Did you know that this building in this picturesque setting in the hills once housed Chinese prisoners?
Located in Naduvattam, between Gudalur and Udhagamandalam in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, it was named the “ancient sub-jail”
Its complex history goes back to the Opium Wars in the middle of the 19th Century, when Chinese prisoners captured by the British served time here
The prisoners were used as cheap labour by the British, who set up tea and cinchona plantations across the district
Today, this building is under the control of the State-run Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation, or TANTEA.
It was recently renovated at a cost of nearly ₹75 lakhs.
And there are plans to open this jail to visitors in the near future
Inside the Naduvattam sub-jail
This old prisoner of War camp is built on bricks with a zinc sheet roof.
There was only a small skylight for each of the nine prisoner quarters.
It consists of two large rooms and little else.
Wooden planks served as beds and each prisoner was provided with ‘one rug and two blankets
The jail still has a hangman’s room, though it remains unclear if it was ever used.
A local history enthusiast from Coonoor says around 1,000 prisoners captured during the Boer Wars by the British were also sent to the Nilgiris.
Unlike the Chinese, the Boer prisoners were given more freedom; they were even allowed to walk the ghat road and Wellington Bazaar.
So, what had happened to all the Chinese prisoners after their release?
Local experts believe that they settled down in the area, with some setting up businesses in the Nilgiris, while the others moved to neighbouring districts.
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