Nelliyampathy is a virgin hill station located in Palakkad district of Kerala. Nelliyampathy is blessed with lush dense rain-forests with number of wild animals like elephants, hill squirrels, deers and bison. Located above 467 m above sea-level, it is well known for its sprawling tea gardens, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations. The largest perennial multi crop organic farm in the world owned by Poabs-India has given this sleepy hill station, international repute. Several small waterfalls, streams and rocky hill ranges also add beauty to this wonderful summer destination.

From the garden inside the Nelliyampathy Guest House

Pothundy Dam Gardens on the Nelliampathy road
Road to Nelliyampathi

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Nelliyampathy is better known as Poor Man’s Ooty, due to its unexplored virgin hill station status, famed for its large bio-farms, plantations and orange gardens. The hills are part of highly sensitive Western Ghats and was once thick dense teak forests inhabited by tribals. Later the area became popular among English planters and the area soon developed into major plantation belt. Its one of the few plantation areas in India, where multiple crops like Pepper, cardamom, tea, coffee and oranges are cultivated.

Apart from plantations, there are several hill ranges and cliffs, which all are popular among tourists, especially those interested in adventurous. Kerala Tourism has identified the hills are one of the best areas for trekking.

Nelliyampatty is in Palakkad District, 56 km from Palakkad city near Nenmara town.

Karappara village at Nelliampathy

The whole Nelliyampathy hills is known to have belonged to Vengunad Kovilakam of Kollengode (a small principality of Malabar), who then leased out vast tracts of this virgin forest area to the British Government of Madras Presidency. The Halls, perhaps the best known of the early planters in the Nellies, always held that there were others before them in these hills where only tribals roamed before the land was opened up by the planters. By the time Arthur Hall arrived in the Nellies in 1877, there appeared to have been coffee planted without shade in what were later known as Shernelly, halfway up the ghat, and Nelikolam Estates, the latter on the plateau. Arthur Hall started planting at Cotengady, near Padagiri, and was the father of planting in the Nellie. Similarly vast tracts of virgin forest in the Nelliyampathy hills were leased out in the year 1889 to two Britishers by name Mr. Holmes and Mr. Macanzey.

By the 1890s, there were over a hundred European planters in the district, mostly from the coffee districts of Mysore, but by the 1930s there were no more than half a dozen and most of the coffee they had planted lay abandoned· The Halls’ property and James Finlay’s at Sethangandy (Seethargundu) were two that were still flourishing at the time· Both older estates also planted cardamom and a visitor to Sethangandy said its cardamom were “the biggest and best he’d ever seen. In 1896 they have sold the leasehold right over the land to M/s Amalgamated Tea Estate Company Ltd; subsequently it came into the hands of Amalgamated Coffee Estate Pvt. Ltd., which was owned by Sri. Neelkanda Iyer. In his hands this estate was known as Seethargundu. Later he sold this estate to various parties in different portions. In 1969 Poabs India has got brought entire shares of various companies and amalgamated all to take over the plantation. Today 95% of Nelliyampathy hills are with Poabs India Company and remaining with Kerala Forest Department.

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