Coimbatore, largest metropolitan city in the region.
Kongu Nadu region within Tamil Nadu
|• Body||Government of Tamil Nadu|
|• Total||25,864 km2 (9,986 sq mi)|
|• Total||17.6 million|
|• Density||607/km2 (1,570/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Vehicle registration||TN 27-42, TN 47, TN 52, TN 54, TN 56, TN 66, TN 77-78, TN 88, TN 99|
|Civic agency||Government of Tamil Nadu|
Kongu Nadu is a region and aspirant state of India comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu and parts of the states of Karnataka and Kerala. In the ancient Tamilakam, it was the seat of the Chera kings, bounded on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Pandya Nadu regions.
There is no definite origin for the word Kongu. Kongu Nadu is believed to have come from "Kongadesam", "Konga" a derivant of the term "Ganga", meaning "land of the Gangas". Kongu may also mean nectar of flowers.
Archaeological data from Kodumanal, a village on the banks of the Noyyal River, suggests the beginning of civilization around 4th century BCE. Kodumanal was situated on the ancient trade route between across the Palghat gap in the Western Ghats and yielded remains belonging to the Sangam age. Tamil-Brahmi writings were found on coins, seals and rings obtained from Amaravathi river bed near Karur, the erstwhile capital of the Cheras. A musical inscription in Tamil Brahimi was found in a cave in Arachalur, dating from the 4th Century CE and Iravatham Mahadevan writes that these are syllables used in dance.
The region was ruled by the Cheras during Sangam period between c. 1st and the 4th centuries CE and the medieval Cholas conquered the Kongu Nadu in the 10th century CE. Much of Tamil Nadu came under the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire by the 15th century. In the 1550s, Madurai Nayaks, who were the military governors of the Vijayanagara Empire, took control of the region. After the Vijayanagara Empire fell in the 17th century, the Madurai Nayaks established their state as an independent kingdom. They introduced the Palayakkarar system under which Kongu Nadu region was divided into 24 Palayams. In the latter part of the 18th century, the region came under the Kingdom of Mysore, following a series of wars with the Madurai Nayak dynasty. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore Wars, the British East India Company annexed the region to the Madras Presidency in 1799. The region played a prominent role in the Second Poligar War (1801), when it was the area of operations of Dheeran Chinnamalai.
Kongunadu comprises the modern day districts of Coimbatore District, Nilgiri District, Tirupur District, Erode District, Namakkal District, Salem District, Karur District, Dharmapuri District, Krishnagiri District, parts of Dindigul District in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and also parts of South-western India including parts of Palakkad District in the Kerala state and parts of Chamarajanagar District in Karnataka state. The Western Ghats mountain range passes through the region with major rives Kaveri, Bhavani, Amravati and Noyyal flowing through the region. Palghat Gap, a mountain pass connects the neighbouring state of Kerala to the region.
Kongu Nadu had a flourishing economy from ancient times and had trade contacts with foreign nations. Kodumanal was a 2,500-year-old industrial colony discovered by archaeologists. The region was located along an ancient Roman trade route that extended from Muziris to Arikamedu. A Chola highway called Rajakesari Peruvazhi ran through the region.
Kongu Nadu is amongst the most industrialised regions in the country. Agriculture and textile industries contribute majorly to the economy of the region. It is one of the major producers of textiles including cotton, apparels and knit wear, and hosieries, agricultural and allied products including milk, poultry, turmeric, sugar-cane, rice, white silk, coconut and plantain, industrial products including paper, auto parts, water pumps, wet grinders,  jewellery, aluminium and steel and IT services in Tamil Nadu. Kovai Cora cotton sarees, Coimbatore Wet Grinders, Salem silk sarees, Bhavani Jamakkalam, Toda Embroidery and Nilgiri tea are recognized Geographical Indications from the region.
Kongu Nadu cuisine is predominantly south Indian with rice as its base and a collection of exotic recipes being created by the people residing in the Kongu region. Food is served over a banana leaf. Eating on a banana leaf is an old custom and imparts a unique flavor to the food and is considered healthy. Idly, dosa, paniyaram and appam are popular dishes. Kongu Nadu cuisine does not involve marination of any raw material and as a result the food has a different taste and unique texture. Turmeric is added into curries which gives the product a deep yellow colour and an aromatic substance. Arisi Paruppu Sadam, made from a mixture of dal and rice is a recipe that existed from fourth century CE and unique to the area. Kaalaan is a popular dish prepared by simmering deep fried mushrooms (usually chopped mushroom) in a spicy broth, until it reaches a porridge like consistency and served sprinkled with chopped onions and coriander leaves. The traditional Kongu people were mostly vegetarians for religious reason. Oppitu is a type of sweet made with the basic ingredients rice, sundal paruppu, palm jaggery, cardamom and ghee.
There have been numerous claims that Kongu Nadu region has often been ignored by successive governments in spite of being the largest contributor to the state's economy. There have been demands for the creation of separate state of Kongu Nadu, comprising the regions of western Tamil Nadu, parts of southern Karnataka and northern Kerala. A number of political outfits namely Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi, Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam, Kongu Vellala Goundergal Peravai, Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai are active in the region claiming to fight for the rights of the region.
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