Coorg or Kodagu has its own history enriched with reigns of various kingdoms. It is known that most of the South Indian Dynasties had ruled over Kodagu. These include Kadambas, the Gangas, the Cholas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar Rayas. From 11th to 14th Century it was ruled by the Hoysalas and later by the Vijayanagar and the Chengalvas.17th to 19th centruries, it was the period of the Haleri Rajas. There were also some invasions by the Mysore Sultans and in the 18th century they were able to rule Kodagu for a couple of decades. It was in 1834, the British dethroned Chikkavirajendra, the Haleri King and until getting independence, Coorg continued to be a province ruled by Chief Commissioners. The last Chief Commissioner of Coorg was Ketolira Changappa. Kodagu was granted a representative in the Rajyasabha as a category ‘C’ State in 1952. In the re-organisation of States which took place in 1956, Kodagu became a district of Karnataka.
The People of Coorg
The people of Coorg varies from Kodavas, the main ethnic group to communities like Are Bhase Gowda, Beary Muslims, Keralites and tribes like Yeravas, Kurubas, Airies and Kudiyas. The Kodava people, speaking Kodava takk and experts in martial arts, numbers about 1,00,000. A majority of Kodava people belong to Hindu religion and these Kodava Hindus are known as Kodava Kshathriyas. They are non vegetarians. But they consider eating beef as an unpardonable sin. Kudavas were land owners and Poleyas were the people worked for them. They worship deities like Bhagawathi (Parvathi, Saraswathi or Lakshmi), Mahadeva (Lord Shiva), Bhadarakali (Incarnation of Parvathi), Subrahmani (Lord Subrahmanya) and Lord Aiyappa. The important local God ‘Iggutappa’, an incarnation of Lord Subrahmanya, is the God of snakes, rain, harvest and rice.
The Muslims of Coorg are mainly Kodava Mappilas and Malabar Mappilas. Kodava Mappilas include the Beary Muslims and Shaikhs. Malabar Mappilas are Muslims emigrated from Malabar Coast who are traders and entrepreneurs now.
Another important community is Amma Kodavas which belongs to 44 families under 2 gothras. They follow all the customs of Brahmins like wearing the sacred thread, vegetarianism, study of Vedas and abstaining from liquors. They were the progeny of intercaste marriage between Brahmins and Kodavas in ancient times. Hence they retain all the other traditions of Kodava people including dress and language. They are called ‘the Kaveri Brahmins’.