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Gudalur PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 30 July 2012 18:48

Gudalur is a panchayat town and taluk in Nilgiris district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is said that Gudalur gets its name from Koodal + uru, meaning the Meeting Place.


Gudalur is a picturesque green valley on the way from Mysore to Ooty with a population of 32,605 (1991 census). It is a gateway to three states,Tamil NaduKerala and Karnataka lying equidistant from both Kerala and Karnataka. Though the history of the name has been lost, it is the place where all of the three states' boundaries meet. Some even say the name originated as 'Koodal'(Joining)in Tamil and 'Ooru'(Village),and Goodal+uru as a mysterious place. As the town is located 50 km from any other nearby bigger towns, Ooty, Sulthan Bathery an Gundalpet it can very well be called as the Joining-Place or Point.

Tea plantations dot the whole region, and the regional economy is heavily dependent on the tea industry. However, this is a place rich in flora and fauna with a variety of hill crops, though lower altitude crops such as paddy and coconut also flourish here. This area was an offspring to the exploration done by the British during the pre-independence period to cultivate tea. Various large companies own tea estates in the region. From the 1960s onwards, the region saw pioneering settlers moving in from neighbouring Kerala. Later, towards the end of the 1970s, the Tamil Nadu Government also granted refuge to a large number of Sri Lankan repatriates. This considerably changed the demography of the region. Gudalur is a place where one can see people from the two states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala live together cordially.

Once upon a time, it was a paradise for newly wedded couples who married without the consent of their parents and had eloped from their homes, to find a living. In olden times it was said,Criminals also found this place a hideout from the law of the land; the history of Gudalur says that it is a land of hard workers. People from different part of India migrated to Gudalur and fought with the wild animals and with malaria and thereby reaped gold from the land. This 'pioneering' spirit however, had a considerable cost — the original inhabitants of the region (indigenous people) have been reduced to a state of abject poverty and subjugation on account of the outsiders.

Gudalur is the only Taluk to have an Act enacted by the Tamil Nadu State Government and is placed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of India (entry 80) which is exclusively made for the Gudalur region. That Act is Gudalur Janmam Abolition Act, 1969 (Act 24/69).

Later Gudalur Taluk was divided into two talukas: Gudalur and Pandalur. Pandalur Taluka consists of the major portion of Nelliyalam Villages and Cherangode village. It was the seat of the erstwhile Nelliyalam Ratti. Nelliyalam is a small village where you can find the remains of the fort of Nelliyalam Ratti.

Today Gudalur is a selection grade III municipality.

Gudalur lies adjacent to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, and often wild animals such as elephants, deer, etc. stray into human habitat. However, since Gudalur is a new town, with the majority population of the region being recent settlers from Kerala and other parts, there is a very 'local pride' in the region, and wildlife is being fast decimated. People are all attempting to maximise their gain from the land in a short term, and so agricultural practices are unsustainable — highly dependent of pesticides and fertilisers.

Devala, a place which is just 20 km away from Gudalur, receives the highest rainfall in Tamil Nadu.



As of 2001 India census,[2] Gudalur had a population of 43,038. Males constitute 50% of the population and females 50%. Gudalur has an average literacy rate of 73%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 78%, and female literacy is 68%. In Gudalur, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age.

The original inhabitants of the region were of largely four Schedule Tribes:

Paniyas: They were by far the largest of the original inhabitants, and are were largely in bonded labour to the other dominant invaders in the region.

Kattunayakans: They are a hunter-gatherer tribe, and have a very close and symbiotic relationship with the forests. They still live largely in isolation, with minimal contact with the outsiders.

Bettakurumbas: They too are a hunter-gatherer group. They are relatively better known, as they are quite famous for the skills as mahouts, and look after all the tame elephants owned by the forest department.

Mullukurumbas: They are in some ways the most advanced of all the tribes, and practice settled agriculture to some extent. All these groups are classified as Primitive Tribal Groups by the Government of India.

In addition to the Tribals (Also called 'adivasis' or the first people) there were also the Moundaden Chettys living in the region.

From the 60's onwards there has been a huge influx of outsiders, and the original inhabitants (adivasis) make up less than 8% of the population.

Tamil and Malayalam are understood by most people of the town.


Tourist attractions

  • Needle Rock View Point : (Ooshi Malai/Soochi Malai): It is 7 km on the way to Ooty. From here one can see almost every part of Gudalur and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Gudalur town, Bandipur and parts of Mysore. On the other side, you can see parts of Kerala. You can also see a mountain popularly known as Sleeping Beauty (also called Aanakkallu) which is exactly in the shape of a sleeping woman.
  • Frog Hill View Point: The hill is in the shape of a huge frog. Frog hill view point is 9 km. from Gudalur on the way to Ooty. This hill can be seen as a gigantic frog sitting when seen from a distance. At the same time a good place to get the full view of Gudalur. The Sleeping Beauty range of mountain can also be viewed from this view point.
  • Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary : It starts 5 km from gudalur town a Tiger Reserve when you can find Tigers, Cheetahs, Deers, Elephants, Bison, the Lion Tailed Macaque, and different types of snakes ranging from King Cobra, Python etc.,
  • Numbalakottai Vimalagiri : 4 km. from Gudalur. A shrine of Vettakarappan (Lord of the hunts) with sub-shrine built in Kerala style is here. Wynad scenery is visible from here. The temple was a property of Nilambur Kovilagam and the festival is conducted once in a year by the Kovilagam trust under the guidance of the Kovilagam. The way to Nambalakottai is via Kalampuzha.
  • Kalampuzha : This is a small place located near to Gudalur Bus Stand. Kalampuzha is sweet place where people live in peace and harmony. There are two NGO's NAVA(Adivasi Trust) and PALM2 located in this place. NAVA concentrates only in the welfare of the first peoples of Gudalur(Adivasis). PALM2 NGO is headed by Ms.Natascha Sennema from The Netherlands who dedicated herself for the PALM 2. This NGO trains people to indulge in several agricultural and Income generation activities. This NGO is different from other NGOs in its Particiaptory and holistic approach. The NGO has 2 Umbrella organisation (PLF,20 people's Community Based Organisations (CBO) and 350 Self Help groups. Several group members were trained in Cottage industries, Tailoring, Banana chips making, Bakery and Indian savories. Ciji Varghese working in PALM2 has a great idea in Aqua Culture, Ornamental fishery and edible water fish.
  • Manvayal/Bospara : This is a small satellite town 8 km from Gudalur, and is adjacent to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The people here are mainly small tea growers and are mainly engaged in agricultural activities. The ancestors of this village migrated from Thiruvithamkur and other parts of Kerala some 50 years ago. Ironically, the original name Manvayal was that of a small Kattunayakan Tribal village. "Seva Bharathi"(NGO)is indulged more than 'two hundread' seva works in this area.
  • Nelliyalam : 20 km. from Gudalur. A few ruins of historical Ummatur dynasty can be seen here. There are ruins of a Fort which was the seat of the erstwhile Nelliyalam Rani.
  • Ponneni : There is a Vishnu Temple where Utsavam takes place only once in 12 years. It was under the control of the Nilambur Kovilakam but it is not maintained properly after the 'Gudalur Janmam abolishment and Conversion Act, 1969' was passed by the Tamil Nadu State government.
  • Pandalur : Capital of Pandalur Taluka. There are many tea plantations.
  • Vimalagiri : The capital of Mothavayal panchayat. It is a fully literate village.
  • Cherangode : There is a shrine dedicated to Velankanni Matha. This is a pilgrims' centre.
  • Cherambady : 35 km. from Gudalur. It is extreme western corner which has plantations and mica mines. Sultan battery is very near.
  • Kunnalady : Kunnalady is a pilgrim centre of Malayalees as well as Tamils. It is a centre of Tea Leaves business. Bekky is nearby. The people here are mainly tea planters and life depends on the rise and fall of tea leaf value. There is a church in Kunnalady and another in Bekky. Bekky Matha Church is ancient and very famous for its feast called 'perunnal'and the land for this church is provided by Jacob Padinjaremuriyil to Mananthavadi Diocese. There is a temple Anchmbalam in kunnalady and its 'Utsavam' is very famous. Ammankavu is nearby. Amman Kavu Utsavam is a time for the tribals to meet in a year.
  • Nellakotta : It is 15 km from Gudalur. A dilapidated fort is there.
  • Hanging Bridges : Located on the way to Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. It is 7 km from Gudalur.
  • Genepool Garden : It is located at 10 km from Gudalur in a place called Nadugani. It has a variety of species from all over the world.
  • Kariyasholai : A beautiful village encircled with forest where one half cultivated tea plantation, vanilla, coffee, cardamom etc., The queen of hills has her daughter NEEDLE ROCK placed to the east top of the village which really makes the village a heavenly jorn. Chelakkunnu just one km away is a beautiful forest-cum-village of thodas, kurumaas, paniyaas etc. One can often see elephants wandering, deer rover, beautiful wild life on a stream walk at the location.
  • Devala : A small town on the way to Pandalur from Gudalur at 18th km has the second highest rainfall in India.
  • Valat Mahavishnu Temple : Its at Ambalamoola, known from the ancient and traditional palm leaf testimonials and learned astrologists who conducted "Ashtta Mangalya Deva Prasnam" in the temple that the Valat MahaVishnu Temple(Narasimhavatar) was established during the reign of Chera Kings about 1500 years ago. The Chera Administrators known as Nayakans entrusted an ancient family named Valat Tharavad to execute and carry out daily pooja and related rites without any hindrance and for which total expenditure were also met by the Nayakas. Accordingly the Valat family maintained the temple till 1975 and expressed their inconvenience to continue their execution there after for want of means and ways.
  • Cherangode Swami Malai : A tourist hill, lake, located in Pandalur-Kolappally-Ayyankolly road.
  • Velleri River : Located in Silver Jubilee road near, Ambalamoola.
  • Kusumagiri Murugan Temple : A beautiful and an old temple which has been reconstructed devoted to Lord Murugan, a GOD with a lot of faithful devotees in and around Gudalur.

Transportation Links

Gudalur is linked by road to Ooty and this is one of the Nilgiri Ghat Roads. In the other direction, the same road continues on towards Gundlupet (and on to Mysore) in Karnataka State. Another road links it to Nilambur and Sulthan Bathery in Kerala State. Gudalur is therefore on the access route to other towns in the district for goods and passengers from the state of Karnataka and some from the state of Kerala. There is a huge demand for last many years for making KozhikkodeManjeriNilamburOoty as National Highway.



Gudalur assembly constituency is part of Nilgiris (Lok Sabha constituency).[3]



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