Yercaud's makeover

Print edition : August 29, 2008

A view of the Yercaud lake.-E. LAKSHMI NARAYANAN

SITUATED at an elevation of 4,700 feet and 27 kilometres from Salem city, Yercaud is a mist-clad hill resort. Its salubrious climate, with a maximum temperature of 30 Celsius in summer, makes it a pleasant holiday destination. The hill station atop the Shevaroyan hill range of the Eastern Ghats has shed its image of being the poor mans Ooty. The tourist flow, which was a mere 2.34 lakh in 2001, touched 4.5 lakh in 2007.

Yercaud is self-contained and well equipped to cater to the needs of its growing clientele, mainly the elite. Spread over 383 sq km, Yercaud includes 67 villages and 27 hamlets with a total population of 60,000, the majority of whom are tribal people.

David Cockburn, who was Collector of Salem in 1820, developed the Shevaroyan hills and Yercaud village by introducing plantation crops such as coffee, orange and pear. In fact, coffee cultivation spread to other hills stations in Tamil Nadu from Yercaud.

After a land survey, the arduous work of laying the ghat road from Salem began in 1872 and was completed in 1903. Sydney Dyer Lorry Service began the first commercial transport service in this section. The first motor car reached the Yercaud lake in 1931. Electricity was introduced in the village at the fag end of 1930.

Grange (1820) and Carmel Lynne (1830) built by the British for the families of the Collector and government and Army employees who served in the district, are the oldest buildings in Yercaud. While Grange has been converted into a resort, Carmel Lynne houses a school hostel.

Apart from the breathtaking views, its vast coffee plantations and orange orchards, the rare flora and fauna and the Shevaroyan cave temple, Yercaud has now become synonymous with quality education.

The Montfort Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School, founded by three Montfort brothers from France in 1917 as a residential school, enjoys pride of place. Its principal, K.C. George, says that the school offers holistic quality education. Aware of the pluralistic nature of our culture and its challenges, both the students and the staff have the vision of our Constitution and strive hard to create a new society. From the acquisition of knowledge, we take every child into the realms of wisdom and spiritual quest, he says.

The emphasis of the Montfortian educational policy is on preserving and protecting Mother Earth. The school prepares its students to be nation-builders and citizens of the world. Under its community project, the school serves the tribal children of Kombuthooki hamlet.

R. Ilangovan

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