Indigenous Tribes of Jungle Mahals

Eastern India.

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The Jungle Mahals, literally ‘jungle estates’, was a district formed by British possessions and some independent chiefdoms lying between Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura, Midnapore and the hilly country of Chota Nagpur in what is now the Indian state of West Bengal. District of Jungle Mahals was formed by the British in 1805, but then broken up in 1833 and some parts constituted Manbhum, the headquarters of which later transferred to Purulia in 1838.

Purulia is the westernmost district of West Bengal, Part of the Chota Nagpur Plateau; it is a land of mystic charm and abundant natural beauty. The verdant hills and dense forests, rustic ambiance and peaceful surroundings make it a perfect destination for anyone wishing to escape to the countryside.

The landscape is rocky, soil is red coloured and undulating, and sites of interest centre around its hills, forests, rivers, and springs. The region is also full of archaeological sites and relics, ancient buildings and temples. Home to a number of different tribal communities including Santhals, Kurmis, Kherias and Sabars, the tribal ethos enriches the mystic charm and natural beauty of this place. Song and dance are an intrinsic part of the lives of the tribal people.

Murguma is a beautiful village surrounded by deep forests and lakes, which makes it a natural paradise. The tribal communities of Jering Sering, Mamudi and Loya are present within the village. A three kilometer walk takes to Begun Kodor, a small town with a temple and a ruined fortress.

The village of Aaghorpur has a wide expanse of rocky land and is home to a beautiful temple perched on a hill. The village of Charida is famous for mask-makers. A wide variety of masks are made in this village, most of them based either on religious figures or animals and commonly used for ‘Chhou Dance – an ancient Indian dance form’.

In this area almost no proper electricity and internet connectivity available except few developed locations. Whatever food they gather from nearby forest, river and from farming they are happy with it. In short, the tribal lifestyle is more natural and they don’t have much expectations  and desire to change their lifestyle as they are content with it.

The cultural diversity of Purulia is reflected in its folk art forms and festivals. The renowned Chhou dance which is practiced in three distinct styles in the regions of Seraikella (Odisha), Purulia (West Bengal) and Mayurbhanj (Jharkhand) was included in the Performing Arts category of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.