Chapter - 1
Lamthampadu, a tribal village in the Eastern Ghats of Visakhapatnam District in Andhra Pradesh, is predominantly inhabited by Kondhs, a Scheduled Tribe. This village is selected to make a comprehensive study of Kondhs, essentially a hill tribe, of their simple forest life, age-old methods of cultivation and their primitive cultural life which is little influenced by the changing tides. This monograph also gives incidentally a descriptive account of the socio-economic conditions of the different tribes in this village.
The village lying on 180-15’-42” northern latitude and 820-32’-20” eastern longitude is located on the top of a hill, at an altitude of about 4,500 ft. (Mean Sea Level) in the Eastern Ghats amidst a series of picturesque hills of altitude varying between 3,500 ft. and 5,470 ft. (Mean Sea Level) fig 1 gives a general view of the village and the surroundings. The village bounded by Tolugonda hill in the north (the name of the hill in the east is not known to tnem), Bodparvatham (hill) in the south and Kanchalamamidi hill in the west is about 12 miles to the west of Araku Valley, the well known hill station in Andhra Pradesh. Araku Valley situated at milestone 71 on Visakhapatnam-Anantagiri-Araku-Jeypore road, is connected to this village by a meandering foot-path across a wooded region of high mountainous peaks. A person after arrival at Waltair on the Madras-Howrah main line has to travel a distance of about 71 miles on Visakhapatnam- Anantagiri-Araku-Jeypore raod by any private transport bus to reach Araku Valley. To reach Lamthampadu from there, one has to cross not only a series of hill streams including Pathala hill stream, the main tributary to the Machkund river on which the hydro-electric project is being constructed but also tread across a series of mountain peaks covered with dense forests. It is impossible to reach this remote village without a tribe guide. It is also not possible to cover this entire distance of 12 miles at one stretch without an intermittent halt, as it has to be negotiated only by foot (See map1).
Important centers of administration, commerce, culture etc.
The village administratively falls under the jurisdiction of Paderu Taluk. The village is at a distance of 20, 72 and 84 miles from Paderu, the Agency taluk headquarters, Vizianagaram, the Revenue Divisional headquarters respectively. In order to reach the taluk headquarters the tribals usually prefer the mountain tract across the Eastern Ghats (as they are economically poor to take up the officially recognized route). The recognized route which officials or plains merchants follow is to walk the distance of 12 miles from this village to reach Araku Valley, the nearest bus stop, and then travel by any private transport bus via Visakhapatnam to reach Paderu. A distance of about 165 miles is thus to be covered by this circuitous route to reach the taluk headquarters which is only 20 miles cross country. Apart from the above two routes, the fair weather road of 26 miles of length from Araku to Paderu, connecting the Visakhapatnam-Anantagiri-Araku-Jeypore road at 75th mile is being laid by the State Highways Department, which is yet to be opened for regular traffic. One can reach both the District and the sub-division headquarters from Araku Valley by any direct private transport bus.
The Primary Health Centre at Dumbiriguda village of the Panchayat Samithi Block, Araku Valley is the nearest hospital which is six miles away from this village. The nearest police station is located at Araku Valley (12 miles away from this village). The Government Hospital, offices of the Post and Telegraphs, Panchayat Samithi Block, National Malaria Eradication Programme Unit, Special District Agriculture Officer attached with a small Dairy Farm, Assistant Women Welfare Officer (Agency Area), Divisional Engineer (Soil Conservation), Section Officer (Highways) and a Silk Farm are located at Araku Valley. Besides a Veterinary Hospital, a Government Basic Training and High School with attached hostel for tribal children to prosecute further studies are also located as Araku Valley. The nearest railway station at present is Kottavalasa, a plains village at a distance of about 70 miles from this village but within a couple of years a place 12 miles away and ahead of Araku will be the nearest railway station of this hill region on completion of the Dandakaranya-Balangir-Kiriburu Railway Project.
The most outstanding physical aspect of the present habitat of Kondhs is its location on the top of a hill at an altitude of about 5,400 ft. which presents a panoramic view of the surrounding hill country. The extensive podu lands (cultivated hill slopes) on the surrounding hill and the garuvu lands (flat lands at the foot of hills) around the village exercise not only profound influence on the living conditions of Kondhs but also on their well-build physique. The seasonal climatic variation have significantly influence the cultivation and food procuring methods of Kondhs.
Rainfall and climate
The rainfall statistics, recorded at Araku Valley Rain Gauge Station, show an average annual rainfall of 148.53 cm. The south-west monsoon commences with a few showers in June, sets in full in July and continues till the end of September, while the north-west monsoon causes moderate rains from October to January. Moderate rains are quite common during the dry weather months from February to May besides the pre-monsoon showers in April and May. The hail storms in April, frost in December and January and heavy gales from June to October are quite common in this hilly tracts. Due to this considerable diversity of seasons in this hilly terrain, the climatic changes are quite erratic. The winter is remarkably severe with a minimum temperature of 2.220C to 72.20C in the months of November and December and considerably pleasant with a maximum temperature of 32.20C to 38.890C during March and April. The nights are generally cool all through the year. The difference between the maximum and minimum temperatures in a day is about 1.10C which is said to be unfavorable for human and plant growth.
The flora of this village consists of large sized ever green trees like jack, mango, neredi, maddi, tamarind, tada, myrobalam etc., which luxuriously grow due to heavy rainfall the sagu trees, which supply a juice from which indigenous liquor is prepared are in good number in the vicinity of the village. Due to the annual forest fires for podu cultivation, the plants have become dwar. Each household has a few fruit bearing trees, namely jack, mango and tamarind which are either in the respective fields or in the habitation area. The adda creeper which is of multi-purpose value to these tribals, has a wild growth on these hills. The forest is fast disappearing due to the ruinous system of extensive hill cultivation which unfortunately is the main source of livelihood to Kondhs at present.
The fauna of this region usually consists of barking deer, spotted deer, sambhar, bears and cheetahs and the latter two frequen the village during the fruit seasons. Bears are most commonly found in these hills. The wood cock and brown cock with black head are quite common besides multi-colored wild birds. Rabbits are also found in this area. The domesticated animals of this village consist of milch cattle, bullocks, goats, sheep and pigs besides fowls and they do not belong to any special variety.
The 1951 Census population particulars of Lamthampadu, a hamlet of Siragam village, are not separately available as the population figures were reported under the main village, Siragam which includes five other hamlets. The population of Siragam village including the hamlets as per 1951 Census is 104 (49 males and 55 females). During the 1961 Census, Lamthampadu has been enumerated as a separate unit (Code No. 1517 C). It was then having 22 households with a total population of 86 persons (44male and 42females) table.1. At the time of present survey conducted from 29-4-1963 to 9-5-1963 there did 15 households with a population of 98 persons comprise 52 males and 46 females and the average size of the household works out to 6.5. As per table 2 among the total 15 households, 8 households have each 4 to 6 members while only 4 households are found with 7 to 9 members each. There are two household with 2 to 3 members. Being an unsurveyed village by the survey and settlement department, the area and the density of population cannot be worked out for this village.
All the Kondha residential houses are constructed in two rows facing each other, adopting their traditional dormitory type (fig2). The two households of Nooka Dora and Kotia have settled a little away in the south of Kondh habitation area and their houses are independent structures. Both these Nooka Dora and Kotia tribes are considered to be superior to Kondhs in the tribal hierarchy of this region. The Kondhs eat beef and pork unlike the other two tribes.
The foot-path passing through the hills (fig.3) is the only approach to the village and bullocks serve as the mode of transport for goods. There are no village streets. As the village is situated on the top of a hill, the rain water drains off into the lower regions and as such the village presents a neat appearance even in the rainy season. There are four foot-paths from all the four directions, leading into and out of the village. A perennial hill stream, locally known as Lamthampadu Joru flowing from east to north, is the only water source for all the inhabitants and for all purpose throughout the year (map.2).
Important public places and places of worship and crematorium
Though the different tribes of the village worship, the village deities namely Sankudemudi, Paddademudu, Kondadevathalu and Jakarademudu to protect them against ill-health and wild animals, only Jakarademudu is located in the east of the village, symbolized in a conical shaped stone (map.3). There is neither a school nor any administrative and welfare centre in this village. The traditional tribal panchayats administers both the civil and religious life of the village. The tribals attend to the weekly shandy at Araku on Fridays for the purchase of their domestic requirements and sale of their surplus agriculture produce and minor forest produce. The transactions in the weekly shandies are usually carried out in cash. The crematorium locally known as khaja manimanda is situated in the north-west corner of the village. All tribes bury or cremate the crops, keeping a little distance away from each tribe, in the same crematorium (map.2).
History of the village and the tribe
The village belonged to the erstwhile estate of Pachipenta which was taken over by the Government on 20-6-1955 under the Estates Abolition Act, 1948. The village is now situated in the Paderu Taluk of Visakhapatnam District.
“The only really primitive Khonds in Vizagapatam are the Dongria (jungle) Khonds of the north of Bissamkatak Taluk, the Desya Khonds who live just south-west of them in and around the Nimgiris, and the Kuttiya (hill) Khonds of the hills in the north-east of the Gunupur taluk”.
“These people are called by themselves (sometimes) Kuvinga; in Telugu, generically, Kodulu; and by their neighbours by awhole series of terms, which differ according to the locality and the degree of civilization attained, among them.”
According to E. Thurston
It is noted in the Madras Census Report 1891, that the Konds inhabit hill tracts of Ganjam and parts of Vizagapatam, and the found also in Bengal and the Central Provinces.”
It is impossible to distinguish the true Kondhs from other tribes like Kondodevudulu, Kondalu, etc.
“The Khonds live in the midst of the Oriya territory. Their habitat is the hills separating the districts of Ganjam and Vizagapatam in the Madras Presidency.”
During the present survey, none of the inhabitants of this village could say either about the history of the village or about the origin of any tribe. It is further said that the forefathers of the present Kondh families have migrated to these parts a few generations ago, perhaps to eke out their livelihood from Orissa State. Even today the Kondhs claim their original habitation in Orissa State. Moreover the villages of this region look like Oriya villages due to geographical propinquity of Orissa State. In this region this tribe is distinctly known as either Samanthu or Kodulu. The casual enquiries in the weekly shandies and in the neighboring villages would reveal that they are widely known as Kodulu or Samanthulu. Like the Samanthu tribe of Annavaram village in Chintapalli, the Agency taluk of the same district, the Kondhs of this region also speak KUE dialect. The cultural heritage of Kondhs and Samanthus of Annavaram village show very many common points in their physical characteristics, religious and social practices and as such it is very difficult to make any distinction between them. Hence it may be inferred that the term Samanthu is the regional name for Kondh tribe. In general Kondhs are considerably more primitive than the other tribes of this region.
The Kondhs are in majority with twelve out of 15 households in the village. Eleven of the 12 households have reported to have been living here for 4 to 5 generations while the remaining one household has been here for 2 to 3 generations (table.62). The remaining two Nooka Dora and one Kotia households belong to the present generation as they have immigrated between 3 to 10 years back to eke out their livelihood in this village (table 61). It is further evident from table 64 that the two Nooka Dora households have immigrated from outside the taluk but from within the district whereas the one Kotia household has migrated to this village from another village of the same taluk. No reliable information is available with regard to emigration. Thus it appears from table 62 that Kondhs are the first settlers in this village.