The wandering people of Chitradurga

The wandering sheep!

I was on my way back from a fantastic hiking from Mullayyangiri , highest peak in Karnataka state I  saw hundreds of goats and sheep along with donkeys and dogs  in the fields and few men standing in between  . I have seen them  before and always wanted to talk to  them. So I pulled over my car and started conversation with  them. Few minutes of talk revealed interesting facts and searched all over the internet to find out more about it after I got back home .

The head of the family Narnppa

Narnappa is a shepherd  from Hiriyur village of Chitradurga district in KA   ( kuruba )  who usually leaves his home for 5 months in a year with his family and sheep in search of livestock for his cattle . He is accompanied by 30 members of his family including brothers wives and kids and his cattle. His cattle herd is of around 1000 sheep and goats  , 10-15 donkeys to carry tent and cooking  equipment , dogs . He leaves his village January when greenery fades and reaches Chikkamagalur by March covering 200kms distance  by just walking. They travel in days and tent in nights .   Then they start heading towards their village by  May and reach by June  when the greenery is almost back in his village due to monsoon rains! What a challenging life I thought!

Livestock for sheep are the main  reason to move from city to city


This is called pastoralism by the university people , very common in India . In the Indian context Pastoralism is defined as  ” members of caste or ethnic groups with a strong traditional association with livestock-keeping, where a substantial proportion of the group derive  over 50% of household consumption from livestock products or their sale , and where 90% of animal consumption from natural pasture or browse , and where households are responsible for the fill livestock breeding” ( source: Pastoralism in India: A scoping study by Vijay Paul Sharma Ilse Kohler and John Morton)

Dogs are additional family members to them , these dogs are so expert in keeping the sheep that Narnppa says they sometime better than the humans in keeping the sheep

This is seen in Himalayas , North Karnataka, Andrapradesh , Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarath, Keral, Madya Pradesh, Maharashtra , Rajasthan and Tamilnaadu states. This group I met is form North Karnataka  and the main community following pastoralism is Kurubas ( shepherds ) .

the intelligent dogs of the herd

There will be one head for the herd . One heard consists of 800- 1200 sheep and goats , 30-45 people which includes   4-5 leaders, 4-5 elders , women and children , 4-5 dogs , 10 donkeys to carry things , 5-10 cattle. Mostly these people are uneducated and away from the modernism.

a common family activity

When I was talking to them  I found out they were really nice people and enjoyed my short photography . When they saw their sheep and themselves in my camera  LCD I will never forget their smiles and shine in the eyes . I cannot imagine how challenging their life will be but one day I want to explore.

Son of Narnappa. he was very happy to pose
Narnappa started calling his sheep and they can really understand his sounds!

6 thoughts on “The wandering people of Chitradurga

  1. Always interesting to read about other cultures and I’m also a little jealous of people who lead traditional ways of life, away from the city and out in fresh air, in contact with the earth much more so than I get to be. Though I realise they work hard, I’m sure that this does not make them unhappy. Great post 🙂

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