Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Kerala said that Kerala Tourism is planning to revive the monorail service that connects Munnar with Mattupetty.
Located about 13 km from Munnar town is Mattupetty. Situated at a height of 1700 m above sea level, Mattupetty is known for its storage masonry dam and the beautiful lake, which offers pleasurable boat rides, enabling one to enjoy the surrounding hills and landscape.
Mattupetty’s fame is also attributed to the dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, where one can encounter different high yielding breeds of cows.
This British engineering marvel was devastated during 1924 and is now in a state of ruin with a few remnants scattered in the Munnar and Kundala valleys.
The monorail service is expected to attract a large number of tourists to the hill station of Kerala. The Minister said this project is one in the top-priority list of Kerala Tourism.
A team that includes officials from the Kerala Rail Development Corporation is exploring the possibilities of this project and making a detailed study of this.
In the first phase of this ambitious project, Kerala Tourism will revive a 5 km railway line along the lines of Darjeeling train service.
The story behind
The story goes that Tata Tea, with a number of its tea producing factories in full swing, needed to export material to the UK in a faster way and the need for a faster mode of transportation became inevitable.
W Mime, the then general manager of the company, set up a monorail cart road connecting Munnar and Mattupetty with Top Station.
500 bullocks were brought to the hill station and a veterinary surgeon and two assistants from England were assigned with the task of attending to the animals.
From here it would travel to Tuticorin Port (Tamil Nadu) and eventually to the United Kingdom. The goods carriage initially consisted of a simple platform running on a small wheel over the rail and a larger one pulled by bullocks.
In 1908, the monorail gave way to a light railway that began at Munnar station, with two stops at Mattupetty and Palaar, before ending the journey at Top Station.
The floods of 1924, caused due to incessant rainfall, completely destroyed the system. Most of it was completely washed away and people were forced to abandon any plans of reconstruction because of the great scale of damage.
Tata Tea was forced to choose ropeways for the transportation between Munnar and Top Station. Today, people can follow this trail and see the wreckage of the Kundala Railway Line.
The platform in front of the main railway station building has been converted into a road, though one can still see a few century-old tracks.
The Tea Museum in the Nallathanni Estate has memorabilia from the time, including a rail engine wheel of the first and only railway in Munnar.