ARI GOWDER -the undisputed Badaga leader

For more pictures and to read ‘All about Ari Gowder’, go 


Ari Gowder2

Ari Gauda
From the book ” A BADAGA – ENGLISH DICTIONARY ” by Prof.Paul Hockings and Christiane Pilot-Raichoor


English: A view of the Legislative Assembly of...

The story of Ariya Gowda

by Sriram V [The HinduChennai, May 1, 2012]

Ari Gowder was President of the Backward Classes League and leaned towards the Justice Party

The chances of anyone travelling down Ariya Gowda Road in West Mambalam, and stopping to wonder about the identity of the man who gave the thoroughfare its name, are slim. For when you are on Ariya Gowda Road, you are focused on getting out of the road alive, given its traffic.

He was not Ariya Gowda. He was HB Ari Gowder, a great visionary and leader of the Badaga community of the Nilgiris. And his life, as gleaned from various sources, including a 1935 Who’s Who and the internet, makes for interesting reading.

Rao Bahadur Hubbathalai J Bellie Gowder, made his fortune in laying the tracks of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which was completed in 1908. His wealth made him a leading member of his community, and his clansmen came to him for advice on several issues. Bellie Gowder founded a free school in his native village, Hubbathalai, an institution that still functions. He passed away in 1935.

Bellie Gowder’s son, Ari, was born in 1893. His father ensured that he was educated in the modern sense and he graduated from Madras Christian College. Though he was to consider himself a contractor and a planter, it was in politics and social uplift that Ari Gowder was to make a mark. In 1923, he became the first Badaga to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council of which he was a member until 1934. In the 1940s, he was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly. When the Rajaji government introduced Prohibition in 1937, he led the challenge of enforcing it in the Nilgiris, of which area he was also the first non-official to become District Board President. Ari Gowder was also active in the Scouts Movement. Another contribution of his was the establishment of the Nilgiris Cooperative Marketing Society, which eliminated the stranglehold middlemen had over the simple mountain people. He was also a Director of the Badaga Land Mortgage Bank.

While the sympathies of most of his community lay with the Congress, Ari Gowder, given that he was President of the Backward Classes League, leaned more towards the Justice Party, which was active till the 1930s. That probably explains the road in Mambalam being named after him. Neighbouring Theyagaroya Nagar or T Nagar, developed in the 1920s when the Justice Party was in power and most of the roads, parks and streets there are named after its leaders. Legend also has it that a large chunk of land adjoining the Mambalam Railway Station was his, which he donated for developmental work. Like his father, Ari Gowder too received the title of Rao Bahadur from the British Government, in 1943.

In 1946, Ari Gowder was defeated in the Assembly elections. But in 1952 he contested successfully as an independent. He was to remain an independent for the rest of his career. He passed away in 1971.

How did Ari Gowder Road morph into Ariya Gowda Road? And should it not be just Ari Road?

The Hindu : Cities / Chennai : The story of Ariya Gowda.


12 responses to “ARI GOWDER -the undisputed Badaga leader



  2. Pingback: Homage to H.B.Ari Gowder | Badagas of the Blue Mountains

  3. kannada kulture



  4. Did you know the first Member of Parliament of the Nilgiris District…N.M. Lingam, a best friend of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and a great freedom fighter…the first person to be in the World Congress Meet in New York. Proudly speaking, he is my grand father. Many dont know much about him because he passed away in the year 1970….He has contributed a lot to the badaga community and the people of Nilgiris…He was from Nanjanad…Let me know if I can send you his photo…you can write more about him…if interested


    • The best friend of Pandit Nehru should have done a lot to the community especially in the Nilgiris, obviously he should have been a close friend to Lord Mountbatton also, great personality indeed please put up his photo for us to see.
      Ari Gowder

      Thank you very much for your sentiments. There is a separate page on Ari Gowder and many links with lots of photos – Wg Cdr JP


  5. Pradeeshnarayan

    It’s a wonderful history …I would like to know more, I like to visit the place…can you clarify the different names of Badagas (vadugs,vadukar,vadukan,vaduva), has it had any connection or similarity? [ cell # 09677156989]

    Though Badaga means northerner [a person from the north], the others names you have mentioned, though similar in sound and [may be] meaning, has got nothing to do with the Badagas of the Blue mountains – the Nilgiris, a small district of Tamil Nadu bordering Kerala and Karnataka – JP


  6. g.thiagarajan(abirami tea)

    Great to be born and brought up in Coonoor and to happily live along with the GREAT BADAGA COMMUNITY.


  7. I have seen my great grandfather(kollu thaatha) Rao Bahadur H.J.Bellie Gowder’s picture for the first time, thanks to this website.


  8. Dr. Dhesingh Sivaraj

    First time seeing this web site.
    Highly worthfull contribution and greet service. keep it up. god bless you all



    I am really touched by this website.I often thought that Rao Bahadur H.B.Ari Gowder’s contribution to the Baduga Community should be always in the mind and heart of the Baduga and we had to come forward with a website like this.The photos gave me joy and tears.Thank you so much.

    Thank you very much for your kind words -JP


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