THE STORY OF PEERMADE

by GEORGE THENGUMMOOTTIL (ISBN:9788192888606)

Coffee table picture book on Peermade, with photographs and talk about the history and evolution of this plantation town located in central Kerala

Story about a little plantation town called Peermade in the Western Ghats of Kerala.

Peermade (GPS : 9.5505100°N 77.0302580°E ) is a hill station in the Idukki district of Kerala State, India. Peermade, a part of the Western Ghats or Sahyadris and is situated at an altitude of about 914 meters above mean sea level. The location of Peermade is 85 km east of Kottayam, (Nearest Railway Station) on the way to Kumily and Thekkady. Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary at Thekkady, one of the largest wildlife reserves in India, is just 43 km from Peermade. The landscape of Peermade is hilly with spectacular waterfalls, open grass lands and forests. Peermade was once the summer retreat of the Maharajas of Travancore. Peermade receives a lot of rain during the monsoons as it is situated on the western windward side of the Western Ghats, facing Arabian sea. The meaning of Peermade is “hill of the Peer”, is also written as Perumade and Pearmadu, though the accepted spelling is Peermade. The name Peermade is sometimes related to the Sufi saint, Peer Mohammed who is said to have visited Peermade. Other stories say that, the name must have originated due to the abundance of bonsai guava trees near Peermade: or “Pera Medu” which means hill of guava plants in malayalam. Like other parts of Western Ghats, the soil at Peermade is not very deep on the hills and is not suitable to the growth of huge trees. However the valleys and plateaus have good deep soil, due to weathering. Before human settlements, this part of western ghats was just a fifty kilometre wide shola forest running entirely across the width of Western Ghats. The forests at the fringes were cut down and the natural sholas were replaced with cash crops during the past century. The plantations were mostly exotic like Tea, Coffee and Pine: which remain to be the most abundant plantation around Peermade still. Many planters at Peermade are now working on the production of organic black pepper, white pepper, ginger and turmeric. The early people of Peermade were tribes who lived along the fringes and slopes of the hills. The clearing work of the forests was administered by the Europeans. Labourers were brought/bought from the then adjacent kingdoms of Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Travancore (Kerala). Today Peermade is a popular tourist destination, receiving thousands of visitors every day. Only a handful of aboriginals are left and the place is known for educational institutions and meditation centers.