There are around 15 tribal groups in the Nilgiris. Among them the Badagas, Kotas, and Todas are the chief tribal groups of the region. They speak Kanarese or dialects of that language. The Tribes of Irulas and Kurumbas who are also found in this area are extensions of tribes of the same name in Coimbatore, Malabar and Mysore.
The people of Badaga Tribe are excellent agriculturists who came to the Nilgiris after the Todas and are so advanced economically that they are no longer regarded as a tribe. They are a large tribal group spread across several villages of the Nilgiri region. They have their own language that is known as “Badaga”.
The traditionally recognized Toda overlordship of the Nilgiris and its tribes is now a mere legend. The elaborate funeral cars of the Badagas seem to be survivals of ancient Indian practices in Buddhist India which have been described by Chinese travelers. They continue to be practiced to the present day in Hindu Bali.