Madura District (1905)

"Madura" by W. Francis, in District Gazetteers series, Madras Government Press, Madras, 1905

Made available by the Internet Archive.
Source: Library of the University of California, Los Angeles Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: August 16, 2008.

There is some information on the ropeway that went uphill from Kottakudi to connect with Kannan Devan Tea Estate's tramway (monorail??) I had dealt at some length with the ropeway in my message dated 12 July 2007 ("Mysteries of a Defunct Ropeway")

[p. 154]

From ... a branch road ... recently ... constructed [from] Bodinayakkanur Kottakudi, a village at the foot of the Travancore hills, a steep track leads to the top of that range. The work was undertaken at the instance of the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Co (the owners of a large area of coffee, tea and cardamom cultivation on the range) who have constructed an aerial ropeway from Kottakudi to their estates on the hills to replace the track. This ropeway rises some 4,000 feet, is worked by a turbine driven by a small stream at the foot of the hill, and connects at its upper end with a monorail tramway, 22 miles in length, which goes to Munaar, the company's head-quarters. In consideration of Government acquiring and handing over under the Land Acquisition Act the land wanted for the ropeway, the company has entered into an agreement permitting the use of the ropeway, on payment of certain fixed charges, by the general public. The terms of the agreement will be found in G.Os., Nos. 4, W., dated 7th January 1901 and 331, Rev., dated 11th April 1005. The road to Kottakudi is maintained jointly from Provincial and local funds."

The railways in the district are covered in the following passages:

[pp. 158- 159]

"The only railway in the district is the South Indian Railway, the main line of which (metre gauge) enters it near Ailur in the Dindigul taluk, runs in a wide curve (to avoid the Sirumalais) through Dindigul to Madura town (crossing the Vaigai there on a bridge of 15 spans of 70 feet each), and thence passes south-west and south, through Tirumangalam into Tinnevelly district. The section up to Madura was opened in 1875 and that beyond it in the next year.

From Madura a branch line, also metre gauge, was built in 1902 to Mandapam, on the neck of land which runs out to meet Pamban island. This is to be eventually carried across the Pamban channel to the island, where it is proposed to establish a large port for ocean-going vessels. Schemes are also afoot to continue it thence over Adam's Bridge to Ceylon. Details of these matters are beyond the scope of this volume, but if they are ever brought to completion Madura will be a more important town than ever.

Other lines have been projected. One proposed route would run from Dindigul, through Palni, to join the Madras Railway at

[p. 159]

Tiruppur in the Coimbatore district. Another would similarly start from Dindigul and pass through Palni but thence would run westwards to join the Madras Railway at Palghat. Neither scheme has yet got beyond the stage of surveys and estimates.

In 1899 Messrs. Wilson & Co. of Madras were granted a concession to make a 2' 6" tramway from Ammayanayakkanur on the South Indian Railway to Kuruvanuth, at the extreme upper end of the Kambam valley, with branches to Kottakudi mentioned above and to Kistnama Nayak's tope at the foot of the ghat to Kodaikanal. The order of Government granting this concession contained the conditions that the work should be begun within twelve months thereafter, and completed within three years. The Company, however, were unable to raise the necessary funds and eventually relinquished the concession. In August 1905 the District Board decided to levy a cess of three pies in the rupee of land revenue to be spent upon the construction of railways within the district and it is now proposed that the proceeds of this should be laid out in making a metre-gauge line, to be constructed and worked by the South Indian Railway Co., from Dindigul* to Uttamapalaiyam, passing through Sembatti (at the end of the new Attur ghat road), Vattilagundu, Devadanapatti , Periyakulam, Teni (Alinagaram), Bodinayakkanur and Chinnamanur. This would run through much rich country and would tap every pass to the Upper and Lower Palnis along which any considerable traffic is ever likely to travel.

* It has since been decided that the line shall start from Ammiayanayakkanur.

The sentence, "Schemes are also afoot to continue it thence over Adam's Bridge to Ceylon", puzzles me. It seems to imply that the metre gauge railway itself was to be extended OVER Adam's bridge to reach Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Was such a scheme really visualized by the British at any time? Would it have been really feasible? I am impatient to learn about it.

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2008.