The objective of the Department is to conduct an extensive research into the lives of the Tribes in Karnataka. The Department apart from conducting ethnographic, field work based documentation and analysis of the socio-economic life of the tribes, records and publishes their knowledge and literature which is available only in the oral form. The Department has published a series of oral epics thus collected, which has won the appreciation of the academic world. The Department is housed in a mini-campus called Giri-Seeme (Hilly-region) modeled on tribal culture. The campus has become a must-see for tourists. The Department is recognized by the UGC to carry out research under the Special Assistance Program (SAP). It also has a mini-museum of tribal culture.


Hampi, a renowned World Heritage Centre in Karnataka, is the pride of India. In this historical place, Kannada University, the long cherished cultural dream of the people of Karnataka, came into existence in 1991 to take up comprehensive research on all aspects of Karnataka and Kannada. Hampi, the capital metropolis of the bygone Vijayanagara empire which reigned economic prosperity and intellectual excellence over two hundred years, is on the bank of river Tungabhadra, near Hospet in Bellary district, Karnataka state. For its invaluable archaeological monuments highlighting the splendour of the Vijayanagara empire, it has been included in the world heritage by the UNESCO. The Kannada University campus is within the peripheral zone of the Hampi group of monuments. Vidyaranya, the seat of the Kannada University, is a well-laid out campus consisting of four faculties imparting higher education and research in Karnataka studies.

The Kannada University, since its inception, is striving to incorportate into the academic world, local knowledge system (desi/indigenous knowledge system) which were hitherto neglected by the academia. As part of such an objective, the University established the Department of Tribal Studies on 1.7.1994 with a view to undertake a comprehensive study of tribal lore and tribal people.

Karnataka has three distinct geographical regions: Karavali (coastal), Malenadu (hill region) and Bayaluseeme (plateau). In Karavali and Malenadu we find a large number of tribes and in Bayaluseeme we find a few tribes. Nomadic tribes are also found in Karnataka. The official records mention that in Karnataka we have 50 tribes. But today some of the tribes mentioned in the records are not found anywhere. At the same time we have certain tribes, which are not at all mentioned in the Scheduled Tribes list prepared by the Government. The Government has prepared the Scheduled Tribe list based on the studies conducted during the colonial period. This area of studies has been, hence, neglected so far. In this context, the establishment of the Department of Tribal Studies in Kannada University assumes importance.

The Department of Tribal Studies has come into being to shoulde many important responsibilities. One of the primary responsibilities has been to conduct a comprehensive survey of the Tribes. In this context we need to undertake micro study of each community from the economic, social and cultural perspecitives in a scientific manner. The following are some of the projects taken up by the Department, so far.

No other University in Karnataka has a Department of Tribal Studies and so the structure of our Department is quite unique. Dr Chandrasekhar Kambar, the first Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University and a well-known Folk- lorist in Kannada, , envisaged that the physical outlook of the Department should be quite different from other Departments. So he projected a mini-campus rightly called ‘Giriseeme’. The mini campus/village contains 11 houses modelled on the houses of tribes in the coastal and Malenadu regions. The walls of these houses have drawings/artwork of tribal communities both inside as well as outside. “Chavadi”, the place of the tribal court and the sacred place of the tribes, is an important building in this mini-campus. This building is used as a seminar-hall today. The carpet area of the department is 1420 Sq m. out of 100 acres including 2 tanks. In the vast area of the campus, we have grown sacred trees and plants. The Giriseeme has become an important tourist attraction in Vidyaranya, the Kannada University campus. Dr H C Boralingaiah who has been working about tribes has kept constant touch with various tribes of Karnataka for the past twenty years and he has been the force behind the construction of this campus. Many newspapers in the state have published special articles on this campus and many national level dignitaries have given lectures in “Chavadi” and have appreciated the atmosphere of Giriseeme. The previous Vice-Chancellors, Dr M M Kalburgi, Prof H J Lakkappa Gowda and Dr K V Narayana also has taken keen initiative in expanding and renovating Giriseeme.

In the face of modernity, the tribal community is losing some of its distinctive characteristics. Several tools which were used by the tribal communities are on the verge of disappearing completely. Such important artefacts have been collected by the Department. Our notion of museum is not merely to collect and keep such objects in the museum but to narrate the story of their artistry, usefulness for the community, their origin and through that introducing the wisdom of the tribes and also development of local science in tribal communities. This would help us to conduct research effectively. Along with it, we have in this museum, photographs of several tribes, paintings, their attire etc. This project is still acquiring related dimensions.

Our department has a collection of 242 hours of audio and 70 hours of video documentation containing the Oral epics of various tribes, their rituals, their customs, their dance and other art forms. Along with these we also have 2000 special photographs, 200 transperancies in our collection. The project is still growing. The departmental library contains nearly 2500 books highlighting various dimensions of tribal studies. Many reference works and primary sources are being accessed both by in-house and visiting scholars.

Oral epics of a community not only reflect their capacity to narrate a story in an artistic manner, but at the same time they narrate the history of that community, albeit in a different form. Similarly an epic represents the tradition of that community as well as its value system. Collection of tribal epics was the first research project of the department. Till now the department has been able to procure thirteen epics. We have already published ten epics. Male Madeshwara epic has been translated into English by Central Sahitya Academy. A portion of Manteswamy epic is published in an anthology of Tribal expressions brought out by Penguin India. Four of the department’s publications have won the Karnataka Janapada and Yakshagana Academy awards. These publications have become a source of discussion among scholars all over India.

  1. Manteswamy
  2. Male Madeshwara
  3. Junjappa
  4. Kumara Rama
  5. Krishana Golla
  6. Myasabedara Kathanagalu
  7. Malingarayana Kavya
  8. Gondara Ramayana
  9. Krishnagollara Kathanakavyagalu
  10. Siri Padadana.


Telephone numbers
Establishment of the department
Head of the Department


List of the faculties :

Name Designation HighestQualification Specialization
Dr H C Boralingaiah Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature
Dr K M Metry Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature
Dr K. Keshavan Prasad Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature
Dr Chaluvaraju Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature
Dr. Gangadhar Daivadnya Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature
Dr. A S Prabhakar Professor Ph.D. Tribal Studies and Kannada Literature