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   Historical Moments

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.

 The first 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.

 Kodai is 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.