One of the most fascinating aspects of studying about a particular region and culture is knowing about the origins of the culture and the people who religiously follow it. It is popularly stated that if you want to understand the livelihood and way of life of a region, the best way to start off is by reading and gaining more knowledge about their origin.

Added to this, the past events and occurrences play a crucial role in the origin of a culture and people following it, which further transforms over the decades.

Kodava couple

A Kodava Couple  Picture Courtesy: Balan Madhavan

Coorg is one of the most sought after destinations by tourists. When one is asked to speak of Coorg, he or she lists out a myriad of things ranging from the luscious greenery, coffee plantations, pork curry and the traditional festivals celebrated by this region. However, what one doesn’t know is how the land of Kodagu originated and the history behind it.

Kodagu – the word itself means the land, and Kodava means indigenous people, language or culture. Both these words originate from the root words Koda which apparently means hills, but others argue that the word translates into ‘west’. Now one might wonder how these Kodavas came into being and what made the other tribes address them in this manner.

History tells us that Kodavas are the native inhabitants of Coorg who were an ancient war like tribe which later slowly civilized and practiced agriculture. However, there are other theories which come under the category of ‘Foreign theories’ that have a number of things to say when it comes to the origin of Kodavas.

According to one theory, Kodavas are the descendants of a certain race called the broad headed stock that who entered into the Indus Valley during the Mohenjodaro period and later migrated down to Coorg.

Another says that during the conquest of Alexander the Great, many of the Indo-Greek soldiers stayed back in India who later moved down the south, married the natives and settled in this hilly region which is today known as Coorg. This is the most interesting theory of all, but the credibility of this theory is still in question.

Weapons of Coorg

A Martial Race…

As one digs deeper, more curiosity develops and the more we get to know, the more we dig. Although there is one aspect about the Kodavas which stands true till this date, which is – “They were warriors then and are warriors now who are known for their bravery, courage and skill”.