A window to plantations in Idukki

Book captures life in the plantations in Peerumade

It is through anecdotes that Sunitha Sreenivasan tells the story of life in the plantations in Peerumade over a period of a century. There are only a few books regarding the plantation history of Peerumade and the newly released Trailblazers of the Travancore Plantations. Cheers to Unsung Heroes by her is a reference book.

Ms Sreenivasan did wide research on how the early planters took the challenge to convert Peerumade into the present landscape of tea plantations.

It all started in the 1860s when the Maharaja of erstwhile Travancore awarded the Baker family the right to begin the tea plantations in Peerumade. Many British/Scottish planters were part of the evolution of plantations to the present level.

Foreword for the book is written by Gouri Parvathi Bayi of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, who describes her sojourn to Peerumade. Two summer palaces of the Travancore rulers are situated in the place.

While telling the story of life in the plantations, Ms Sreenivasan is keen on introducing some incidents related to the early pioneer

planters like Col. Andy Spence, J.A. Richardson, John Hutchison Aspinwall, J.S. Wilkie, William Armstrong and many others.

She weaves the story of the lively Peerumade Club, a meeting place of planters and senior managers where they unwinded after a days’ hard work.

The plantations were also miniature villages then with schools, hospitals, tea factories, places of worship, well-stocked shops and with resorts and homestays for guests.

The author was also keen to add the story of the life of the workers when pandemics like Malaria hit them and the development of a well equipped hospital system based at Mundakkayam in the late Raj era.

The history of the tea plantation is initially described through the life in the two divisions, Cheenthalar and Lone Tree of the now

defunct Peerumade Tea Company.

The book is published by Current Books.

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