Tribes of India Photographic Adventure with Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart

Join Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart on an adventure of passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture among the fascinating minority groups in the central-eastern Indian states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Go depper in the pursuit of your photographic vision working with these minority groups in a spirit of cultural respect and human dignity.

  • Date: Oct 14–26, 2018
  • Destination: Odisha and Chhattisgarh, India (begins & ends in Kolkata, India)
  • Genre: Adventure, Travel, Portrait, Documentary
  • Skill Levels: All Skill Levels
  • Group Size: Max. 8
  • Includes: All hotels, meals, domestic flights, driver and guide tips, and local group transportation.

The Ultimate Cultural Photographic Adventure in India

Tribes of India is about a deeper experience with some of the fascinating minority groups in the central-eastern Indian states of Odisha (formerly Orissa) and Chhattisgarh, including the Bonda, who wear strings of colorful beads instead of blouses, the Bison Horn Maria, who wear a headdress that resembles the horns of a wild bison, the nature-protecting Dongria Kondh, the Muria with their controversial sex customs, the tattooed Baiga, and the diverse Gondi.

You will begin in Kolkata, the former capital of British India. It is a city of contrasts and extremes — between rich and poor, modern and old.

It is considered to be the intellectual and cultural capital of India and retains much of the colonial architecture — albeit in a photogenic state of dilapidation.

From Kolkata you will fly to Visakhapatnam on the central-eastern coast on the Bay of Bengal and drive to Odisha and then further inland to Chhattisgarh.

You will photograph the beautiful and unique minority tribes of these two remote Indian states, including at the captivating Bastar Dusshera Festival.

Cultural Respect and Human Dignity

As exotic as some of these tribal minority groups are, you will learn to photograph these people with cultural respect and human dignity.

Jeffrey and Winslow will work to promote an environment of mutual respect when you are photographing these minority groups.

The photographs you create will be stronger as a result of the sincere care that will accompany the group's cultural curiosity.

This photographic adventure is about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities — your vision.

It is appropriate for photographers of all levels, and you will be free to photograph independently or always with the assistance of one of the leaders.

Kolkata (Day One)

You will all arrive in Kolkata in time for a meet-and-greet dinner and an orientation to discuss the itinerary and events for your shared photographic adventure.

Kolkata is friendlier than India’s other large cities and is one of the few places in the world in which one can still find hand-pulled rickshaws.

While in Kolkata, you will stay at the luxurious, five-star Swissotel. Its rooftop Splash Lounge is an oasis, offering views over the city.

Kolkata, Visakhapatnam (Vizag), & Rayagada (Day Two)

After breakfast, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Visakhapatnam and then drive to Rayagada, which will be your base for visiting the local tribes that represent about 25% of the population.

You will stay two nights at Hotel Sai International in deluxe rooms.

Rayagada & Kotagad (Day Three)

You will spend this day photographing in Kutia Kondh villages and at their market at Kotagad.

The Kondhs typically tattoo their faces and hands in a very painful process that is accompanied by song to forget the ordeal.

They believe that no one takes anything with them after death except for their tattoos, and their beautiful geometrical facial tattoos are meant to ensure that they will recognize each other in the spirit world.

Rayagada, Chhatikona, & Jeypore (Day Four)

In the early morning, you will drive to Chhatikona for the colorful weekly Dongaria Kondh market.

Called Dongria after the word donger, which means “hill” in Odia, they call themselves Jharnia, which means those who live by the Jharana (“streams”).

Hundreds of streams flow from Niyamgiri Hill, and there are hundreds of small villages by the streams. The Dongria are considered the protector of the streams, hills, and jungles.

The Dongaria come down from their forest homes to sell and barter with non-tribals at the weekly market.

It is extremely interesting to watch (and photograph) their interactions.

In the afternoon, you will transfer to Jeypore, stopping en route to photograph the primitive Muniaka Kondh village and the tribal Bada Paroja village.

You will spend one night at Hotel Hello Jeypore in deluxe rooms.

Jeypore, Onkudelli, & Jagdalpur (Day Five)

In the morning, you will drive to Onkudelli to photograph at the most interesting market of the Bondas and the Gadabas.

The Bonda tribe is one of the oldest and most primitive in India.

Their culture has changed very little for more than a thousand years.

Their isolation and known aggressiveness continue to protect their culture.

Based on a legend relating to the ancient epic Ramayana poem, Bonda women wear only a small ringa that covers their waist, thick silver necklaces, and strings of colorful beads to cover their torsos.

They shave their heads and wear as a headband either a turuba made of grass or a lobeda made of beads.

They have a matriarchal society in which women usually marry a man five to ten years younger, taking care of the men while they are young.

The men then become the caregivers of the women as they age.

In the afternoon, you will drive to Kangarapada for an easy walk to the primitive Boro Gadaba tribal villages.

Your experienced guide speaks this rare tribal dialect.

Gadabas women traditionally wear very large neck rings that are only removed after their death.

They also wear very colorful dresses that are often striped in red, blue, and white.

You will spend three nights at the Bastar Jungle Resort in cottages built in the traditional Chhattisgarh style but with all the modern amenities.

Jagdalpur (Days Six — Seven) - Bastar Dussehra Festival

You will have two full days to photograph the incredible Bastar Dussehra in Jagdalpur and the nearby villages.

The Bastar Dussehra is a very unique festival that lasts 75 days, reaching an awe-inspiring crescendo in the last ten days.

You will be there at the apex of this crescendo.

Tribes from remote areas will base themselves in Jagdalpur in temporary camps in order to participate in the celebrations.

The town will be abuzz with song and cheer.

In one distinctive ritual, a girl belonging to the Mirgin-Mahara caste will become a medium for being possessed by the caste deity known as Kachan Devi and will swing on a bed of thorns, brandishing a sword.

The king will come to the girl in a procession to seek her blessing, and the girl will grant him a flower that symbolizes her sanction for proceeding with the festival.

You’ll photograph the Bison Horn Maria, who wear their horn-like headresses for celebrations, at the festival as they dance with their large drums.

You will also visit the Dhurwa and Halba tribal markets in Nagarnar.

Jagdalpur, Kondagaon, & Kanker (Day Eight)

In the morning, you will photograph at the craft village of Kondagaon where artists use a nearly-extinct, lost-wax technique to make local brass crafts known as Bastar work.

In the afternoon, you will visit Muria tribal villages and see their controversial gotul system followed by a tribal dance.

The Muria have mixed-sex dormitories (gotul) where adolescents are sent to sing, dance, eat, and practice premarital sex, sometimes with a single partner but more often serially.

Every male member, called chelik, and girl, called motiari, takes on a new name once he or she starts going to the ghotul.

They are free to choose a partner, but partners have to be changed after a maximum of seven nights of togetherness.

It is thought that this is meant to discourage jealousy and instil a sense of community.

You will then drive to the Kanker Palace, where for one night, you will be the guests of the royal family, who sill live there.

Kanker & Bhoramdeo (Day Nine)

After breakfast, you will drive to Bhoaramdeo.

In the afternoon, we’ll photograph in the local Baiga tribal villages.

The Baiga tribe is one of the more primitive tribes of India.

They speak Baigani, a mix of Hindi and Gondi.

Tattooing is important to Baiga women. Different types of marks — like the moon, triangles, crosses, dots, etc. — are made all over their bodies.

They are experts in traditional herbal medicines.

One of the main features of the Baiga is their silver jewelry, particularly their silver necklaces.

You will spend three nights at Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat in cottages. This is a great base for exploring the rural life in the heart of India.

Bhoramdeo (Day Ten)

In the morning, you will photograph at Bhoramdeo Temple.

Bhoramdeo Temple is a beautiful Shiva temple built in the 11th century set in a unique landscape on the foothills of the Satpura mountain range.

It is carved entirely out of stone and has 54 erotic sculptures from the Kamasutra. It is an epitome of love and beauty.

In the afternoon, you will photograph at some of the Baiga villages.

The Baiga were semi-nomadic, preferring to never plow the Earth as they felt it would be a sin to scratch the breast of their Mother.

Tattooing is an integral part of the Baiga lifestyle.

The women are famous for tattoos of various kinds on almost all parts of their body.

One of the Baiga groups will perform a traditional dance for us to photograph.

Boharamdeo (Day Eleven)

After breakfast, you’ll photograph in additional Baiga and Gond tribal villages.

Then after lunch, you’ll head to the Baiga tribal market in Bodla.

Women in Gond society can gain a husband by forcing themselves into the home of an unmarried man and staying even if she is unwelcome, abused, and refused food and shelter.

After sometimes, she will be accepted as a member of the family.

Marriages can also be arranged, and polygamy is socially acceptable.

Bhoramdeo, Raipur, & Kolkata (Days Twelve — Thirteen)

Flying back to Kolkata from Raipur, you will arrive in time for a farewell dinner on your last night and will then spend the final morning exploring Kolkata one last time, enjoying the company of new friends, and planning your next adventures before saying your goodbyes and heading home.

Please note that although this represents the photographic adventure’s planned itinerary, it is subject to change at the discretion of the adventure leaders.