GONDWANA, is a historical region in India, centering on the eastern part of modern Madhya Pradesh state. The name, meaning “forest of the Gonds,” refers to the ancient tribal people who stili inhabit parts of this hill and forest country.
In the 14th century, when the term “Gondwana” came into use, the Gonds were ruled by a number of local chieftains. They established kingdoms, of which Garha, Deogarh, and Chanda were the most powerful. In the 16th century the Gond kingdom of Garha-Katanga (or Garha-Mandla) was ruled by Ram Durgavati, an efficient and benevolent administrator who was deeply loved and respected by her people. When the armies of the Mughul Emperor Akbar invaded the kingdom in 1564, she died in the defense of her realm. All of Gondwana subsequently came under Mughul control.
Since the extinction of their independence, the Gonds have been subjeeted to increasing pressures from the peoples of the plains, who have settled in the once sparsely inhabited region of Gondwana. Many of the Gonds have undergone an aceulturation that has included their assimilation of Hindu religious practices and social inetitutions, such as the caste system.