Today was dedicated to seeing the ashram of the Kabir Panthis or the followers of the poet, philosopher Kabir, who lived in this area for a long time forming his own ashram, which was later taken over by his followers. Not only Kabir, the famous singer Tansen also lived in this area in the olden days. The ashram of Kabir is an old white cemented building with a veranda and a few rooms where the caretaker of the ashram Gareeb Das had been living for a few years. His job was to spread the word and the doctrine of Kabir to others. He was like the head mahout of the ashram. I took some time to interview him and he was kind enough to recite some famous dohas from Kabir. He, basically, spoke of peace, love and universal brotherhood. Not very different from what I have been preaching. Well, that makes me the Kabir of the social media and blogging world. I took some shots of the murti of Kabir, the idol of the great philosopher and handed the mahout Rs 100 for his troubles. He was hesitant to take the money as he explained he was just doing his job and taking the great man’s name forward by reciting his preachings. However, a man cannot just live on peace, love and brotherhood. I asked him to take it and eat prasad with it.
Next stop was to meet Gagan’s good friend Neelam Verma, a sweet old lady who loves the forest and sells tribal art of the area in her shop called Malaya, which means the mountain in Sanskrit. She is also a traveller and travels in her car for three months in a year collecting tribal art which includes gond paintings and other local artefacts. This, she sells from her shop called Malaya which is situated in Tala on the main road near the post office in Bandhavgarh. She has some amazing paintings, books, hats, stuffs made out of bamboo and other artefacts. I assume the tourists and foreigners that come here are ready to pay a good price for them and that keeps Neelam busy and her business growing. I did a small video tour of her shop and she was kind enough to share some lemon tea and Wifi with me. So, if you are looking for tribal art and local handicraft, Neelam Verma and her shop of tribal art called Malaya, is just the thing you need. She is open all days and her friendly manner and knowledge of local arts will help you buy the right kind of stuff you need to spice up your living room and your house.
Malaya Tribal Art Shop
We had been driving around the forest area filming for five hours now and decided to head to the Tigergarh resort for lunch. This time, we decided to have lunch under a tribal hut in the garden and I managed to film us having our lunch as well. I think I am getting the right kind of footage for one hell of a documentary of Bandhavgarh. All we need to sight is the tiger. Let us see if we get lucky tomorrow as we head for the second morning safari.