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A Glimpse Into The Forest-Dwelling Soligas Community in Karnataka

Beautiful landscapes, love, and culture is what BR Hills is made of. , Photo Credit: Jahnavi Uppuleti
03 Min Read

A culture preserved by the Adivasis in the lush green forests laid across the Chamrajnagar district of Karnataka, here is a view into the forest-dwelling indigenous Soligas community

Biligiri Ranganna Betta or BR hills, are a group of tiny hills flocked together, filled with culture and vibrance of the Soliga community in the state of Karnataka. Soligas are  a forest dwelling indigenous community, who are spread across Chamrajnagar district, Karnataka.

I happened to stay in these beautiful hills for a duration of one and a half months, to explore and cherish the Soliga culture. During my stay in these hills, I was awestruck to see the beauty of the forest every day, where my day begun with beautiful sunrises, followed by a brunch served by the Soligas, which usually included a curry and Ragi mudde. And a day filled with tiny adventures of exploring a culture that has been preserved by these Adivasis. The nights were filled with starry gazes in the sky and not to forget wild boars crossing my path, if I happened to sit outside the tiny hut I was living in.

A month and half in these mesmerising forests, I also had a chance to interact with the Soligas about various aspects in their lives, their culture, their lifestyle and also about exploitation. Let’s take a look of the life in BR hills through my camera lens.

The Soliga Kids: Soliga community is an indigenous community dwelling in Billigiri Ranganna Hills of Karnataka (India). They are a forest tribe and are immensely rich in culture and festivity. This picture was taken during a local gathering for a festival, when these kids curiously looked at the camera.

The Puja: Soligas perform an annual ritual to lord Mahadeva, praying for health, prosperity and most importantly for an year without a drought. This ritual is followed by a gathering where, Soligas of one hamlet contribute to prepare food, celebrate and serve people from other hamlets, this ritual is called “Rotti hebba”.

Empty Schools And Broken Furniture: If you ever plan on visiting Adivasi hamlets in India, do not be surprised on seeing empty schools with children hopping around with no books. Teachers assigned to these government schools rarely make an effort to come and teach in a school that is remotely located in a forest which is void of any public transport and has no motor-able pass. Teachers do enjoy the luxury of not teaching and getting their monthly salaries effortlessly. Adivasis across (India) are now protesting for employment in order to be self sufficient in the fields of education and health.

Over A Cup Of Tea: The period I had spent up in the hills, were filled with love and generosity. I made friends with people around and managed to converse with them in a language I couldn’t speak. These beautiful women, reside in a hamlet called “Kanneri Colony”, which is supposedly the most developed and equipped with a bore well for water. These women spoke to me over a cup of tea about their culture, family and problems.

Glitters And Happiness: This little girl, quietly stood beside me, flaunting her new jewellery and gesturing me if I liked it.

The authenticity of these hills is survived by the local Adivasi culture and the beautiful flora and fauna. It's a perfect get away into the hills which will not only bring you solace, but will also introduce you to Soliga culture and cuisine. Adivasis need attention from people country wide to make a living out of tourism, tourism that is sustainable and not a threat to their environment. If you are in search for a place with tranquillity and warmth, you should definitely head to BR hills for this vacation.

1

Glad to see people like you are working on such type of subjects. The article was very well articulated and explains everything. Jhanvi ur one and half month stay BR hills is definitely a worthwhile to you and as well to those people who need an attention of government. Thanks for the article such as this one.
Aparna Dasari October 29 , 2018

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