A Walk Through the Tribal Villages in Wayanad

Wayanad in Kerala, is a popular tourist destination, with thousands of travellers reaching here, to explore and revel in its untainted natural beauty. Wayanad is picturesque and beautiful all year round. Perennial streams and waterfalls, luxuriant greenery, pleasant weather, green-carpeted hills, misty environs, exotic flora and fauna.

Nestled in the Western Ghats this place is a piece of paradise; its scenic beauty is unparalleled. Wayanad is a few kilometers away from Bangalore and the region is filled with natural beauty, flora and fauna. The beautiful trekking routes make this place a treat for adventure seekers.

One of the best-preserved gems of Kerala, Wayanad is cozily perched atop the Western Ghats in northern Kerala and is one of the most favored destinations in the South. The rich environs here breathe life into you. The lush greenery is spread as far as the eyes travel and the cool weather here would surely make your monsoons lazy, cozy and quiet.

The unique lure of the hill station in the rainy season is the ‘Neelakurinji’ flowers which bloom only once in 12 years. When in Wayanad, enjoy your time exploring the pre-historic Edakkal Caves, take a jeep safari to spot the magnificent and very famous elephants of Kerala, scale the cascading waterfalls, trek through the forest area and experience a resort holiday with a padding field keeping you company with your morning coffee.

Also, don't miss out on the 3-day monsoon tourism festival here which is unlike any other in India.

Wayanad offers other unique experiences as well, through which you can connect with its indigenous people, and their rich culture and heritage. Wayanad is home to tribal communities that have lived in the forests for centuries.

They follow their own traditional way of life, are unaffected with modern technologies and keep alive their ancient culture, which includes remarkable art and paintings and ceremonies. These people are firmly rooted in their past, and we can learn a thing or two from them.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of tribal tourism in Kerala, and let your itinerary includes a visit to the tribal villages in Wayanad. The journey will show you how these people live, in complete harmony with nature. It can be one of the most enriching experiences of your visit, to Kerala, in India.

tribal tourism in Wayanad

Tribal villages in Wayanad

Kalpetta, Nallarachal and Kuruva Island are three distinct tribal hamlets in Kerala. It is best to have a base station in Wayanad, to which you can return each night, after visiting the tourist places in Wayanad. We suggest the well-appointed Abad Brookside Resort in Lakkidi, Wayanad for your stay. The tribal villages are within a short distance from the resort, albeit in different directions.

The resort offers a comfortable stay and provides modern amenities. You can also enjoy traditional Ayurveda therapies, in their inhouse Ayurveda Spa.

Kalpetta or Karapuzha is located not far from the Karapuzha dam. It is nature at its best, calm, serene and clean. The tribal dwellings are in the midst of the forest. People live in small, rustic looking houses, with the barest amenities. A few families, within the tribe, keep cows and goats, for milk, but everyone gathers food from the forest.

However, they do a bit of farming as well, growing their own essential crops. Humanmade wells are their source of water. And they speak a language different from Malayalam, the language spoken in the whole of Kerala.

Nellarachal is bound by water on three sides and resembles a peninsula. The place is home to the Kurichiya tribe, a warrior clan, famous for its guerrilla warfare tactics. They are expert archers and have scripted their names in the annals of history, for standing in support of Pazhassi Raja and fighting against the British forces, during the colonial era.

Their mastery of archery can be witnessed at specially organised shows. The tribesmen also make beautiful percussion instruments and other handicrafts, which are sold in exclusive stores here.

Kuruva Islands or Kuruvadweep is a collection of islands on the Kabini river. Though the tourism department allows many activities to be carried out on Kuruva Islands, to promote tourism, it remains a protected area and is primarily a tribal belt.

Tribal Settlements in Wayanad

There are several tribal settlements in Wayanad, and the following are the most prominent among them –

Kurichya Community: Basically, an agricultural community, the Kurichya tribe is amongst the oldest indigenous people of Kerala. They continue to practice farming and grow their own organic produce. This tribe lives harmoniously, with extended members of the family. Every member of the clan jointly owns every possession.

They are matrilineal, but the affairs of the group are managed by a tribal chief, addressed as ‘Pittan’. They marry within cousins and live in a monogamous relationship. They are meticulous people – follow clean habits, eat clean and maintain clean homes. They are also stringent with their rules, and easily exclude members who break from the traditions

Kuruma Community: The Kuruma tribe has a lineage that dates back to ancient times. Their ancestry goes back to the Vedar dynasty which once ruled the region.

The Kurumas are forest dwellers and depend on the natural resources in the forest, for their everyday living and survival. They are divided into three sects, based on their occupation. The Urali Kuruma/Betty Kuruma are woodcutters and excellent artisans. They are also into fishing.

The Mullu Kuruma forage the forest for bamboo, and then there are others in the tribe that comb the forests for honey. However, now, most Kurumas raise cattle, engage in agriculture and work as farmhands. They marry within the tribe and continue to hold on to their traditions

Paniya Community: This tribal community is spread across parts of Kerala, and have the largest population among all the tribes. In the past the people of this tribe were traded as farmhands, to work in the plantations, owned by the rich landlords. Interestingly, the higher caste landlords also engaged their services to steal coffee beans growing in other plantations in Wayanad.

They are monogamous and do not have the practice of child marriage, and widow remarriage is encouraged. They revere the Banyan tree and a local deity called ‘Kali’

Adiya Community: Much like the Paniyas, the Adiya tribe or the Ravulayar tribe was also exploited, and sold as slaves, to work in the farms and plantations of wealthy landowners. The Adiyas live in nuclear families, with the man of the house, heading his respective family. They have a rather modern outlook, they allow widow remarriage and divorce, and polygamy is not looked down upon.

The groom always pays a dowry to the bride’s family. They are forgiving and do not ostracise community members for offences.

tribal tourism in Wayanad

Tribal Arts in Kerala

The tribal community of Wayanad has a rich tradition of arts and crafts, music and dance and martial arts. State-managed tribal museums are the best places in Kerala for viewing the extraordinary craftsmanship of these indigenous people. The tribal people are inspired by nature and use locally grown materials for creating beautiful murals, musical instruments, jewellery and other artefacts, made from wood and bamboo.

You can watch them at work and also purchase goods made by them.
Kalyan Panja