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Vol-3 Issue-2
1. News
2. Nature Talk
3. Tribal Children: Back to School
4. Chhau: Dance through the ages
5. Niyamgiri Hills
Abode of the Dongria Kondh

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Niyamgiri Hills
Abode of the Dongria Kondh
Environmental Protection Group, Orissa

 

    

INTRODUCTION

Niyamgiri is a hill range, about 250 sq. km. in area (Daspatnaik P.1984) lying between 19.33 degree N lat. and 83. 25 degree E longitude (Patnaik, N. and Daspatnaik, P.1982). It forms the northernmost hill in the massif of the cluster of hills called the Niyamgiris or the Dongaria Kondh country. Also known as the Niyam Dongar, it runs in a southwest alignment with a maximum elevation of 1306 meters.

     From socio-cultural, anthropological as well as geographic point of view, this is a single hill-country; but from administrative point of view, the area comes three districts viz. Kalahandi, Rayagada and Koraput.

     To the anthropologists, Niyamgiri Hills are better known as the country of ‘Dongria Kondhs’. Dongaria Kondha is one of the primitive and scheduled tribes of the State and enjoys a critical and symbiotic relation with the Niyamgiri forests. The Dongarias believe that the hill country belongs to Niyam Raja Penu, a male deity represented by a sword and worshipped during Dussera and Jura parab. They claim themselves to be descendants of the Niyam Raja. The Dongrias have derived their name from 'dongar' meaning agricultural land on hill slopes. If one claims to be a Dongaria Kondha, he must reside in the Niyamgiri hills and possess land of his own, and pass on to his posterity (P.S. Daspattnaik, ‘Ownership Pattern, land Survey and Settlement and Its Impact on the Dongaria Kondhas of Orissa’ published in ‘Adibasi’ Journal in January 1984, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, p.26). The Dongrias have a distinguished heritage, because of their dress style, mode of living, indigenous skills, cultural pattern and social system interlinked with nature and forests.

     Both culturally and ecologically, the Niyamgiri hills are extremely rich and significant. Most importantly Niyamgiri Hills are the source of Vansadhara river as well as a major tributary of Nagavali river. It forms a distinct phytogeographical zone because of its height and its highly precipitous topography. It also has some of the most pristine forests in Orissa, and is home to a number of vulnerable wildlife species including tiger, leopards, sloth bear, pangolin, palm civet, giant squirrel, mouse deer, langur and sambhar, etc. It is also on the path of migration corridor of elephants, and comes within the territory of Royal Bengal Tiger. In view of its ecological importance, it was declared as nature conservation / game sanctuary and also was proposed as a Wild Life Sanctuary in the working plan of Kalahandi Forest Division. The State Wildlife organization has a proposal to declare this area as South Orissa Elephant Reserve as mentioned in the vide memo no. 4643/3WL(Cons) 34/04 dated 20.08.2004.

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Previous Comments:
Though no earlier record is available of the Dongria people being hunters, they definitely are excellent marksmen and often go hunting.
-banbasi(2008-01-01 00:19:52)


Articles in
Vol-3 Issue-2
1. News
2. Nature Talk
3. Tribal Children: Back to School
4. Chhau: Dance through the ages
5. Niyamgiri Hills
Abode of the Dongria Kondh

 

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