Trekking in the ‘Badaga Land”

Premnath Paliath [premandassociates@gmail.com] writes :-
I am from Gudalur though not a Badaga myself. I have been with and known Badagas for a long time. I am an ardent trekker and I have been trekking in the Himalayas and Nepal for quite some time now. Some of the places in the Nilgiris are very similar to Garwal and Kumaon regions of Uttaranchal and eastern parts of Himachal, there is a good scope for wonderful treks here.

And the Badagas are as hospitable as those inhabitants of the Himalayas I really regret for not utilizing the opportunity of trekking while I was a student here at Ooty.

Now I would like to go for treks, ie walk from hutty to hatty along the road used by Badagas those days. I would talk to the old timers and find out the routs used by them years ago and just walk along them making use of the wonderful hospitality of the Badagas.

Anyone interested can join me. I am a lawyer at Gudalur. My cell no is 09487130262. Feb, March, April and May are the right time to do these treks.

So lets celebrate the beauty of the Nilgiris and be with nature and the wonderful Badagas.

Having done a lot of trekking as part of my mountaineering courses [basic course from Himalyan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling and advance course from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Utter Kashi] in the 1980s I can easily relate to what Premnath says. Those Himalayan hill people, known as Pahadis, are very similar in looks and habits to Badagas.

Some of our hattis still retain the old world charm and with the air being pristine  pure, trekking from hattis to hattis must be a real pleasure.

In good old days, for Badagas the only mode of travel was by foot through the thick jungles, separating the hattis. On arrival at the destination, one of the greetings used to be ‘bettu hathi [ claiming the hills], attu eragi [going down the valleys] bandaya –  you have come?’. It would take hours of walking, so they would carry Kadimittu, drink water from the streams enroute and if in a group chant ‘aathikkodhu – ae aah how’. It was a combination of Eragi Hittu and long walks that kept the Badagas healthy.

I would urge youngsters to join Premnath and explore the past and discover the roots. It will surely be very exciting and educative. _ Wing Commander JP

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3 responses to “Trekking in the ‘Badaga Land”

  1. Mr.Sivakumar, thanks for the response. As of now I have no team as such and I do the trekking solo, by myself. Most of the people in my place consider me sort of mad doing such things as trekking ‘wasting my time’ and I am not in a mood to educate them. Thats why I posted in this blog so that someone, especially badagas of the present generation, would come forward to understand the rich heritage of the hills, instead of getting fried in the hot climates of Coimbatore or Bangalore. If only someone, even ladies, come forward they can do sort of Homestays in the hutties to accomodate the trekkers, like in Nepal where they have this ‘tea house treks’. Trekkers can stay in the villages with basic comforts and have the local food for a considerably economical rate.It would be a decent income for the villagers also. I am not talking about expensive resorts. Badags of the present generation sell their properties to rich people from the plains and migrate to places where they are no one in particular, losing all their identity and heritage. Some of them even consider it to be condescending to speak their Badaga language.

    Sir, conversion to Christianity also is another plague thats haunting badagas like alcoholism. Recently I was staying in the YWCA, Ooty where I saw Badagas in their traditional dress attending a service conducted by Badaga elders in their traditional dress in the church inside the campus. Most of them were youngsters and ladies. But I have not seen this in the hills of garhwal, or any other such places. Kinnakorai and the surrounding places are really lovely and there is a trekking route from there to Kerala. Recently I went upto Iriaseegai in the local bus to enjoy the scenes. I will make it a point to contact you in the near future. You seem to be an ex service man and are you employed in the post office at Chamraj? I have given my cell no above.

    Are you based at Chamraj? Are there any places where I can stay (or pitch my tent) and have some food, in Chamraj? Can you (or do you know) find out if there are any trekking routes (way used by people those days when there were no public transports) from there to Ooty, Coonoor or Kotagiri? Or can you just chart out some trekking routes around that place or anywhere in the Nilgiris? I am asking this since you are an ex army personal. A walk from Chamraj to Korakunda itself would be romantic. Will it be possible for you to accompany me? I am a free bird, We can plan a trek according to your convenience. I have a two men tent and two sleeping bags. We can use them

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  2. Ex-Hav Sivakumar.B, Muckimalai

    WELCOME, Sir. If the exact date is known, I want to join with your team. In case, if situation not permits(due to leave plan), I want to make tea arrangements for your team at Chamraj Estate Post Office which is situated on the way to Kinnakorai, Heriyaseegai and Nelagadu(Irulas community village) which are the edge of Nilgiris which is suitable for trekking.

    More over, I want to mention some habitual similarities apart from the Geographical similarities among Gardwal(Pithoragarh area), Upper Himachal, Sikkim (17th Miles and Nathula area) (Padi people) with Badagas as I have spend some years there :-
    1. They are using the little blooming bamboos as vegetables like Badagas.
    2. Innocent mindset people.
    3. Bad similarity is, consuming alcohol in any form at any time.

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  3. Thanks for the support and encouragement, Wg Cdr JP. I really got goose pimples reading it and hope someone WILL join me in my pursuit.

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