Right to the southern part of Odisha, the district of Rayagada is located. This is also known as a district that is rich with its mineral deposits. It’s the dist HQ which is located at Rayagada town. On 2nd Oct, 1992, Rayagada was declared as a separate district. Tribal population is high in this district. Among these tribal people Kondhas or known as Kondhs is the prime one. Apart from Kondhas, Sauras are also living in this part of Odisha. Due to this reason, you can find people in this district use to speak different tribal or adivasi languages apart from Oriya. They primarily speak Kondha, Kui, and Soura like languages. This district is located on an area around 7,584.7 sq km.
There are also eleven blocks announced under this district. The economy of this district primarily depends on agriculture and related activities. Wheat, paddy, ragi, groundnut, black gram, green gram, maize and sweet potatoes are the prime crops which are grown in this district. This part of Odisha is also known for its hills like Azimali, Baphlimali, and Tikrimali. These hills are the places where medicinal plants are cultivated. Here, you can also find the wildlife thriving in a great manner. The district of Rayagada is also the place for some attractive tourist locations. However, the tribal culture and the adivasi people living here have always attracted the rest of the world to experience the reality of Rayagada.
Tribal Culture and the Kondhs
Kondh is the prime tribe here. Though Sauras are also living here, then also the Kondh population has captured a major part of the total population of this district. There are also different types of Kondhs.
Among them, the Dangria Kandha tribe is the prime one. These people use to live in the Niyamgiri hills. This place comes under the Rayagada district. These people are peace loving ones. They are always appreciated due to their simple lifestyle. These people are greatly depending on shifting cultivation and horticulture to find their bread and butter. They are also called as the Dongaria Kondh.
These Kondhs use to worship the God of the Niyamgiri Jungle. Such god is also called as Niyam Raja. He is worshiped at the Mountain of Law that is 4,000m high. This mountain is also called as Niyam Dongar. The Dongria Kondhs use to have a great appreciation towards their gods, streams and hills. This can be seen with almost every aspect of their lives. Even with their arts and crafts you can find the presence of jungle, mountains, rivers, and their God Niyam Raja. These people have derived such name for them from the word Dongar that means Hill. They also called themselves as Jharnia which means protector of the streams.
Apart from them, the population of Kutia Kondh is also apparent in this district. These people also use to love in the Niyamgiri jungle. It’s the Niyamgiri forest which is known for its deep gorge, dense forest, cascading streams and hills. These people also use to farm on the fertile slopes of the Niyamgiri hills.
For Rayagada, Maa Majhigharani is the presiding deity. Such goddess is also known as Majji Gowri AP. Originally this goddess is a deity of tribal people. She is believed as the incarnation of Goddess Durga. During the 4th Century AD, Samudragupta invaded this part of the world. During that time the ruler of this region has defended him successfully while getting blessed by this Goddess. During the 14th century, they built a temple for this Goddess right at the center of the fort which is known as Majhi Gharani and that means the occupant of central house. This is how such name was assigned for this place.
This temple is located at such a place that you will love to explore for sure when you are at Rayagada. When you move for this place, you will cover verdant farming lands that are surrounded by awesome hills. There is also a corporate house that belongs to the Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited. This is also the campus where such amazing temple was built. The architecture used for building this temple is purely Odishi. The whole structure is made with the help of concrete. It’s the prime shrine that is devoted to the Goddess Laxmi and Narayan. Due to this reason, this temple is called as LaxmiNarayana. Apart from the idols of such Gods, there are also idols of other Gods like Balabhadra, Jagannath, Subhadra as well as Hanuman right at this temple.
This Hanging Bridge is constructed to connect both side of the Nagavali River. This bridge is also offering convenient connectivity for the poor rural tribal people. This bridge is 151m in length and also a suspension bridge. This is the second suspension bridge located in the state of Odisha. There are more than 20,000 tribal people use to live at nine different panchayats right at the next side of the River Nagabali. This bridge is also located at the outskirt of Rayagada town. Due to the presence of this bridge, tribal people were able to come close to this town. The Hanging Bridge was designed by the Bharat Grama Setu Prtisthan’s chief Girish Bhardwaj. This works was assigned to the Orissa Police Housing Corporation. The total cost for this project was more than 1 crore.
Chatikona is a very small village located under the Rayagada district Odisha. This is a popular tourist location in this district and known for its scenic beauty. The Niyamgiri Hills are surrounding this village at three directions. The prime festival of Chatikona is the Maha Shiva Ratri. This part of the district is very popular for Pataleswar temple where Lord Shiva is worshiped. Beside this temple, the Chatikona waterfall is located which adds a distinct beauty for the whole place. It’s the Niyamgiri Hill where you can find several streams and falls. From the dist HQ, the Chatikona village is located at a distance of 48 km. there are some close villages for Chatikona like Khambesi, Kurli, and Khajuri. Dongria Kondhs are quite prominent at this place. As per the 2011 census, the population of Chatikona was 2183.