© Abhishek Avtans
Between 1865 to 1869, a young military officer named Robert Andrew Cole was posted as a superintendent in Coorg area (Kodagu) of Madras presidency (now in Karnataka). Robert Cole was born in Madras, and was fluent in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. But to his utter surprise, he was unable to communicate well with the residents of hills of Coorg in Kannada. Thus began his journey of learning Kodava language (Coorgi language). Finally in 1867, Captain Robert Andrew Cole published the first grammar of this little known language from southern India. It was aptly named ‘An Elementary Grammar of the Coorg Language’ and was published by Wesleyan Mission Press, Bangalore (India) in 1867. This grammar is available here
The people of Kodagu (Coorg), known as Kodavas, are a distinct ethnic group, and have their own language, Coorgi , popularly known as Kodava Takk. It is a South Dravidian language from Tamil-Kota Branch, and is spoken by more than 200,000 people. This language is closely related to Tamil and Malayalam. There are two regional variations of the language , the northern Mendale Takka and the southern Kiggaati Takka. Kodava Takka is an unscripted language but uses Kannada script for writing.
The Kodavas are very proud of their martial origins and the country’s armed forces have had a fair number of generals from this community. A Kodava community member, Field Marshal K. M. Cariappa (28 January 1899 – 15 May 1993) was the first Indian commander-in-chief of the Indian Army. Kodava’s traditional housing comprises of huge four-winged homes called ain mane. Coorg weddings are unique, in that there are no priests and they are solemnized by elders. Their distinctive cuisine includes a spicy pork curry served with rice dumplings.
Watch an interesting documentary on Kodava people and their life in today’s world