Sandh Karmari is a village in the Bakawand Block of Bastar district. In the village is the Maulikot, also known as the Bendrakot, one of the largest sacred groves in central India, spreading over about 100 acres. It is a small slice of an old growth forest in the eastern part of the district that borders Odisha. There are more than 400 species of woody plants, terrestrial orchids including the species of Nervilia and Habenaria, large ficus and silk cotton trees that have buttressed with age, and giant lianas that provide a wonderful high-way for the giant squirrels, langurs and civets that make this grove their home. The shrine at one corner of the grove is of Mauli Mata, also known as Kanda-khai, tuber eater. Legend has it that the first signs of her presence came about when three women went out to dig yams and one of them found a figure of the goddess in her basket.
Author: Madhu Ramnath & Arjun Nag
Madhu Ramnath is an independent researcher in central Indian Adivasi languages, and is the coordinator of the Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) Exchange Programme India. He is the author of the acclaimed book, Woodsmoke and Leafcups: Autobiographical Footnotes to the Anthropology of the Durwa People