History of Yercaud

The greatest attraction in Yercaud is the big natural lake or the Emerald Lake. The lake with its wonderful hilly surroundings and a well maintained garden on its banks is a feast for the eyes of any person. There is a floating fountain in the lake and boating facilities are available at a reasonable rate.

Self pedaling as well as rowing boats can be chosen according to the choice of the tourist. A nominal amount is collected as caution fee before issuing the boats and stringent safety measures are followed by the authorities.

The Shevaroy Hills

Are situated in The Salem District between 78°20′ East Longitude and 11°05′ North Longitude and extend over an area of 150 square miles. The highest point Shevaroyan, from which an extensive view of the surrounding country can be obtained, is 5314 feet above the level of the sea. Braufell, 5307 feet and Duffs Hill 5231 feet, are next in height. The Shevaroyan has a small temple and is often visited by picnic parties. Yercaud 4330 feet elevation is the principle European settlement, having an altitude of 1700 feet higher than that of Bangalore. It enjoys a cool and salubrious climate, and is surrounded by charming and picturesque scenery. This charming hill station is resorted to by a large number of visitors as a sanatorium and also by those for whom the Nilgiris are too cold, especially for those who are suffering from Rheumatism, heart and lung complaints. Salem Railway Station from which alone the shevaroys should be visited lies 207 miles south west of Madras, and is 14 miles by road and ghat, from the centre of Yercaud Station. If the necessary arrangements have been made for ascending the ghat, visitors leaving Madras or Bangalore by the evening train reach their destination before 8 A.M. the following morning. It is 206 distant miles from Calicut, 97 miles from Coimbatore and 126 miles from Trichinopoly. These hills are approached by three ghats, one from the southern side communicating with the town of Salem and the railway station; and another on the western side leading to the Kadiampatty station, distant about 12 miles; and the last, traced formerly as Bandy Ghat on the northern side of these hills, connecting them with the Bommidi Railway Station, distant about 19 miles. A carriage-ghat to Salem, named after his Excellency Sir Arthur Havelock, is freely used for wheeled traffic. The distance of this ghat to Salem Railway Station is 20 miles. From the station Yercaud is reached in about 3 hours, to the foot of the old ghat road in jutkas at one rupee each, and the ascent used to be done on chairs at 5 annas per coolly carrying same, six coolies to a chair. But now these rates for luggage and chair coolies as for everything else, are increasing now the charge being Rs.3-0-0. for a chair and 6 annas for a luggage coolly. The return journey can be done either by rickshaws or cycles; the former are always available at the Yercaud stores, the charge for each Rick being Rs. 3-12-0. Motoring up and down the new ghat is not only now a possibility but a pleasure, because of the picturesque views that are to be seen.

Among some of the public buildings are the following: Holy Trinity Church (Anglican), Roman Catholic Chapel, Roman Catholic Convent, French Mission, London Mission Chapel and school, Danish Mission Chapel, Post and Telegraph Office, Victoria Rooms, Kutcherry, Hospital and Dispensary. There is a sub treasury and sub registrar’s office, in charge of the deputy tahsildar, who is the sub magistrate of the hills.

The Regent Hill Side is the boarding house most conveniently located for the discerning traveller. Fairlawns has ceased to exist as a boarding house having been bought over by a private owner. The Carlton Hotel comprising of The Charrington and Carlton House have taken its place. Numerous detached bungalows, are surrounded by extensive and well managed gardens, and is in immediate proximity to the church, post and telegraph offices, public library and tennis courts. The Yercaud Club is conveniently situated and has excellent tennis and badminton courts, besides a billiard and bridge room. There are also golf links near the lake but these are too small, it is proposed to make a larger course on a more suitable site, and this should prove a great attraction to the visitors from the plains. 100 acres of land have been acquired for formation of a golf course. This was excented to be open after the war and should form a great attraction to visitors to Yercaud miniature rifle club for ladies was started in 1917.

The European and Eurasian inhabitants of the Shevaroys number about 350, the former being in a large majority; three-fifths of this population is settled in Yercaud and the remainder are in the outlying coffee estates. The ladies Rifle Club has ceased to exist. The Afghan princes and the interned Germans have been removed from Yercaud.

A market or shandy is held on Sundays. There are bakeries in Yercaud, and shops for the sale of stores and liquors, the principle being Messrs. N.O.Pillai, “The Yercaud Stores” and “The Saits shop” nearly all the English vegetables fruit trees thrive remarkably well, and might be cultivated with profit to the grower, in fact a jam factory should prove a very paying concern.

The largest coffee estates are situated from 4 to 7 miles away from Yercaud, at Nagalore and the Green Hills, at the former of which there is a Post and Telegraph Office. Here some of the most flourishing estates are to be seen with excellent roads to them. Several exotic trees are met with, such as Eucalyptus (Blue Gum), Norfolk Pines ( Auracaria Excelsa), Pine ( Pinus Longifolia), Silver oak (Grevilia Robusta) & c., & c., which present a striking contrast to the forest trees indigenous to theses hills, to which, however, with the exception of casuarinas, they are much inferior in beauty. Roses and ferns of different kind grow very well.

The permanent residents are usually planters some of whom also possess houses which they rent out during the season, which lasts from April to October.

The climate is extremely healthy, especially for children, and epidemics of typhoid and small pox are unknown.

These hills get the benefit of both the south-west and north-east monsoons, which causes the rainfall to be more evenly distributed throughout the year, and thus enhances the value of the place as a coffee and rubber growing district.

A tribe of natives called Malianalis (hill men), Vellalans by caste, the descendants of immigrants from near Conjeevaram, are to be met with living in numerous villages of from 20 – 100 conical shaped huts. They are an agricultural race, cultivating different kinds of grain and breeding cattle and remarkable for their extreme clannishness. Labour rates have increased; men being 1/12, to 2 for a week, women 1/8 a week. Independent of these hill-men, Re 1-2-0, coolies from the lowlands come up to work on the estates at the following rates: men Re 1-8, to 2 a week, women Re 1-8, a week and children 8 to 12 annas per week. There are very many spots within easy distance of Yercaud, commanding beautiful views of the low country and the distant ranges; suitable for picnic and walking and riding parties, which have only to be seen to be appreciated. Amongst these might be mentioned Bears Cave, Lady’s Seat, Arthur’s Seat, Pagoda Point, Prospect Point, The Kiliyur Falls and Owen’s Grotto.

However its building lie in memory to this bygone era and “using a little imagination, this testament in stone can yield up a corridor into the past, a journey down which evokes images of ancient times, and which reveals the full glory of Yercaud” The history of colonial Yercaud is well documented in guide books however perhaps the most informative and interesting account is by Francesca Wilson A walk around the view points of Yercaud at dawn or at sunset is a must.