Cologne Tamil Studies

The initiative to save Tamil studies at Cologne University has been started out of self interest by Europe Tamilargal. This initiative aligns with our vision and mission to act on charitable causes that concern Tamil Diaspora, Language and Culture across the globe. This initiative has no external affiliation to Universities or Organizations.

Journey of Tamil at Cologne University



Prof. Dr. Klaus-Ludwig Janert

Establishes Institute of Indology

Prof. Dr.Monika Thiel-Horstmann

Strengthens teaching of tamil by adding lecturership

Prof. Dr.Dieter Kapp

Focus of Tribal language and culture and Modern Tamil literature

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Niklas

Focus of Classical Tamil, manuscript cataloguing, Tamil teaching methodology and Colloquial Tamil

The study of Tamil at Cologne University has its roots in the Institute of Indology founded in 1963 by Prof. Dr. Klaus-Ludwig Janert. 

Prof. Monika Thiel-Horstmann succeeded Prof. Janert, who further strengthened the department by employing Dr. Thomas Malten, as a Tamil lecturer.

Dr. Malten acted as on-site director for the project Pongal 2000. He contributed by creating an online tamil Lexicon and as well as a Tamil Text Thesaurus (TTT). These efforts lead to the addition of ancient Tamil palm-leaves texts to the “Memory of the World Register” maintained by UNESCO.

Prof. Dr. Dieter Kapp took over the department in 1990 and extensively researched the grammar, text and oral dialects of the tribal communities in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu.  

In 2006, internationally well-known Tamil scholar Prof. Dr. Ulrike Niklas became head of the department. Under Prof. Dr. Dieter Kapp and Prof. Dr. Ulrike Niklas, the focus on language and culture of the Tamil realm as a distinguishing feature of the institute was further developed. 

Her research was focused on Rural Tamil culture, field work, Classical Tamil, manuscript cataloguing, Tamil teaching methodology, Colloquial Tamil and documentation of traditional games such as jallikattu. She translated many classical Tamil literature to German, including Pathinen Kizhkannakku Noolgal (பதினெண் கீழ்க்கணக்கு நூல்கள்), Tholkappiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்), Yapparunkala Kaarigai (யாப்பருங்கலக் காரிகை). She also received the prestigious Grammar Award & most recently the G U Pope Award from Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

Current Research & Contributions

  • Documentation of traditional arts, crafts, and games (incl. jallikattu)
  • Develop new pedagogical methods and materials for the teaching of Tamil as a foreign language, complying with Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), including formation of a meta-curriculum for teachers to teach Tamil as a Foreign Language (TaFL).

Notable Alumni

  • Prof. Torsten Tschacher (Berlin University)
  • Dr. Nisha Kommattam (Chicago University, USA)
  • Prof. Sascha Ebeling (Chicago University, USA)

Student Statistics

  • ~250 Students since 2006
  • 8 Successful Doctoral Thesis


The unique library contains about 56.000 volumes. Among them are classical, medieval, and modern Tamil texts (40.000 volumes). It is thus one of the largest Tamil libraries outside India (equal to the library in Chicago). Furthermore, the library covers publications about general indological topics (Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, modern Indian languages, South Asian history, religions etc

Summer Schools

Activities of tamil school in Pondicherry

Annual four-week Summer Schools since 2008

  • “Tamil – Language and Culture” (Pondicherry, India)
  • “Indian Culture” (Pondicherry, India)

Summer School Activities

  • Language Courses
  • Cultural Lectures
  • Excursions (Chennai, Pondichery, Mamallapuram, Thanjavur, Maturai, Munnar, Nilgiris, ect.)

Average number of students per Summer School



  • German
  • German with Sri Lankan Origin
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • American