The Pillars of Gond Kings of Tadoba:First Telecom Towers in World
We were in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and like everybody around us was looking for Tigers. The Tigers were busy looking for some shade and preferably some Sāmbhar in Shade. While continuing our search for the king of the Jungle I saw these pillars on one of the major arteries inside the national park and wondered what they are?
Our guide shared a very interesting story about the pillars. You see before cell phones and phones were invented, in the time before time, this area around the Tadoba Forest was ruled by Gond Tribals with their capital in Chandrapur the nearest railway station to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve or TATR. One can safely say that the jungle was much denser in those days, and like all dense jungles, it also had an ancient temple hidden somewhere in its interiors dedicated to Mahakali.
There is another temple is dedicated to tribal god Tadu (Taru), who bravely fought a tiger here but succumbed to his injuries and it is believed that Tadoba is named after him.
Every now and then the Gond King would visit the temple and offer his prayers to the gods in the temple.
But a king visiting is not a small affair a lot of arrangement needs to be made. Who knows what dangers lay in the jungle? An enemy spy? Or the priest could be busy with something or he may have gone to the nearby haat to buy something. So there was a need to send a message to the temple that the king is on his way to the temple and everybody better be ready to receive him. But how to do it? Remember this was before Cell phones and even landline phones.
So in order to send the message for the king’s arrival, these pillars were erected and each pillar had a ring on the top, a long rope was made and it was inserted into the ring of each pillar. Voila, the Gond Kind had his own personal telegraph line between his capital and the temple in the deep interiors of the jungle. Thus every time the king will start for the temple his army will pull the rope to ring a bell and send the message to the temple that the king is on his way. (Please do not confuse it with the Great Indian Rope Trick that was something different, if you do want to relate it to something you can call it pulling some strings, which is very common in India.). You will find these pillars on the side of the road going from Mohrali range to Tadoba via Khatoda. Most of them are still in good shape and it is not uncommon to see Hanuman Langurs sitting on or near them. Each pillar is about 8-10 feet tall and is made of stones, and tapers towards the top, where you can clearly see a cut to hold the rope.
Well with the passage of time the Gond Kingdom lost to invaders and the jungle was slowly taken over once again by the Tigers. But the pillars remain, reminding one of the innovative Jugaad ways of the people of India from time immemorial.
So next time you are in Tadoba National Park, do look out for these pillars, if you are lucky you may find a Hanuman Langur sitting on one of them, giving a great photo opportunity. Below is a picture of one of the female Telia tiger cubs from Tadoba.
Some useful info about visiting Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra
Best time to see tigers in Tadoba: March- June
Best Weather in Tadoba: October to Feb
Park Closed: During Monsoon and every Tuesday
Nearest Railway Station: Chandrapur, Maharashtra
Nearest Airport: Nagpur, Maharashtra
Other blog posts in Tadoba Series
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