In 1845, Kodaikanal
was started as a hill station in the palani hills at 7375
ft. The Palani Hills were first surveyed by British
Lieutenant P.S. Ward in 1821. The first people lived
in the hills were dolmen-builders, which have left here
several visible artifacts. But dolmen sites have not been
carbons dated. In the Palani Hills Tribes are of two kinds,
the Paliyans and Pulaiyans. Kukkal Caves, which is 35
Kms. away from Kodaikanal, show traces of Paliyan occupation.
Paliyans are segmentary tribes. Next to Paliyans, Pulayans
were settled as agriculturists at latter stage. The survey
report of 1821, reveals Pulayans were the aborigines of
the Palani Hills and followed Tamil Culture.
British Lieutenant Ward
had climbed up from the Kunnavan Village of Vellagavi
to Kodaikanal first in 1821 to survey the area. In 1834,
Madurai Collector climbed up from Devadanapatti and built
a small bungalow at the head of Adukkam Pass near Shenbaganur.
Dr. Wight visited Kodaikanal in 1836 and recorded his
observations, which was very useful to botanists later.
In 1844, Mr. Fane, an Englishmen built godowns in Kodaikanal
and familiarised with hill area. In 1845, the first two
bungalows "Sunny side" and "Shelton" were built by American
Mission people with the help of Englishmen Mr. Fane. Then,
six American families came up and stayed first at Kodaikanal.
Following this, British houses also appeared. In 1864,
Colonel Hamilton recorded his opinion in his report
that Berijam take area was the best site in the Palani
Hills for a Military contonment or Sanitarium. The hill
station Kodaikanal was created to serve the needs of the
British and Europeans in India. Then in 20th
Century, an Indian Elite visited Kodaikanal and purchased
property and utilised the facilities of British and Americans
and thus later Kodaikanal have a form of complex plural
society of all brands.
Development of Kodaikanal
In 1875, Indian
Railway extended its line from Madras to Tirunelveli and
a station was created at Ammainayakkanur (Kodai Road later)
which facilitated the tourists to visit Kodaikanal. As
a first phase of travel, tourists started from Ammainayakkanur
Railway station to Krishnamma Nayak Thope (50 Kms. distance)
by bullock carts with journey hours of 12 to 14 hours.
From Krishnamma Nayak Thope, a trek journey started to
Kodaikanal (18 Kms. distance only) with conveyances of
horses, and Palanquins with sufficient coolies on hire.
In 1854, a bridle path was formed from Krishnamma Nayak
Thope for 10 miles at a cost of Rs. 4,500/- By 1878, Rs.
43,000/- was spent to extend the hill path, for ten more
miles. Then, Rs. 3,20,0000/- was spent to complete the
path upto Kodaikanal.
long distance visitor Major Partridge of Bombay Army,
who visited Kodaikanal in 1852, imported Australian Eucalyptus
trees to Kodaikanal. In 1853, a group of American and
British constructed an Anglian Church of St. Peter. In
1860, Roman Catholics brought Frenchmen, Belgians and
Europeans to the hill. In 1852, Father St. Cyr visited
Kodaikanal and brought Baynes Bungalow' in 1860 and constructed
'La Salette' Catholic priest church. In 1860, Madras Governor,
Sir Charles Trevelyan visited Kodaikanal and stayed in
'Roseneath'. In 1871, New Governor, Lord Napier visited
and his bungalow was named as 'Napier Villa'.
In 1879, seventy-five
Europeans came to Kodai for the season. In 1883 Kodaikanal
had 615 permanent residents. Kodai has more sunshine than
any other Indian hill station. The town nestles around
the man-made Kodai Lake which spreads out in a star shape
over sixty acres. Kodai has thickly wooded slopes, well
laid out walking paths through picturesque prospects,
tumultuous waterfalls and steep rock outcrops. Just a
few minutes walk in any direction from the heart of Kodai
town, brings the tourist to spectacular scenery.
rich in flora and fauna. In 1861 Major Douglas Hamilton
recorded 114 species of birds in Kodai and even discovered
tow new ones-the Laughing Thrush and the Kodai White-bellied
Shortwing. Kodai has a unique plant-the Kurinji, which
blossoms once in 12 years, when the hillslopes are of
blaze of purple.