History of The Nilgiris
The Name ‘Nilgiris’ means Blue hills (Neelam – Blue and giri – Hill or Mountain) the first mention of this name has been found in the Silappadikaram. There is a belief that the people living in the plains at the foot of the hills, should have given the name, the Nilgiris, in view of the violet blossoms of ‘kurinji’ flower enveloping the hill ranges periodically. The earliest reference to the political history of the Nilgiris, according to W.Francis relates to the Ganga Dynasty of Mysore. Immediately after the Nilgiris was ceded to the British in 1789, it became a part of Coimbatore district. In August 1868 the Nilgiris was separated from the Coimbatore District. James Wilkinson Breeks took over the administration of the Nilgiris as its Commissioner. In February 1882, the Nilgiris was made a district and a Collector was appointed in the place of the Commissioner. On 1st February 1882, Richard Wellesley Barlow who was the then Commissioner became the First Collector of Nilgiris.
Geographical Location of the District
The Nilgiris is situated at an elevation of 900 to 2636 meters above MSL. Its latitudinal and longitudinal dimensions being 130 KM (Latitude : 10 - 38 WP 11-49N) by 185 KM (Longitude : 76.0 E to 77.15 E). The Nilgiris is bounded on North by Karnataka State on the West by Coimbatore District, Erode District, South by Coimbatore District and Kerala State and as the East by Kerala State.
In Nilgiris District the topography is rolling and steep. About 60% of the cultivable land falls under the slopes ranging from 16 to 35%
There are no irrigation schemes in this district. The crops are mainly rain fed. Check Dams have been constructed wherever it is possible to exploit natural springs.
The Nilgiris District is basically a Horticulture District and the entire economy of the district depends upon the success and failure of Horticulture Crops like Potato, Cabbage, Carrot, Tea, Coffee, Spices and Fruits. The main cultivation is plantation Crops, viz., Tea and Coffee. Potato and other vegetables are raised in Udhagai and Coonoor Taluks. Paddy and Ginger are grown in Gudalur and Pandalur Taluks. Paddy is also grown in Thengumarahada area in Kotagiri Taluk. Besides these crops, Ragi, Samai, Wheat, Vegetables etc., are also grown in small extent throughout the district.