Pastoralists in The Plateaus, Plains and Deserts


Pastorals are the nomads or shepherds who travelled from one place to another in search of food and shelter. They have a very long history and modifications in their living style. In the beginning their main occupation was herding and pastoralism. Generally, they live in a particular area like mountains and in need of their livelihood they come to plains, after the fulfilment of their news they go back to their original habitat.

World has witnessed a number of pastorals in different spheres of area. .In lowland areas and valleys it is important to graze and protect sheep and cattle. The most important areas of pastoralism are the Middle East, Greece, the Pyrenees, the Carpathian Mountains, Scotland, and northern England.

Some Important Pastoral of Modern World Were

S.No Names of Pastorals Countries
1 Masai Kenya, Tanzania
2 Bedoius North Africa
3 Turkana Uganda
4 Somali Somalia
5 Beja Mishra Sudan

Pastoralists in the Plateaus

A plateau is formed by rising higher in comparison to mountains. The movement of a large part of the earth around itself due to geological movements or some geographical reason. Due to its topography and physical features, different types of nomads and pastorals reside in this region.

Some important pastorals are −


  • Dhangars are a group of pastoral classes mainly found in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

  • They are known by different names in different parts of India such as Gawli in southern Maharashtra, Goa and northern Karnataka and Ahir in northern Maharashtra.

  • They are also known as Dange or Mhaske, and Ahir.

  • Dhangars are mainly endogamous communities, which are traditionally classified as Shudras Maratha Kunbis and Kumbhars.

  • According to Shyam Singh Shashi,Dhangar's gotras are similar to Kshatriyas, although a major portion are also brahman and vaishyas.

Anthony gomes 92, Dhangar tribal, CC BY-SA 4.0


  • Gollas is a popular pastoral community residing in the Karnataka and Andhra region.

  • They are mainly cowherds but they also follow the occupation of cattle and goat and cattle rearing.

  • They are a Telugu speaking community and represent 13.4% of its population.

  • They are known by different names such as gullas, gavali etc.

  • They allowed intermingling of their caste.

  • They follow both shaivite and vaishnavite traditions.


The Banjara community has become synonymous with travel due to traveling throughout life. Banjaras have no place of residence, nor home-door. These communities spend their whole life in Yayavari. They are not attached to any particular place. It does not stay in one place. For centuries, this society has been traveling fearlessly in far-flung areas of the country.

  • Earlier the main occupation of Banjara society was salt. The contribution of the Banjaras in the freedom struggle has always been underestimated. Being nomadic, they were a very reliable means of exchange of information. Later the British imposed the 'Salt Tax Bill' on 31 December 1859 to weaken the Banjara community economically. The Banjara community protested against it. In 1930, along with Gandhi, he also did the Dandi March in protest.

  • Banjaras are very famous for certain things, such as dance, music, rangoli, embroidery, tattooing and painting. Banjara society is very fond of animals. Most of the Banjaras have bullocks in their caravans in which they maintain temporary homes. They keep items of daily use in it. They cook food there by walking all day and camping somewhere at sunset.

  • Generally, Banjara men tie a turban on their head. Wearing a shirt or dhoja. Tie the dhoti Nar Mukhi kada is worn in the hand, murkiya and jhele are worn in the ears. Mostly they keep sticks in their hands.

  • The religion of the Banjaras is magic and they believe in the Guru. Their priest is called Bhagat. The cause of all diseases is believed to be the obstruction of ghosts, witchcraft etc. The Banjaras of Chhattisgarh worship Goddess 'Banjara', who represents the mother power of this caste. Generally, these people worship all the gods of the Hindus.


  • The Raikas are a special caste of herders native to north-western India, especially in the arid and semi-arid parts of Rajasthan.

  • Although they also raise goats, cattle, sheep and water buffalo, the most important animal for Raika cultural identity is the camel (Camelus dromedarius).

  • The primary occupation of the Maru Raikas is camel rearing; they can be found in the Thar Desert and their settlement is called 'Dhandhi'.

  • Camels are a suitable choice for the community as they are climate-adapted, can survive harsh climates and provide their own milk and hair.

  • One group of Raikas, known as Maru (desert), Raika-herd camels and another group raises sheep and goats.

  • One group of Raikas, known as Maru (desert) Raikas, herd camels and the other groups keep sheep and goats. They mainly lived in the Thar Desert near Jaisalmer and their settlement is known as Dhandi.


The life of the shepherds underwent profound changes during colonial rule. Their pastures were reduced, restrictions were imposed on movement, and the rent collected from them also increased. Their share in agriculture started declining and their profession and skills were also badly affected. The main duties of pastorals changed with time; it also includes grooming, and providing medical assistance to farm horses, cattle or other livestock.


Q1. How did pastoral life change during colonial rule?

Ans. The life of the shepherds underwent profound changes during colonial rule. Their pastures were reduced, restrictions were imposed on their movement and the rent collected from them also increased. Their share in agriculture started declining and their profession and skills were also badly affected.

Q2. Why do pastoralists travel from one place to another?

Ans. The nomadic communities have to move from place to place frequently because the main occupation of the nomadic tribes is the rearing of animals. Nomadic people often raise sheep and goats. They keep moving from one place to another in search of pastures.

Q3. How did pastoralism evolve?

Ans. Most of the people of this community came here in the nineteenth century wandering in search of pastures for their cattle. As time went on they stayed here; After this, they started going to different pastures according to winter and summer.

Q4. What is the difference between nomads and pastoralists?

Ans. Nomads are a group of people who roam in search of a home, while shepherds are people whose profession is to care for animals.