Kodagu

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 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 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.

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).

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

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 Kushalnagar.

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 by Tipu Sultan 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