Kodagu also known as Kodava Nadu, is an administrative district in Karnataka, India. 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. The district is bordered by Dakshina Kannada district to the northwest,Kasargod district 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 dominant group are the indigenous (Kodavas) and other ethnic groups (Arabasha and Kodava subgroups). Kodavas (freehold farmers, rulers and miltiamen), and of late Arabasha (farmers) from Sullia. The chief languages presently spoken in Kodagu are Kodava, Are Bhashe,Kannada, Kasaragod Malayalam, Yerava, Kuruba, Konkani, Urdu, Tulu and English. 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 900 metres (3,000 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 principal town, and district capital, is Madikeri, or Mercara, with a population of around 30,000. Other significant towns include Virajpet (Virarajendrapet), Kushalanagara, Somwarpet and Gonikoppal. The district is divided into the three administrative talukas: Madikeri, Virajpet and Somwarpet. Virajpet is the largest Taluk and comprises the towns Virajpet, Gonikoppal, Siddapura, Ponnampet, Ammathi, Thithimathi etc.
Map of South Indian states prior to the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. Kodagu (then called Coorg) is in dark green.
The Kodavas were the earliest 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 dominant community 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.
Most of the Kodagu natives, including the Kodavas, the Kodava speakers and the Kodagu Arebhashe Gowdas, wear the traditional Kodava costume. These men wear ‘Kupyas’ (knee-length half-sleeved coats) over a full-sleeved white shirt. ‘Chale’ i.e. a maroon and gold sash is tied at the waist and an ornately carved silver dagger known as ‘Peechekathi’ is tucked into it. ‘Odikathi’ is yet another knife that is tucked into the Chale at the back. Furthermore, a chain with a minuscule gun and a dagger hanging onto it give them 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 head with a scarf. A traditional gold beaded necklace (Jomalae) and a gem-pendant (Kokkethathi) is widely worn by the women of Kodagu.
Festivals of Kodagu
Kodava Thirrale or daiva theere Theyyam in Malayalam), similar to another ceremony called the Kola in Kodava, arebhashe,Kannada and Nema in Tulu
Kailpoud, celebrated on 3 September, signifies the completion of “nati”, or the transplantation of the rice crop. Officially, the festival begins 18 days after the sun enters the Simha Raasi (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.
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, called tirtha, is collected in bottles and distributed to every home throughout Kodagu to be preserved. 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, symbolising 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 refers to 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 (sweet dish). Nothing but vegetarian food is cooked on this day, and this is the only festival among the Kodavas where only vegetarian food is prepared and served. Where as Kodagu Arebhashe gowdas take a bath early in nearby stream or river prepare dosa with out baked rice.The house leader takes five dosa with banana, ghee, honey and places it in paddy field calling pandava ooo..oiy three times .later the few persons from family go to kaveri to leave the “pinda”the burnt ash in water and offer kunkum archane for kaveri.later they get holy water to homes.The elderly person “pattedara” lights holy lamp serves holy “kaveri theertha”to all his family members and the elder person ceremonially bless the younger .later the offerings are kept to “gurukarnav”(eldest person of family)aling with “kaveri theertha”
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 puttuand “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 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 Sangam (confluence) of two rivers, the Kaveri and the Kanika. A third river, the Sujyothi, is said to join from underground, and hence this spot is called the Triveni Sangam. 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 Laxman, prince of Ayodhya and younger brother of Lord Ram, shot an arrow into nearby hill, the Brahmagiri hill.
Omkareshwara Temple is a beautiful temple built in the Indo-Sarcenic style in Coorg. A legend is associated with the temple, built by Lingrajendra 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 shivlinga 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. Nagarahole is a national park and wildlife resort. Nisargadhama is a man-made island and picnic spot near Kushalanagara, formed by the river Kaveri.
Abbey Falls is a scenic waterfall 5 km from Madikeri. Mallalli falls is 25 km from Somwarpet, 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.
The Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple is at Bylakuppe near Kushalnagar of Kodagu district, in the Tibetan refugee settlement.