Tribal Orissa & Chhattisgarh


Culture | Tribal

Distinct tribal cultures, unique temples & traditional textiles

14 days £2,395 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices


Delve into one of the tribal heartlands of India, starting your journey in Orissa, a state blessed with incredible temples, including the UNESCO Sun Temple in Konark. Discover diverse bird life on Chilika lake and then proceed along the tribal circuit meeting remote communities. Shop for traditional handicrafts and textiles at the bustling tribal markets. Move on to Chhattisgarh, one of India's least explored states, and weave your way through more tribal villages meeting the people who make this region so unique. Stop off at the magnificent Chitrakote Falls before your flight back to Kolkata or elsewhere in India.


  • Explore the 'Temple City' of Bhubaneshwar
  • Architectural beauty of Orissa's Konark Sun Temple
  • Marvel at Puri's Lord Jagannath Temple
  • Visit the largest salt water lagoon in Asia
  • Natural landscapes of Rayagada
  • Meet tribal communities in Orissa
  • Chitrakote waterfalls, the 'Niagara Falls of India'
  • See the administrative seat of the British Raj in Kanker

Places Visited

Bhubaneshwar - Puri - Konark - Gopalpur - Rayagada - Jeypore - Jagdalpur - Chitrakote - Kanker

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport
English-speaking guides
Some meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Bhubaneshwar where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Your travel documents will be issued in India and given to you on arrival. The rest of the evening is free at your leisure. Overnight in Bhubaneshwar. 

Meal plan: n/a

Bhubaneshwar, once known as 'Temple City', is the capital city of Orissa. It used to be home to thousands of medieval stone temples. Now, the old city’s holy centre contains 50 remaining structures and is a revered pilgrimage site for both Buddhists and Hindus. One of the most frequented temples is the 10th century Lingaraj temple dedicated to Shiva, covered in carvings and standing at 55m. Modern Bhubaneshwar was laid out by German town planner Otto Koenigsberger and is very pleasant, with wide roads and many green areas.  

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Day 2 : Bhubaneshwar

Spend the morning exploring the ancient temples and Jain trails. Visit the temples of Lingaraj, Mukteshvara, Brahmeshwar, Parsurameswar and Rajarani. In the afternoon, discover the ancient Jain caves at Khandagiri and Udaygiri, home to the ornately carved rock shelters of the 1st century. Later, drive to the Tribal Museum, where you can see the houses of different tribes, their household utilities and traditional dress and jewellery. Overnight in Bhubaneshwar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 3 : Bhubaneswar - Puri

Drive to Puri, visiting Dhauli, Chousathi Yogini Temple and a Pipili appliqué work village en route. On arrival in Puri, check in to the hotel. Later in the afternoon, visit the Jagannath Temple. Overnight in Puri. 

Note: Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Jagannath Temple but it can be viewed from Raghunathan library platform (platform closed on Sundays). 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Puri is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in India, as it is the site of the famous temple of Lord Jagannath ('Lord of the Universe'). Its golden sand beach and fantastic sea views are also a major attraction, especially popular with surfers.

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Day 4 : Puri - Konark - Puri

In the morning, drive to the 13th century Konark Sun Temple before making a stop at a fishermen village on the plains. Later, return to Puri and the Jagannath Temple. Visit the coastal fishermen's village, interacting with the local community before exploring the crafts village of Raghurajpur in the afternoon, known for its master Pattachitra painters. Overnight stay in Puri. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The architecture of Konark Sun Temple is highly regarded and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The temple resembles a colossal chariot with 24 wheels, pulled by seven horses. There is a three-tiered pyramidal roof with a fine spire. The Sun God's chariot represents the seven days of the week and 24 hours of each day. The temple houses many impressive sculptures. The temple is a fine example of medieval India's architectural style.

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Day 5 : Puri - Gopalpur

After breakfast, drive to Gopalpur, stopping at Chilika Lake en route for a boat ride. Chilika Lake is Asia's largest salt water lagoon and is home to a unique array of bird life, making it the perfect location to witness the migratory birds. After the boat ride, proceed to Gopalpur and check in to the hotel on arrival. Overnight in Gopalpur.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Gopalpur is a peaceful sea town that started fading away into history until Bengali holidaymakers rediscovered it in the 1980s. 

Lying along the eastern coast of Orissa, the vast Chilika Lake sprawls over an area of 1100 sq. km, covering parts of three districts - Puri on the east, Khurdha on the North and Ganjam on the South. It is the largest salt water lagoon in Asia, divided into four natural sectors based on salinity and depth. A haven for bird-watchers and nature lovers, Chilika Lake is abound with unique flora and fauna, from flamingoes wading the shallow waters to Irrawaddy dolphins making playful appearances. Birds flock to the lake from as far as the Caspian Sea, Aral Sea and other parts of Mongolia, Cental and South-East Asia, with over 160 species migrating to the lake's beautiful islands during winter. 

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Day 6 : Golpapur - Rayagada

Drive to Rayagada through the Eastern Ghats, enjoying views of the beautiful scenery. Stop at the hot water spring of Taptapani and Desia Kondh, where the water is considered to have medicinal properties. Visit some indigenous tribal villages of the Kumuti as well as a traditional weaving village where each house has a handloom to make saris and clothes. Continue to Rayagada and check into the hotel. Overnight in Rayagada. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Rayagada is a very scenic district of India filled with a variety of natural landscapes, including meadows, forests and waterfalls.

The dense forested hills near Rayagada are home to the indigenous Kondh tribe. The Kondh are one of the largest tribal communities in the state of Orissa. The Desia Kondh lead a primarily agricultural way of life of foraging, hunting and gathering and are especially adept land dwellers with great adaptability to the forest environment. They believe that Gods and Goddesses are attributed to all things in life. Worship and respect for these Gods, especially for Dharani Punu, or Earth God, is important for sustaining the environmental balance they depend upon for survival. 

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Day 7 : Rayagada

In the morning, drive to Kotagarha and visit some Kutia Kondh villages. Overnight stay in Rayagada. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 8 : Rayagada - Chatikona - Jeypore

After breakfast, drive to Jeypore, visiting the Chatikona Market and the Dongria Kondh tribe en route. Also visit the indigenous Mali agricultural tribe and the Moniaka tribal villages. On arrival in Jeypore, check in to the hotel. Overnight in Jeypore.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Jeypore is a small town that is scenically surrounded by mountains on all sides. People living here speak four different languages: Oriya, Telugu, Hindi and Bengali. There are three main temples (Lord Jagannath Temple, Lord Shiva Temple and Swamy Vivekananda Temple) that are located on three different hills.

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Day 9 : Jeypore

Drive to the Onkudeli market and visit the primitive tribes of Bondos, Gadabas and Didayis. Overnight stay at Jeypore. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 10 : Jeypore - Jagdalpur

In the morning, drive to Jagdalpur, stopping at its Jagannath Temple and the colourful market of the Paraja and Mali in Kunduli en route. Also visit the Kotpad weaving village and Dhurwa tribal market. On arrival in Jagdalpur, check in to the hotel. Overnight in Jagdalpur.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of  Jagdalpur lies in the Bastar District. It is known as the tourism capital of Chhattisgarh and makes the perfect site from which to explore surrounding sights such as Chitrakote Falls and Kotumsar Cave. 

The Parajas can be classified into twelve tribes depending on their region, each differing in terms of tradition, customs and language. They are generally hill cultivators and live a largely subsistence agricultural way of life. The Paraji worship many Gods and Goddessess who live in the hills and the forests. 

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Day 11 : Jagdalpur

In the morning, visit the villages of the indigenous Bison Horn Maria tribe. You will be able to enjoy their infamous culture and hospitality at a dance held in the village. Later in the afternoon, see the Chitrakote waterfall and visit some nearby tribal villages. Overnight in Jagdalpur. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Chitrakote has religious, cultural, historical and archeological significance to the region. Yet it is most famous for the horseshoe-shaped Chitrakote waterfalls. They are the largest in the country and are often called the 'Niagara Falls of India'. The area around the falls is filled with dense forests and eye-catching birds that provide a great backdrop for enjoying the view.

The Bison Horn Maria is one of the most famous tribal groups of India whose name is borne from their unique headdress which resembles the horns of a bison. They mainly live isolated within dense forest regions. The Bison Horn Maria’s largely follow the traditions and customs of the Hindu religion whilst also believing in territorial ‘Clan Gods’ housed within each tribal village to protect them. 

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Day 12 : Jagdalpur - Kanker

Drive to Kanker, visiting a craft village home to the Kondagaon tribe on the way. Also stop at some Murriya tribal villages, including the Halba and Bhatra tribal groups. Overnight in Kanker. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Kanker is the district capital that used to be the administrative seat of the princely state of Kanker during the colonial period of the British Raj. 

The Kondagaon tribe is famous for their handicrafts made from wax - vessels, jewellery and decorations. It is a great place to stock up on tribal souvenirs. 

With over 10 million people, the Gond tribe is the largest in Central India, Asia and potentially even the world. They have a God named Borodeo, who is widely respected and oversees the lesser gods. Each clan then has their own Persa Pen god that protects all clan members and is basically good, but can be perilous and violent at times. The Gonds (hill people) have a rich art tradition, with pottery, tattooing and painting being especially popular. They enjoy painting their houses in red- and black- themed designs to celebrate festivals. The Gond tribe is very interesting from the cultural perspective.

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Day 13 : Kanker

In the morning, visit the Muria tribe, famous for their dance and hospitality. Later in the day, stop at some other villages in and around Kanker. Overnight in Kanker. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Murias are unlike many primitive tribal groups, living in the open valleys, they are less isolated and seen to be more advanced. Their economy is focused on the cultivation of land, especially the production of rice. The Murias are highly superstitious, worshipping village ‘Cult Gods’ whilst also practising magic and dark arts. They drink a local form of liquor, which is seen to play a central role in social and ritual gatherings. 

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Day 14 : Kanker - Raipur - Departure

Transfer to Raipur Airport for onward journey. 

Meal plan: n/a



All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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The Crown

The Crown Hotel in Bhubaneswar is near to many of the cities historic temples. The contemporary style bedrooms offer a comfortable space to relax after exploring the region. Each ensuite room is fitted with satellite television and wifi access. The 3 on-site restaurants serve an array of Indian and international cuisine options. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and hotel bar. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hans Coco Palms

The Hans Coco Palms is a colonial-style hotel in Puri, not far from the temples and beaches of the city. The bedrooms are spacious and also decorated in a traditionally colonial style. There are 2 restaurants on-site that serve authentic regional dishes. Guests are also welcomed to enjoy the hotel swimming pool and gardens, which boast scenic views of the coast. 

Visit hotel's site
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Mayfair Palm Beach Resort

Spread out over 12 acres of land and just a short walk from the Gopalpur Beach, the Mayfair Palm Beach Resort offers beautiful panoramic views overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The resort provides luxury accommodation, with all rooms equipped with modern amenities including free WiFi, air-conditioning and cable flat-screen TVs. Guests are welcome to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and treatments in the spa, as well as the 2 restaurants within the resort, where a variety of local Indian, Western and seafood specialities is served. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hotel Sai International

Hotel Sai International provides simple and comfortable accommodation with a focus on efficient service and warm hospitality. It is conveniently located for those visiting the nearby tribal villages. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hotel Apsara

Opened in 1988 and refurbished in 2013, Hotel Apsara provides modern and comfortable accommodation with a focus on excellent hospitality and efficiency. Rooms are equipped with free WiFi and guests are welcome to enjoy the onsite multi-cuisine restaurant and terrace lounge. 

Visit hotel's site
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Naman Bastar Resort

Spread over 3.5 acres of lush greenery, Naman Bastar is an exclusive vegetarian, non-alcoholic resort focused on sustainable tourism. The resort offers traditional hospitality rather than modern day uniformity, aiming to preserve the authentic village environment. Guests are welcome to enjoy the onsite multi-cuisine vegetarian restaurant specialising in Indian, South Indian, Chinese and continental food. 

Visit hotel's site
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Kanker Palace

Originally built in the first quarter of the 20th century as the home of Kanker's royal family and rebuilt in 1937, Kanker Palace exhibits traditional colonial style architecture with an air of stately elegance and ambience. Rooms are equipped with luxury modern amenities, whilst still maintaining its old-world charm and heritage. 

Visit hotel's site

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What an incredible trip you planned for us! I cannot tell you how thrilled we were with our tailormade India tour. We travelled for 34 days and every single day was wonderful. Not only did you include everything that we would have wanted to experience, and many additional things that we had no clue about, you planned it in such a way that we had "down time" to be able to relax and think about and savor what we were experiencing. In addition, the choice of many fascinating accommodations gave almost as much exposure to aspects of India as our various tours.

Jay Holtzman & Rothlyn Zahourek (USA) , Tailormade Tribal India

Once again, a fantastic tailor-made trip discovering the tribes of India. A genuine new experience in a less-well known part of India. A seamless trip from start to finish with guides and drivers amongst the best we have experienced. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Our third tailor-made holiday with Travel The Unknown.

Laurel Smallwood , Tribes of Orissa & Chhattisgarh I Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Another great trip from Travel the Unknown. I would recommend this company to anyone who wants to move outside the boundaries of the usual tourist itinerary.

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Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

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