History of Badagas

The Badagas are an indigenous people inhabiting the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, southern India. Their language is Badaga. They are largest indigenous social group in Nilgiris.


Badaga people migrated from the area of old Mysore state more than three centuries ago.They speak a language which is very similar to old Kannada language. Six distinct groups were identified in Badagas, which are Udaya or Wodeyar, Adhikari, Kanaka, Haruva, Badaga and Thoreya. They also claimed their ancestry to a village named Badaganahalli, neary Mysore.

In the 1930s, H. B. Ari Gowder founded the Nilgiris Cooperative Marketing Society (NCMS), to help achieve better prices for Badagas farm products. The NCMS was in response to chicanery by lowland middlemen who would reduce prices by playing off one farmer against another.Hari Gowder was the first Badagas to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council.


"Thundu" (a white piece of cloth) forms integral part of attire of Badaga women and the same is presented to dignitaries visiting the villages, as a gesture of good will.


Former Loksabha MP, Akkamma Devi was the first Badaga woman to graduate from college and represented the Nilgiri Loksabha constituency from 1962 to 1967.

Backward caste

There is a long standing demand to include Badagas in the list of Scheduled Tribes, which is yet to be considered by the Central Government.


Badagas worship several Hindu deities including Ranganatha, Shiva etc. But their main deities are "Hethai" and "Ayya" and they celebrate "Hethai Habba" in a grand fashion which spreads over a month during December- January every year and the festival is celebrated in several places like Kotagiri and Coonoor etc

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