The different tribal groups in the Nilgiris
The Toda are known by several names like Tudas, Tudavans, and Todar. They are found only in Nilgiri district.The Government of India has identified the Toda as one of the six Primitive Tribal groups of Tamil Nadu. The name Toda is supposed to be derived from the word 'tud', the sacred tud tree of Todas. The Linguist Emeneau(1958 : 47 - 50) said that, "Toda dialect is an independent language of the Dravidian family affiliated with Tamil - Malayalam. The uniqueness of the half - barrel shaped houses given speculations regarding their origin ranged from Rome to Sumeria. The Toda village is called a mund, which means a herd or a cattle - pen. It is usually a collection of three or five half barrel shaped huts each 18 feet by 9 feet by 10 feet high with a small doorway measuring only 32 inches by 18 inches. Besides the huts, the mund has another hut with a smaller doorway, called ‘Tirierl’ or dairy temple. In the vicinity of the mund is the cattle - pen. Toda people are white (fair) in colour, being tall, strong built and well shaped. The striking feature of the women is the arrangement of their hair which is dressed in ringlets and flows waving down to the shoulders. The traditional garment of a Toda is known as Put-kuli, it is of thick white cotton cloth with red and blue stripes which is embellished further embroidery by the Toda women, is thrown around the body by the men and women like 'Roman toga'. Jewellery is worn by both men and women.
The Kotas, are found only in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu and they inhabit only seven villages , two of them being Kotagiri and Kokkal. They are village artisans, who are good in carpentry, black smithy and pottery. But only a few families are engaged in these skills as a means of living. Most others are engaged in cultivation. Happily, most of the Kota families in all the settlement have their own patta land(land with private ownership). Unlike Todas, they do not shy away from personal cultivation and are generally hard working people. In the field of education also they have stolen a march over other tribal communities. Today, many of them are working in the Government and non Governmental departments.