Major tribes in Tamilnadu Upsc

Tribal people are concentrated mainly in the Nilgiris district. Major Tribes in Tamilnadu are Kodas, Thodas, Irulas, Kurumbas and Badagas, Kattunayakan and Paliyan.

They form larger groups, mainly have pastoral works. The tribal population in Tamil Nadu as per the 2011 census is 7,94,697.

Tamil Nadu has 38 tribes and sub-tribes. These people depend mainly on forest lands and agriculture.

Major Tribes in Tamilnadu


Tribes in Tamilnadu - Toda

Men from these tribes are occupied in Milking and grazing with buffaloes. Toda’s settlement is known as Munds. These people do not worship any god, and their consciousness is cosmic.

Toda live in Nilgiris.


Badaga Tribe in Tamil Nadu
Badaga Tribe in Tamil Nadu By Dinesh Kumar N – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

They belong backward class and are not classified as Tribal. Badaga was an agricultural community, with dwellers in the higher plateau of Nilgiris district.

They also engaged in tea cultivation and potato growing and also have a rich oral tradition of folk tales, songs, and poetry.

They belong to the Shiva Section of the Hindu religion.


Kota tribe in Tamil Nadu
Kota tribe in Tamil Nadu By Forbes Watson, John William Kaye – The People of India, Volume 8, published in 1875, Public Domain,

Kota tribe is concentrated in the Tiruchigadi area in Nilagiri Hills. They are known for Folk dances and are musicians who play at Badaa funerals.

These are engaged in funerals. They are experts in Iron Smiths, Potters, and carpenters. Kota implements elaborate tattoos in order to maintain status in society.


Kurumba Tribe in Tamil Nadu
Kurumba Tribe in Tamil Nadu By த*உழவன் – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

They are known for Black Magic and witchcraft. From Hunters and Gathering, they change to working in Tea and Coffee Plantations.

They are the only caste in the state to a distinctive language known as Kurumbas Language.


Irula tribe in Tamil Nadu
Irula tribe in Tamil Nadu By Sankar.s – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

They occupy the lower slopes and forest of Nilgiris Hills. They are second largest after the Badagas tribe and are similar to Kurumbas in characters. They produce Honey, fruits, herbs, roots, gums, dyes, etc. They also trade with people in the plains.

They are famous for catching snakes and collecting snake venom.


Paliyan tribe in Tamil Nadu
Paliyan tribe in Tamil Nadu By Vdakshinamurthy – Self-photographed, Public Domain,

The Paliyan, or Palaiyar or Pazhaiyarare are a group of around 9,500 formerly nomadic Dravidian tribals living in the South Western Ghats.

They’re food gathering communities. It is believed that the Paliyan tribe belongs to Palani Hills. They are distributed in districts of Madurai, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Tirunelveli, and Coimbatore.

Paliyar tribes were once nomadic, and now they are more progressive than modern society.

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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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