Kodagu

Kodagu

Kodagu (Kannada:ಕೊಡಗು) is a district of Karnataka State in Southern India. It is also known by its anglicised name of Coorg. It occupies about 4,100 square kilometers (1,580 mi²) of land in the Western Ghats of Southwestern Karnataka. As of 2001, the population was 548,561, with some 13.74% of the population residing in the district's urban centers.

Kodagu's capital is Madikeri. The district is bordered by the Dakshina Kannada District to the Northwest, theHassan District to the North, the Mysore District to the East, the Kannur District of Kerala State to the Southwest, and the Wayanad District of Kerala to the South.

Geography

Kodagu is on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. It is hilly district with the lowest elevation in the district at 900 meters (2,900 ft) above sea-level. The highest peak, Tadiandamol, rises to 1,750 meters (5,700 ft), with Pushpagiri, the second highest, at 1,715 meters (5,600 ft).

The main river in Kodagu is the Kaveri (Cauvery) River. The Kaveri starts at Talakaveri, located on the eastern side of the Western Ghats, and, with its tributaries, drains the greater part of Kodagu. In the rainy season, particularly during the southwest monsoons from June to the end of September, the currents are violent and rapid. In July and August, rainfall is intense, and there are often rain showers into November. Yearly rainfall may exceed 4,000 millimeters (160 in) in some areas. In dense jungle tracts, rainfall reaches 3,000 to 3,800 millimeters (120 to 150 in) and 1,500 to 2,500 millimeters (60 to 100 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 principal town, and District Capital, is Madikeri, or Mercara, with a population of around 30,000. Other significant towns include Virajpet (Viraranjendrapet) and Somwarpet. The district is divided into the three administrative Talukas (Divisions) of Madikeri, Virajpet and Somwarpet.

Representation

Currently two Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected from Kodagu to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, one each from the Madikeri and Virajpet talukas. Kodagu is part of the Mysore, Lok Sabha, Parliamentary constituency.

The status of Kodagu was changed from a State to a District in 1956. The Coorg National Council is actively demanding a return of statehood, de-reservation of the scheduled tribes constituency, a separate Lok Sabha constituency, and autonomy.

Agriculture

Much of the district is under cultivation: characteristically, rice fields are found on the valley floors, with plantation crops under tree cover in the surrounding hills. The most common plantation crop is coffee, especially C. robusta, with C. arabica grown in some parts of southern Kodagu. Many other crops are also grown, including black pepper, para rubber, teak, and cocoa. There are also large areas of natural forest, especially in the forest reserves in the south and east.

Flora and fauna

Kodagu is considered rich with wildlife and has three wildlife sanctuaries and one national park: Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary and Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, and Nagarahole or Rajiv Gandhi National Park.

The flora of the jungle includes Michelia champaca (Champak), 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, tree 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, Boar, and several species of deer.

People

Kodagu is home to many communities with diverse ethnic origins, with Kodavas being the main ethnic group. Other communities include AreBhase Gowda, "Devanga", Malayali, Brahmins,muslims, Christians, and Jains. There are also a number of tribes such as the Yeravas, Kurubas, Airies and Kudiyas, who are believed to be of native tribal origin. Muslims from the Malabar coast, the Mapilles, have also been present as traders and entrepreneurs.

The Kodava community numbers about one-fifth out of a total population of over 500,000, speaking the Kodava takk language. The Kodavas are traditionally ancestor worshipers with a martial tradition, and it is not uncommon to find a Kodava in the highest echelons of India's defence services. The Kodava were once part of the Kodagu King's army, and remain a prominent Kodagu group.

In Kodagu, the Kodavas were owners of land, the caste of Poleyas (who also spoke Kodava takk) were the farm labourers who worked for them. Their elders met under the village peepal tree and decided disputes. So the Kodavas were Kshatriyas. The Brahmins from neighbouring lands (Tulunad and North Malabar) served as temple priests in Coorg but didn't possess land in Coorg.

Most Kodavas are Hindus, but there are some Muslim Kodavas (called Kodava Mappillais, not to be confused with the more numerous Kerala Moplahs) and a few Christain converts as well. Kodava Hindus are called Kodava Kshatriyas and don't follow Brahminical Hinduism. They are not vegetarians and do not eat beef. They are polytheists and believe in a number of deities. The chief deities are Bhagwathi(Parvati), Mahadeva(Shiva), Bhadrakali (a form of Parvati as Kali or Durga), Subramani and Aiyappa. Iggutappa, the most important local God, is an incarnation of Lord Subramani , the God of snakes, rain,harvest and rice

Amma Kodavas live in the southern parts of Kodagu and follow some of the Brahmin customs. They were the progeny of intercaste marriages between Brahmins and Kodavas during the ancient times. They belong to 44 family names and 2 gothras. Unlike other Kodavas they are vegetarians, they abstain from alcohol, wear the sacred thread and study the Vedas. Otherwise they follow the Kodava habits and customs, dress like other Kodavas and speak Kodava Takk. They are also known as the Kaveri Brahmins.

The Yerava, also live in adjacent Kerala, where they are known as the Adiya, and are primarily Hindu farmers. Among other communities are the Heggades, 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 from Yedenalknad. All these groups speak the Kodava takk language and conform generally to Kodava customs and dress.

Other castes and tribes are the Thiyas (business people), immigrated from Kerala; the Vellala, who are Tamils; and the Marathi.

Of the Muslims, the most numerous are the Moplahs, who emigrated from Kerala, and the Shaikhs.

Economy

Kodagu is a rural region with most of the economy based on agriculture, plantations and forestry, and is 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 became characteristic of the district in the 20th century, situated on hillsides too steep for growing rice, and taking advantage of shade from existing forests. Today coffee is a major cash crop.

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.

History

The Kodavas were the earliest agriculturists in Kodagu, living in that place for centuries. Nayakas and Palegaras like Chengalvas and Kongalvas ruled over them. Over centuries several South Indian dynasties, like the Kadambas, the Gangas, the Cholas, the Chalukyas, the Rastrakutas, the Hoysalas,and the Vijaynagar Rayas, ruled over Kodagu.

Kodagu was a kingdom ruled by the Hoysalas from the 11th to the 14th century CE, and thereafter by the Vijayanagar and the Chengalvas. The Haleri Rajas of Kodagu ruled from the 17th to the 19th century. In between the Mysore Sultans invaded and ruled Kodagu for a couple of decades in the eighteenth century.

The British annexed Kodagu in 1834, after dethroning Chikkaveerarajendra the last Haleri Raja. The province was administered by Chief Commissioners until Indian Independence in 1948. The last Chief Commissioner of Coorg was Ketolira Changappa.

Kodagu was granted a representative in the Rajya Sabha as a category 'C' State in 1952. In the re-organisation of States which took place in 1956, Kodagu became a district of Karnataka State.

The name

The district's name is Koḍagu in standard transliteration.

The name has alternative derivations in popular etymology, including: kudu from the Kannada language, meaning steep or hilly; Krodha desa from in the Puranas, meaning “Land of Anger” - the Kodavas here are described as Mleccha, meaning foreigners. It is also said that Kodagu is derived from the word “Kodava: Kod means 'give' and avva means 'mother', i.e mother Kaveri, the river Kaveri.

However, the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary treats the name as being etymologically related to Kurukh, the name the Oraon people use for themselves and the their language, and suggests a possible connection with the common Dravidian kōṭa, referring to westerly winds and the weather they bring.

Coorg, the still common name in English, is derived from this, by a transformation of the retroflex 'ḍ' to 'r' (cf. Maḍikeri to Mercara).

The people are referred to in English either as Kodava, tautologically pluralised to Kodavas, or as “Coorg”, pluralized as “Coorgs”. The name of the language is Kodava takk. Malayalam is also spoken here.

Festivals

The Kodavas are traditionally warriors and agriculturists. Most of their rituals, traditions and festivities center around their agriculture and military prowess. Originally most of their lives were spent in the field: cultivating and harvesting, waging war, hunting for food and guarding their fields from the depredations of wild animals. It is in these contexts that weaponry became an integral part of the culture, with deep emotional and religious significance.

There are three main festivals: the Festival of Arms or Kailpodhu, Kaveri Shankaramana and the harvest thanksgiving at Puttari (puthari). These three festivals occur between September and December.

Kailpodhu

Kailpodhu is celebrated on the 3rd of September. Officially, the festival begins on the 18th day after the sun enters the Simha Raasi (the Western sign of Leo). Kail means weapon or armory and Pold means festival. The day signifies the completion of "nati" - meaning the transplantation of the rice (paddy) crop.

The festival signifies the day when men should prepare to guard their crop from wild boars and other animals, since during the preceding months, in which the family were engaged in the fields, all weapons were normally deposited in the "Kanni Kombare", or the prayer room. Hence on the day of Kailpoldu, the weapons are taken out of the Pooja room, cleaned and decorated with flowers. They are then kept in the "Nellakki Nadubadec", 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. Feasting and drinking follow. 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, but today 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), throwing a stone the size of a cricket ball at a coconut from a distance of 10-15 paces (thenge eed), lifting a stone ball of 30-40cm lying at one's feet and throwing it backwards over the shoulders, etc., are now conducted in community groups called Kodava Samajas in towns and cities.

Kaveri Sankramana

The Kaveri Sankramana festival normally takes place in mid-October. It is associated with the river Kaveri, which flows through the district from its source at Talakaveri.

At a predetermined time, when the sun enters Tula Rasi (Tula sankramana), a fountain from a small tank fills the larger holy tank at Talakaveri. Thousands of people gather to dip in this holy water. The water is collected in bottles and reaches every home throughout Kodagu. This holy water is called Theertha, and is preserved in all Kodava homes. A spoonful of this water is fed to the dying, in the belief that they will attain moksha (spiritual emancipation) and gain entry to heaven.

On this day, married women wearing new silk saris perform puja to a vegetable, symbolizing the goddess Kaveri. The vegetable is usually a cucumber or a coconut, wrapped in a piece of red silk cloth and decorated with flowers and jewels (mainly 'Pathak' (Kodava Mangalasuthra)). This is called the Kanni Puje. Kanni means the goddess Parvati, who incarnated as Kaveri. Three sets of betel leaves and areca nut are kept in front of the goddess with bunches of glass bangles. All the members of the family pray to the goddess by throwing rice and prostrating themselves before the image. The elder members of the family ceremonially bless the younger. Then an older married woman draws water from the well and starts cooking. The menu of the day is dosa and vegetable curry (usually pumpkin curry (kumbala kari) ) and payasa. Nothing but vegetarian food is cooked on this day, and this is the only festival which is strictly vegetarian.

Puttari

Puttari means “new rice” and is the rice harvest festival (also called huttari in the adjacent Kannada-speaking country). This takes place in late November or early December. Celebrations and preparations for this festival start a week in advance.

On the day of Puttari, the whole family assembles in their ain mane (the common family house), which is decorated with flowers and green mango and banana leaves. Specific foods are prepared: thambuttu, puttari, kari and poli poli. 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 lite firecrackers and revel, symbolizing prosperity. Groups of youngsters visit neighboring houses and show off their dancing skills and are given monetary gifts. A week later, this money is pooled and the entire village celebrates a communal dinner. All family members gather for this meal. Dinner normally consists of meat dishes, such as pork, and fish curry. Alcoholic beverages are also served at such feasts.

Tourist attractions

Talakaveri: 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.

Nisargadhama: A beautiful island and picnic spot near Kushalanagara, formed by the river Kaveri.

Iruppu Falls: A sacred spot in south Kodagu in the Brahmagiri hill range. The [[Lakshmana Tirtha River] flows nearby. Legend says that Rama and Lakshmana passed this way while searching for Sita. Sri Rama asked Lakshmana to fetch some drinking water for him. Lakshmana shot an arrow into the Brahmagiri hills and brought into being the river Lakshmanatirtha. The river descends into a cataract known as the Iruppu Falls. This place is said to possess the power to cleanse one's sins and is visited by thousands of devotees on Shivaratri day.

Abbey Falls: a scenic waterfall 5 km from Madikeri.

Dubare: 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 - Siddapur road.

Nagarahole: a national park and wildlife resort.

Bhagamandala: situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Kaveri and the Kanika. A third river, the Sujyothi, is said to join from underground.

But the best thing to do is to experience the real coorg, their unique cuisine and their culture is by far the biggest attraction and to stay there at a home stay, you will find many established homestays like Sparkle, Irpu home stay, south side, etc

Horticultural station Chettalli, a spot for the visitrrs and see plenty of verities of fruit and flowers and can be future spot for nature tourism

Coffee Research sub station chettalli place of Research of coffee, soil, coffee diseases etc.is also a place for the visiters to know more about coffee

Celebrities from Kodagu

Notes

External links

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