Sunday, 7 April 2013

Conolly's plot - the story of hard work, optimism and success!

Kerala in South India is known as the "God's own country". Nilambur is situated in the Malappuram district of Kerala. One of the attractions here is the world famous 'Conolly's plot', the oldest teak plantation in the world. Teak (Tectona Grandis) wood, as you all know, is widely used in household architecture and for making a variety of furniture. There was great demand for teak during the time of British administration in India to build ships for the British troops and also for architectural purposes in India as well as abroad. Mr. H. V. Conolly, the then District Collector of Malabar, decided to plant teak plants to meet the ever-growing demand and to discourage felling of immature trees. After crossing many hurdles he and Mr. Chathu Menon, a Keralite Sub-forest conservator, were able to grow trees successfully here. 

The felled trees were transported as rafts through the Chaliyar river to Kallai, which was known as the hub of the timber industry in Kerala. From here the huge ships carried the cut timber to England.

There is a very big teak tree here and its girth is about 420 cm. It was raining profusely when I visited here. The views from the hanging bridge were awesome. This hanging bridge connects the main entrance to the teak plantation across the river. This bridge is said to be the longest of its kind in Kerala.

I wonder how many Keralites are aware that such a beautiful place exists here, let alone foreign tourists. We all can be proud that this pioneering effort by Mr. Chathu Menon and Mr. Conolly paved the initial foundations of proper forest management in Kerala. It was not easy to germinate the teak seeds and grow the trees at that time, but by trial and error, they were able to achieve success. Mr. Chathu Menon perfected the 'Silviculture technique' which involves pre-burning of the seeds. These seedlings were planted in 1844. The entire plantation was looked after by this eminent Officer efficiently and the result was evident to the future generations as well. In 1858 Lord Harvis, the president of the East India Company visited the plantation and honored Mr. Chathu Menon by presenting him a memento. 

Just imagine, they planted the trees in about 1500 acres land! Trees in about 500 acres were cut during the world war to build ships for the troops. Mr. Chathu Menon has buried here itself. Some portion of the original plantation is still kept as such by the Department of Forests, Kerala. There is a teak museum also in Nilambur, about that I will blog later. 
  • A classic example of the saying - "if there is a will, there is a way".      
They attained success solely depending on their own intuition and not by the complex technologies which during the 18th century were simply non-existent! Let us salute them! 

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Anonymous said...

It looks so peaceful. Thanks for sharing this spot with us.

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Hi Medeia, Thank you for your comment. Yes, you are right.
I am a Keralite, still I happened to visit here only recently. I feel lucky in visiting such a beautiful and peaceful spot.

Joy said...

Wonderful and inspirational. Yes, there is no impossible for them who believes:)

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Hi Joy, awesome comment !
I really appreciate you for your time.

Please visit here again and make me as well as my readers uplifted, motivated and encouraged by your sweet comments. Thanks again !

jonathan said...

There should be laws protecting forest areas like this. I do know that Thailand had been importing timber from neighbouring countries which is a shame since the country was known for its teak plantations and nature reserves. It is going to be not just one man's effort to preserve a forest, it needed all of us.

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

This plot is protected by the Forest department in Kerala. It was an awesome experience visiting this place !

Happy to hear that you enjoyed reading this post !

Thailand is a beautiful country. I think they have so many projects to protect nature.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful and informative post.Look forward to more heritage posts

Rajiv Sankarapillai said...

Thank you so much.
Will try my best to post as soon as possible.
Any heritage spots you suggest ?

Please drop in again and feel free to add comments.