This blog contains the details about the place called DANGS located in the state of Gujarat, India. It narrates the places of interest and culture of this tribal hinterland of south Gujarat.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Shiv Temples in Dangs, Gujarat

Three shiv temples at Khatal, Chinchli and Morzira – all on the banks of river Purna, are believed to be built between 15th and 18th century. Shiv temple at village Khatal, 20 km from Ahwa off Ahwa-Vyara road, is believed to be the oldest among the three. Idols of lord Ganpati and lord Brahma and sculpture on pillars indicate the timing of early 15th century. These temples are built in Hemadpanthi architectural style. The style is named after its introducer and founder, the prime minister named Hemadpant, in the court of Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri in Maharashtra. The specialty of this style was that no mortar or lime-stone was used in the construction. The temples were constructed by fixing the stones or mould one above the other.

Khatal Shiv Temple
The Hemadpanthi temples are divided into three parts: the entry is called Sabha Mandap, the middle portion Antrayal and the last is called the Gabhara.
Another important way to recognize the Hemadpanthi Temple is the carvings on the entrance to Gabhara. There are a fixed set of carvings starting with ‘Toran’ on the innermost lining then the ‘Anand Sthar’ followed by ‘Kalash’ and lastly the carvings of ‘Vyaal’. Vyaal is an old animal, presently extinct but its said that tiger (Vagh) in its present form has evolved from Vyaal. The Anand Sthar is generally depicted on the entrance of the Gabhara or in the later stages of the carvings is on the Pillars of the temple. But Anand Sthar is most important part of Hemadpanthi Temple and has to be there in each and every temple built in the style of Hemadpanthi.

at Chinchli, around 40 km from Ahwa on Ahwa-Nawapur road, is believed to be built in the early 18th century by Ahalyabai Holkar. Ruins have been repaired by the villagers. Morzira is a village located 28 km from Ahwa on Ahwa-Navapur road. The ruins of a shiv temple are found on a stream en route village Don from Morzira. 

Khatal Shiv Temple

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Don Village, Dangs, Gujarat

Don is a village situated around 40 km south-east from Ahwa off village Morzira on Ahwa-Chinchli road. Adjoining Don is village Manur of Kalwan taluka of Nasik District. The road from Morzira to Don is under construction. Another road passes from Maharastra via Chinchli, Babulghat and Saler fort.

Don Village, Dangs, Gujarat
 Surrounded by hills, Don is situated at 3500 feet above MSL, the highest among the villages of the District. To its south-west is a valley formed by Purna river. Don has pleasant climate throughout the year. Water is available in plenty. The place has potential to become a hill station. 

View of Saler Fort, Maharashtra

Waghai, Dangs, Gujarat

Waghai, the gateway to the District, is so called because of the abundance of tigers in former years. Situated on the banks of Ambika river, it is a terminus on the Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge section of the Western Railway. It is on the Bilimora-Ahwa state highway, 46 km from Bilimora and 32 km from Ahwa.

Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge railway line was declared open by stages between 1914 and 1929. The former Baroda State had incurred the expenditure for the construction of this line. The Gaikwar Baroda State Railways operated this railway. After the Baroda State’s merger in 1949, the management of the railways was vested with the Government of India and the rail line now forms a part of the Western Railways. The total length of the line is 63 km with two railway stations – Dungarda and Waghai in the District.

As you enter Dangs from Vansda and approach the RTO check-post, you find two roads leading in nearly opposite direction – one towards Waghai and Ahwa and another towards Saputara. Tourists can stay either at Forest Rest House run by the forest department or at Pravasi Grih run by the Zila Panchayat. Excursions from Waghai include Kilad Camp Site, Vansda National Park, Gira waterfalls, Botanical Garden, Umrakhadi waterfalls – all in the radius of 5 km from Waghai. Religious places at Waghai include the dargah of Badsha Bawa Pir and Saiyad Mahammad Shakir and temples of Amba Mata and Hanumanji. A weekly market (haat) is held here every Wednesday.

Contact Details for stay at Waghai:
Range Forest Office
(O) +91-2631-246252
Forest Rest House

Friday, 17 February 2012

Dang Darbar Festival

Dang Darbar, the annual festival held at Ahwa every year a few days before Holi (February – March), offers an insight into the local folk culture of Dangs. The origin of the Dang Darbar may be traced back to a period just following the execution of forest leases by the British with the Dangi Chiefs in 1842. The Chiefs and Naiks were entitled to annual payment of the subsidy for their forest and Abkari rights, land revenue in the form of plough-tax, grazing fees on cattle and various Gira allowances from the surrounding States and the British territory. These payments were made annually to the Chiefs and Naiks by holding a Darbar of all Rajas, Naiks, Bhaubandhs and the Dangi people. The main objective of holding the Darbar was to collect all these persons at one place and to establish a rapport with them.

Although the British left in 1947, the Darbar continues to be held at Ahwa till date. Instead of the annual subsidy paid earlier, now the former Dangi Chiefs, Naiks and Bhaubandhs are paid the annual political pension in lieu of their rights and privileges. The Forest Department presents prizes to those villagers who have protected the forests around their village from fire. The Darbar is now held under the chairmanship of H.E. the Governor of Gujarat.

The week long celebration continues with dancing, music, folk instruments and theater. Nearly half the district’s population visits Ahwa during the Darbar week to visit the annual market and fair which accompanies the Darbar. Merchants from the surrounding region flock to sell their wares.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Dances of Dangs

Music and dance form an integral part of Dangi Life. Most often than not, Dangis don’t sing but dance. Nature, festivals and moonlit night are sufficient inspiration for their feet to move. Dancing is not just an art but a socio-religious activity for the tribals. As Verier Elvin has pointed out, it is an exercise in delight, a display of grace and vigor, a partnership of sexes in the intimacy of ordered rhythm. Important folk dances of Dangs include Pavri dance, Thakarya dance, Bhaya/Dungardev dance, Bohada dance and Madal dance.

Tadpa/Pavri Dance

Pavri dance – a dance full of energy, skill and enthusiasm has around 27 different chal or formations complemented with the music of dhol (drum) and pavri (a bagpipe). The names of the different chals are according to the steps involved or according to the bird or the beast which the movements of the dancers try to imitate. There are chals or tunes such as slow motion tune, two steps tune, three steps tune, wailing tune, the sparrow step tune, the crocodile step tune, chicken step tune, Jopio Chalo, Mohania Chalo, Morno Chalo, Bahino Chalo, Malino Chalo, Zavda Chalo, Dhobing Chalo, Thisra Chalo etc. Off late, Pavri dance has become synonymous with the term Dangi dance.

Thakarya Dance

Thakarya dance is a devotional dance dedicated to propitiation of rain-gods. Starting from the festival of ‘Tera’, this dance is performed till Diwali. Instead of kahalya and dholak, madal and tin are the instruments played during this dance. Villagers flock at one place after the dinner to view and perform this dance. Only males participate in the dance. Among the performers, one plays madal, the other plays tin, few others sing and rest of them dance. It starts with a “Naman Geet”, a song that greets and worships various tribal Gods. During the Namangeet, all the performers sit together and sing. Namangeet starts with salutation towards mother Earth, followed by cow, Kanasari Devi, Vagh Dev, Nag Dev, Son, Moon, Gam Dev, Hanumandada etc. Towards the end, they salute Dholi (one who plays Madal), dancers, singers, villagers and at last the viewers. Dancers then wear the anklets and start the actual dance. In this dance, dancers move in a circular form assuming virasan (warrior pose). First, they dance standing, then they dance bending and then with more force in Virasan. It is very strenuous and exhausting. Unlike other dances, singing is compulsory in this dance. An important characteristic of this dance is the tradition of ‘questions’ and ‘answers’ during the dance session.

Bhaya Dance

Bhaya nritya (bhacha chalo) is a devotional dance performed at the time of worship of ‘dungar dev’. Unlike other dances, no one can join this dance without taking bath and the dancer has to take meals once only. Instead of dholak and kahalya, pavri is the instrument used in this dance. All dancers sing short devotional songs and in between, shout ‘bi-lo-ri-sho’. The ‘bilori’ means the boundary of stones or hill. The names of gods residing in different hills are recited during the dance.

Bohada Dance

Bohoda or the mask dance is basically a dance of the Konknas adapted by other Dangi tribes over a period of time. One of the striking features of this dance is the use of masks. Different types of masks such as wooden masks, clay masks, bamboo masks, paper masche masks, leather masks etc. are used during this dance.

Wooden masks are generally made from the wood of pangara tree which is light in weight and easy for carving any shape. Bamboo mask is known as ‘thati’. These are used to mainly depict a large number of characters in one single mask. Examples of such masks are ‘Ranana that’, ‘Pandava thati’ and ‘Kaurava thati’. Paper Masche masks are prepared by soaking old newspaper pieces and fenugreek (methi) seeds in water for 10-15 days. The mixture is then ground into fine pulp and is spread in thick layers over the mask mould made of wet mud. Once thoroughly dried, the paper mask is taken off the mud mould. All the masks are usually decorated and painted.

Bohoda dance is performed in a village at night during Holi and Diwali season and generally runs for seven days. Dancers wear masks bought on rent. Facial images of both Tribal and Hindu deities and characters from famous epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are reflected in these masks. One can find images such as Ram, Hanuman, Ravana, Pandava, Kaurava, Ganesha, Agalya Ital (a tribal bhoot),  Khirad, Parsuram, Pundlik, Shravan and parents, Wagh, etc. as masks during the dance. Dholak, Kahalya and Pawri are the music instruments played during the dance. Since the written script is absent among tribals, Bohoda dance is a process of recreating oral history and folklore of the tribes.

Madal Dance

Madal dance is a combination of music, folk dance and folk drama known as “sohong”. Not particularly associated with any tribal festival, this folk dance is generally performed anytime, including special occasions like marriage. It starts after the dinner and runs through the night. A group of singer and a composer for ‘sohong’ stands in a straight line whereas the dancers, along with their madals, dance in a circular and various other geometrical patterns. Each folk song contains a tribal folklore. Adorned with traditional ornaments, dancers change the “chal” (formation) of the dance and “taal” of their madals with the complementary change in “raga” of the folksong.