Peerumedu is a taluk in Idukki district, Kerala, situated at an elevation of 915 meters above sea level. It is a plantation town known for the cultivation of tea, coffee, and cardamom.

Peerumedu, translating to “hill of Peer,” derives its name from Peer Mohammed, a Sufi philosopher and poet who dedicated years to meditation in the area.

Peerumedu, renowned for its picturesque surroundings that include waterfalls, pine forests, and open grasslands, also holds historical significance as a summer retreat of the Travancore royal family.

Ammachi Kottaram, a palace of the royal consorts of Travancore, is located in Peerumedu. This palace served as the summer retreat for the wife of the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore, commonly referred to as “Ammachi Kottaram.” In the Travancore royal family, which operated under a matriarchal system, the Maharaja’s sister held the title of queen or maharani, not his wife. Therefore, the wife, who was a non-royal, held the title of ‘Ammachi’.

Tottapura, a warehouse dating back 200 years, was originally used for storing weapons and explosives of the Travancore kingdom. It is situated in Peerumedu.

Peerumedu houses a taluk office and a mini civil station, serving as administrative hubs for the region. Additionally, it holds significance as one of the five legislative constituencies of the Idukki district.

In Peerumedu, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Indian National Congress are major political players. The CPI(M) draws its primary support from plantation workers, who constitute a significant portion of its voter base.

Neighboring Kuttikanam serves as a prominent hill station and educational hub for Peerumedu. Notable institutions like the Mar Baselios Christian College of Engineering and Technology (MBC) and Marian College are situated in Kuttikanam, further enriching the educational landscape of the region. Kuttikanam is above 1000 meter from sea level and surrounded by lush green tea plantations.

Famous Sree Krishna temple is situated in Azhutha, Peerumedu. The temple was built by Travancore royal family who used to visit the place for summer vacation.

Cinchona to Tea cultivation

Peerumedu holds the distinction of being the first British settlement in the Idukki district. British planters initiated the clearing of dense rainforests and commenced coffee cultivation in the area. During the mid-nineteenth century, large-scale forest clearing activities were undertaken in Peerumedu, with Tamil workers from Gudalur and Cumbum being employed for this arduous task. The initial stages of land clearing were fraught with challenges, including frequent wild animal attacks on workers, resulting in casualties and prompting some laborers to abandon their jobs and return home.

In 1860, the first estate, “TYFORD,” was established by Henry Baker in Peerumedu. While coffee was initially cultivated as the primary crop, the soil was found to be unsuitable for its cultivation. Consequently, British planters transitioned to Cinchona farming. Cinchona, known for its medicinal properties against malaria at the time, was extensively cultivated in Peerumedu and exported to the international market.

However, with a decline in the demand for Cinchona in the global market, tea emerged as the dominant crop in Peerumedu, eventually replacing Cinchona in the region’s plantations.

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