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provision for the future. In 1871 the Collector (there was a good
deal of friction in those earl}' days between the iveveune and tho
Forest authorities) said that in the west of tho district tho depart-
ment's operations ' apparently consisted of purchasing timber at a

' Both these were published liy ord(>r of Goveiniiicnt in MJ.L.S. (18.18), xix,
N.S., 163 ff.


CHAP. V. fixod rate per cubic foot from the woodcutters and selling it to the
Forests. general public at 100 per cent, profit There was not the slightest
chock on the woodcutters.^

In the years which immediately followed, the expected needs of
the extension of the Soutli Indian Railway (or ' Grreat Southern
India ' line as it was called in those days) led to increased interest-
in the Madura forests, but the reports show that real conbcrvation
was far from being attained, illicit felling and the clearing of
jungle for plantniii gardens on the Lower Palnis going on much as
before. A good deal of land was also cleared on this range and
on the Sirumalais for coffee gardens of an ephemeral kind which
wore abandoned soon after they were opened.

In 1(S71 a small forest establishment was specially sanctioned
for the Lower Palnis, and much debate took place regarding the
possibility of taking up certain tank-beds in Tirumangalam for
plantaHons of babul {Acacia arahica) and V' Ivelam (A. leucophlcea) ;
of renting on Government behalf the forests on the Palnis which
belonged to the Kannivadi and Ayakkudi zamindaris and those on
the Sirumalais which were included in the Ammayanayakkanur
estate ; and of inducing the Travaneore Darbar to bring some of
its timber to a dep8t to be established at Kambam. Confidence in
the Forest department was, however, still so small that the Court of
Warils, which at that time was managing the jungles in the Gan-
tamanayakkantir and Bodin^yakkanur zamindaris during the
min irity of their proprietors, declined to entrust these areas to the
Forest officials. These and the other zamindafi jungles were (as,
indeed, thoy still are) a continual source of difficulty. Their exact
boundaries were so little known and they so dovetailed with the
Govei'umenfc forests that fires started in them spread to the latter ;
they rendered smuggling from the reserves a very simple affair ;
and they undersold the Forest department by reckless felling when-
ever a demand for timber or firewood arose. Their boundaries
were subsequently ascertained and marked out by the Survey
department, but in several cases appeals and suits followed which
were not jfinally settled for a long period.

In 1880 a Committee composed of Mr H. J. Stokes (the
Collector), Major Campbell Walker (Deputy Conservator on special
duty) and Mr. Gass (Deputy Conservator of the district) definitely
selected 21 areas measuring 285 square miles (some of it within
zamindaris) which they proposed to constitute reserves and clearly
demarcate as such. No very definite action was taken on this body's
proposals, but they constituted an important foundation for the
proceedings which were subsecjuently initiated. Grazing-fees were



instituted for tlio first time in accoi-dance with a rccoinmondation CHAP. V.
by this Committee. Forests.

In 1882 the Madras Forest Act was passed into law, the ..liniglc ,j.j^g Forest
Conservancy department came to an end, and reservation and con- Act of lh«2.
servancy were at last put on a regular footing. As in other
districts, the first step taken under this enactment was the ' forest
settlement,' or the selection, demarcation, mapping and formal
notification of all areas to be reserved, including the enquiry into
and adjudication upon all claims over them (such as rights ol way,
cultivation or pasturage and the like) which were put forward by
private individuals.

As elsewhere, it was originally intended to divide all forests
into three classes; namely, (1) reserved forests, in which all claims
were to be settled under the Act ; (2) reserved lands, which were
t.o be reserved subject to all rights that might le asserted, i.e , the
claims to rights in them remained unsettled ; and {6) village
forests, which were intended to meet the requirements of villages in
localities where the custom of free-grazing and the tree collection
of firewood and leaves for maunre had long and steadily obtained.
In 1890, however, a further step in advance was made, and it was
determined that all land which was to be protected at all should be
formally settled under the Act and constituted ' reserved forest.^
The proposed scheme of village forests was abandoned as impiac-
ticable, but villagers wi re allowed their old privileges over unre-
served lands, except that they might not cut reserved or clast^ified
trees without permission.

The figures in the margin show the cjctcnt and situation of the The existing

reserved forests as they have *'^'''^*^^-
been finally notified under the
Act.^ It will be seen that
the largest areas are in the
taluks of Kodaikanal, Periya-
kulam and Melur, and the
smallest in lirumaugalam and
Palni, in both of which latter
the extent is quite insignifi-
cant. The reserves were
nearly all surveyed by the
Government of India Survey
between i8!^8 and 1891 on a
scale of 4 inches to the mile.


Area iu
square miles
of reserved


age to
area of





Kodaikanal ...



District Total










* Includes 9 square miles ' proiJOhcd
for reservation.'

^ For assistance with the rest cf this chapter I am greatly indebted tc
Mr. H. B. Brjant, District Forest 0S5cer.







Tlio Madura forests differ widely from those in bome places
^ South ( uimbatore and Tmnovelly, for example) in that they are
not situtited all in one block but are scattered about all c^ver the
dit^trict with cultivation and zamin forests everywhei-e interveniug
among them. Broadly speaking, they m^ay be readily and con-
veniently grouped iiito four main classes : First, the open and
deciduo\is growth on the plains and slopes of the low hills in the
Madura, Molur, Dindigul and Tirumangalam talaks in the east
and south of the district, which cannot be expected to yield
anything in the shape of timber for many years to come, but are
of great value for the supply of grazing, leaf manure, firewood,
charcoal, and poles and other small building material ; secondly,
the deciduous forest on the north and south slopes of the Palnis,
which formerly contained large quantities of valuable timber trees,
especially vengai, but has been very exteusively felled and damaged
by unrestricted loppiug and grazing ; thirdly, the evergreen for-
este on the plateaus of the Upper and Lower Palnis ; and fourthly
(the most valuable, as forests, of the whole) the Kambam valley
jungles, yielding teak, tengai and t^lackwood {Balbergia iutifolia)
and numerous other timber trees only second to them in value.

A very large proportion of these woodlands, however, is unfortu-
nately included in zamindari estates and is not under the control
of the Forest department. The plat(^au and the western slopes of
the Sirutnalais belong to the Ammayanayakkantir estate ; large
areas on the northern slopes of the Palnis appertain to the
Eettayambadi and Ayakkudi zamindaris ; ail the eastern end of
the same range up to the western boundary of Dindigul taluk is
the property of the zamindar of Kannivadi ; a great slice of the
forests on the western side of the Kambam valley belongs to
Bodinayakkanur and Tevaram ; and, except a comparatively small
area at the head of the faame valley and another' just east of
Andipafti, the whole of the Varushanad and Andipatti hills are
included in the estates of Gantaraanayakkanur, Erj.sakkanayakka-
mir, SapKir and Doddappanayakkanur. The hill ranges and the
boundaries of the various proprietary estates are shjwn in the map
at the end of this volume, and roughly it may be said that the
Government reserves now occupy the hills of the district less the
are IS on them which are zamindari laud.

A short account msy bo given of the chief characteristics of the
growth iu the Government forests in each of the four groups into
which they have been above arranged. 'J'he hills on which they
stand have already been briefly described above on pp. 3 to 9.


The chief forests iu the four taluks in the east and south of the CHAP. y.
district are those on the northern, eastern and south-eastern slopes Forests.
of the Sirumalais (the rest of this range, as has been said, belongs j^ ,j~ —
to the zamindar of Ammayanajakkanur), on the Alagarmalais to andsDuthof
the east of them, the Perumalais and Manjamalais connecting '^^ district,
these two ranges, on the Karandamalais to the north of them, the
scattered Nattam hills to the east of these last and the hills just
south of the Ailur railway -station. There are small plateaus on
the top of the Sirumalais, Perumalais and Karandamalais, but the
other hills consist of narrow ridges with steep, stony sides on which
there is no depth of soil and on which, in consequence, any seed-
lings which may come up are quickly scorched to death in the hot
weather. On all these hills the growth (which is all deciduous)
was cut to ribbons in the days before conservation began. In
1871 it was reported that almost every stick had been cleared as
far as the base of, and for a considerable distance up, the slopes of
the Sirumalais. The northern side of the Manjamalais has been
largely cleared for plantain-gardens and (judging from the amount
of slag still lying about them) the Karandamalais and their
immediate neighboiirs must have suffered much from the cutting
of timber for the smelting^ in former years, of the iron ore which
is found iu them.

Almost nine-tenths of the growth on the hills in these eastern
and southern taluks is now Albizzia amara, which is said to owe
its escape from destruction to the fact that goats do not care about
it. These enemies of the forests are very numerous in this part
of the district, as until recently Dindigul was a great tanning
centre, and under recent orders they have been admitted to the
reserves in such large nimibers that the grazing-fee receipts have
bounded up fromEs. 15,000 in 1900-01 to Es. 29,000 in 1904-05.
Next to Albizzia^ the prevailing species are Acacias, Wrightta,
Cassia, Randia and Carissa, but a stunted growth of certain of the
more valuable timber species is found in places. Teak, vengai,
blackwood, the hard and heavy Hardwickia binata, Tenninalia
tomentosa, satinwood [Chloroxyhn Swietenia) and other varieties
are fairly plentiful, for example, in the 'pole areas,' as they are
called, in the Alagarmalais and elsewhere, and many gall-nut
trees {Tenninalia chebula) are iomid throughout the area. About
Aillir the striking-looking ' umbrella tree ' {Acacia jjlantfrom) is
conspicuous. All these reserves are already greatly the better for
the conservation accorded them, the southern slopes of the Alagar-
malai, facing Madura, which were formerly quite bare, showing a
specially notable improvement. A road has been driven through






Ou the slopes
of the Palnis.

On the Palni

the reserves on tliis hill, eight miles in length, from the forest
rest-house at Miin6r on the south to that at Patnam on the north.

The forests in the second of the above four groups, those on the
slopes of the Palnis, are also deciduous and have also been greatly-
damaged in past years by indiscriminate felling and burning, so
that but little real timber now remains among them. The two
best portions of them are probably that in the north-east corner of
the range, between the Ayakkudi and Kannivadi estates, where
the soil is unusually good, and that at the north-west corner, in the
Manjapatti valley, an inaccessible and very feverish tract sloping
down from the great Kukal shola to the Amaravati river. On the
prominent Aggamalai spur immediately west of Periyakulam town
is a beautiful shola called the Tambirakanal, which affords an
uncommon example of a tract of forest which has been able
to recover from the felling and burning which accompanies hill
cultivation. Land so treated seldom again becomes clad with real
forest, but turns into a rank, thorny wilderness of worthless
impenetrable scrub. The commonest trees on these Palni slopes
are vengai {Pterocarpus Marsupium) and vekkali {Anogeissus
M'ifoUa), but the white and red cedars and some teak and
blackwood occur, and gall-nut trees are numerous.

The third of the three groups, the forests of the Lower and
Upper Palni plateaus, are more valuable and contain evergreen
trees. The line between the two plateaus is roughly that drawn
north and south through Neutral Saddle. The woodlands in the
Lower Palnis, as has already been seen, have been greatly cut
about for plantain and coffee cultivation. Much cardamom grow-
ing also goes on among them ; but as this plant flourishes best
under heavy shade, the larger forest trees have not been so greatly
interfered with in the areas where it is raised. The soil in this
tract is a dark loam, especially rich in the valleys, and in this
several fine sholas of large extent still survive undamaged and thrive
well. Among the more important trees in these are Vitex altissma,
the so-called ' red cedar ' (Acrocarpus fraxim/olius), and Cedrela
ioona, the last two of which are very useful for planking and
box-making. Gall-nut trees are plentiful everywhere.

To the west, where the ascent to the Upper Palni plateau
begins, the soil gradually deteriorates and becomes shallower, and
after the low hill lying between the village of Tdndikkudi and
its neighbour Pannaikadu is left behind, the vegetation gradually
changes and the heavier forest soon entii-ely disappears and is
replaced by open, grassy downs dotted with stunted trees and



shrubs with sholas here and there in some of the moister and more CHAP. V.
sheltered valleys. Nearly all these woods arc included in the Forests,
Upper Palni reserves, but scarcely a dozen are of any real size.
Among the best known of them are Tiger shola, near Neutral
Saddle ; Pcrumdl shola, on either side of Law^s ghat there (this
is full of gall-nut trees) ; Vanjankdnal, further down the same
road ; Kodaikanal, in the hill-station of that name ; Gundan
shola, about two miles west of this ; Doctor's Delight, four miles
west of Kodaikanal and a favourite place for picnics ; and Kukal
shola, some fifteen miles west of that station. None of these
contain any great store of timber trees, the prevailing species
being Eugenia ArnotUana and JElceocarpus, and they are chiefly
valuable as protectors of the sources of a series of useful streams.
Many of them are thought to show signs of having been greatly
damaged by fire in previous years. The great undulating plateau
on the top of the Palnis, which stretches from the outskirts of
Kodaikanal right away to the Travancore frontier on the west and
Bodinayakkanur limits on the south, has recently, after consider-
able discussion,^ been reserved under the Forest Act and given
the name of the ' Ampthill Downs.' It is over 53 square miles
in extent and about one-fourth of it consists of sholas and three-
fourths of open, rolling, grassy downs. It is diversified with
peaks running up to from 7,000 to 8,000 feet and is one of the
most beautiful tracts in all the Presidency.

The last of the four groups into which the IMadura forests may ^^ the
be divided (those in the Kambam valley) contains the most yjJIcj.
interesting and valuable evergreen forests in the district. As has
been said, Grovernment owns only a comparatively small patch of
the immense area of jungle which lines both sides of this valley
and clothes the whole of theVarushauad valley, its next neighbour
to the east. Travelling southwards from Periyakulam along the
west side of the Kambam valley, no Government forest (excepting
a patch on the Aggamalai spur just west of Periyakulam) is
reached until one gets nearly to Kombai. Even then the growth
from this point to the head of the valley cannot bo said to be of
great importance to the streams which rise in it, for it consists of
a narrow belt on hills which rise suddenly and precipitously to
the watershed, the other slope of which is Travancore territory.
On the east side of the lower end of the valley, the only Govern-
ment reserves of any size are two which lie respectively just north
and south of the road from Andipatti to Usilampatti. The most
important blocks are those on the eastern side of the head of the

^ See B.P,, Forest No. 149, dated 28th May 1903, and connected papers.


CHAP. V. Kanibam valley— among them the M^lag6dalur reserve, through
yoRESTs. which runs part of the Periydr tunnel, and the Vannathiparai
reserve, some 24,600 acres in extent and (except the ' Ampthill
Downs ') the largest in the district. These lie on the top and sides
of the ' High Wavy Mountain.' The upper part of this hill
consists of an undulating plateau, perhaps fifteen square miles in
area, which is covered with a continuous, dense, evergreen forest
which is a favourite haunt of elephants and runs down in long
irregularly shaped masses for a considerable distance through the
deep valleys on either side. Below it is a zone of bare, rocky,
grass land, and beneath that again the lower slopes are well
covered with deciduous forest. This tract all drains into the
Kambam valley, and in it lie the sources of the Suruli river, the
beautiful fall of which is a well-known land-mark on the road
to the Periyar lake. The upper parts of it contain blackwood
{Balbergia latifolia)^ Lager sir cemia microcarpa and some teak of
fair size, while the lower forests produce Anogeissus latifolia, Adina
cordifolia, Dalhergia paniculata, Pterocarpus Marsupium, Schleichera
irijuga and other marketable timber trees, and also the rare Aquilaria
agallocha (called akil in the vernacular) the ' scented eagle-wood '
of commerce. But almost every sound tree in the lower levels
was carried off in the daj^s before conservation began, and it will
be many years before the growth recovers from the treatment it
then underwent.
Plantations. The artificial plantations in the district are four in number.

In 1870 Colonel (then Captain) Campbell Walker started planta-
tions of teak at Velankombai, at the northern foot of the Palnis
not far from Palni town, and at Yannathiparai, near the foot of
the ghat to the Periydr lake. Each of them now contains some
4,500 trees. The sites were not particularly well chosen, as neither
of them receives the full benefit of the south-west monsoon. The
former is, moreover, liable to be flooded by an adjoining channel,
and the saturation so caused has at different times killed a good
many of the trees in it.

In this same year (1870) a plantation of blue gum and
Australian blackwood {Acacia melanoxylon) was begun at Kodai-
kanal in order to provide that station with fii*ewood and so save
from destruction the fine Kodai shola after which it is named.
Here again the site was not well chosen, and the growth has been
indifferent. The firewood supply has since been supplemented
by a plantation begun in 1887-88 at Gundan shola, about two
miles west of the station, which is now an extensive affair. It
was partly burnt in February 1895, when considerable damage
was done to it, and again in 1905.


The minor produce of the forests includes numerous items CHAP. v.
of which the chief are, perhaps, gall-nuts {kadukkdi/, the fruit of Forests.
■Terminalia chebula), leaves for manure and cardamoms. Minor

The pr.incipal gall-nut areas arc on the Lower Palnis, where i"'^^"^®*
the tree abounds in the deciduous forest and is also scattered over
the open grass land. In former days the methods of collecting
its produce were wasteful in the extreme, trees being lopped, and
even felled, to save trouble in picking their fruit. The privilege
of collection and sale is now leased out to contractors, but the
spread of the chrome process of tanning has caused a great decline
in the value of gall-nuts and the revenue from this source in the
Palnis has fallen in recent years from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 2,000.

Leaves for manure are especially sought after in the areas
recently brought under wet cultivation with the Periyar water, and
are carted great distances by the ryots. In those tracts Cassia
(mriculata shrubs growing on unreserved lands have recently
been allowed, to be gathered for manure free of charge, and this has
caused a further decline in the forest revenue from ' minor produce.'

Areas gi-own with cardamoms arc let out on leases, which us-
ually run|for thirty years. The price of the fruit has fallen of late
years and the competition for land for growing it has declined. A
demand for lemon-grass {Andropogon citratum) for the distillation
of oil has recently arisen, and this brings in a small income.

The revenue from grazing-f ees is inconsiderable in comparison Grazlnf^-feea.
with the extent of the forests. The reserves in the east of the
district contain little good grass and many of those in the west
are out of favour with the herdsmen because they contain no
places suitable for the penning of cattle at night and because
water is scarce there in the hot weather. Few cattle are ever
driven to the Upper Palni grass lands to graze, but large numbers
go to the Travancore forests up the pass leading to the Periydr

Working plans have recently been drawn up and sanctioned Working

for the forests in the four eastern taluks of the district (the F^^°^ '■ f ^**®
_ V four eastern

Kanavaipatti and Palamedu forest ranges) and also for those taluks,
in the Kambam valley (the Kambam range). For the remaining
two ranges, namely, Kodaikanal, which includes the reserves on
the Upper Palnis and their slopes, and Tandikkudi, in which are
comprised the Lower Palni woodlands, schemes have not yet been
made out.

The first of the above two working plans includes all the
Grovernment reserves in the taluks of Madura, M^Kir, Dindigul


CHAP. V. and Tirumangalara. It was prepared in 1898-99 and sanctioned

Forests. in 1900.^

Very briefly stated^ its proposals are that (with the exception
of certain definite tracts containing fair timber and called ' pole
areas,' and a few others in which the poverty of the stock is such
that there is no probability of there being anything in them worth
felling in the next 30 years) the whole area is to be coppiced in
the same rotation and on the same method. The large preponder-
ance of he crop consists of Albizzia amara, which coppices
admirably, and reproduction of the forest by sowing is not thought
likely to succeed, for the reasons that almost everywhere the
reserves stand on steep slopes where the soil is shallow, stony,
scorched up in the hot weather aud trodden to pieces by cattle
in the rains. The period of rotation is to be 30 years, and each
block will be sold once in 30 years, as it stands, by auction, to
contractors who will coppice it. It will then have ten years
complete rest, grazing being prohibited in it. Thereafter cattle
will be allowed to graze in it on payment of the usual fees, and
at the end of five years more (by which time the coppice shoots
will be fifteen years old) goats will also be admitted at fairly high
rates, the area in which they are allowed being, however, changed,
every two years and limited in extent.

Provision is made for the supply to ryots of manure leaves,
which are highly valued in all the wet land under the Periyar
channels, by allowing people to collect them at the usual rates (in
those blocks which are not undergoing a complete rest) on a rota-
tion of three years. Three tree:^ — satinwood [Chloroxylon Suietenia),
Wrightia tinctoria and Lrora parvtffora — which together form about
five per cent, of the crop and are of value as timber, are not to be
lopped for manure leaves.

The coppicing is expected to produce about five tons an acre
and firewood is now supplied, not only to the smaller villages, but
to a d^pSt in Madura, to the Madura spinning-mill and to the
South Indian Eailway. The annual output has risen rapidly
in the last few years and is now 20,000 tons. The revenue from
firewood has increased from less than Rs. 100 in 1900-01 to
nearly Rs. 68,000 in 1004-05.

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