Jambughoda, Gujarat – Things to do

Jambughoda lies in the district of Panchmahal in the eastern part of Gujarat, the Westernmost state of India. The name Panchmahal has come about from Five Palaces (Panch = 5, Mahal = palace) since this was the home of 5 princely states Lunawada, Santrampur, Devgadh Baria, Sanjeli and Jambughoda. Of these, presently only Jambughoda remains in Panchmahal with the first 2 being moved into the district of Mahisagar and the latter 2 into Dahod.

Jambughoda is tribal land and the adivasi (indigenous tribe) population is very high in this region. 40 % are the Rathwas. The Nayakas, Tadvis, Barias, Bhils, Bhilalas and other such tribes and communities form the rest of the population.

When one stays at the Jambughoda Palace heritage stay, there are a plethora of exciting possibilities that are offered by the hosts, within a 70 km radius.

A nature lovers dream, one can revel in its numerous forest trails, waterfalls, trekking paths, picnic spots, lakes, bird sanctuaries,  and other activities that include tribal interactions, experiences of rural life, trips to dams, temples, forts, heritage monuments and several other interesting sites.

Its tribal villages, Haats (village markets), museums, can take several days to explore and those who are interested in indigenous cultures will find quite a treasure in this region.

The possibilities were so many, that 2 days were quite insufficient for me and this is going to be a post where the list of things that I could have done will far outnumber what I actually did … and believe me I did a lot 😀

Read on to explore the natural surroundings of this beautiful place.

Jambughoda sanctuary –

As mentioned in the earlier post, it was the efforts of Maharana Vikramsinhji that ensured that the forests in the area were safeguarded by the declaration of the sanctuary. He received the prestigious Fatehsingh Rao Gaekwad Conservation Award, granted by the International Society of Naturalists for this.

This 130 sq km of protected area is not a contiguous forest but is interspersed with villages, revenue lands, gauchars (cattle grazelands) etc. It is however, a beautiful space and the only natural expanse of green left within a radius of around 100 km from the closest major city of Vadodara. The verdant environs are a big draw for visitors from the city who want to getaway on holidays and detox and just breathe the fresh unpolluted air.

The sanctuary entrance is less than 3 km from the Jambughoda Palace and the Kada dam is walking distance from the entrance of the sanctuary.

The forests have a variety of trees like teak, bamboo, mahua etc. Wildlife that has been documented here, includes leopards, hyenas, nilgais, 4 horned antelopes, wild boar and sloth bear, apart from over 150 species of indigenous and migratory birds.

One has to be lucky to spot any of them though and patience and time are the key to getting to sight many of the birds including the Paradise Fly Catcher. My stay was very short, so I had to make do with egrets and ibis, which is more than what I get to usually see with my bad bird luck 😀

Kada Dam – One can walk along the rampart of the dam and view the beauty of the reservoir or one can also climb up the easy walking trail that leads to a forest guest house and viewing pavilion which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the lake and forests and hills. Holidays bring in the crowds, so weekdays are better if one has the flexibility of time.

Trek and High tea around the Kada dam –

The family owns a piece of land alongside the picturesque reservoir on the opposite bank. A 45 min trek around the lake, whets the appetite and leads to a charming picnic patch, where the bearers from the Jambughoda Palace would have arrived as if by magic and laid out a wonderful spread. After the tea, the guests are taken to view the sunset from the viewpoint at the dam. This is a surreal experience and one that should not be missed. If the sunset is missed, at times the moon steps up and showcases it reflection in the silvery waters. Do check on the weather though because in the monsoons the trail gets submerged and this activity halts temporarily.

Tribal village visit and rustic meals –

Rathwas are the main tribes of this place and have still held on to their identity by way of their culture, customs, clothing, cuisine etc. They worship a deity called Babo Pithora who is represented by paintings on the walls of their houses in the form of animals, birds, plants, people and other scenes of everyday life. These are known as Pithora paintings are a highly sought after by tourists.

They do not live in hamlets but their houses are distinct from each other in individual locations. The government of course has also aided them in providing basic needs.

Some of the affluent Rathwas perform a ritual called Eendh. This is done once in a lifetime and is a sort of thanksgiving for all the blessings received. Entire villages are invited and animals are sacrificed and hundreds of people are fed. Pithora paintings are then done on the walls of the living room to indicate that the family has successfully completed the ritual.

Jambughoda Palace arranges visits to certain houses in these villages where one can meet the head of the family, see the Pithora art and even have a rustic and typical meal squatting on the mud floor along with the family. Such a meal usually consists of makai or bajra rotis (Maize or Pearl millet), dhebra – a fritter made of whole urad dal (black gram lentil), a brinjal and potato dish, a dal or curry. While partaking of this flavorsome meal, the guests can interact with the tribal family and learn a lot about their customs and ways. This is a unique experience that one should not miss.

The tribals also grow a lot of agricultural produce and at one of their houses a young girl insisted on giving us gifts of the typical giant cucumber of the region, that she plucked straight off the vine. A fabulous experience indeed.

Weekly Haats – 

A Haat is a weekly market place or fair of sorts where villagers and tribals from the surrounding areas congregate to buy, sell or barter produce and products like vegetables, fruits, spices, food, clothes, utensils, baskets, earthenware, jewelry, farm implements, musical instruments and even livestock like poultry, goats, cattle etc. The haat goes on from early morning to late evening. A tourist can spend anything from an hour to the whole day, depending on interest.

Chhota Udepur (50 km) – This is has its weekly Haat on Saturdays where vendors set up stalls around the Chotaudepur lake. One can find a variety of vegetables, spices, woven baskets, farm implements, clothing, bangles and many other items being sold.

Kavant haat (57 km) – This is a larger and more colorful Haat that takes place on Mondays. This is said to be interesting for photographers too but I was unable to visit it due to lack of time.

During the spring festival of Holi, there is a huge fair at Kavant called the Kavant Ger where the tribals are seen in their traditional finery. This event is a photographers delight.

Ghoghamba Haat (37 km) – Sundays. I did not visit this either.

Hathni Maatha waterfalls (20 km) –

Hidden deep in the forested hills and rocks, this waterfall is at the height of its glory in the monsoons.

Vehicles can only go upto the parking lot after which there is a 500 meter trail that leads to the falls. The path is flanked by stalls selling local snacks like roasted corn, sliced cucumbers and Papadi nu loat, which is the seasoned dough that papads are made of.

One has to cross a slippery set of rocks to go deeper into where the actual falls thunder down in 5-6 streams. There is a cave which houses a temple with a rock shaped like a seated baby elephant and hence the name Hathni. The rock is not visible when the falls are at their peak.

People throng the place on weekends and it can get quite crowded.

The rocks are slippery and it is easy to drop your belongings into the water, so hang on tight to the cellphone 😀 Be prepared to get wet upto the knees (wear appropriate footwear) and of course if you are going to bathe in the falls, then remember you are going to get soaked from head to toe. There are a few locations in the rocks where people scramble into for pictures 😀

Tribal museum (50 km) –

Chotaudepur also has a tribal museum which showcases the various tribes and communities of the region, in the form of their typical houses and life sized human models, clothing, utensils, farm implements, musical instruments, arms etc of each of them.

There are 8 rooms under the labels of Rathwa, Nani Nat Rathwa, Industrial art, Dungara Bhil, Bhil, Nayak, Dhanuk and tadavi.

The building is not in the best of condition but there are fans in each room and that is a relief. The washrooms are barely functional and it will take only an emergency to convince me to use them.

The entry fee is Rs 1/- but camera fee is Rs 100/- I always knew my camera was more valuable than myself 😀

Bhasha Tribal Academy, Tejgadh (27 km) –

Padmashree awardee Dr Ganesh Devy, who is a cultural activist, established an NGO to safeguard and document the tribal language and culture. The Bhasha Tribal Academy in Chhotaudepur district, was founded by Dr Devy to showcase  the culture, language, art and literature of the indigenous tribes across India. This beautiful architecture of the institute, houses a library, audio visual section, a museum, a hospital and also a small retail outlet selling books and handicrafts.

The museum consists of several instruments and handicrafts of various tribes across India which are showcased in the open corridors that surround a large square courtyard.

One can also interact with the artists if they are around. Several research students also come here for their studies.

The retail shop sells some interesting books, paintings and handicrafts.

Champaner, Pavagadh (26 km) –

The Champaner UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated at the foot of the Pavagadh hills. It encompasses the hill as well as the historical city of Champaner which was established in the in the 8th century. Read more about Champaner-Pavagadh here.

Sardar Sarovar Dam and Statue of Unity (70 km) –

Trips are also organized by the resort to the famous Statue of Unity and Sardar Sarovar dam in Narmada district.

Read more about the Statue of Unity here.

Some of the other places of interest (which I could not visit) are – 

Chelawada (37 kms) –

For the Kanbha Dev/Baba Dev, a tribal deity temple and clay horses.

Wadhwana bird sanctuary (25 km) –

This attracts innumerable species of indigenous and migratory birds in the winters. A must visit for those interested in birds and photography.

Sukhi Dam (17 km) –

Recommended for rock climbing and trekking.

Targol Dam (20 km) –

Another scenic location.

Jhand Hanuman temple (13 km) –

This is famous for the 18-ft statue of Lord Hanuman that is believed to have been made during the Mahabharth era.

Sankheda (35 km) –

This place is famous for Sankheda furniture. This is made of solid teak wood which is artistically lacquer painted in gold and other bright colors. This furniture is  one of its kind in the world and the chairs, tables, beds, dressing tables, swings etc, are all manufactured at Sankheda, by carpenters known as kharadis. This is highly sought after not just in India but also overseas.

The furniture is protected under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods act where it is listed as ‘Sankheda furniture’.

Dabhoi (45 km) –

Ancient fort town.


Apart from the above, there are also many more similar places that one can spend several days visiting in the vicinity of the Jambughoda Palace.

For more pictures see My Facebook – Jambughoda, Things to do.  Also catch me on My FacebookMy Facebook pageMy Twitter and My Instagram

Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Jambughoda Palace. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.

This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.

Sep 21st – 23rd, 2019


About Currylines

A food and travel enthusiast who plays with words
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