Kodagu is an administrative district in Karnataka, India. Before 1956 it was an administratively separate Coorg State, at which point it was merged into an enlarged Mysore State. It occupies an area of 4,102 square kilometres (1,584 sq mi) in the Western Ghats of southwestern Karnataka. In 2001 its population was 548,561, 13.74% of which resided in the district's urban centres, making it the least populous of the 30 districts in Karnataka.
Talakaveri aerial view
|Nickname(s): Kashmir of Karnataka|
Location in Karnataka
|Talukas||Madikeri, Somwarpet, Virajpet|
|• Deputy Commissioner||Sreevidya P.I|
|• Total||4,102 km2 (1,584 sq mi)|
|Elevation||900 m (3,000 ft)|
|• Density||140/km2 (350/sq mi)|
|• Regional||Kodava, Arebhashe|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Telephone code||+ 91 (0) 8272|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Mysore Lok Sabha constituency|
|Climate||Tropical Wet (Köppen)|
|Precipitation||2,725.5 millimetres (107.30 in)|
|Avg. summer temperature||28.6 °C (83.5 °F)|
|Avg. winter temperature||14.2 °C (57.6 °F)|
The district is bordered by Dakshina Kannada district to the northwest, Kasargod district of Kerala to the west, Hassan district to the north, Mysore district to the east, Kannur district of Kerala to the southwest, and the Wayanad district of Kerala to the south. Agriculture is the most important factor that upholds the economy of Kodagu and the main crops cultivated in this region are rice and coffee. Coorg is rich in natural resources which included timber and spices. Madikeri (English: Mercara) is the headquarters of Kodagu.
Kodagu is known for its coffee and its people. The people include indigenous (Kodavas) and other ethnic groups (Arebashe Gowdas and Kodava subgroups). The chief languages presently spoken in Kodagu are Kodava, Are Bhashe, Tulu and Malayalam. Kodagu is home to the native speakers of the Kodava language.
Kodagu is located on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. It has a geographical area of 4,102 km2 (1,584 sq mi). The district is bordered by Dakshina Kannada district to the northwest, Hassan district to the north, Mysore district to the east, Kasaragod district in west and Kannur district of Kerala to the southwest, and Wayanad district of Kerala to the south. It is a hilly district, the lowest elevation of which is 120 metres (390 ft) above sea-level. The highest peak, Tadiandamol, rises to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft), with Pushpagiri, the second highest, at 1,715 metres (5,627 ft). The main river in Kodagu is the Kaveri (Cauvery), which originates at Talakaveri, located on the eastern side of the Western Ghats, and with its tributaries, drains the greater part of Kodagu.
In July and August, rainfall is intense, and there are often showers into November. Yearly rainfall may exceed 4,000 millimetres (160 in) in some areas. In dense jungle tracts, rainfall reaches 3,000 to 3,800 millimetres (120 to 150 in) and 1,500 to 2,500 millimetres (59 to 98 in) in the bamboo district to the west. Kodagu has an average temperature of 15 °C (59 °F), ranging from 11 to 28 °C (52 to 82 °F), with the highest temperatures occurring in April and May.
The district is divided into the three administrative talukas:
- Virajpet (largest taluk and comprises the towns Virajpet, Gonikoppal, Siddapura, Ponnampet, Ammathi, Thithimathi etc.)
Urban civic bodies
The principal town, and district capital, is Madikeri, or Mercara, with a population of around 30,000. Other significant towns include Virajpet (Virarajendrapet), Kushalanagara, Somwarpet, Gonikoppal and Suntikoppa
City municipal councils (1) :
Town panchayats (3) :
Census towns (3) :
Two members of the legislative assembly are elected from Kodagu to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, one each from the Madikeri and Virajpet. M P Appachu Ranjan represents the Madikeri constituency while K. G. Bopaiah represents the Virajpet constituency; they are from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kodagu, formerly part of the Kodagu-Dakshina Kannada (Mangalore) constituency, is now part of the Kodagu-Mysore Lok Sabha parliamentary constituency. Shri Pratap Simha, from the Bharatiya Janata Party, represents Kodagu-Mysore Parliamentary constituency.
The Kodavas were the earliest inhabitants and agriculturists in Kodagu, having lived there for centuries. Being a warrior community as well, they carried arms during times of war and had their own chieftains. The Haleri dynasty, an offshoot of the Keladi Nayakas, ruled Kodagu between 1600 and 1834. Later the British ruled Kodagu from 1834, after the Coorg War, until India's independence in 1947. A separate state (called Coorg State) until then, in 1956 Kodagu was merged with the Mysore State (now Karnataka).
Coorg in British India
In 1834, the East India Company annexed Kodagu into British India, after deposing Chikka Virarajendra of the Kodagu kingdom, as 'Coorg'. The people accepted British rule peacefully. British rule led to the establishment of educational institutions, introduction of scientific coffee cultivation, better administration and improvement of the economy.
The Kodavas are the earliest inhabitants of Kodagu. Kodava oral traditions are rich, some of the traditional folk songs have been compiled into the Pattole Palome . The Kodavas revere ancestors, arms and worship a number of deities, besides the River Kaveri, some of them being, Igguthappa, Bhagwathi, Muthappa, Mahadeva, Bhadrakali, Subramani and Ayyappa. Very similar to the Kodavas in religion, culture and language are the Kodava Peggade (Kodagu Heggade), the Amma Kodava, the Airi (artisans), the Meda (craftsmen and drummers) and the Kembatti (labourers).
The Kodava language speakers, other than the Kodavas, include the Kodava Heggade (cultivators of Malabari origin), the Amma Kodava (a mixed race), the Airi (smiths and carpenters), the Thatta (jewellers), some of the Male-Kudiya, the Kodagu Kembatti, the Maringi, the Kapala (of Siddi origin), the Meda (basket and mat weavers and drummers), the Kanya, the Banna, the Malaya (astrologers of Malayala origin), the Kodagu Golla (cowherds of Mysorean origin), the Kodagu Ganiga (oil-makers), the Kolla, the Kavadi, the Koleya, the Koyava and others.
Kodavas wear the traditional Kodava costume. Men wear kupyas (knee-length half-sleeved coats) over a full-sleeved white shirt. The chale, a maroon and gold sash, is tied at the waist and an ornately carved silver dagger known as a peechekathi is tucked into it. The odikathi is yet another knife that is tucked into the chale at the back. A chain with a minuscule gun and a dagger hanging onto it gives the wearer a martial look. The saris worn by women are pleated at the back and the pallu fixed with a brooch is also wrapped in a unique way. They wear either a full-sleeved or three-quarter-sleeved blouse and cover their heads with a scarf. A traditional gold beaded necklace (jomalae) and a gem pendant (kokkethathi) is worn by Kodavas.
Kadumbuttu and pandi curry is a local dish of Kodagu. This dish is made of steamed rice balls and pork curry.
Festivals of Kodagu
Kailpoud, celebrated on 3 September, signifies the completion of "nati", or the planting of the rice crop. Officially, the festival begins 18 days after the sun enters the Simha Raashi (the western sign of Leo). Kail means weapon or armoury and poud means Brighten.
The festival signifies the day when men should prepare to guard their crop from wild boars and other animals, since during the preceding months, during which the family were engaged in the fields, all weapons were normally deposited in the "kanni kombare" (takk in kodava), or the prayer room. Hence on the day of Kailpoud, the weapons are taken out of the Pooja room, cleaned and decorated with flowers. They are then kept in the Nellakki Nadubade, the central hall of the house and the place of community worship. Each member of the family has a bath, after which they worship the weapons before feasting and drinking. The eldest member of the family hands a gun to the senior member of the family, signifying the commencement of the festivities. The whole family assembles in the mand (open ground), where physical contests and sports, including marksmanship, are conducted. In the past the hunting and cooking of wild game was part of the celebration. Now shooting skills are tested by firing at a coconut tied onto the branch of a tall tree.
Traditional rural sports, like grabbing a coconut from the hands of a group of 8–10 people (thenge porata )or ("ambu kai"), throwing a stone the size of a cricket ball at a coconut from a distance of 10–15 paces (tenge eed) or ("kaai kal"), lifting a stone ball of 30–40 cm lying at one's feet and throwing it backwards over the shoulders, are now conducted in community groups called Kodava Samajas and Kodagu Gowda Samajas in towns and cities.
Puttari means new rice and is the rice harvest festival (also called huttari in Kannada). This takes place in late November or early December. Celebrations and preparations for this festival start a week in advance.
On the day the whole family assembles in their ain mane (the common family house), which is decorated with flowers and green mango leaves and banana leaves. Specific foods are prepared: tambuttu, puttari kalngi, kesa gende hudka and pache puttu and "rice kheer". Then the eldest member of the family hands a sickle to the head of the family and one of the women leads a procession to the paddy fields with a lit lamp in her hands. The path leading to the field is decorated. A gunshot is fired to mark the beginning of the harvest, with chanting of Poli Poli Deva (prosperity) by all present. Then the symbolic harvesting of the crop begins. The rice is cut and stacked and tied in odd numbers and is carried home to be offered to the gods. The younger generation then light firecrackers and revel, symbolising prosperity. Groups of youngsters visit neighbouring houses and boast their dancing skills and are given monetary gifts. A week later, this money is pooled and the entire village celebrates a communal dinner called 'ooramme'. All family members gather for this meal. Dinner normally consists of meat dishes, such as pork and chicken curry. Alcoholic beverages are also served at such feasts.
Kodagu is a rural region with most of the economy based on agriculture, plantations and forestry, as well as one of the more prosperous parts of Karnataka. This is due primarily to coffee production and other plantation crops. Rice and other crops are cultivated in the valleys. Coffee plantations, situated on hillsides too steep for growing rice, and taking advantage of shade from existing forests, became characteristic of the district in the 20th century. Coffee is now a major cash crop. Coffee processing is also becoming a major economic contributor. In recent years, tourism has also begun to play a role in the economy. Eco-tourism, such as walking and trekking tours, take advantage of plantation buildings converted into guest-houses
Much of Kodagu is used for agriculture. Characteristically and historically, paddy fields are found on the valley floors, with Coffee and pepper agroforestry in the surrounding hills mainly near Madikeri. The most common plantation crop is coffee, especially Coffea robusta variety. Kodagu is the second coffee production region in India, after the Baba Budangiri hills in Chikkamagaluru district. Coffee revenue helped Kodagu to become one of the richest districts in India. Coffea arabica is also grown in some parts of southern and western Kodagu, the historical area of coffee production. One can go to see the coffee plantation and can understand how sophisticated coffee plantation is and how much perfection and precision it requires it is mandatory to grow coffee in shade so it is grown with the eucalyptus trees and the vanilla. The coffee agro-forestry systems of Kodagu are one of the richest agro-forest in the world, with about 270 species of shaded trees inventoried (see publications of CAFNET project). But the trend is now to replace the native shade trees by exotic ones (such as the Grevillea robusta). In those coffee agro-forests are also cultivated spices like black pepper, cardamom, vanilla. Besides, the other famous agricultural produce of Kodagu is Kodagu Oranges (Citrus sinensis) known for its distinctive taste and shrunken nature. Kodagu is also known for its forest honey. Many other crops are also cultivated, including para rubber, teak, and cocoa. There are also large areas of natural forest, especially in the forest reserves in the south and east.
Kodagu is rated as one of the top hill station destinations in India. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Kodagu include Talakaveri, Bhagamandala, Nisargadhama, Abbey Falls, Dubare, Nagarahole National Park, Iruppu Falls, and the Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple.
- Talakaveri is the place where the River Kaveri originates. The temple on the riverbanks here is dedicated to Lord Brahma, and is one of only two temples dedicated to Brahma in India and Southeast Asia. Bhagamandala is situated at the Sangama (confluence) of two rivers, the Kaveri and the Kannika. A third river, the Sujyothi, is said to join from underground, and hence this spot is called the Triveni Sangama. Iruppu Falls is a sacred Kodagu Hindu spot in South Kodagu in the Brahmagiri hill range. The Lakshmana Tirtha River, with the waterfalls, flows nearby and has a Rameshwara temple on its banks. It is said that this sacred river was created when Laxmana, prince of Ayodhya and younger brother of Lord Rama, shot an arrow into nearby hill, the Brahmagiri hill. Chelavara falls and Thadiandamol peak are also in South Kodagu. Nagarahole is a national park and wildlife resort.
- Madikeri is the capital of the district and Raja's Seat park is popular with tourists. Kootu Poley dam is also popular among tourists. Omkareshwara Temple is a beautiful temple built in the Indo-Sarcenic style in Coorg. A legend is associated with the temple, built by Lingarajendra II in 1820 CE. The king put to death a pious Brahmin who dared to protest against his misdeeds. The spirit of the dead man began to plague the king day and night. On the advice of wise men, the king built this temple and installed a Shivalinga procured from Kashi, North India. St. Mark's Church is located within the Mercara Fort and was raised in 1859, by the officers and men of the East India Company. The building was funded by the Government of Madras, and placed under the Church of England in India, Diocese of Madras. The Church was closed after Indian independence, and taken over by the Government of Karnataka in 1971. The building now houses the Madikeri Fort Museum, managed by the Karnataka State Archaeological Department.
- Dubare is mainly an elephant-capturing and training camp of the Forest Department at the edge of Dubare forest; on the bank of the river Kaveri along the Kushalanagara – Siddapura road. Nisargadhama is a man-made island and picnic spot near Kushalanagara, formed by the river Kaveri. The Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple is at Bylakuppe near Kushalnagara (Mysore district), in the Tibetan refugee settlement.
- Abbey Falls is a scenic waterfall 5 km from Madikeri. Mallalli falls is 25 km from Somawarapet, downhill of the Pushpagiri hills. Mandalapatti is 28 km from Madikeri. On the way to Abbey Falls, before 3 km from Abbey Falls take right, from there 25 km. Kote Betta temple, Kote Abbey falls are also in North Kodagu. Abbi waterfall and other waterfalls are best during monsoon season, typically some days after it starts raining in June up to the end of rainy season, while there is more water gushing in the streams and rivers.
Flora and fauna
Kodagu is considered rich with wildlife and has three wildlife sanctuaries and one national park: the Brahmagiri, Talakaveri, and Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuaries, and the Nagarhole National Park, also known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
The flora of the jungle includes Michelia champaca, Mesua (Ironwood), Diospyros (ebony and other species), Toona ciliata (Indian mahogany), Chukrasia tabularis, Calophyllum angustifolium (Poon spar), Canarium strictum (Black Dammar), Artocarpus, Dipterocarpus, Garcinia, Euonymus, Cinnamomum, Myristica, Vaccinium, Myrtaceae, Melastomataceae, Rubus (three species) and a rose. In the undergrowth are found cardamom, Areca, plantains, canes, wild black pepper, Cyatheales and other ferns, and arums.
In the forest of the less thickly-wooded bamboo country in the west of Kodagu the most common trees are the Dalbergia latifolia (Black wood), Pterocarpus marsupium (Kino tree), Terminalia tomentosa (Matthi), Lagerstroemia parviflora (Benteak), Anogeissus latifolia (Dindul), Bassia latifolia, Butea monosperma, Nauclea parvifiora, and several species of acacia. Teak and sandalwood also grow in the eastern part of the district.
The fauna include: the Asian elephant, tiger, leopard, dhole, gaur, wild boar, and several species of deer. Kodagu also offers a wide variety of birds, roughly around 300 birds have been sighted and reported over the years.
According to the 2011 census of India, Kodagu has a population of 554,762, roughly equal to the Solomon Islands or the US state of Wyoming. This ranks it 539 out of 640 districts in India in terms of population. The district has a population density of 135 inhabitants per square kilometre (350/sq mi). Its population growth rate over the decade 2001–2011 was 1.13%. Kodagu has a sex ratio of 1019 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 82.52%.
Kodava Takk is the spoken language native to Kodagu. Are Bhashe, a dialect of Kannada, is native to Sulya in Dakshina Kannada. Both use Kannada script for literature. According to Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy (Karnataka's Kodava Literary Academy), apart from Kodavas, and their related groups, the Amma Kodavas, the Kodava Peggade (Kodagu Heggade) and the Kodava Maaple (Kodava Muslims), 18 other smaller-numbered ethnic groups speak Kodava Takk in and outside the district including the Iri (Airi, or the carpenters and the village smiths), the Koyava, the Banna, the Kodagu Madivala (washermen), the Kodagu Hajama (barber, also called Nainda), the Kembatti Poleya (household servants and labourers) and the Meda (basket and mat weavers and drummers).
Besides Kodavas and Kodava speakers, other communities that now reside in Kodagu District are the Kodagu Aarebashe Gowdas (who speak Are-bhashe dialect and originally from Sulya) and the Muslims (Urdu or Kodava). The main hunter-gatherer forest dwellers of Kodagu are the Kudiya, the Yerava (also called Adia) and the Kuruba. There are also families of the Brahmin community, most of whom were brought here for the purpose of offering poojas at various temples.
Kodagu is home to many communities with diverse ethnic origins, with Kodavas being the main ethnic group. Native Kodavas, form one-fifth the total population of Kodagu and many have moved to the cities, like Bengaluru and Mysore, and even abroad, to regions like North America, they are however still the largest group in Kodagu. The Kodavas owned their farms, growing paddy in the fields, pepper, areca, coconut, cardamom, coffee and other crops in their hill orchards and woods. Guns and swords are essential for their religion, as ritual cult objects, and they hold rights to carry light arms.
The Kodavas Hindus are traditionally ancestor worshippers with a martial tradition, hence may be called Kshatriyas. In Kodagu, the Kodavas were owners of the land from time immemorial. They are not vegetarians, but they do not eat beef. They are polytheists and believe in a number of deities. The chief deities are Cauvery, Bhagavathi (Parvati), Mahadeva (Shiva), Muthappa, Bhadrakali (a form of Parvati as Kali or Durga), Subramani (Subramanya) and Ayyappa. Igguthappa, the most important local god, is an incarnation of Subramanya, the god of snakes, rain, harvest and rice.
The ancient folk songs (some of them are compiled in the Pattole Palome) sing of the numerous Kodavas and the much lesser-numbered other communities. It also speaks of the social relationships of the Kodavas with the other communities of Kodagu and who spoke the Kodava language. Airi, Male-Kudiya, Meda, Kembatti, Kapala, Maringi, Heggade, Kavadi, Kolla, Thatta, Koleya, Koyava, Banna, Golla, Kanya, Ganiga, and Malaya are other castes native to Kodagu who speak Kodava. Many of these communities had originally migrated into Kodagu from the Malabar Coast region during the rule of the Haleri dynasty (1600-1834).
Other Kodava speakers
Amma Kodavas, a mixed Kodava origin, live in the southern parts of Kodagu and follow some of the Brahmin customs. Unlike other Kodavas they are vegetarians, they abstain from alcohol, wear the sacred thread and study the Vedas. They were the progeny of intercaste marriages between Brahmins and Kodavas during former times. They belong to 44 family names and two gothras. Otherwise they follow the Kodava habits and customs, dress like other Kodavas and speak Kodava Takk. They were also known as the Kaveri Brahmins by the British.
Among other Kodava speaking communities are: the Heggades, cultivators from Malabar; the Kodava Nair, cultivators from Malabar; the Ayiri, who constitute the artisan caste; the Medas, who are basket and mat-weavers and act as drummers at feasts; the Binepatta, originally wandering musicians from Malabar, now farmers; and the Kavadi, cultivators settled in Yedenalknad (Virajpet). All these groups speak the Kodava language and conform generally to Kodava customs and dress.
The Kudiya lived in the Western Ghats along Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu and some of them were toddy-makers. While most of them spoke the Kudiya language, some of the Male-Kudiya (a Kudiya sub-caste) speak a variation of the Kodava language. The Yerava also live in adjacent Kerala, where they are known as the Adiya, and are primarily Hindu farm-labourers. They speak their own Yerava dialect. The Kurbas were forest hunter-gatherers who are now farm-labourers. They speak their own dialect and belong to two subcastes – Jenu, who are honey-gatherers, and Betta, who are hill-dwellers and good elephant captors, trainers and mahouts.
Kodagu Aarebashe Gowda people
The Arebhashe gowdas, or Kodagu Gowdas, and Tulu Gowdas, are an ethnic group of Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu. They live in Sulya (in Dakshina Kannada) and in parts of Somwarpet, Kushalanagar, Bhagamandala and Madikeri. Guddemane Appaiah Gowda along with many other freedom fighters from different communities revolted against the British in an armed struggle which covered entire Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada. This was one of the earliest freedom movements against the British called "Amara Sulliada Swantantrya Sangraama" (Amara Sulya Dhange formally called the 'Coorg Rebellion' by the British) started in 1837.
Muslims and Christians
Kodagu is home to a sizeable population of Muslims. Those Muslims who are of South Western Indian origins are known as the maaple, either Malayalam speaking in Kerala and Kodava speaking in Kodagu. Kodava Hindus converted into Islam were called Kodava maaple, or Jamma Maaple. Some of the Kodava maaple (Kodava-speaking) have married with Malabar Mappila (Malayalam speaking) and Tulu Bearys. A number of Muslims from the Malabar coast (Kerala Mappilas), have settled in Virajpet (the Southern part of Kodagu) as traders. Those who speak Urdu and are of Persian (or sometimes Arab or Afghan) origins call themselves Sheikhs but are locally known as the Turks (Turqa). They settled when the Mysore Sultans ruled in Kodagu.
A small number of Mangalorean Catholics are also found in Kodagu. They are mostly descended from those Konkani Catholics who fled the roundup and, later, captivity by Tippu Sultan. These immigrants were welcomed by Raja Veerarajendra (himself a former captive of Tippu Sultan, having escaped six years of captivity in 1788) who realising their usefulness and expertise as agriculturists, gave them lands and tax breaks and built a church for them.
There is a sizeable population of the Brahmins and the Lingayat people and the majority of them are in the taluk of Somwarpet. A large number of the present people of Kodagu, nearly three-fifths, are mainly agriculturists (Vokkaliga) and labourers (Holeya) who arrive from the Mysore region and speak Kannada in Kodagu. Those from Hassan District are called the Badaga ('Northern') people. Also a large number of traders are Muslims (Maaple) from Kerala and speak Malayalam. Besides Kodava and Kannada, Arebhashe, Konkani, Malayalam, Urdu and Tulu are also spoken in Kodagu. Kodagu also has a Tibetan Buddhist refugee population as well, mainly settled around Kushalanagara.
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Madikeri is well connected by road with Mangalore, Hassan, Mysore, Bengaluru and Kannur, Thalassery, and Wayanad of neighbouring state Kerala. There are three Ghat roads for reaching Kodagu from coastal regions of Kerala and Karnataka: the Sampaje–Madikeri Ghat road from Mangalore, the Panathur–Bhagamandala Ghat road from Kasaragod, Kanhangad, Malom and chittarikkal and the Makutta–Perumbadi/Virajpet Ghat road from Kannur and Thalassery through Iritty.
The nearest railway stations are Thalassery and Kannur in Kerala and Mangalore, Mysore and Hassan are the nearest in Karnataka. The nearest airports are at Mysore and Mangalore. Mysore Airport is at a distance of 130 km from Madikeri and 115 kilometres (71 mi) from Virajpet. Mangalore International Airport is located 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Madikeri and 172 kilometres (107 mi) from Virajpet. The greenfield Kannur Airport coming up in Mattanur which is expected to be operational by December 2015, would be closest to Coorg at about 85 kilometers from Madikeri and 55 kilometers from Virajpet. The nearest seaport for Kodagu is New Mangalore Port at Panambur in Mangalore, 145 kilometres (90 mi) from Madikeri.
Some of the notable college institutions of the region are:
- Coorg Institute of Dental sciences, Virajpet
- Government Engineering College, Kushalnagar.
- College of Forestry, Ponnampet, University of Agricultural Sciences (B).
- Coorg Institute of Technology, Ponnampet.
- Field Marshal K M Cariappa College, Madikeri.
- Cauvery College Gonnicoppal.
- Cauvery College Virajpet.
- Kodagu Institute of Medical sciences, Madikeri.
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