Friday, 15 June 2018

Yercaud Hill station founded by Gov. Thomas Munro of East India Company

Yercaud hill station, ytamil nadu.TrekEarth
Yercaud hill station, Sunset./ en.wikipedia.org/
Sacred heart Convent for girls, commons.wikimedia.org/
Among the hill stations of Tamil Nadu, Yercaud in Salem district occupies an important place because it is close to cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Tiruchi.  Located in the misty, beautiful Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats, this famous hill station is  at an altitude of 1515 metres (4970 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in Yercaud being the Servarayan temple, at 5,326 feet (1,623 m). Congenial weather prevails most of the months and lots of people, who are weary of hot weather on the plains  hit the hill resort for fun and relaxation. Visitors to this nice place can not escape from the mesmerizing effects of  cool fragrant breeze wafting through the dense forests and plantations of Shevroy Hills. It will be just an overwhelming experience that will be in your mind for a long time.  Yercaud is an anglicized name for Yeri Kadu which in Tamil means forest-lake (Yeri means lake, Kadu means forest).

Normally, temperatures may range from 16 to 30 degree Celsius in the summer and 13 to 25 degree Celsius in the winter. Yercaud is often referred to as the “Poor man’s Ooty,” as the expenses for a holiday here are considerably less, when compared to Ooty.
Yercaud hill sattion.  TN Maps-india.com
It was  Sir Thomas Munro, erstwhile Governor of Madras Presidency in 1822 founded this place. Born in 1761, he had studied at the University of Glasgow and come to Madras in 1789 having secured an Infantry cadet-ship here. Through hard-work he became the Governor of Madras Presidency.  The nice surroundings, congenial weather and the vast wooded areas around Yercaud attracted Munro
Gov. Thomas Munro, Madras Presidency. SlideShare
very much and he immediately understood the potential value of this place which could later  become a summer retreat for the Europeans who had to put up with warm summer days on the plains. Gov. Munro was a maverick and  introduced several administrative reforms which are still being followed by the Indian government. To serve the people well, Munro laid the foundations of a form of district administration that is being followed even to this day with some changes.  Being a well-known British administrator obviously he won the heart of the Indian natives  as he was honest and upright.

Yercaud hill station, Tami nadu. Tamil Spide
M.D.Cockburn Collector of Salem. Grave in Kotagirien.wikipedia.org/
Credit  also goes to yet another British administrator David Cockburn, a Scottish Collector of Salem district who between 1820 and 1829 developed this hill station, hence the got the nick name "Father of Yercaud".  He visited many hill stations, like Yercaud and Kotagiri and explored them, and it was when he visited Yercaud in 1820 that he introduced coffee plants from Arabia. Cockburn erected a small hut which is now known as Grange Estate. Like Gov. Munro  he understood the fine resources available in the Shervaroy hills and  was instrumental in introducing the cultivation of coffee, pears and apple, figs, etc., here which had not been tried before. The climatic conditions and the soil conditions as well were  conducive to the growth of coffee, apple plants, etc. In 1827 the survey of the Sherveroy hills was undertaken by the British and in 1840, the first European bungalow came up here.  The first coffee estate in Kotagiri was planted by Cockburn in 1843, in Kanhutty. Catherine Falls, located 7 km from Kotagiri, was named after his wife, Catherine Jane Lascelles (died 30 August 1879).

Initially the planters focused their attention on coffee and only after 1840 planters were encouraged to grow tea. One Dr.Wallich took serious efforts to try tea on the property of G. F. Fischer, a European of German origin. He purchased the Salem Zamin properties in 1836 and  was the only European Zamindar in the Madras Presidency. The area of his zamin was a whooping 125,000 acres (510 km2). One Richardson introduced cinnamon trees.  Coffee and citrus fruits, most notably oranges, are grown in abundance, as well as bananas, pears and jack fruit.

The growth of coffee and tea plantations plus the mild climate attracted lots of Europeans to move over here, leaving the hot plains. Further, they found their occupation quite profitable, besides, they liked the serene  and quiet ambiance prevailing in the mountainous area.  As more and more Europeans moved in, there arose a necessity to have spiritual services. This brought in  several Christian missionaries who established the churches here to cater to the Christian community.
Sacred heart Convent for girls,Yercaud. commons.wikimedia.org
In order to serve the community well, Christian missionaries established the Sacred Heart Convent for girls, the Nazareth Girls' Hr. Sec. School for Girls, and the Mont fort School for boys.  Later Don Bosco brothers founded the Retreat serving as a Novitiate House where students of the religious instruction stay and study. The ghat-raod on the hill stretches about 25 km and is close to Salem city, the headquarters of Salem district.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2000/20000917/spectrum/travel.html