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Kongu Nadu is a region and aspirant state of India comprising the western part of Tamil Nadu. In the ancient Tamilakam, it was the seat of the Chera kings, bounded on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Pandya Nadu regions.[2]

Kongu Nadu
Geographical area
Coimbatore, largest metropolitan city in the region.
Coimbatore, largest metropolitan city in the region.
Kongu Nadu region within Tamil Nadu
Kongu Nadu region within Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 11°1′48.925″N 77°2′21.544″E / 11.03025694°N 77.03931778°E / 11.03025694; 77.03931778
Country India
RegionSouth India
CapitalCoimbatore
DistrictsCoimbatore, The Nilgiris District, Erode, Tiruppur, Karur, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Dindigul (Palani, Oddanchatram, Kodaikanal, Vedasandur and other Northern parts)
Government
 • BodyGovernment of Tamil Nadu
Area
 • Total45,493 km2 (17,565 sq mi)
Population
 (2011)[1]
 • Total2,07,43,812
 • Density607/km2 (1,570/sq mi)
Languages Kongu Tamil
 • OfficialTamil
 • OthersKongu Tamil
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
PIN
635-642xxx
Vehicle registrationTN 24, TN 27 to 42, TN 47, TN 52, TN 54, TN 56, TN 66,TN 70, TN 77-78, TN 88, TN 86, TN 94, TN 99
Largest cityCoimbatore
Literacy75.55%
Civic agencyGovernment of Tamil Nadu

The region was ruled by the Cheras during Sangam period between c. 1st and the 4th centuries CE and it served as the eastern entrance to the Palakkad Gap, the principal trade route between the west coast and Tamil Nadu. The Kosar people mentioned in the second century CE Tamil epic Silappathikaram and other poems in Sangam literature is associated with the Coimbatore region. The region was located along an ancient Roman trade route that extended from Muziris to Arikamedu.The Gangas of Thalakkad ruled it for over 5 centuries.The medieval Cholas conquered the region in the 10th century CE. It came under the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire by the 15th century. After the Vijayanagara Empire fell in the 17th century, the Madurai Nayaks, who were the military governors of the Vijayanagara Empire established their state as an independent kingdom. In the latter part of the 18th century, the region came under the Kingdom of Mysore, following a series of wars with the Madurai Nayak dynasty. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore Wars, the British East India Company annexed Kongu Nadu to the Madras Presidency in 1799. The region was hard hit during the Great Famine of 1876–78 resulting in nearly 200,000 famine related fatalities. The first three decades of the 20th century saw nearly 20,000 plague-related deaths and acute water shortage.[3] The region played a significant role in the Indian independence movement. Palani is the important religious center in Kongu Nadu region.

Contents

EtymologyEdit

Kongu Nadu is believed to have come from "Kongadesam", "Konga" a variant of the term "Ganga", meaning "land of the Gangas"-Kongu Vellalar.[4][5]

HistoryEdit

Kongu Nadu was one of the earliest territorial divisions and home of the ancient Tamil people.[citation needed] The river Kaveri flows in southeastern direction through the region.[6] Archaeological data from Kodumanal, a village on the banks of the Noyyal River, suggests the beginning of civilization around 4th century BCE.[7] Kodumanal was situated on the ancient trade route between across the Palghat gap in the Western Ghats and yielded remains belonging to the Sangam age.[8][9] Tamil-Brahmi writings were found on coins, seals and rings obtained from Amaravathi river bed near Karur, the erstwhile capital of the Cheras.[10][11] A musical inscription in Tamil Brahimi was found in a cave in Arachalur, dating from the 4th Century CE and Iravatham Mahadevan writes that these are syllables used in dance.[12][13]

 
Kongu Mandalam in Ancient India

The region was ruled by the Cheras during Sangam period between c. 1st and the 4th centuries CE. The western part of the region was under the Cheras and the eastern regions were ruled by Pandyas. The medieval Cholas conquered the region in 10th century CE. After brief period under the Hoysalas and the Delhi sultanate, the region was captured by the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15th century. In the 1550s, Madurai Nayaks, who were the military governors of the Vijayanagara Empire, took control of the region. After the Vijayanagara Empire fell in the 17th century, the Nayaks established their state as an independent kingdom and they introduced the Palayakkarar system.[14] In the latter part of the 18th century, the region came under the Kingdom of Mysore, following a series of wars with the Madurai Nayak dynasty. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore Wars, the British East India Company annexed the region to the Madras Presidency in 1799. The region played a prominent role in the Second Poligar War (1801), when it was the area of operations of Dheeran Chinnamalai.[15]Dheeran Chinnamalai was one of the freedom fighters who fought against the rule of British East India Company.

GeographyEdit

Kongu Nadu comprises the modern day districts of Coimbatore district, Nilgiris district, Tirupur district, Erode district, Namakkal district, Karur district, Salem district, Dharmapuri district, Krishnagiri district and Dindigul district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and also parts of South-western India including parts of Palakkad District in the Kerala state and parts of Chamarajanagar District in Karnataka state.[16] The Western Ghats mountain range passes through the region with major rives Kaveri, Bhavani, Amravati and Noyyal flowing through the region.[17] Palghat Gap, a mountain pass connects the neighbouring state of Kerala to the region.[18] The Eastern Ghats mountain range, which consists of the hills Kollimalai of Namakkal district, Shevaroy (Shervarayan) and Mettur Hills of Salem district and Palamalai of Coimbatore district, also passes through the region. The Biligiriranga Hills of Chamarajanagar District is located at the confluence of Eastern and Western Ghats belongs to the region. The Kaveri river flows into Tamil Nadu from Karnataka through Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode, Namakkal and Karur districts.

The table below lists geographic and demographic parameters for districts that constitute the 'Kongu region' of Tamil Nadu.[19]

S.No. Districts Headquarters Established Area (km²) Population (2011 Census) Population density (/km²) Taluks Map
1 Coimbatore Coimbatore 1 November 1956 4,723[20] 3,458,045[21] 732  
2 Dharmapuri Dharmapuri 2 October 1965 4,497.77 1,506,843[23] 335  
3 Dindigul Dindigul 15 September 1985 6,266.64 2,159,775[24] 345  
4 Erode Erode 31 August 1979 5760 2,251,744[26] 394  
5 Karur Karur 30 September 1995 2,895.57 1,064,493[27] 368  
6 Krishnagiri Krishnagiri 9 February 2004 5,143 1,879,809[28] 366  
7 Namakkal Namakkal 1 January 1997 3363 1,726,601[29] 513  
8 The Nilgiris Ooty 1 November 1956 2,452.5 735,394[30] 300  
9 Salem Salem 1 November 1956 5,205 3,482,056[31] 669  
10 Tiruppur Tiruppur 22 February 2009 5,186.34 2,479,052[32] 478  
Total 45,493 2,07,43,812

LanguageEdit

Kongu Tamil is the dialect of Tamil language that is spoken in Kongu Nadu, which is the western region of Tamil nadu.`[33] or "Kongalam"[34] Gounder Bashai or "Kongappechu".

EconomyEdit

Kongu Nadu had a flourishing economy from ancient times and had trade contacts with foreign nations. Kodumanal was a 2,500-year-old industrial colony discovered by archaeologists.[35][36] The region was located along an ancient Roman trade route that extended from Muziris to Arikamedu.[37][38] A Chola highway called Rajakesari Peruvazhi ran through the region.[39][40]

Kongu Nadu is among the most industrialized regions in the country. Agriculture and textile industries contribute majorly to the economy of the region.[41] It is one of the major producers of textiles including cotton,[42] apparels and knit wear,[43] and hosieries, agricultural and allied products including milk, poultry,[44] turmeric, sugar-cane, rice, white silk, coconut and plantain, industrial products including paper, auto parts,[45] water pumps,[46] wet grinders,[47] jewelry,[48] aluminium and steel and IT services[49][50] in Tamil Nadu.[51] Kovai Cora cotton sarees, Coimbatore Wet Grinders, Salem silk sarees, Bhavani Jamakkalam, Toda Embroidery and Nilgiri tea are recognized geographical Indications from the region.[52][53] Coimbatore along with Tiruppur is called the "Manchester of South India" due to its extensive textile industry, fed by the surrounding cotton fields. Dindigul district is the largest vegetable producing district in Tamil Nadu. Oddanchatram market is the largest vegetable market in Tamilnadu, which is in Dindigul district. With 43% share, Erode district is the top turmeric producer in Tamil Nadu. Namakkal district is the No. 1 transport hub in India as well as largest poultry production and export hub in India. Salem district has one of the largest magnesite, bauxite and iron ore deposits in India. Salem and Namakkal districts are among a few regions in Asia where tapioca ( maravallikilangu ) productivity is high.[54] TNPL Paper Plant in Pugalur of Karur district is the one of the largest producers of bagasse based paper in the world. Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts are leading producers of mango.

CuisineEdit

Kongu Nadu cuisine is predominantly south Indian with rice as its base and a collection of exotic recipes being created by the people residing in the Kongu region.

As it is also native to an arid area, the cuisine includes cereals like jowar (cholam), bajra (kambu), ragi (kezhvaragu), and different kinds of pulses and sesame. Food is served over a banana leaf.[55] Eating on a banana leaf is an old custom and imparts a unique flavor to the food and is considered healthy.[56] Idly, dosa, paniyaram and appam are popular dishes.[57][58][59][60] Kongu Nadu cuisine does not involve marination of any raw material and as a result the food has a different taste and unique texture. The best quality turmeric is grown in the region and this is an important ingrediant in the cuisine. Turmeric is added into curries which gives the product a deep yellow colour and an aromatic substance.[61]The traditional Kongu people were mostly vegetarians for religious reason.[62] Opputtu is a variant of Puran poli made with rice, chickpea, palm or cane jaggery, cardamom and ghee.[63]

The cuisine of Kongunadu region has specialties like Santhakai/Sandhavai (a noodle like item of rice), Oputtu (a sweet tasting pizza-like dish that is dry outside with a sweet stuffing), kola urundai (meatballs), Thengai Paal (sweet hot milk made of jaggery, coconut and cotton seeds), Ulundu Kali (Sweet made out of Jaggery, Gingely Oil and Black Gram), Kachayam (sweet made out of jaggery and rice), Arisimparupu sadam, Ragi puttumavu, Arisi Puttumavu, Kambu Paniyaram, Ragi Pakoda, Thengai Barbi, Kadalai Urundai, Ellu Urundai and Pori Urundai. the region is known for non-vegetarian food made of mutton, chicken and fish. Parota made with maida or all-purpose flour, and loosely similar to the north Indian wheat flour-based Paratha. Arisimparupu sadam is unique to the region and frequently made in homes. Kongunadu cuisine is distinct from rest of the Tamilnadu by using coconut oil and coconut in most dishes. The region is the highest producer in Gingely oil, Coconut oil and Turmeric. Which reflects in their cuisine. Blessed with an abundance of oil seeds growing, the region indulges in a variety of pickles soaked in oil. Lemon, Raw mango, Green pepper, Tender mango, Ginger, Mango Ginger are few of those which are made into pickles.

Separate statehoodEdit

There have been numerous claims that Kongu Nadu region has often been ignored by successive governments in spite of being the largest contributor to the state's economy. The entire region comprising 10 districts accounts for more than 65 percent of the revenue. There are demands for the creation of separate state of Kongu Nadu, comprising the regions of western districts of Tamil Nadu. A number of political outfits namely Bharatiya Janata Party, Kongunadu Makkal Katchi, Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi, Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam, Kongu Vellala Goundergal Peravai, Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai, Kongu Desa Makkal Katchi, are active in the region claiming to fight for the rights of the region.[64][65][66][67]

TourismEdit

Nilgiris, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Kolli Hills ,Hokenakkal ana Valparai are the major tourist destinations.

TemplesEdit

Palani, Bannari, Kodumudi and Marudhamalai (temple)are the important religious centre.

ReferencesEdit

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