Bastar’s Bijapur Speaks 9+ Languages. Are You Listening?

October 19 2021

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” asked a tall, clean-shaven man, wearing a grey safari suit and carrying an air of authority along with a gunman. We were at the administrative headquarters of a district in Chhattisgarh.

A wave of utter weariness passed through my body. Even though I had an oven-ready script to offer, I didn’t want to say anything. It had been over a month of justifying my presence in the region. 

The administrative headquarters of the Bijapur district, of the Bastar region, is situated in the middle of nowhere. There is only one road in the city that splits the district into two identical slices of dense, dry forests. They say that it took many years to build this road.

Bijapur borders the Dantewada district (Chhattisgarh) in the east, Narayanpur (Chhattisgarh) district in its north, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) district in the west, as well as Khammam and Warangal districts (Telangana) to its south.

The Bastar region, now broken into several divisions, is larger in size than Kerala and even Belgium. Bijapur, a small part of it, boasts of half a dozen tribes that speak over nine languages. It is a kaleidoscope of sounds, colours and patterns.

As a 22-year-old, I saw the world with curious eyes. It was the curiosity that brought me to Bastar. To read more about Rachit's time in Bastar, click on the link below.