Plantation History of beautiful GUDALUR area :-(South india)
The coffee was first introduced in south India at the close of 18th century by Arab traders but the Coffee plantations started in the area in massive scale by British companies and pioneer European planters, In 1828 the coffee introduced in Wayanad and about 1850 the estates are extended to Nilgiri-Wayanad and Devala, Pandalur and Cherambadi were turned to large planting centers, during this time may European planters settled in Nilgiris and Wayanad to establish plantations but coffee plantation doesn’t succeeded as expected and many alternatives crops were tried.
In 1870s Cinchona was introduced but the price of Quinine gone down tremendously due to over production of cinchona in other part of the world hence the cinchona boom faded out with in a short span and the Gold boom in Nilgiri-Waynad resulted close to extinction of these plantations.
The ambitious British administration and traders introduced many other crops in this region to utilize the rich soil. In 1884-1889 the Glendrock Company did an experimental cultivation of Remie or Reha fiber plant (AKA China Grass), around 400 acres in the forest slops of Glendrock valley. The soil and climate was very suitable to the cultivation of Remie crops as the stems obtain desired growth in the rainfall months without irrigation, even though the company has to pay more for drying and spinning the fiber. The plantation was given up due to poor profitability and high production cost.
Tea plant was introduced on the Nilgiris as early as 1833 and later the plants where tried in Nilgiri-Wayanad. Remarkable contributions are done by many European planters to establish estates in the area , D.H.McLeod and Henry Atzenwiler are few among them , McLeod was born in an English planters family at Richmond estate in Pandalur, and they where believed to be one of the first English Planters in the area, Henry Atzenwiler was a Swiss born planter with full of ambitions and dedication, in early days Mclead and and Henry joined together to develop plantations around pandalur. The gold boom in the area had a negative impact on agro industry. McLeod and his family left Pandalur and they established an estate in Poomala near Sulthan bathery. The place was named after his birthplace that is Richmond in Pandalur which is called as Poomala by the local people. Meanwhile Henry settled in Cottanaad Estate and became one of the pioneer planter in Waynad area, he died on 6th May 1912 and buried at Cherangode village near Pandalur.