Comprising of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Central India is the very heart of India. Brimming with a vibrant culture and rich historical heritage, the region is replete with magnificent monuments, exotic ruins, beautiful temples, opulent palaces, majestic forts, remote forests, pilgrimage sites and numerous wildlife sanctuaries. Sprawling over a vast 443,439 sq km, central India houses the grand river Narmada and its two hill ranges- the Vindhyas and the Satpura. A perfect combination of majestic mountains, river valleys, flat plateaus, glossy hills and verdant woods, the area has everything to quench the thirst of the traveller in you from the ancient temples of Khajuraho to the ruins of Gwalior, stupas of Sanchi and the prehistoric site of Bhimbetka. Over 40% of the entire region is covered in forest and is one of the most mineral wealthy areas of the country.
The diverse geography of the plains, mountains and plateaus gives the much admirable diversity to the terrain from the hills and forests of Ranchi to the plains of Maheshwar and Omkareshwar; making it an ideal tourist destination. It is also home to numerous wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and protected areas owing to to its diverse variety of flora, fauna and avifauna. For the same reason, the area is ideal all for sightseeing, nature gazing, adventure activities, pilgrimages or just a leisure trip soaking amidst the glorious past and rich heritage. Boasting of a rich and varied culture, the zone has a plethora of folk dance, music, art and craft forms to flaunt. A large part of the population is tribal; therefore, the area has an array of dialects of Hindi and some other tribal languages. You can also taste an assortment of cuisines here ranging from dal pithi, kadi pakoda, chila, bhutte ki kees, dal bafla etc. All in all, it is a perfect miscellany of culture, cuisine, tradition and heritage.
Central India - History
Flaunting its rich history, Central India has been ruled by several prominent dynasties from Chandelas and Mughals, to Marathas, Chandelas, Bundelas and finally the British. The land shines with the glory of battles fought and won, shining examples of bravery, courage and jauhars, and long intriguing tales of romance. To feather the cap, it has the ancient Bhimbetka caves with evidences of paleolithic settlements. Besides, chalcolithic sites have also been found at various places including Eran, Kayatha, Maheshwar, Nagda, and Navdatoli. In addition to that, remote rock shelters have been discovered with cave paintings, dating back to as old as the 30,000 BCE.
Central India - Culture
Central India, known as the heart of Incredible India is a perfect blend of multihued cultures, traditions and art forms. It is believed that the cultural heritage of the region is the encapsulation of the customs of the entire country. Predominated majorly by the tribal groups, the region is also known for its harmony of several religious groups residing together including Buddhist, Jains, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The overall activities and traditions are largely inspired by the tribal people and the culture is an amalgamation of the socio-cultural activities of both the groups. With an extensive take on music, dance and literature, the region also boasts of popular folk music, the most popular of which is the Relo folk songs belonging to the Sing Maria and Muria tribes. People are extremely skilled in handcrafts and arts. Intricate products like wood carvings, bronze statues, oil lamps etc are a common sight in the area. Crafts are mostly done with wood as it can be abundantly found in the woods of Chhattisgarh.
Besides, the tribes have their own set of values and customs which are different for different tribes. One such practice is of Ghotul where young unmarried boys and girls gather at a place to learn about moral values, principles and discipline; all in a fun and games way. A different tradition is of an annual fair called Bhagoriya where young girls and boys of age can choose their spouse and can get married. It is also the region of colourful costumes and ethnic clothes. Men usually wear a dhoti and donne it with a safa and a mirzai (jacket). Lehenga, choli and orni is the traditional costume for women but sarees are equally popular. The cuisine is basically lentils, vegetables and desserts which are mostly milk based sweets. Chhattisgarh is also known as the “rice bowl of India”, hence, most of their meals are taken with rice. Tribal groups of the region however, diet on red ants, pork, fish, flying ants, field rats, squirrels, wild mushrooms etc.