Ooty: D.Venugopal, director of the Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC), said that the Chinese connection with the Nilgiris starts from around the 1850s when a group of skilled Chinese prisoners landed up in the Nilgiris, following the second Opium War between the British and the Chinese.
They took part in the construction of the Lawrence School at Lovedale, planted tea for the first commercial tea estate in Thiashola near Ooty and pioneered cinchona cultivation in Nilgiris to fight the scourge of malaria.
In 1864, W.G. McIvor, superintendent of cinchona plantations and earlier, the architect of the Government Botanical Gardens in Ooty asked the British government for 500 convicts to develop cinchona plantations.
“The Chinese prisoners of war were sent to the Nilgiris and housed at the Naduvattam jail. (This jail is now a heritage tourism spot). As the demand for quinine manufactured from the cinchona tree was high, these Chinese prisoners are said to have put in extra efforts to raise cinchona plantations in good numbers then,” he added....