top of page



This anthropological documentation explores the cultural practices, historical background, and livelihoods of the Ulladan/Kochuvelan community, residing in the districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, and Ernakulam, Kerala. The name "Kochu Velan" is a locally known term used by the Ulladans, sometimes referring to their headman. The term "Ullu" signifies forest areas, while "Aliyavar" means those who ruled, implying their historical connection to forest regions.

Geographic Distribution

The Ulladan/Kochuvelan community is distributed across several gram panchayaths, including Chittar and Naranammoozhy in Pathanamthitta District, Mundakkayam in Kottayam District, Kanjikkuzhi in Idukki District, and Kuttampuzha in Ernakulam District. They have settlements both in the eastern areas of Pathanamthitta District and the plain areas of other districts.

Historical Evolution and Language

The Ulladan/Kochuvelan community is believed to have originated as forest dwellers, later settling in plain areas. Their traditional dialect is rarely in use, and they predominantly speak Malayalam. The headman of the Ulladan community is known as "Kanikaran," presiding over the council of elders.

Traditional Livelihoods

In the past, the Ulladans were semi-nomadic, with a deep indigenous knowledge of collecting medicinal herbs, which they would sell in local markets. They were granted rights to enter sacred groves for the collection of medicinal plants. Additionally, those settled along the banks of the Western Kuttanad backwaters are skilled carpenters, particularly known for their expertise in canoe making. Honey collection and non-timber forest produce were also vital aspects of their livelihoods.

Transition in Livelihoods

Currently, a major section of the Ulladan/Kochuvelan community works as agricultural laborers. Some have become wood cutters, and those settled in urban and semi-urban areas have responded to development initiatives and progressed in their own ways. In conclusion, this anthropological documentation provides valuable insights into the cultural heritage, social structure, and economic activities of the Ulladan/Kochuvelan community in Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, and Ernakulam districts, Kerala.

Their historical connection to forest regions and expertise in medicinal herb collection, canoe making, and other traditional livelihoods add to their unique identity. As some members transition to modern occupations and respond to development opportunities, efforts to preserve their cultural heritage and support their overall well-being remain essential for sustained progress and welfare

bottom of page