Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Manjampatti Valley - Manjampatti Village

Manjampatti village at 730 metres (2,400 ft.), near the middle of the valley has 59 households with 191 persons (95 males and 96 females) dispersed among its many agricultural fields located inside a bend of the Ten Ar just below its junction with the Kumbar and Manalaar streams.
It is ethnically more diverse than Talinji. Pulaiyar were the majority inhabitants of Manjampatti when the British gave land to the village for cultivation. About 15 families of Muthuvar, another "tribal" group, live in Manjampatti village where they do cultivation and labor work. Some Theivar people, a widespread plains agricultural jaathi (caste), came to live in Manjampatti long ago and engage in agriculture on the village lands.
There are also a few houses of other plains jaathis such as Chakkliyar (originally leather-workers). Because of these jaathis, Manjampatti village has some features of plains Tamil villages such as eating of newer types of vegetables and having tea shops.
Manjampatti comes under the Mannavanur Panchayat and sends its Ward Member up to the monthly meetings. The people receive no benefit from the Panchayat, and prefer to rely on the Forest Department. Manjampatti falls under Kodaikanal Taluk office, and the people must travel far to Kodaikanal for official services such as getting a ration card. The ration items (rice, sugar, kerosene) are sent to an agent on the Amaravathi-Munnar Road (SH 17) where the people go to collect them.
The village has a small part-time general store selling cooking items and two part-time tea shops. There is a basic primary school of a type designed for tribal people, which is able to provide Transfer Certificates (TC) to students.
Forest Department Anti-Poaching Camp:
There is a Forest Department Anti-Poaching Camp with four full-time staff. There is a polling station at the Hydro Matric Survey Building in Manjampatti for all voters from Manjampatti, Muthuvankudi and Mungilpallam.
The village has a Moopan (headman), assisted by a group of elder men, who organizes activities such as maintaining irrigation channels and resolving disputes, but this position is not recognized in the Panchayat system. The Moopan can be of any caste, and serves as long as he has the confidence of the people. If someone commits a serious crime, the Moopan will turn the suspect over to the Forest Department, which will arrange for him to be detained by police on the plains.
Manjampatti was given land for cultivation when the Reserved Forest was created and the families have kept their respective fields marked with the original stone boundaries. Villagers earlier practiced shifting cultivation, growing millets such as raagi, thinai & kambu. Later the Forest Department forbade shifting cultivation and restricted cultivation to the allotted lands.
The crops now are rice in rainy season and butter beans otherwise, though with a more diverse population a few vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes are grown. Farmers here have to protect their crops from wild elephants, gaur, wild boar, deer and sometimes peacocks. A complex and well maintained system of small canals distributes water from the Manalar to irrigate the fields.
Muduvankudi is a neighboring village inhabited by Muduvar (Muthuvar), and is a 15-minute trek from Manjampatti.