Kundala Valley Railway in Idukki

An architectural and technological marvel that gave people much hope for the future, it opened up the hills in a way that had not seemed possible for a thousand years. The invention in question, of course, was the Kundala Valley Railway, a trail that helped facilitate the movement of goods in the hill paradise of Munnar a century ago. It was the first monorail system of its kind in the sub-continent. Nature however, descended on this invention like a plague. Never rebuilt, today it is a reminder of the terrifying power of natural forces that no human can truly comprehend, foresee or prevent.

The story goes that Tata Tea, with a number of its tea producing factories in full swing, needed to export material to the UK in a faster way and the need for a faster mode of transportation became inevitable. Mr. W. Mime, the then general manager of the company, set up a monorail cart road connecting Munnar and Mattupetty with Top Station. Five-hundred bullocks were brought to the hill station and a veterinary surgeon and two assistants from England were assigned with the task of attending to the animals. From here it would travel to Tuticorin Port (Tamil Nadu) and eventually to the United Kingdom. The goods carriage initially consisted of a simple platform running on a small wheel over the rail and a larger one pulled by bullocks. In 1908, the monorail gave way to a light railway that began at Munnar station, with two stops at Mattupetty and Palaar, before ending the journey at Top Station.

The floods of 1924, caused due to incessant rainfall, completely destroyed the system. Most of it was completely washed away and people were forced to abandon any plans of reconstruction because of the great scale of damage. Tata Tea was forced to choose ropeways for the transportation between Munnar and Top Station. Today, people can follow this trail and see the wreckage of the Kundala Railway Line. The platform in front of the main railway station building has been converted into a road, though one can still see a few century old tracks. The Tea Museum in the Nallathanni Estate has memorabilia from the time, including a rail engine wheel of the first and only railway in Munnar.

  TATA Tea Museum in IdukkiHigh Range Club in Idukki  



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