The Forgotten Kodava Family


Rich Tradition, lifestyle, plantation and guns are terms often associated with Kodavas. A tribe which existed from time immemorial with rich culture have come a long way from their traditional lifestyle to the modern standard of living. I still remember about 15 years ago basic infrastructure was no way close to reality for people of Kodagu. They still lived a tribal life for about 50 years post-independence. While members of few families joined defense forces for a better life many others still depended on their annual coffee yield.


For most the nearest grocery store was miles away, people walked miles to board buses, electricity was uncommon term. The land line phones until 2010 was a luxury and the concept of mobile reached Kodagu only around 2012. The jeeps are now replaced by cars, the slushy roads have had a makeover with cement and tar. With globalization Kodagu has already become the most desirable tourist spot, while the world changed in the last decade and moved towards technology and comfort we still have life’s in Kodagu living in the dark shadow of isolation from the society.

Kodava From Coorg

A community which once together fought its enemies are today not looking back to see if their own are fine. The unity that saved Kodavas from fanatics is today disintegrated and the tribe seems to be scattering away in the name of comfort and survival. Most Kodava families are living an economically secure and a calculated life style while I say this let me also tell you there are also few Kodava families in Kodagu who are still stuck with time and are living unimaginable life in remote forests without basic infrastructure.

It reminded me of stories of 18th century when I was told about the story of this family. About 6 kms from Virajpet on the way to Gonnikoppa at a place called Buttangala (Berulinade) lives Apanderanda Chengappa. His family has been living here from years, isolated from the modern world and basic facility. They live in a 55 year old thatched hut and of late the roof is now covered with tarpaulin, Chengappa lives with his aged mother and a brother. Both Chengappa and his brother are un married. Couple of years back tragedy stuck the family when they lost their sister due to an ailment and with no medical facility.

Their livelihood depends on 3 and half acres of coffee estate which is not well maintained due to lack of education and scientific plantation. With very negligible income they can hardly manage 2 meals a day. Their house is surrounded by dense forest which makes their life very vulnerable to attack by wild lifes. Though Appanderanda family had offered help advising the family to shift to their ancestral house (Balyamane) the family has denied to move saying they are comfortable and would not want to leave the place for anything. The family have to walk for about 14 kms for the nearest grocery shop and 9 kms for the bus stop. Life is not easy for them. Recently Grama panchayath after seeing their condition had sanctioned about 75 thousand for construction a house for the family, I am not sure if the money was released however 75,000 is not even a decent amount to construct house. They live life in misery and agony. I wonder how this went unnoticed for years and how a community which boasted about bravery and their contribution to the nation failed to contribute and help their own people. I hope the local politicians and the administration will step in and do their bit for this family and help them live a decent life, considering it’s a small community the people themselves should step and ensure they help their people, let’s not forget they too have dreams like you and me, aspirations of what life could be.

Posted by: Mac Thimmaiah’s Blog (thimmaiah m.m)