: The district unit of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has urged the district administration to protect the relics of the hospital built by the British planters in the Kodayar Hills of Kanyakumari district.
Co-convener of the INTACH Dr. Sumithra Raghuvaran told The Hindu that the later part of the 19th century had an influx of British planters in the Kodayar forest for cultivation of coffee plants.
The copious rain and the cool climate of the Kodayar forest area attracted many British planters such as John Grant, Maclennan, Rev.Johan Cox and Indian planters such as Devasagyaim, P.P. Joseph, Aron Abraham, Paramananthan and others.
They convinced the Maharaja of Travancore Sri Moolam Thirunal that the coffee plantation would thrive in the hills and they would get huge profit from the plantations.
They bought seeds from Sri Lanka and planted them in the Kodayar hills.
Though the coffee plantation was successful for a few years, later a dangerous rust disease (a fungal infection) affected the plants and the investors faced severe loss.
Hence, the interest shown by the investors on the coffee plantation came to an end. Many people who invested huge amount in the coffee plantation became paupers and the forest area they acquired also was taken back by the Forest department.
To support the huge number of labourers roped in from the plains to work in the forest, the British planters required hospitals to treat them.
Malaria was the greatest threat for them at that time. Hence, a 30-bed hospital was established in Maramalai of the Kodayar hills.
Today all superstructure of the hospital remains vandalised and the front wall with the copper plaque were the only relics left to tell the efforts of the British planters to establish the coffee plantation in the district.
The plaque says that the building was constructed in 1877 by the coffee plantation association of the Kodayar hills.