclaimed collection royal and ancient costumes – Gujarat | Learn more:

The future

We all need to learn from those success stories that truly reflect the aspirations of tribal communities: according the India Exclusion Report 2015 that “there continue to be significant populations that are consistently and often extremely deprived of access to public goods that are essential for a human life with dignity.”

This needs to change, obviously, in accordance with India’s constitutional and human rights obligations, namely to ensure that “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen“. | Learn more: & &

Air is free to all but if it is polluted it harms our health… Next comes water… From now on we must take up the effort to secure water. Councillors are servants of the people and we have a right to question them. – Mohandas K. Gandhi (Ahmedabad address on January 1, 1918), quoted by his grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi | Learn more:

Khasi, Garo and Jaintia communities are “models for sustainability in the future”: Report and recommendations on ways to counter deforestation – Meghalaya | Learn more:

Publications on the above issues may be found here (title descriptions and libraries):

Search for an item in libraries near you: >>

For Indian publications use the present search window

For a list of publishers included in the above custom search, click here >>

Posted in Adivasi, Archaeology, Central region, Colonial policies, Crafts and visual arts, Cultural heritage, Eastern region, Fashion, Gandhian social movement, History, Homes and utensils, Maps, Modernity, Names and communities, Nature and wildlife, Northern region, Press snippets, Quotes, Regions of India, Sacred grove, Seven Sister States, Southern region, Storytelling, Tips, Tourism, Trees, Western region, Worship and rituals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Map | A virtual journey across time and space

Towards better and healthier education for all tribal children: Pioneering ‘bag- free schools’ in Wayanad – Kerala

Learn more about tribal education and customs in Wayanad >>

Kozhikode: A school in Wayanad, where majority of students hail from tribal and other economically weaker sections, has set a model by doing away with school bags. While lugging heavy school bags has been a daily burden to students elsewhere, the pupils of Serve India Adivasi Lower Primary School (SALPS), Thariode go to school with just a notebook in hand. | To read the full story, click here >>

The school authorities decided to bid adieu to bags after finding that they were causing hardships and even health issues to students.

SALPS was declared a ‘bag- free school’ last week by adopting a very simple and ingenious method. The school authorities provided an extra set of textbooks to all the students, which they keep at home.

Also, the teachers and the PTA raised money to buy shelves in all classrooms, for students to keep their textbooks and notebooks along with their pencil boxes, lunch plates etc. The school authorities also provided free pencil boxes to all students to be kept inside their classrooms.  […]  

Source: “Here is how a Wayanad school dumped school bags”, Times of India 3 February 2019
Date accessed: 5 January 2019

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Posted in Childhood and children, Education and literacy, Organizations, Press snippets, Southern region, Success story | Comments Off on Towards better and healthier education for all tribal children: Pioneering ‘bag- free schools’ in Wayanad – Kerala

Giving ‘voice’ to Adivasi communities in India and inspiring projects in other states: Bhasha Research and Publication Centre – Gujarat

Bhasha Research and Publication Centre was founded in 1996 with the purpose of giving ‘voice’ to Adivasi communities in India. The Adivasi Academy is founded by Bhasha at Tejgadh in Chhotaudepur district of Gujarat as an institute to combine the functions of the national academies, museums and literary bodies in the country, with respect to Adivasi culture, arts and literature. Over the years, the Adivasi communities with whom Bhasha has been actively involved, have voiced themselves through various spaces and mediums as arts, theatre, publishing, journalism and cultural activism.

Bhasha has an extensive collection of audio-visual documentation being presented here in form of a free online resource created under the Scheme of Center of Excellence, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, for the study of Adivasis of India.

Source: Welcome to Bhasha Research Archival Website
Date Visited: 30 March 2020

Artists, DJs in cities latching on to tribal songs

Jay Pachchigar, Times of India, 13 October 2017 | To read the full article, click here >>

[…] The centre made 1,000 CDs of the audio songs and distributed them for free among the truck drivers, local shops, bus stands and other places. But, these songs have also been picked up by mainstream artists due to which they are now being heard in urban areas as well.

“The communities have songs for all occasions, festivals and seasons and these were passed on orally. We documented these songs so that it can reach a larger society. This has started happening since past few years,” said Vikesh Rathwa, museum assistant of BHASHA at Tejgadh in Chhota Udepur.

Not only the mainstream artists, but even the DJs, who play in the city during weddings and festival processions, helped in taking the songs to a larger audience,” he added. “The style of music was changed by them but the lyrics are same which is more important as these are sung in different tribal dialects,” said Rathwa. The folk songs used to be played during Navratri in the tribal regions, but these are now also being played at big venues in big cities like Vadodara, Surat and Ahmedabad.

The centre had initiated the project under the Central for Excellence scheme of Union ministry of tribal affairs. “Artists from Gamit, Rathwa, Chaudhary and other tribal communities of Panchmahal and Chhota Udepur had come together and recorded the songs,” Rathwa said. After the project in Gujarat became successful, the centre undertook a similar project in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Source: Artists, DJs in cities latching on to tribal songs | Vadodara News – Times of India
Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 13:01:21 GMT+0100 (CET)

Mahasweta Devi memorial unveiled in Tejgadh

Times of India, 4 February 2017 | To read the full article and view a photograph of the memorial, click here >>

VADODARA: A memorial dedicated to eminent author and tribal rights activist late Mahasweta Devi was unveiled at the Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh on January 31. The memorial was unveiled by retired IAS Vibha Puri Das, chairperson of the Vadodara-based Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, which manages the academy. Other trustees of Bhasha including professor Kanji Patel, Dr Joseph Bara, Dr Madan Meena, Sandhya Gajjar attended the function which saw presence of Bhasha’s founders – Dr Ganesh Devy and Dr Surekha Devi as special guests.  Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi had passed away in July last year. As a trustee and later a mentor to Bhasha Research and Publication Centre and the Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh, she used to visit Vadodara and Tejgadh quite often from 1998 till 2012, after which she fell ill and could not travel across the country from Kolkata.

Her wish was to be buried at the Adivasi Academy and in keeping with that wish, her family had offered Bhasha a ‘kalash’ with her mortal remains. The memorial was designed by architect Karan Grover, who has also designed the main building at the Adivasi Academy and it was constructed by local mason Ramesh Rathwa. […]

Source: Mahasweta Devi memorial unveiled in Tejgadh | Vadodara News – Times of India
Date Visited: Sun Nov 12 2017 12:57:16 GMT+0100 (CET)

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Tribal tribal folk songs recorded colonial archivists

Shekhar Krishnan Posted: Sat Jul 12 1997 IST

[…] The recording industry has come a long way since the days when colonial archivists would travel the corners of British India recording tribal folk songs and temple bhajans making wax masters which they took back to England for pressing. The Dum Dum factory of the Gramophone Company of India — later known as HMV (His Master’s Voice) — was established in 1908, and was India’s largest record manufacturer until Polydor opened a Bombay factory in 1969. But as vinyl record production increased, it was steadily eclipsed by newer mediums until the present day, when it is no more than a collector’s item. […]

Source: The fading sounds of LP records
Address : <>
Date Visited: Mon Jul 11 2011 15:45:59 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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Tip | “How to address misconceptions on tribal customs and culture in the classroom?” – Ideas and practices worth sharing among peers and students

There’s much to learn from the positive contributions made by tribal communities on a daily basis. To start with, let’s learn from insiders and others who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that a precious heritage will continue to make a difference to people from all backgrounds all over India and even beyond:

Boro Baski

Santali is not a dead language [and] does not need to be ‘revived’ [being] one of the two tribal* languages that have been recognized as official languages.Ivy Hansdak responding to an online magazine story on “reviving the Santali language”

The goal is to prepare some model students in our villages, so that others will be inspired to follow them. – Boro Baski in his article “Long-term success of non-formal Adivasi* school in West Bengal”

For us it’s not so much about having a room of one’s own, as a roof over our head [but] affirmation and agency. – Ruby Hembrom at the Jaipur literature festival

Tribals* do not exploit other people’s labour for the sake of their own avarice, nor do they destroy nature to build monuments to the human ego. […] It is almost impossible to characterize all of India’s tribals in a single ethnographic or historic framework. – Ganesh Devy in Painted Words: An Anthology of Tribal Literature

It is wrong and does not help the tribal cause either to reduce the image of the Indian tribal* society to that of destitute remnants, on the verge of dying out. – Voices from the Periphery, a multidisciplinary book on “reversing the gaze”

Adivasi* people have an alternative world view, which has rarely been acknowledged or recognized. Their existence was never based on accumulation or consumerism. […] All of us can learn from them. And it’s about time we started. – Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Gandhi believed that giving more importance, value and relevance to practical skills, and applying traditional knowledge to solving day-to-day problems were essential for the development of rural India. – Bunker Roy, the founder of Barefoot College, which helps rural communities becomes self-sufficient

Enabling people to learn from each other opens up the possibility of creating learning organisations – where people are learning from each other every day at every level. […] It seems like going back to the way things were done in the past – learning by telling stories, learning by hearing how other people did things. – Scene magazine

Bengali literature celebrated the natural, healthy Santal way of living. – Partha Mitter in The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-garde

Adivasi* women in post-independence era have suffered because tribes have been assimilated within the dominant patriarchal model [so] we need to rescue tribal narratives from a certain homogenising tendency. – Vasundhara Gautam analysing the poetic world of Nirmala Putul in its appropriate socio-cultural milieu

But what amazed me was that none of the implements that were being used here were ‘bought’. They were all made by them. And necessity being the mother of invention, you could see innovation at its best. […] In one of the typical Warli houses, the walls were made of Karvi sticks tied together and the roof was made of tiles. This house was much cooler than the concrete structures nearby which were like ovens. But somehow such simple houses were being looked down upon and were being replaced with modern monstrosities. So much for ‘progress’.Gangadharan Menon in The Better India, “You’ve Seen Warli Paintings Before. Now Get Ready To Visit The Warli Tribe & Listen To Their Music”

*Adivasi and “tribal” are not interchangeable as explained by Dr. Ivy Hansdak:

Tribal” is a very broad term in the English language, as we all know, and includes all the different indigenous groups of India.
Adivasi” – which is derived from Sanskrit – is applied to the dark-skinned or Austro-Asiatic indigenous groups of India (usually those from Eastern India). It is a commonly-used term in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. It is also used by the local Mongoloid tribes of North Eastern India for the migrant workers who were brought in as indentured labourers to work in tea plantations during the colonial period. 

Source: personal message (email dated 27 March 2020)

See also

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Themes for classroom and self education

As India’s tribal communities are among the most diverse anywhere in the world, teachers and students will benefit from the success stories told by indigenous educators like Dr. Boro Baski and Dr. Ivy Hansdak or publisher Ruby Hembrom: from them we may learn more about new opportunities just as the need for a better understanding of “cultural heritage” while rectifying past mistakes just as present-day misconceptions:

  • customs like the maintenance of sacred groves that benefit modern society: medicinal plants preserved in “biodiversity hotspots” for scientific research (ethnobotany, food security in the face of global warming)
  • aspirations of tribal youth within and beyond their own communities
  • constitutional rights and efforts to avoid “adverse inclusion”
  • modern history: how Nehru, Gandhi and Tagore envisioned rural development
  • colonial policies: stigmatisation and discrimination (“criminal tribes”) yet to be overcome in educational and other institutions
  • linguistic heritage and the value of endangered languages
  • proper nutrition and education for young children and women
  • rapid changes that affect entire communities (modernity)
  • mass media (dignified portrayal of tribal communities)

Simply use the search field, menus and maps found on this website to explore these issues in greater depth.

Learn more about Jawaharlal Nehru’s “five principles” for the policy to be pursued vis-a-vis the tribals >>
Photo © Indian Express

More tips

To find children’s publications by Indian publishers, type the name of a tribal community (e.g. “Santal” / “Santhal”, “Warli”), or region (e.g. “Bastar”, “Gujarat”, “Odisha” / “Orissa”, “West Bengal”), or any related subjects of interest (e.g. “education tribal community”, “Adivasi education) in the search field seen below:

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