Bagh as a settlement of block printing craftsmen is said to have evolved around 500 years ago. The migrating community of the 'Chipas' (block printers) from Sindh settled down around the perennial stream called Baghani. These along with many more locally trained artisans now create this elaborate fabric-printing cluster in the Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Bagh-Dhar
madhya pradesh
8000
Hindi, Malvi, English
August-March
Bagh can be reached from Dhar and Indore by Government run Buses.(Get Directions)
It is advised to travel by own modes of transport and travel while daytime only as it is a sensitive area.
No hotels are available.
Snacks like Samosas, Kachori, Sev are available.

History

This region was once ruled by Valkha dynasty, as mentioned in ancient inscriptions. The modern name is probably derived from Valkha. 
During 4th-5th Century, the Valkha region was merged in Avanti (Ujjain) region. There are not many evidences indicating the existence of this kingdom, except through the copperplate charters issued by Valkha authorities themselves. We cannot claim whether the area was entirely arid or sandy or covered with dense forests during this time. The inscriptions of those times talk about cultivated lands and farming, contrary to present day condition when not much agriculture is possible owing to the nature of terrain.
The Baghini River acts as a lifeline for the people of Bagh region. The river runs 35 kms south-west and culminates into Narmada. The place could also be named after the river.

The rock-cut caves at Bagh are located in the Vindhya hills in 
Madhya Pradesh and are appro
ximately 8 km far from Bagh village, at the bank of a seasonal stream called Baghani. Excavated from the local reddish-pink sandstone are at least ten caves in various stages of completion. Five of the caves appear to have functioned as residences, while others are rectangular pillared assembly halls.
However another interesting local story tells that these caves went into oblivion for quite a time, and many tigers were believed to have taken refuge here. Local people named the caves as Bagh caves, Bagh means tiger in Hindi. Some local folktales also suggest that the place got its name from the tigers which used to take refuge in these ancient Buddhist caves.

Several historians visited these Buddhist caves of Bagh during nineteenth century. In 1850, Dr. Impey visited the region and read a paper about these ancient caves in 1854, which was published in 1856 at Bombay branch of Royal Asiatic Society. With the discovery of the copperplate in cave-2, these caves were dated about 6th-7th century AD. The copper plate grant (as mentioned on the copper plate), refers to the registration of a grant of eight villages situated in the Dasilakapallipathaka for the maintenance and repair of a 'Buddhist Vihara' by Maharaja Subandhu. The Vihara is named as 'Kalyana' or 'The Abode of Art'.

The 'Khatri' community settled in the region almost 500 years ago, they relocated from Sindh in search for better livelihoods. The community first stopped at 'Manawar' and then divided to move towards other areas citing the avenues for economic advancement. When they arrived at Bagh, the Mahajan community persuaded them to settle down in the region, there was also 'Baghini river' which was a much needed resource for their textile craft. 

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Geography

Bagh is located in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. It is located about 90kms away from Dhar city. It is around 150 km from Indore, the commercial capital of the state and is connected to Vadodara through roads. The nearest railway station is situated in Dahode city. It is at an average elevation of 240 metres above sea level. The ancient 'Bagheshwari Devi' temple is also situated here. It is famous for both the ancient Bagh Caves, which are said to be more than half a million years old as well as for Bagh printing.

Environment

Bagh is a hilly terrain with thick forest cover and has a considerable tribal population inhabiting it. The village is sparsely populated with the craftsmen families seen constantly at work. The tribal people are trained artisans and they work for the 'Khatris'. They are involved in various steps of the craft.

Infrastructure

The nearest railway station to reach Bagh city is situated in Dahode. The local mode of transport is four-wheelers or tempos. A bustling bazaar is where the villagers go for their daily shopping requirements. The population in Bagh has grown over past few years and now it has a few government as well as private English medium schools. A health centre has been opened for medical needs. Various organisations like 'Madhya Pradesh Handicrafts Dept.' have their offices here. Along with cement and brick houses, there are large square plots, tanks and open areas where washing and dyeing is done.

Architecture

The dwellings and work areas are made of brick and cement. Mostly people have moved on to sturdier constructions from the mud and thatch houses of old times.

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Culture

The region is mostly inhabited by tribal population. Bhil people work six days a week and splurge their earnings in the local weekly Haat. They believe in living in present, without storing much wealth and resources for future. There is no gender discrimination in Bhil community; the women enjoy the same stature in society as men. Both sexes are permitted to consume 'mahua'(a natureal intoxicating drink prepared locally with mahua flowers) openly and it is a major part of any ritualistic ceremony. Widow remarriage is permitted in the community and the remarriage takes place during amawas or at the last day of the dark fortnight of the month or on a Sunday. Polygamy is also permitted; men generally take second wife to conceive a heir. 

The ceremonies carried out during marriage are quite different from typical Hindu marriage. During marriage ceremony the bridegroom marks his arrival at the bride's place by striking a Dagger at a specified place. Usually a goat is sacrificed and the groom steps on the blood as he enters the shed. The timing of marriage is decided by the priest. If the wedding takes place on the eleventh day of the Karthik, i.e. at the end of the rainy season, a hut of eleven stalks of Juari is made and the couple walks around the hut, as the marriages are forbidden during this season. No Brahmin is need in such weddings.

After the wedding, the father of the groom wears feminine attire and dances before the whole family. Rose water and powder is sprinkled over the guests, such proceedings are known as 'Phag', as these ceremonies are equally significant compared to Holi festival observed in Phagun. During going away ceremony, the couple sits on two wooden boards and then change places.

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People

Bagh has rich diversity in its population with Bhil, Bhillala, Brahmin, Gauli, Khatri, Mewali, Pinjari, Mansuri, Pathan and Shah Communities. Bhils are the natives, who have been residing in the region since centuries and amount to a very large part of the total population.  Bhils are small, dark, broad-nosed, well built and energetic people. Major Hendley once documented the body features of Bhil people; he measured the height of 128 men, the average of which was 5 feet and 6.4 inches. As quoted "The Bhil is an excellent woodsman, can walk the roughest paths and climb the steepest crags without slipping or feeling distressed. He is often called in old Sanskrit works Venaputra, 'child of the forest,' or Pāl Indra, lord of the pass.Bhils obtain their livelihood from agricultural activities, they are agro pastoral people. They also migrate within the region as agricultural and construction labourers.

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Famous For

The Bagh village is flanked by many historical sites. There is an old fort atop a distant hill that is visible from the village. The 'Mahakaleshwar' temple ruins, famous for its stone blocks and elaborate carvings are located along the riverbank. The exact origins of these sites are not even known to the locals.

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