A panorama of Kudremukh ranges from Mittabagilu area (Photo: Padmashree.)
One of the most enchanting panoramic splendors in the Dakshina Kannada district can be witnessed if you travel from Ujire on the Suria- Mittabāgilu- Didupe road, in the northeastern part of Belthangadi Taluk, bordering Chikmagalur district. You can witness the charming beauty and glory of the southern part of Kudremukh iron ore ranges from Mittabāgilu village.
The simple sounding place name ‘mitta-bāgilu’ is a bit perplexing. Literally, ‘mitta’ (=upper) and ‘bagilu’ (=door) can simply mean upper door. But can a village name be something like ‘upper door’? Did the beauty of the panorama prompted people to describe the village-name as upper door or door to heaven? However, this is not the actual or originally intended meaning of this village!
The village was originally ‘Mitta bāgelu ‘named after ‘Bage+ilu’ or the habitation of ‘Bage’ sect of Munda tribes.
Bage: Munda tribes
The clue to the place name lies in the name of tribes called ‘Bage’. The Bage is a surname among Munda tribes now distributed in parts of central and eastern India. However, the occurrence and distribution of numerous place names after them suggest that these tribes lived in peninsular India including the Karavali during early history.The Puranic names of Bagiratha and River Bagirathi could have direct affinity to the ancient Bage tribes.
There are several villages and hamlets named after these tribal groups in the Karavali and in the mainland of Karnataka. Bagvādi (Kundapaur Taluk), Bagabila, Kotebagilu (Mangalore taluk), Bagalodi (Bantval Taluk),Bagepalli (Kolar district), Bagalur and Bagalagunte(Bangalore), Bagilakote and Bagevādi (Bijapur distrct) are some examples.
There is a hamlet known as ‘Bagambila’ near Someshwara –Kotekar villages of Mangalore Taluk. This introduces the word ‘bila’(=cavern) used as a spatial attribute in the early history. Similarly there is one ‘Todambila’ ( hamlet of Toda tribes) near Bantval Muda village.
The place name ‘Bagalkote’possibly has special historical significance. Incidentally, the word ‘Bagal-kote’ mentions location of a fort (‘kote’) of ‘Bage’ tribes! It could also be fusion of two subtribes of Bagelu and Kote. Similar sounding Kote-bagilu is a habitation in Mudabidri town, Mangalore Taluk.This leads us to speculate whether during early historic days, probably pre-Dravidian era, the Bage tribes were ruling in the Bagalkote region.
The’ bari’ lineage evidences suggest that with passage of time the ‘Bage’ tribes of Karavali have been assimilated seamlessly into the mainstream of Tulu people. Bagalthaya surname has been preserved in Tulu Brahmin communities. Similarly ‘Bagyantaya’ is a lineage name (‘bari’) among the Bunt- Nadavas of Dakshina Kannada.