''Ooty'' - summer exodus of Govt. offices from Madras, colonial India - late Rajaji had put an end to it!!

When Coimbatore collector John Sullivan under the Madras Presidency took serious efforts to explore the Nilgiris hills and landed in Kotagiri on his first expedition  in 1819 and later in July 1823 when had built a stone for his occupation on a land which he bought from the Toda tribal community, he would not have thought that the hill station Udhacamund (Ooty)  would, over a period of time,  gain importance enough to become the summer capital of the  Madras Presidency.  It was on July 1, 1870 Ooty  became the summer capital of the Madras Presidency, a unique status no other town in India enjoyed  but for Shimla which became the summer capital of the Raj in 1864. 

Botanical garden, Ooty, yotube.com

Tea estate, Ooty, TN vakaha.com

The first  couple  to arrive at Ooty on the evening of 4th July to a public reception at Charing Cross   were Governor Lord Francis  Napier and lady Napier- Anne Jane Charlotte Manners.

Gov. Madras Presidency Francis Napier  en.wikipedia.org

Above image: The Governor of Madras from 1866 to 1872. He also acted as the Viceroy of India from February to May 1872 upon the assassination of Lord Mayo.  As the  Governor of Madras  Napier, being a man of foresight,  gave importance to  many major irrigation schemes.  The Pennar Dam was completed during his tenure and two other irrigation works, the Rushikulya Dam in Ganjam and the Mullaperiyar Dam took shape  during his tenure. He in 1869 built the Napier bridge across the Cooaum in Chennai.  He made personal donations to the surgical ward of Madras Stanley medical college, Chennai. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Napier_%28Royal_Navy_officer%29

Chennai (Madras) to Ooty, TN. blog.savaari.com

According to the records at the NDC, Ooty the annual migration of summer capital  from Madras was only temporary for  three months  and the then government allowed  extension with hesitation. The stone house built by Sullivan became a make-shift   secretariat and the first council meeting was held on July 8. 

Raj Bhavan (Gov. residence) Ooty. indiatimes.com

Without authorization  governor Lord Elphinstone was the first to shift his secretariat  in 1840 and stayed on the hill  for a long time not withstanding  severe criticism by the Presidency administration. India office initially objected to shifting the capital to Ooty during summer, however, finally gave in as a precedent  had already been established by the Viceroys of EIC's Calcutta office in migrating the administrative machinery  over to Shimla during the summer. 

Surprisingly, in the 1880s (under the Crown administration) to avoid hot and sultry conditions on the plains, the higher-ups stayed as long as 8 months on the cool serene hill using some pretext. Further, the unexplored wooded areas gave them plenty of chances to explore and try their hands in hunting.

After the formalities were over regarding transfer of regional power to the hill station, some buildings came up to house the govt. offices.  In 1877, the Duke of Buckingham  had a big mansion built (now called Raj Bhavan) on the model of his country  home in England at a huge cost Rs.783000, besides an addition of Rs. 60000 for ball room for week end fun and frolics. The structure came up with in the Govt. Botanical garden. Managing  nearly half of India from Ooty. some thirty governors including acting Indian governors ruled from Ooty over a period of time.  The Nilgiris came under a separate Superintendent of Police on July 1, 1905.  It  was on  July 16, 1913, water sharing of the Cauvery talks between Mysore kingdom and Madras Presidency began in Ooty and the ruler of Mysore was cooperative.

“On the Nilgiris hills, the govt. employed native runners to carry letters, etc down hill to down the hills to Mettupalayam They used to wear bells  their arms to warn people on  the path, and at night, they would do the joy with  a boy holding a lighted torch for the same purpose. The runners were relieved very 6 miles.

Primier C. Rajagopala Chari riramakrishna.in

Above: Patriot, freedom fighter, lawyer and a scholar. First Gov. Gen of India in 1948 and former CM of Madras state..............

 The old stone house was restructured with a small clock tower between 1875 -1877 to include council chamber room, offices, quarters for married workers, etc. As the years went by the cost of migration of govt offices from Madras to Ooty also increased; to many critics it was waste of money.  The summer  exodus continued for 67 years till 1937  despite objections from various quarters. Even sending petitions to the British parliament to stop the  costly  and useless migration of govt offices to Ooty did not yield any positive results. It was Premier of then Madras Presidency  C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) in 1937 pulled the curtain down on this costly  summer migration.