Tulu Nadu refers to an area heavily dominated by tulu speaking people, consisting of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka and the northern parts of the Kasaragod district of Kerala up to the Chandragiri River. The Tuluva ethnic group constitutes a majority of the population in this region, with a major concentration in the coastal areas. Konkanis from Goa are the next major ethnic group here.
Flanked on the west by the Arabian Sea and on the east by the Western Ghats, Tulu Nadu normally experiences a tropical climate and usually sees heavy rains. Historically, it consisted of two separate lands of Haiva and Tuluva. Originally, it was under the reign of Ballal Kings of Sullia. Legend has it that the Bunt/ Nair and Brahmin migration to TuluNadu was under the rule of Kadamba King Mayuravarma in 345 C.E.
It is rumoured that the origins of the great Vijayanagar Empire based in eastern Karnataka are from this region. Rulers until the 17th century, the Aluppas (Tulu Royals) of the region, paid tribute to the Vijayanagar Empire. More communities would migrate to the area, with the Konkanis and Goud Saraswat Brahmins arriving by sea. Catholics arrived from Goa, who contributed to the rise of educational institutions in the area. Arab traders who married local women and settled here led to the rise of the Muslim community here. Tulu Nadu was attached to the Madras Presidency before being reverted to the state of Mysore and named Karnataka, after the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799. Post-independence, Kasaragod was attached to Kerala in 1956.
Yakshagana is the most famous art form to emanate from the area. It is a night-long dance and drama performance, said to have originated over 400 years ago. Its classical background and overall performance have drawn comparisons to the legendary Kathakali of Kerala. It consists of dance, music and spoken words with the themes based on Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, with elaborate costumes and make up adding to the overall appeal.
The Tulu language is spoken by around 3 million people, it is among the most integral Dravidian languages in the country. A majority of the speakers can be found in districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in the west of Karnataka and Kasaragod district. The speakers of the language are known as Tuluvas, and the script is called Tigalari. Other major languages in the area are Kannada and Konkani.
Originally, a lot of the economy depended on agriculture and fishing, with the major crops being rice, bengal gram, horse gram, vegetables and fruits. Plantation crops like coconut, areca nut, cocoa, cashew nut, and pepper are also cultivated now. It is among the highest revenue contributors to Karnataka, along with being interconnected to places around the country with the international airport at Mangalore. New Mangalore port (NMPT) is yet another important trade hub in the area.
It is among the most prominent educational centres on the western coast of India, with more than a hundred professional colleges. The cities of Mangalore, Udupi and Kasaragod are the cultural centres of Tulu culture. Linguists have suggested that the word Tulu literally means water, and with similar meanings in other southern languages, it is considered a literal 'language of the waters'.