Sullivan Memorial opens after renovation in the Nilgiris

UDHAGAMANDALAM: The Sullivan Memorial, the first building constructed by Europeans in the Nilgiris, has been opened for visitors after renovation. Situated at Kannerimukku, a village near Kotagiri, the building had been closed to visitors for nearly three months.

"The Sullivan Memorial, in memory of the founder of modern Nilgiris, has been renovated at the cost of Rs 15 lakh. The funds came from Hill Area Development Project (HADP) and the PWD carried out the renovation in a way, building all modern facilities without disturbing the original character of the construction," said Dharmalingam Venugopal, honorary secretary, Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC), which has maintained the memorial since 2006 as a museum of the Nilgiris. "The district administration extended full support to recreate this landmark which draws visitors from all over India and abroad," he said.

According to Venugopal, it has been proposed to form a 'Pethakal Trust' to buy land from the local people at a reasonable price and dedicate it to the total development of the memorial and surrounding villages. "The trust will be formed soon by local people working in the Nilgiris and outside. NRIs from Kannerimukku village and surrounding villages are also expected to contribute," said Venugopal.

The memorial was shut in the first week of September for renovation work. Besides providing necessary protection to the heritage building from rain, the renovation work included setting up a complete lighting system and provisions for making audio visual presentations. 
 John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore, founder of Ootacamund is a man larger than life. Such a spirit of adventure to go haring into the hills, build a house there and slowly found a whole town; introduce new crops and a whole new way of living to the natives and create an artificial lake ‘to water the plains’. And these are only some of his achievements.  the Nilgiris is one of the most well –documented areas in the world.

The Nilgiris Documentation Centre is housed in recently renovated Sullivan’s Centre, in the first

house Sullivan built in the Nilgiris. The man behind the restoration is D.Venugopal. Venugopal  is also the co -founder of the Save Nilgiris Campaign and is completely committed to  preserving the history and the environment of these hills.

John Sullivan (British governor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 John Sullivan (15 June 1788 – 16 January 1855), grandson of Lawrence Sullivan, Director East India Company, son of Stephen Sullivan, British Resident at the Court of Thangavur and Elizabeth Anne Forde, christened 7 July 1788 - St. Georges Hanover Square, Came out to India as a writer with the EIC at age 15 and was appointed the Collector of Coimbatore in 1817, India. He married Henrietta Cecilia Harington, daughter of Rev. William Harington (1768-1821) and Anne Collet (1772-1820) on the 2 February 1820 in Madras. John Sullivan is best known as the founder of the town of Ooty.
In 1819, he set out to explore the Nilgiris after obtaining an order from the British East India Company charging him with investigating the "origin of the fabulous tales that are circulated concerning the Blue Mountains to verify their authenticity and to send a report to the authorities".
With a detachment of Europeans and Indian sepoys, he set out on his mission on 2 January 1819. The journey involved crossing rough and harsh terrain, steep precipices and facing danger from wild animals. After an expedition that lasted for six days and the loss of the lives of many of the expedition members, Sullivan finally reached a plateau from where he proudly hoisted the British flag. After touring the area in 1819, John Sullivan, collector for Coimbatore district, began a personal campaign to persuade the government of Madras that the location's "unusually temperate and healthy" climate made it ideal as a "resort of Invalids." In 1821 the medical board of the presidency ordered three assistant surgeons to investigate these claims. Their reports persuaded the board that "we fully anticipate very great advantages from a resort to these Hills," and it recommended that fifty invalid soldiers be sent there to test the region's salubrity. Independently, Sullivan and other officials from neighboring districts established summer residences at Ootacamund, nestled in the heart of the Nilgiris. This nascent community soon attracted a stream of visitors in search of health and leisure.
Sullivan was driven by a spirit of innovation and enterprise. He was the first to introduce horticulture in the Nilgiris. Potato, barley and other "English" agricultural products are some of the crops he introduced.
In 1822, John Sullivan, began construction of his residence, called the 'Stonehouse', on property he had purchased from the Todas. His wife, who had the distinction of being the first European woman in the Nilgiris, moved into the house in 1823 along with his infant son and others who made Ooty their abode was Sir Thomas Munro, the governor of Madras, who stayed at Ootacamund.
The Ooty Lake was created between 1823 and 1825 by Sullivan as a source of irrigation. Years later. He explained to his superiors: "the climate is particularly salubrious, and I rejoice to say my health has derived infinite benefit from my residence in it."[9] This retreat quickly became a magnet for invalided officers and other Europeans in upper India seeking rest cures. Considering the age in which he lived, his attitudes towards the local population were remarkably progressive, arguing that the native people should be allowed to govern their own affairs. He also held that the Todas had total proprietary rights over the Nilgiris, which set him at odds with the East India Company officials.
By 1828, there were some 25 houses, not to mention churches and the houses of immigrants from the plains. This was also the year that Ooty was made a military cantonment. Sullivan's dream of making it a sanatorium for British troops had been fulfilled, but the Government's action meant that Ooty would no longer be in his control but in that of his rival Major William Kelso.
But Sullivan wasn't through with Ooty. After he finished his tenure as Collector of Coimbatore, he returned in his capacity as the Senior Member of the Board of Revenue of the Madras Presidency.[1]
Disaster struck in 1841 which were marked by tragedy in Sullivan's life. In 1841, his wife and daughter died within weeks of each other. John Sullivan's wife's and daughter's funeral were held at the St. Stephen's church and the graves can be seen even today. A grieving Sullivan left the hill station which he dearly loved and developed and returned to England with his eight children. He died 16 January 1855 and was buried in the churchyard of St Laurence, Upton-cum-Chalvey, Berkshire, where his grave may still be seen. The west window of the church is a memorial to him. The grave is shared by Frances, his second wife (1799-1876).
The first house which Sullivan built at the village Hossatty, near Kotagiri in the Nilgiris, is currently the only memorial left in the Nilgiris save the font donated in his name to St. Stephen's Church by Col. & Mrs. Gilhlan in 1872. The house is known as the "Sullivan's Bungalow" and is located at a place called Kannerimukku, near Kotagiri town. Sullivan contributed to the diversified floral growth in the region and he also introduced potatoes and other English vegetables to the local community at that time [Badagas and Todas] and played a very important role in developing the district as well as the headquarters - Ootacamund [now called Udhagamandalam, in short Ooty] which is an important Hill Station. He also played an important role in developing the ancient Toda tribe this tribe has also been considered to be descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great who were shipwrecked at Elimalar in 326 BCE and through DNA analysis are most closely related to Greek Cypriots); he also played an important role in developing other communities like Badagas [Buffalo breeders], Kotas [Jewellery], Kurumbas [Witchcraft and Priests] and Irulas [Pottery]. John Sullivan is regarded with great respect by the localites even today, for his contribution to the district of the 'Nilgiris', also known as the 'Blue Mountains'.[2] Biography of John Sullivan, Local History Studies, Slough Berkshire,
His son, Henry Edward Sullivan, also became a Collector at Coimbatore and is noted in the memoirs of Madame Helene Blavatsky who he entertained at Ooty in 1869. [3] A second son, Augustus William Sullivan, also served in the Madras Civil Service, born 1813, he died 1858 and is buried at St. John's Cemetery in Tellicherry.