Kumily, once known as Kuzhumoor, used to be the capital of the Thekkumkoor Kings. In the 18th century, Marthanda Varma of Travancore defeated the Thekkumkoor Rajas. The Kingdom of Travancore comprised most of modern-day southern Kerala, the district of Kanyakumari , and the southernmost parts of the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. After India's independence, Travancore merged with Cochin to form Travancore-Cochin which again, some time later, joined with Malabar district of Madras State to form Kerala.
Later the Travancore kings granted control of the region to their serf, the Lord of Poonjar (Poonjar Thamburan). Till the 19th century, the lords of Poonjar governed the region and the Travancore kings visited the place rarely, with the sole intention of hunting.
It was with the advent of the British in the region that it underwent drastic changes. The British either bought or obtained on lease, vast stretches of land and hilly areas of this region from the feudal lords or from the princely state of Travancore. They converted the forestlands to plantations of tea, coffee, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and other spices. People from Tamil Nadu and Kerala were brought to work in the plantations.
The 1920s saw the arrival of Malayalis to this area in great numbers. There are different stories about the events that led to this. According to one, the Malayali settlers here bought land from the descendants of a certain Ankur Rawther , a shepherd who lived in this area in the 19th century.
Rawther is supposed to have helped the then king of Travancore and his entourage find their way out of the forest when they got lost in a remote area while on a hunt. The grateful king rewarded him with acres of forestland. The king was Sree Moolam Thirunal who was the ruling maharajah of Travancore between 1885 and 1924.
Another story is that when the king came to supervise the construction of the Mullaperiyar dam in the 1890s, Ankur Rawther served him sheep’s milk. His kindness touched the king and that was what inspired the king to gift him land.