Often referred to as the “poor man’s timber,” bamboo stands out for its multifunctional utility, offering a myriad of uses that cater to various livelihood options. Its affordability, coupled with its versatile nature, makes bamboo a vital resource for the rural population, playing a crucial role in their daily lives and economic pursuits. The plant’s applications range from construction to handicrafts, embodying a sustainable and accessible material that supports diverse aspects of rural livelihoods in the Balaghat region. In villages like Baihar, Singhpur, Niwari, Chiraidongri, Varasioni, and others in the Mandla region, people are involved in making bamboo products.

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      Bamboo’s practicality extends to its ease of manipulation with ordinary hand tools, as it can be effortlessly split and crafted into a many of useful articles. The versatility of this natural plant resource knows no bounds, allowing for the creation of an extensive range of items. From simple tools to intricate crafts, bamboo proves to be a highly adaptable material that can be shaped and utilized according to the needs and creativity of individuals. Its flexibility with common hand tools enhances its accessibility and makes it a valuable resource for crafting a diverse array of functional and artistic articles.

      • The most common type of bamboo product is the “Daliya” A basket, used for various purposes. People craft a variety of baskets for different needs, with sizes reaching up to 4 feet, commonly seen in local markets.
      • Bamboo is the preferred choice for building fences around farms among tribal communities. They also create simple tools from bamboo to aid in farming activities.
      • For construction purposes, tribal communities utilize bamboo structures covered with mud for their homes. Bamboo is also used for roofing, often covered with grass.
      • A variety of bamboo baskets are crafted for storing everyday items. Specialized items include the supda for segregating grains and the Chauriya or kurru to catch the fish, dhuthi to keep the fish, and kundari to keep the chicken.
      • Musical instruments such as the Bansuri flute and thiski are also crafted by tribal communities using bamboo.
      • With government initiatives, many local self-help groups and companies have been established, producing a diverse range of products including furniture, lamps, and functional and decorative items.

      Bamboo shoots are commonly used in various culinary traditions, including Indian cuisine, where they are appreciated for their unique texture and flavour. In India, including the state of Madhya Pradesh, bamboo shoots find applications in different regional dishes. In regions with tribal populations, bamboo shoots are often used in traditional tribal dishes. The shoots may be part of recipes that have been passed down through generations within specific communities.



      The significance of bamboo lies in its abundant growth, requiring minimal care while proliferating rapidly and abundantly. With a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio comparable to steel, bamboo serves as a durable yet lightweight construction material for various applications. Its natural elasticity allows it to flex without breaking, rendering it resilient to bending and compression forces, while its excellent tensile strength makes it suitable for load-bearing structures.

      For centuries, tribal communities have harnessed the qualities of bamboo, with a deep understanding of its splitting, cutting, and bending properties. Utilizing simple tools and unique methods, they have crafted intricate products. Growing up amidst bamboo and observing its utilization, tribal individuals develop a profound understanding from childhood. In remote areas, it is common to find women artisans crafting bamboo products after completing their daily chores, often socializing while working together in groups. The front areas of their homes often serve as workshops for creating items such as baskets and supdas, fostering community interaction and economic activity.

      Bamboo, a versatile grass, holds the potential to holistically impact sustainability across ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions. Managed harvesting of bamboo prevents the loss of green cover associated with tree felling, while its rapid growth allows for up to twenty times more biomass yield than trees in the same area, making it an effective carbon sink. Its underground rhizome network helps control soil erosion, captures water, and contributes to soil moisture retention and land rehabilitation.

      Economically, bamboo significantly contributes to rural livelihoods, offering employment and income through cultivation, harvesting, and processing. Its sustainable growth makes bamboo an eco-friendly alternative to traditional timber, often taking longer to mature. Moreover, bamboo’s unique properties spark scientific interest, presenting opportunities for advancements in materials science and ecological studies. In essence, bamboo encompasses practical, cultural, economic, and environmental dimensions, making it an invaluable resource in the fabric of human life.

      Myths & Legends:


      Bamboo craft has a rich history in India, although its precise origin is difficult to pinpoint. Insights into the development of this craft are gleaned from historical records and cultural narratives. It is challenging to ascertain when humans began crafting bamboo baskets or using bamboo in shelter construction. The presence of significant tribal settlements across ancient India played a pivotal role in the evolution and proliferation of bamboo craft. As settled communities began utilizing bamboo, skills and products evolved over time, passing on to subsequent generations.

      In India, bamboo cultivation has primarily taken place in government-owned forests, with centralized control over these resources. However, notable exceptions exist in states like Nagaland and Kerala, where communities have been granted certain rights over bamboo resources, allowing for greater local autonomy in harvesting and utilization. While bamboo is extensively harvested for the paper and pulp industry, rural communities also utilize it for various purposes, including construction, handicrafts, household items, and even as a source of food through bamboo shoots.

      The paper and pulp industry benefits from bamboo’s fast growth and fibrous nature, leading to widespread harvesting in government-owned forests. However, there is a growing recognition of the importance of involving local communities in bamboo resource management. Legal reforms and policy changes aim to promote sustainable harvesting practices, empower local communities, and address broader issues related to forest governance and community rights.

      Madhya Pradesh boasts the largest forest area in India, covering a significant portion of the country’s total forested land. This substantial forest cover plays a crucial role in biodiversity conservation, ecological balance, and supporting various ecosystems within the state. The Government of India has launched the National Bamboo Mission (NBM) to harness the extensive potential of bamboo for sustainable and comprehensive development. The mission aims to enhance bamboo resources, foster applications based on bamboo, create employment opportunities for marginalized communities, strengthen the bamboo sector, and advance technologies blending traditional wisdom with contemporary scientific approaches. This comprehensive initiative underscores the commitment to leveraging bamboo for multifaceted development, aligning with goals of ecological sustainability and economic empowerment.


      The versatility of bamboo, coupled with its ease of manipulation using a simple knife (bakiya), has led to the creation of numerous everyday items that adorn households, including farming and fishing tools, toys, mats (chataai), and baskets (tokri). While artisans explore avenues beyond local markets, they are also learning to craft more sophisticated pieces that require elaborate machinery. However, the charm of simple traditional products remains deeply rooted in the state’s local flavor. In many villages, various tribal communities specialize in bamboo craftsmanship, which can be divided into two main categories.

      Traditional Products: These items are crafted by indigenous communities to meet their local needs. They include everyday essentials like baskets (tokri), supa, mats (chatai), and rain covers, primarily sold in weekly markets (haat). Crafted using only a knife (Bakiya) and traditional techniques, these products are practical and imbued with cultural significance. Rain covers, for instance, incorporate a wild leaf called Mahlayan between woven bamboo sheets for waterproofing. These products are distinctly functional, retaining their local aesthetic and utility without significant design evolution.

      New Design Products: Designed primarily for tourists, these items encompass decorative pieces such as boats, wall hangings, and pen stands. In a saturated souvenir market, quality and unique design are key differentiators. While quality improvement is essential, design innovation requires primary focus. Drawing inspiration from the rich traditional uses of bamboo and its natural context, these products can be redesigned to reflect the state’s distinct identity. Initiatives by the government or local master craftsmen attending workshops with designers and becoming entrepreneurs have spurred the evolution of these products. They establish local workshops, sell products to tourists, or participate in craft fairs organized by the government or other organizations.

      Balaghat’s skilled bamboo craftsmen demonstrate their expertise by crafting a diverse range of products, including mats, curtains, home décor items, furniture, cups, trays, baskets, cradles, gazebos, dustbins, dining sets, frames, and more. Each piece showcases a fusion of traditional techniques with contemporary design, reflecting the versatility of bamboo as a medium for artistic expression. Collaborations with external entities and government support further enhance the craftsmanship and marketability of these products.


      Limited Market Access: Bamboo artisans often face difficulties in accessing larger markets for their products. Limited exposure to urban markets and potential customers can hinder their income opportunities.

      A substantial proportion of these traders resided in secluded villages, making it challenging for many of them to fully avail themselves of the benefits offered by government-run schemes. The remote locations of their dwellings hindered their accessibility to and participation in the actual implementation of these programs, limiting the extent to which they could benefit from the initiatives introduced by the government. As a result, despite the existence of beneficial schemes, the geographical constraints and remoteness of their living areas posed significant barriers for these traders to actively engage and take advantage of the governmental support and opportunities available.

      Dependency on Middlemen: In some cases, artisans rely on middlemen who may exploit their lack of market knowledge, offering lower prices for their products and thereby reducing their profit margins.

      Competition from Machine-made Products: Mass-produced, machine-made products often flood the market, making it challenging for traditional artisans to compete on price and scale.

      Introduction Process:

      The process of making bamboo products is straightforward, traditionally carried out by artisans working from their homes using only a simple knife tool. However, in industrial production setups, proper cutting and splitting machines are necessary. Many of these units are supported by government departments and engage local craftsmen in their operations.

      Raw Materials:

      In the Balaghat District, three distinct bamboo species, each belonging to different genera, have been identified in their natural habitat. These species include Dendrocalamus strictus, Bambusa bambos, and Cephalostachym pergraile, as reported by the M.P. State Bamboo Mission. These bamboo varieties thrive in the mid and high hill areas of the district, contributing significantly to the local ecosystem and socio-economic activities.

      The local communities engaged in crafting articles from bamboo and katanga are known as Lathi and Katang, respectively. These skilled artisans play a vital role in harnessing the potential of bamboo for various purposes, showcasing the cultural and economic significance of bamboo-based activities in the region.

      Among the forest ranges in Balaghat, the East Lanji Forest range stands out with the largest area dedicated to bamboo production among all Bamboo Forest ranges. Hatta forest range, on the other hand, primarily features the Katanga bamboo species. The remaining forest ranges in the district comprise both Lathi bamboo and Katanga bamboo, reflecting the rich diversity of bamboo resources and their utilization in the region. This information provides insights into the ecological and cultural importance of bamboo in the Balaghat District.

      Dendrocalamus Strictus (Bamboo Strictus): Also known as solid bamboo, it is a common species used for various bamboo crafts. Its straight and sturdy culms make it suitable for construction purposes and crafting.

      Bambusa Bambos (Giant Thorny Bamboo): This bamboo species is known for its height and thickness. It is often used in making larger and sturdier bamboo crafts due to its robust nature.

      Cephalostachyum Pergracile (Fine-branch Bamboo): This bamboo species has thinner and more flexible culms, making it suitable for intricate and delicate bamboo crafts. It is commonly used for weaving and smaller crafts.

      These raw materials are carefully selected based on their characteristics to suit the specific requirements of the crafts being created. Balaghat artisans have a deep understanding of bamboo and its properties, allowing them to choose the right type for each craft, ensuring durability, flexibility, and aesthetic appeal. The versatility of bamboo makes it a popular choice for various items, including baskets, mats, furniture, and decorative pieces.

      Apart from bamboo, artisans also require adhesive materials, polish, chemicals for insect protection, colors, etc.

      Tools & Tech:

      Artisans in Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh, use a variety of traditional hand tools to work with bamboo and create intricate crafts. Some common tools employed in bamboo crafting in this region include:

      Knife (bakiya): A Locally made knife used for cutting and splitting bamboo into desired sizes and shapes. Bakiya is the only traditional tool.

      Patiya: A simple small wooden platform

      Chisel : is used to split the big bamboo

      Hammer (Hathoda): Hammers are used to drive nails, shape bamboo, or assist in splitting it for specific crafts.

      Saw: Saws come in various sizes and are used for cutting bamboo with precision, especially when creating fine details or working on larger pieces.

      Hand Drill Tool: A pointed tool used for making holes or puncturing bamboo, facilitating the weaving or attachment of different parts.

      At various mass production units, artisans utilize different machines such as hand cutting machines, bamboo splitting machines, hand grinders, etc.

      At various mass production units, artisans utilize different machines like hand cutting machines, bamboo splitting machines, hand grinders, etc. Traditionally, artisans are skilled and do not require many tools; their hands create wonders using a simple knife. Because of these simple tools, they are not dependent on other resources like electricity, allowing them the freedom to work wherever they want.



      Traditional Method – The bamboo is sourced locally (desi bans), mostly bought from the market. The process requires two simple  tools : a knife (bakiya) and a crude wooden piece to assist driving the knife into the bamboo. The bamboo is split into pieces, and the same bakiya is then used to smoothen the bamboo, creating a heap Bamboo of fine thread shavings (kai) which is mostly discarded. The process of stripping and splitting is repeated till the bamboo is thin enough to be woven into desired products. The bamboo is sometimes moistened before weaving so that it’s supple and doesn’t break. The top green layer and the inner pale yellow layer is intentionally interwoven to create patterns in the products (the green pales with time)

      Mass Production –
      The Katang bamboo for this purpose is sourced from further away – Ratlam and places in Kerala. This variety is thicker and more suitable for heavy-duty pieces

      Cutting: Bamboo can be cut using traditional hand tools such as machetes or saws. The cutting technique is crucial to maintaining the health of the bamboo forest and ensuring the harvested bamboo is of high quality.
      Treatment: Freshly harvested bamboo is often prone to insect infestations and decay. Therefore, it undergoes a curing process to remove moisture and prevent insect attacks. Treatment methods may involve smoking, boiling, or air-drying the bamboo.
      Splitting and Shaping: The cured bamboo culms are then split into desired sizes and shapes using machetes or knives. Artisans carefully shape the bamboo according to the specific requirements of the intended product, whether it be for furniture, baskets, mats, or other items.
      Joining and Assembly: Depending on the product, bamboo pieces are joined together using traditional lashing methods, adhesives, or nails. Artisans may employ various weaving and binding techniques for products.
      Finishing: After the primary structure is assembled, artisans smooth the surfaces using files, sandpaper, or scrapers to achieve a polished and refined finish. Some products may undergo additional processes such as staining or varnishing for aesthetic purposes.
      Final Touches: The final touches may involve adding embellishments, or incorporating any additional elements that complete the product.


      Bamboo Offcuts: During the shaping and carving of bamboo, artisans often generate offcuts or trimmings. These are the leftover pieces of bamboo that are cut away to achieve the desired shape. Depending on the project, these offcuts may vary in size and shape.

      Bamboo Dust and Shavings: The process of carving, cutting, and shaping bamboo can generate dust and small shavings. These byproducts result from the removal of material to create intricate designs or smooth surfaces.

      Bamboo Nodes and Internodes: Bamboo consists of nodes (joints) and internodes (segments between nodes). Some crafts may require specific parts of the bamboo, leading to unused nodes and internodes being discarded as waste.

      Cluster Name: Balaghat


      Balaghat is a city and municipality situated in the Balaghat district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Balaghat region is characterized by lush forests and is home to a vibrant tribal community.

      District / State
      Balaghat / MP
      1,701,156 (2011)
      Hindi, English, Gondi
      Best time to visit
      Any time
      Stay at
      Few good hotels at Balaghat, many resorts near National Parks.
      How to reach
      Balaghat Railway Station is situated on the Jabalpur-Nainpur-Gondia section of South East Central Railway, Well connected by road.
      Local travel
      Auto, Buses
      Must eat
      Gujia, Imarti


      The history of Balaghat district reveals a rich and complex past:

      18th Century: The district, initially divided between the Gond kingdoms of Deogarh and Garha-Mandla, saw Deogarh annexed by the Bhonsle Marathas in 1743. By 1781, the Marathas incorporated the northern part into the Saugor province.

      19th Century: Post the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818, the Nagpur kingdom became a princely state. In 1853, Balaghat District and Nagpur were annexed by the British, forming the new Nagpur province.

      1860s: In 1867, Balaghat District emerged, merging parts of Bhandara, Mandla, and Seoni. Facing a severe famine in 1868-1869, the district witnessed significant challenges.

      1900s: Early 20th century marked limited infrastructure, with famines in 1896-1897 and 1899-1900 leading to a population decrease of 15% in the 1891-1901 decade.

      Post-Independence: After 1947, the Central Provinces became Madhya Pradesh. In 1956, Balaghat joined the Jabalpur Division when southern districts shifted to Bombay State.

      Present: Balaghat is now part of the Red Corridor, facing Naxalism challenges. Constituted in 1867–1873, the district is known for its natural beauty, minerals, and lush forests. The name "Balaghat" signifies "above the ghats," reflecting its original purpose

      On November 1, 1956, Balaghat was declared an independent district in the newly created state of Madhya Pradesh.


      Latitude 21° 19´ to 22° 24´ North and Longitude 79° 31´ to 81° 3´ East. Nestled in the eastern part of the Satpura plateau, it occupies a total geographical expanse of 9200 sq.kms. A significant portion of this area is covered by forests, totalling 4051.8 sq.kms, which accounts for approximately 46% of the district's total land area. This substantial forest cover not only adds to the natural beauty of the region but also plays a crucial role in the local ecosystem, contributing to the environmental balance and providing valuable resources for the inhabitants


      The district exhibits diverse soil and climatic characteristics. In the lowland areas, alluvial soil prevails, while the plateau and tablelands feature black to brown clay loam soil. The plains of Warseoni and Balaghat tehsils boast the most fertile soil in the region. District is rich in forest wealth. About 52 per cent of the area is covered
      with forest. The north-east and the northern parts of the district have very dense forests. Teak is the important species found in the forests of the district.

      Regarding climate, the district experiences distinct seasons. The summer season, characterized by high temperatures, spans from March to June. This is succeeded by the rainy season, extending from June to September, followed by a post-monsoon traditional climate from September to October. The district then transitions into a mild cold winter season from November to February.

      Overall, the climate is moderate, with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 4.4°C in January to a maximum of 44°C in May. The rainfall pattern follows a monsoonal type, commencing in mid-June and persisting until the early part of October. Among the tehsils, Baihar receives the highest rainfall, followed by Balaghat and Warseoni. These soil and climate characteristics shape the agricultural practices and overall environmental conditions in the district.


      To reach Balaghat, there are various transportation options:

      By Air: The nearest aerodrome is Birwa Aerodrome, situated in the village of Birwa in Baihar Tehsil, Balaghat District, Madhya Pradesh. It is approximately 55 KM east from the district headquarters Balaghat.

      By Rail: Balaghat Railway Station is located on the Jabalpur-Nainpur-Gondia section of the South East Central Railway in Madhya Pradesh. This station is well-connected, serving routes towards Jabalpur, Gondia, and Katangi on the Satpura Railway. There are direct trains available from Jabalpur to Balaghat, with a minimum travel time of 5 hours and 27 minutes.

      By Road: Balaghat is easily accessible by road, with regular bus services connecting it to other major cities across the country. Travelers can use the road network for convenient transportation to and from Balaghat.


      Similar to many other parts of the country, the architecture of Balaghat city predominantly features cement houses with a standardized aesthetic. However, as one ventures into the interior regions of the area, one encounters the picturesque sight of vernacular mud houses, typically one or two stories high. These dwellings are primarily constructed with a combination of mud and bricks, featuring walls painted in white and blue hues. The roofs are typically made of long clay tiles or grass supported by rafters. Each house boasts its own compound, where animals and their feed are housed, enclosed by fences crafted from bamboo or other wooden materials.

      In recent times, a few families have opted to construct their homes using cement and concrete. These modern structures typically include a living room, kitchen, veranda

      Lanji Fort, an ancient fort with origins traced back to King Sangram Shah's era, features impressive architecture with seven acres of land. The fort's main entrance has a symbol of a tortoise and a snake, and remnants of the palace and bath can still be seen.



      Pola Festival The Pola festival is a significant celebration observed by the farmers in the region. During this festival, farmers express their gratitude and reverence towards their bulls. Bulls play a crucial role in agricultural activities, assisting farmers in plowing fields and contributing to the overall agricultural process. In recognition of their valuable contribution, farmers celebrate Pola as a means of showing appreciation to their hardworking bulls.

      The festival involves various rituals, ceremonies, and expressions of gratitude. Farmers often decorate their bulls with colorful accessories and perform traditional worship ceremonies. This may include applying tilak (vermilion) on the foreheads of the bulls, garlanding them, and offering special prayers for their well-being and strength. The festival is a manifestation of the close bond between farmers and their animals, acknowledging the indispensable role bulls play in agriculture.

      Pola is not only a religious or cultural event but also a reflection of the agricultural lifestyle and the symbiotic relationship between farmers and their cattle in the local community. The festival is an occasion for joy, communal celebration, and expressing gratitude for the invaluable support provided by the bulls in the agricultural practices of the region.

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      Rampayli Temple, also known as Ram Pavdali, is a temple constructed around 600 years ago. Legend has it that Lord Rama was in the footsteps of 14 years of exile, and the temple is strategically built on the river banks. The main deity is Lord Rama in a forested form, and the temple's construction is mentioned in ancient Indian history.

      Maa Kaalipath Temple in the Forest Colony of Balaghat district is known for its beauty. According to local belief, the statue of Mata emerged from the earth, gradually revealing itself over time. The temple attracts a large crowd of devotees during the Navaratri festival.


      According to the 2011 census Balaghat District has a population of 1,701,156,. Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–11 was 13.56%. Balaghat has a sex ratio of 1021 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 78.29%.

      Famous For:

      Kanha Tiger Reserve, also known as Kanha National Park, is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh, India. It was established on June 1, 1955, and later designated as the Kanha Tiger Reserve in 1973. Covering an expansive area of 940 sq. km across Mandla and Balaghat districts, the park is home to a significant population of the Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, sloth bears, barasingha, and Indian wild dogs. This iconic reserve, featured in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, is recognized for its biodiversity and is the first tiger reserve in India to introduce a mascot, "Bhoorsingh the Barasingha."

      Hatta Ki Bawli, situated in the ancient fort of Hatta Village, holds historical significance. Constructed by Gond Raja Hatte Singh Valke after the Haiyya Vansi kings, it served various purposes during the summer days. This included providing a hiding place for soldiers, serving as a water source, facilitating baths, and offering a resting spot during the hot season. The village derives its name from King Valke, emphasizing the historical connection.

      Dating back to the 17th-18th century, Hatta Ki Bawli exhibits remarkable architecture with large rocks intricately cut and decorated. This two-story structure features 10 columns and 8 pillars on the first floor, forming verandas and chambers. The entrance gate is adorned with two quadrilateral Shiva Ambika statues.

      Believed to have a tunnel connecting the Fort of Lonji and the Fort of Mandala, the current status of its closure remains unknown. Currently, the Archaeology Department oversees the preservation of Hatta Ki Bawli, considering it a protected monument since its declaration. The government took possession of the land in 1987, previously under the ownership of Bawli Hatta's landlord, and subsequently handed it over to the Department of Archaeology, where it remains under their jurisdiction.

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      Apart from its rich wildlife, Kanha Tiger Reserve boasts over 1000 species of flowering plants. The diverse landscapes include lowland forests with a mix of sal and other trees, interspersed with meadows, as well as highland forests of a tropical moist, dry deciduous type. Notably, the reserve features the Indian ghost tree in its dense forest.

      Gangulpara Dam and Waterfall, situated in Balaghat district, is a picturesque spot located 14 kilometers from Balaghat. It serves as a water body and storage tank for Ghysri Nala, fulfilling irrigation needs for local farmers. The dam is surrounded by hills, and in the rainy season, natural waterfalls enhance the beauty of the area.

      Rajiv Sagar Dam, an inter-state project between Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, is expected to benefit 97 villages in Balaghat district. The dam, constructed on the Baavanathadi river, is 31 meters high and 6 kilometers 420 meters long.

      Nahlesara Dam, located about 58 km from Balaghat, was built during 1960-1965. It serves the irrigation needs of nearby villages and is surrounded by places ideal for holidaying.


      List of craftsmen.

      Documentation by:

      Team Gaatha

      Process Reference:






      Cluster Reference: