November 28, 2013
Though the Araku Valley is supposed to be “one of the least spoiled and less commercialized tourist destinations in South India” (according to Wikipedia), the AP Tourism department did a good job of commercialising this one-day trip. Of course I couldn’t really expect more from a one-day organised trip, and my very tight schedule did not allow for more. But this was a convenient way to squeeze in a visit to the Araku Valley as well as the Borra Caves (which my editor was keen on featuring) where we stopped on our way back to Visakhapatnam.
After the obligatory visit to the Araku Tribal Museum, there was a demonstration of Dhimsa, the dance performed by the tribal communities of the Araku Valley. This is a ceremonial dance performed by women during festive occasions like weddings and important festivals. This organised demonstration outside the AP Tourism hotel was not the ideal context or setting to witness Dhimsa, but I appreciated the chance to see this tribal dance tradition which otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to see at all. I had only had glimpses of tribal dance in photographs, films and YouTube videos, and this was the first time I was seeing it ‘live’.
The women were dressed in brightly-coloured saris in tones of scarlet, magenta and fuchsia. Each had a flower elegantly pinned to her hair which was gathered in a bun at the nape of the neck. Almost all the women wore three nose rings, typical of the tribal women living in this region.