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The Muthuvan people live on the hilly forest regions bordering Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They are found in the Adimali and Devikulam forest areas of Idukki district. The highest concentration of these people is on the Anamudi hills, the highest peak of the Western Ghats. There are two different groups among the Muthuvan and they speak two slightly different dialects. They are Malayalam Muthuvan and Pandi Muthuvan. The Malayalam or Nadan Muthuvan hail from the Adimali areas and the Tamil or Pandi Muthuvan are found in the Munnar and Devikulam areas.

The Muthuvan must have migrated from the plains, most likely from Madurai. The root word Muthuku means the back of the body. It is said that when they migrated to the hills they carried their children and their belongings on their backs. Even today, Muthuvan carry their children on their back.


The Muthuvan make their settlements along the slopes of hills. These settlements are within 25 km from the forests. You may have to go trekking through the one-foot wide path in the forest for six hours to find some settlements. The Tamil Muthuvan normally live in clusters and the Malayalam Muthuvan are spread out in the cultivable land.


The Muthuvan huts are made up of reeds and thatched with its leaves. Some house walls are panelled with wooden branches and mud applied on it. The huts have two separate areas, one for cooking and common uses and the other for sleeping. The forest and the brooks serve as their toilets or bathrooms. The government has a special grant of Rs.30,000 to 40,000 for these people to build houses. But most of them do not make use of it due to ignorance or a lack of vision for improving their living conditions.

Read more…

Food,   Occupation and gathering of forest products, Cultivation
Transport and Communication
Sathram, the dormitory for boys/ grils and for visitors… only seen among Muthuvan  
Religion and Worship
Medicine and Healthcare
Social Administration
Schools and Education

The Muthuvan Language…. they too feel comfortable to speak their own language.  
Read the complete lengthy story of Mannan (1,200words) at A Peep into the Tribalscape
(A video on the Muthuvan people [13 minutes] is produced by NLCI. Script and direction: Philipose Vaidyar)
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