Field training, IB Students field projects, Tribal Knowledge in Nilgiris

Tribal Medicine Workshop for students

Our group ready for the trek to Kollikorai


One Earth Foundation sponsored a tribal medicine workshop conducted by Earth Trust in the very scenic ever green forests around the hamlet of Kollikorai.  The objective was to highlight the immense traditional knowledge systems of our tribal communities and the need to preserve this wisdom.  There are 6 primitive tribes that reside in Nilgiris and several of them have continued to use forest medicine even to this day.  The Kurumbas, residing in the lower altitudes of the Nilgiris, have been known to have tremendous knowledge about forest vegetation and its uses for medicinal purposes.

Our participants were 24 students and 3 teachers from Bangalore who started the day by driving down to Mamaram, a village on the highway between Mettupalayam and Kotagiri.  From there the group trekked to Kollokorai to be met by representatives of Earth Trust. After a quick and informative introduction to Nilgiris and forest medicine, our group eagerly started the trek into the forest.  The trek was to lead us to a Kurumbas village called MelKuppu and along the way, we were to  learn about the varied sources of medicinal plants.  The group saw several Indian gaur and our guide, Krishnan, pointed out numerous plants and trees that had medicinal uses.  The forest had teak, sandalwood, forest guava and other species.  Our spotter, Magesh had to hault the progress of our trek several times as he heard faint rumblings on the forest floor and feared that some elephants or a herd of Indian gaur was not far off.  Soon, we were stopped by a forest guard, who warned us about the dangers ahead, as a rogue single male elephant was in the area.  Additionally, a herd of elephants was  seen that morning along the path that we were to take.  The situation was quickly assessed and our team decided to return back to Kollikorai from there.  All in all, an exciting trek but some disappointment as we could not reach our destination.

Back at Kollikorai, we had our lunch and were ready to learn about the preparation of some common tribal medicines.  Mira, assisted by 3 Kurumbas women, conducted a session where we learnt how several ingredients were mixed together to made medicines that had very well defined uses.   The group learnt how to prepare the following 2 medicines

a)       Sahadevi tablet for general health, and

b)      Thiribala Chooranum for cooling, ulcers and infections.

Interestingly, some of our students were involved in mixing the various ingredients and all were able to taste the final medicines. Here are some pics of our exciting day

Krishnan, our guide, points out some plants with medicinal uses

Crossing a stream along our path

The trek through the evergreen forest

The medicine preparation session

The ingredients for Sahadevi and Thiribala Chooranum medicines

A student helps in the preparation

One Earth Foundation works towards the conservation and preservation of the immense natural and cultural wealth of the Nilgiris region in South India.  For additional information, please contact

Raminder Chowdhary



Leave a Reply