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about idukki

Idukki People

Due to the Large scale of Migration to the District from other parts of Kerala and from the Neighboring Tamilnadu, Idukki is having a mixed culture


Thevan Raja Mannan, the one and only one King of Tribal Kingdom in the entire Kerala is living at Kovilmala of Kanchiyar Panchayat in Udumbanchola Taluk of Idukki District. His Predesessor Nayan Raja Mannan was his uncle. His Kingdom is having four divisions, namely, 'Thekkottu Kattu Rajyam', 'Nadukkuda Kattu Rajyam', 'Athal Orupuram' and 'Chenkanattu Mala'. Their Goddess (Kula Deivam) is 'Madura Meenakshi Amma' of famous Madura Temple and they are also worshiping few other Gods.
Idukki is the second largest place in Kerala where the most number of scheduled tribes and tribal ambiguities exist. There are 245 tribal settlements in the District of which 74 are in Thodupuzha; 11 in Peermedu; 126 in Devikulam and 34 in Udumbanchola Taluks. Almost all the scheduled tribes are living in the extreme remote hilly banks and in the deep interiors of thickly growing forests of this district. According to the latest Census around 11516 Scheduled tribal families are living in the district.

The following clans are found in the scheduled tribes :


Among the scheduled tribes Malayarayans out class all the other factions in socio-economical and educational aspects. Renegades and traditional Hindus following the hereditary regulations and customs are included in this group. When an evaluation in the educational and employment prospect is taken, it will be found that almost all the Government Servants and other employees are coming from this faction of scheduled tribes. Their dwelling places and surroundings are showing the bright prospect of development and they have always been showing the tendency to dissolve with the then prevailing socio-developmental programs.


Most of the Mannan families are staying in the Adimali, Kattappana, and Nedumkandam Block Panchayats. In some of the areas of Azhutha, Devikulam and Idukki Block Panchayats also one could detect their presence. They are a special and particular type of tribals with unique customs and hereditary traditions. They have a King and they keep the honour of King ship preciously.
They have been following the traditional regulations till now. They stay mainly in the forest inland and government allotted plots. When the government banned the deforestation these families made a great exodus to the civilized places and are forced to restrict themselves in the allotted plots with their own culture. In addition to their own cultivation in the allotted farm lands, they collect forest products (wealth) doing manual labor and cattle breeding as their occupations.
Their literacy rate is far below the national literacy average rate. One of the notable features of the tribal people is that they lend their farm and produce to the rich and they do manual labor in their own plots. Their economical stability and fundamental needs for a nominal living are below average and it is found that the surroundings are very pitiful and degrading if we make an honest evaluation. It is shocking to see that the Mannan men and women are over addicted to liquor and other intoxicants, and the knowledge for a hygienic life is negligibly less. Most of the Mannan families do not have a stable dwelling place nor the basic needs for a good living.


They are a special tribe mainly living in the deep and dense forest inland of Devikulam, Adimali, and Nedumkandam block Panchayats. They had been tamed by the mesmerism of nature and were forced to unite and co-operate with the natural phenomenons respectfully and living very typically with their own heritage. They drink water from the deep forest streams (brooks), eating wild roots and living a simple life. They are exclusively different from the other factions of the tribes in many factors.
They are very reluctant and afraid of being united with the other clans of the tribes and civilized people. They like to live a secluded life fostering their own culture. Since they are in the deepest parts of the forest, they are illiterate, ignorant and very superstitions. The lack of basic centres of health, education, and other facilities stop them to know about the necessities of life. Their economical, social and educational improvement is negligibly nil and it has been a phenomenon for centuries. Almost 90% of the people are living in bamboo huts. Their reluctance and refusal to social development has been little bit changed and they are being motivated continuously for a better life.
Their women are strictly prohibited to have any relationship with the outside world other than their bamboo huts. They are severely secluded in the huts not allowing even to talk to other men. Literacy is a difficult term for them and the knowledge for a good life is little that their present state in the latter half of the 20th century is not different from the fate of the first men.
They begin consuming tobacco at an early age and more over their men are too much addicted to liquor and other intoxicants. They cultivate Ragi in their own farms. They have 3 to 10 acres of forest lands for cultivation. But the unfortunate thing is that cardamom and other refined forest products they collect are being devalued and Muthuvans are being exploited by the mediators superbly. Their ignorance in the modern farming methods and their inability to invest money for agriculture are being exploited. They have been continuously left to suffer even though they work and toil. Their huts are very much congested and stay close to one another. Their lack of awareness in sanitation and health programs put them in a battalion of infectious diseases and this lead to the untimely death of Muthuvans.


Except in Devikulam and Thodupuzha block panchayats, the Ooralies are active in other places of Idukki District. They possess hide bound customs and regulations but are very backward in educational aspects.
Even then they have the third position among the tribes in literary and basic educational realms. Agriculture is their main occupation. But they also engage in cattle breeding and collection of forest products.


About 500 Paliyan families are staying in the Azhutha and Kattappana block Panchayats in Idukki District. They have very little farm lands and most of them are engaged in manual labor and in the collection of forest products. Even though they have their own slangs and dialects their literacy rate and basic educational prospects are considerably less.


They are the most backward type of tribes among the clans staying in the Marayoor and Kanthalloor Grama Panchayats of Devikulam block panchayat in Idukki district. Most among them do not have their own lands. They stay in small huts in the banned secluded government plots and other forest areas. They do manual labor and collection of forest products is another part of their income. They speak Tamil and follow their own unique and hereditary customs and they have their own primitive arts.
Their educational level is absolutely nil. Due to the lack of sanitation facilities and better life prospects most of them are unhealthy. They are keenly interested in knowing and learning modern developments and programs of the world. They prefer to learn jobs which may help them to earn a better income. One section of the Hilpulaya are traditionally skilled in the art of weaving and their ability is being exploited often by the mediators in the barter.


A few Malapandaram families are staying in the Azhutha block panchayat in the Idukki district. Partially gypsy typed, they differ from other factions in language and custom. Collection of forest products and exchanging is their main occupation. It is important to provide them the basic necessities of life to ensure their improvement in Socio-cultural and spiritual levels


Except in the Devikulam, Azhutha and Kattappana block panchayats, Ulladans are found mixing and relating with other tribes and living in harmony. In socio- educational and cultural developments they almost equalize with the Ooralies in status. Like other scheduled tribes they also engage in agriculture and in the collection of forest products. Even some among them are serving as Government employees. Those among them who stay in the plains are doing woodcutting and yacht making.


Edamalayar in Kuttampuzha panchayat is a place still in Adimali block panchayat (Idukki) but officially recorded with Ernakulam district is the only place where the Malayans exist. Bamboo-cutting, fishing, manual labor and forest wealth collection are their main jobs. They rent their farmlands and doing manual labour in it. They are keeping an average rate in educational and cultural programs. They consume alcohol and tobacco lavishly. They are found to be very unhealthy due to their morally degraded life.