Village names like 'Kotrupadi'(pron:koTrupādi) open up windows into forgotten early chapters of the human evolution in the Tulunad. The Kotrupadi is a hamlet within Kallamundkur village, located on the Mulki-Mudabidri road in Mangalore taluk. There is one more ‘Kutrupadi’ near Bantra village in Puttur Taluk.
There may be many more such hamlets known by similar sounding names. What is the ‘Kotru’ or ‘Kutru‘ stand for in such place names? My casual enquiries with random people near such villages do not elicit any meanings worth pondering. There are some more such words: ‘Kottigehara’ near Charmadi, bordering Chikmagalur district, on the Western Ghats (Sahyadri ranges). ‘Kottur’ in Bellary district. ‘Kottara’, inside Mangalore city.etc.
Gond tribes now residents of Vidarbha region in Maharastra are known as ‘ Koytoor’ or ‘Koitur’ or simply ‘Koi’. Gonds are a hilly tribe (‘gond’ or ‘kond’=hill) who are cultivators or depend on forest products for their livelihood. Gonds are said to be Dravidian tribes. Some sociologists also include these tribes among pre-Dravidian Munda Group. These dual classification of Gonds suggest that these tribes could be representatives of the stages of evolutionary trends from the early Munda to Dravidian tribes. Sham.Baa. Joshi refers to Goddess “Kotturi” in some of his works. ‘Kotturi’ Goddess is probably related to Koitur or Gond tribes.
Books like “Socio-cultural study of scheduled tribes: the pardhans of Maharashtra” by Shashidhar Ramchandra Murkute and “Gonds of Vidarbha “by S.G. Deogaonkar throw better light on these tribes.
The presence of abundant place names with prefix ‘Koi’ or ‘Koitru’ or ‘Kotru’ in Karavali Tulunadu and other parts of Karnataka reveals that these tribes lived in these regions once upon a time. And due to various adverse reasons these tribes might have migrated north towards Vidarbha in Maharastra. Many of the ancient socio-religious customs of early Gond tribes have been assimilated into the cultural practices of subsequent Tulu and other Dravidian generations.
Ancient Gonds of Tulunadu
The existence of place names beginning with ‘Koi’- (Koikude, Koila etc) and ‘Kotru’-(Kotrupadi, Kottara, Kottigehar etc) in Tulunadu are the remnant signatures of ancient Koitur Gond settlements. The agricultural implement ‘Kottu’(hand showel) may be having origins with ‘Kotru’ tribes. The earlier Koi and Kotru tribes were possibly partly absorbed into later Dravidian communities as seen by the undercurrents of ancient Gond customs among us. Assimilation of tribes suggest that they were evolved enough to gain respectability by the immigrants.
Further, ‘Gondarannaya’ has remained as a ‘Bari’ (septa) and ‘Konde’(<.Gonde), ‘Kotari’, ‘Kotriyal’ etc have remained as surnames especially among Tulu Nadava people.
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