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GENERAL

kanyakumari

Nature seems to be at its best in Kanniyakumari district. Interspersed with sea-shores, plains, hills and dales and peaks, the district is entirely free from monotony in appearance. The old Arcadian charm tenaciously lingers, despite the onslaught of urbanization, in some places amazingly intact.

The panorama of the district, available to one from the cliffs of slight elevation, not far away from the low and sandy sea-coast, beggars description. Azure sky with its whimsical drawings, merging with blue sea to form a distant horizon; the water-spread of the sea in numerous shades of black and blue, with lines and patches of white surf washing the shore; haze reflection of sun light in blue water and yellow sand; serried coconut trees; extensive verdant plains punctuated by intermittant habitations; pagodas with quadrangular slanting roofs and cupola-shaped shrines ; tall church towers ; large trees with pepper vines clinging to them; black-topped roads; vehicles moving with a deceptive sluggishness; streams meandering through green vegetation on both sides; merrily fluttering colourful birds, giving sounds ranging from feeble murmur to nerve-wrecking shrieks; a riviera unfolds itself before the viewer and gluts his eyes and mind with its bounteous, surrealistic beauty of the district. Not without reasdn Lord Connemera called1 this region ’a fairy land’..

Origin of name of the district. The district has derived its name, from the township Kanniyakumari, also known as the Cape Comorin. This is the southern extremity of India, beyond which there are only two rocks; one housing the famous Vivekananda Memorial now. The township has been named after the Goddess Kanniyakumari to whom the temple is dedicated.

Location, general boundaries, total area and population : Kanniyakumari is the southernmost district of Tamil Nadu. The district lies between 77°05’ and 77°36’ of the eastern longitudes and 8°03’ and 8°35’ of the northern latitudes.

The district is bounded by Tirunelveli district on the north and the east. The south-eastern boundary is the Guff of Mannar. On the south and south-west, the boundaries are the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea. On the West and North-west it is bounded by Kerala.

The area of Tamil Nadu is 130,058 sq.kms. Of this, Kanniyakumari district occupies 1684 sq.kms. i.e. 1.29% of the total extent of Tamil Nadu.

The population of the district is, according to the 1981 Census, 1,423,399, of which 7,16,958 (50.4%) are males and 7,06,441 (49.6%) are females.

The history of the district as an administrative unit and the changes In its component parts : The area comprising the present Kanniyakumari district was a part of the erstwhile Travancore State. During the reign of Maharaja Rama Varma (1758- 1798 AD), there were three revenue divisions in Travancore State, Viz., Vedakkemukkom, Patinjaremukkom and Tekkemukkom and the present Kanniyakumari district area formed part of Tekkemukkom.

In 1835, when the state was divided into northern and southern divisions, this area formed part of southern division and was placed in the charge of Dewan Peishkar, Kottayam. Subsequently, another division of Trivandrum was formed in which the Kanniyakumari region stood included. In July 1949, when the United State of Travancore and Cochin was inaugurated, the present Kanniyakumari District area continued to be a part of Trivandrum district of Kerala State.

The people of Agasthiswaram, Thovala, Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks, which formed the southern divisions of the former Trivandrum district, were predominantly Tamil speaking. They agitated for the merger of this area with Madras State. The States Reorganisation Commission also recommended this. Accordingly, the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 was passed and the Kanniyakumari district was formed on 1 November 1956, with the four taluks, Viz., Agasthiswaram. Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode and merged with Tamil Nadu.

Sub-dlvlslons, taluks : The district has been divided into two divisions consisting of two taluks each, viz., Padmanabhapuram revenue division consisting of Vilavancode and Kalkulam and the Nagercoil revenue division consisting of Agasthiswaram and Thovalai.

Topography : With prominent natural features, richly varied and somewhat crowded, Kanniyakumari district commands an impressive topography. Majestic hills, with undulating surroundings and the plains bordered by colourful sea-shores in many places are so closely interwoven with churches and other edifices. Plantations and fields,- the proof of human intervention, happily blend to cause in the viewer’s mind, a perception of an ineffable natural beauty and vigour of human life.

Natural divisions, elevation, configuration, etc.: The shape of the district may, perhaps, approximate a rhombus, though all its sides are full of turns and curves. The promontory of Kanniyakumari is the south-west point of the district. The sea-shore, which is the southern border of this district, runs north-west from this point. Its somewhat general course in this direction, becomes more marked beyond Kadiapattanam. This border of the district extends for about two kilometres beyond Nirodithura. From here, the western border proceeds in a north-east direction and reaches the reserved forest area drained by Valachi Todu. Again, the northern border of the district is slanting in a south-eastern direction well beyond Mahendragiri hill. From here, the eastern border runs in a southern direction, touches the shore of Gulf of Mannar in north of Allvilakudiyiruppu and continues towards Kanniyakumari.

The district may be divided into three natural divisions as :

(1) A mountainous terrain which is the north-eastern portion of the district. It includes the northern parts of Vilavancode and Kalkulam taluks. This terrain has a number of admirable hill-tops and it is the continuation of a loftier and broader mountain range in the north.

(2)        The natural division which is the fertile sea-coast on the South-eastern, southern and south-western parts of the district. Fringed with coconut trees, this low land is sandy, though here and there are a few slightly elevated patches of red cliffs.

and (3) The division consisting of the undulating valleys and the plains between the mountainous terrain and the sea-coast. Also there are a few streams in this region.

In general the district slopes gently towards the west.

Hills, mountain system to which they belong, main peaks, height, situation, vegetation, etc : In the northern mountainous range of the district, is situated the beautiful sanitarium of Muthukuzhivayal (1314 m$). South of Peermedu, only here the range is of any significant breadth. As Nagam Aiya Says,

For the remaining part of its length, the great range becomes a mere ridge sloping down on either side and running north-north-west and south-south-east at an elevation of about 4000 feet with isolated peaks.

It is a little difficult to accept this series of almost parallel ridges and valleys, as belonging to the Western Ghauts about which Nagam Aiya proudly mentions: 4

What the Himalaya mountains are to the Indian continent, that the Western Ghauts are to Travancore.

Nevertheless the agglomeration of bluff ridges and conical peaks forms a tail of the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghauts, which terminate only at Aralvoimozhi Pass. South of this rises a fine rocky mass, the perfectly detached Kattadimalai (808m.). From here a broken rocky spur extends southwards and shapes into Marutuvamalai (370m.) about seven kms. north-west of Kanniyakumari. The Velimalai in Kalkulam taluk and the Marutuvamalai in Agastiswaram taluk are important isolated hills. Another hill worth mentioning is Kalmalai (900 m.) in the north-western part of the district. Moliyadi (700m.) is at the head of old Kulasekaram reserved forest area in Kalkulam taluk. Tadakamalai (960m.) is in Thovala taluk, south of Tadakamalai reserved forests. Maruthathoor G.T.S. (956 m.) is in the border of Thovala and Kalkulam taluks, south of Velimalai reserved forests.

The differences in altitude and climate of the hilly tract of the district have made the vegetation of this area greatly varied with characteristic representation of different types of land. The highest hill in the district is Mahendragiri (1654 m.) in Thovala taluk on the border of Kanniyakumari and Tirunelveli districts. The tradition holds that Hanuman took off to Lanka through sky by jumping from this peak.

Hills, mountain system to which they belong, main peaks, height situation, vegetation, etc : In the northern mountainous range of the district, is situated the beautiful sanitarium of Muthukuzhivayal (1314 ms) South of Peermedu, only here the range is of any significant breadth. As Nagam Aiya Says,

For the remaining part of its length,the great range becomes a mere ridge sloping down on either side and running north-north-west and south-south-east at an elevation of about 4000 feet with isolated peaks.

It is a little difficult to accept this series of almost parallel ridges and valleys, as belonging to the Western Ghauts about which Nagam Aiya proudly mentions: 4

What the Himalaya mountains are to the Indian continent, that the Western Ghauts are to Travancore.

Nevertheless the agglomeration of bluff ridges and conical peaks forms a tail of the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghauts, which terminate only at Aralvoimozhi Pass. South of this rises a fine rocky mass, the perfectly detached Kattadimalai (808m.). From here a broken rocky spur extends southwards and shapes into Marutuvamalai (370m.) about seven kms. north-west of Kanniyakumari. The Velimalai in Kalkulam taluk and the Marutuvamalai in Agastiswaram taluk are important isolated hills. Another hill worth mentioning is Kalmalai (900 m.) in the north-western part of the district. Moliyadi (700m.) is at the head of old Kulasekaram reserved forest area in Kalkulam taluk. Tadakamalai (960m.) is in Thovala taluk, south of Tadakamalai reserved forests. Maruthathoor G.T.S. (956 m.) is in the border of Thovala and Kalkulam taluks, south of Velimalai reserved forests.

The differences in altitude and climate of the hilly tract of the district have made the vegetation of this area greatly varied with characteristic representation of different types of land. The highest hill in the district is Mahendragiri (1654 m.) in Thovala taluk on the border of Kanniyakumari and Tirunelveli districts. The tradition holds that Hanuman took off to Lanka through sky by jumping from this peak.

Plateaus and Plains : The mountainous terrain in the northern and eastern portion of the district has in it a vast plateau land in the midst of elevated hill tops. Though the slopes of the hills are generally precipitous, some of them are spread out. There are a number of plantations in this region.

The middle part of the district, particularly most of Agastiswaram taluk, is plain land, suitable for cultivation. In fact, the traditional name of the taluks of Agastiswaram and Thovala, is Nanjil Nadu; and the word Nanjil stands for plough.

Sea Coast: The district has a sea-coast of 68 kms. For the rr ost part the coast line is regular. Kanniyakumari, Muttam and Erayanthurai are the places where we can see projections towards the sea. There are a few minor sea-ports.

The ancient port of Colachel is the only natural port on the west coast in Tamil Nadu. Kanniyakumari is another minor port of the district and it serves mainly tourists. There is a village port at Manakudi, seven kms. to the west of Kanniyakumari on the edge of the Manakudi lake. Kadiapattanam is almost on the middle of the southern border, about five kms. north-east from the off shore rock called Crocodile Rock.

RIVER SYSTEM AND WATER RESOURCES: The high-flown praise of the river system of Travancore state showered by Nagam Aiya needs to be cut down severely, when we talk about Kanniyakumari district only. But the Paraliyar, the Kodayar and the Pazhayar, supplemented by a number of minor streams, serve the district so well that water supply in the district remains more than satisfactory. This network includes a number of tanks and lakes also, thereby minimising escape of water to sea.

Main rivers and tributaries: The Pazhayar is the southern-most river of India. The word Pazhayar means ‘old river’ in Tamil. The tradition holds that when Indra built the temple at Sucindram, under his directions, his elephant Iravadham dug a river specially for the temple, with its tusk. So this river is called Dantanadi (dant means tusk and nadi means river). This is also called Vadasseririver.

A number of streams rise from the secondary range of Sahyadri and join one another to form the Pazhayar. They drain the Mahendragiri peak and nearby estates and flow through the taluks of Thovalai and Agastiswaram. This river helps irrigation in these taluks to a great extent. It runs a course of about 37 kms. towards south and south-east and merges with Manakudy estuary. Important places through which the Pazhayar passes are Bhoothapandi, Thazhakkudi, Vadasseri, Nagercoil and Sucindram.

The Kodayar rises in Moolautchy mountains, in the southern part of the Muthukuzhivayal plateau. First, it runs in south-western direction through a wild tract. Two streams, one from Motavan Potha and the other from Thacchamala hills, join this river. With rocky bed, precipitous banks, sharp curves and frequent falls, the Kodayar is generally untamed except for a few kilometres in the end. The waterfall of this river at Tiruparappu is about 13 m. high. There is a very ancient Siva temple here. After running a course of 32 kms. in Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks, the Kodayar joins the Paraliyar to form the western Tambaraparani. ^

The Paraliyar rises in the mountains north of Mahendragiri and flows generally in the south, south-westerly direction through Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks. Near Ponmana, it is intercepted by Perunchani dam. It receives water from Pechipparai reservoir through the Left Bank Channel, before the weir called Puthen dam.

Even during the times of the Pandyas, the Paraliyar has been used for irrigation in Nanjil Nadu. The Pandyan dam across the Paraliyar in Kalkulam taluk, the Pandyan Kal and allied irrigation works built about a thousand years ago are considered standing monuments of the engineering skill of our ancient people. About a kilometre lower down the Pandyan dam, the Puthen dam and the Padmanabhapuram Puthen Channel were built in C.1750 AD. After running a course of 37 kms. the Paraliyar joins the Kodayar near Thiruvattar and forms the western Tambaraparani.

The western Tambaraparani, also known as the Kuzhithurai Aru, is formed near Thiruvattar by the merger of the Paraliyar and the Kodayar. It flows generally in south-westerly direction and joins the sea at Thengapattanam. Thiruvattar, Kuzhithurai and Munchirai are the important places on its banks.

The Mullayar in Vilavancode taluk is a stream flowing for about 11 kms. through Kaliel, Edaicode and Pacode.  It joins the western

Tambraparani near Thikkurichi.

The Valliyar is a small river, 16 kms. long. It rises in the Velimalai hills, passes through Kothanallur, Kalkulam, Eraniel, Thalakulam, Manavalakkurichi and Kadiapattanam and joins the Arabian sea. On the way, it is joined by the Thuvalar, another small river coming from the Mampazhathurai hills.

A canal of about 24 kms. has been dug connecting the Neyyar in Neyyatinkara taluk of Trivandrum district and Colachel in Agastiswaram taluk. About 16 kms. of this canal is in this district.

Lakes and tanks: The Paraliyar forms a lagoon called Manakkudy Kayal on Manakkudy lake, before joining the sea. This is also called Thamaraikulam.

The estuary of the Kuzhithurai river in Vilavancode taluk is called Thengapattanam lake.

An artificial fresh water lake has been formed at Pechiparai by the construction of the Kodayar dam. This has a water spread of about 13 sq.kms. and is used for irrigation.

Another artificial lake formed by the Perunchani dam has a waterspread of about nine sq.kms.

The earthern dam across the Mukkudal valley has formed a reservoir called Mukkudal Eri, which supplies drinking water to Nagercoil.

There are 2593 tanks in the district, both rainfed and channel fed. In the Kodayar system alone, there are 933 tanks.

Groundwater resources : There are 125 tubewells in the district used for irrigation. The irrigation in the district is also supplemented by 996 wells. In addition, there are 15026 wells used for domestic purposes only.

Hydrogeology : The hydrogeological condition of the rock type may vary, depending upon the texture of the rock type and tectonic condition of the terrain. The existing groundwater condition in different rock types are furnished below. To study the behaviours of the water table 25 shallow observation wells have been established and monthly water levels are being observed. These data are available since 1973. The water level fluctuation recorded in these wells are indicative of effect of recharge by various components like rainfall, irrigated water etc. It also helps to assess the gravity of situation during adverse seasonal conditions. The hydrogeologic condition in different rock types are discussed hereunder. The tertiary formation and the sub-recent sediments are occupying only small areas. Hence, they have not been considered for large scale development of groundwater. However, limited quantity can be developed for domestic purposes.

Hydrogeological condition of the area occupied by chamokite formation : The area occupied by the chamockite formations are Agasthiswaram, Rajakkamangalam blocks and southern part of Thovalai block. In this region the occurrence of groundwater is restricted to the top weathered and jointed portion. The weathered thickness in chamockite rock extends to a depth of 10m. During winter, the depth of water ranges from 2.6m. to 26.2m. and during summer the depth of water ranges from 12.00m.to 29.00m. (the wide variation in water table condition is due to rolling topography of the region). Normally large diameter dug wells are feasible in this region and each well is capable of yielding about 200 Ipm (litre per minute) and can irrigate about 1 to 1.5 hectares.

Groundwater condition of the area occupied by gneissic formation: The areas covered by gneissic formations are Kurunthankodu, Thiruvettar, Thakkalai, northern part of Thovalai, Killiyur, Melpuram and Munchirai blocks. In gneissic formation the occurrence of groundwater is restricted to the top weathered and jointed and fissured portion.The weathered and jointed formations extend to a depth of 10m. to 21m. Depending upon topography here the winter water level ranges from 2.00m. to 27.75m. below ground level and during summer, the water level goes below 5m. and 28m. from ground level. Generally large

diameter dug wells are feasible in these blocks to a maximum depth of 29m. and each well is capable of yielding 200 to 250 Ipm. which can irrigate about 1 to 1.5 hectares.

Quality of Groundwater In Kanniyakumari District: The quality of water is generally within permissible limits in Melpuram, Munchirai, Killiyur, Thiruvattar, Thakkalai, Kurunthankodu and western parts of Rajakkamangalam blocks (Electrical conductivity value is less than 1000 micromhos). In the eastern part of Rajakkamangalam, Agastiswaram and eastern part of Thovalai the quality of groundwater is marginal (electrical conductivity value ranges from 2250-3000 Micromhos/cm at 25°C). The quality of groundwater is poor especially during summer along the stretch extending from centred Agastiswaram block upto eastern part of Thovalai block. This may be due to the presence of Kankar. Excess sulphate and nitrate concentration have been observed in Groundwater of Mondaymarket, Aralvoimozhi, Mylaudi and Thadikarankonam areas.

Estimation of Groundwater potential: The groundwater potential of all blocks have been worked out based on the micro level survey conducted by groundwater wing of PWD. Depending upon the level of groundwater extraction, all the 9 blocks of Kanniyakumari have been categorised as white where the level of groundwater extraction is less than 65 per cent of annual recharge. Hence implementation of further minor irrigation schemes are feasible in all the blocks of Kanniyakumari district.

Consultancy Services : To minimise the well failure and to avoid infractuous expenditure, necessary technical guidance is being given to various Government, quasi governmental organisations, private agencies, agriculturists and general public for a nominal fee. Technical advice is given for selecting/digging/drilling sites after conducting geological, geohydrological and geophysical studies.

Watershed studies :     An elementary watershed with facility to measure runoff and observe meteorological parameters has been installed at Aralvoimozhi in this district. In the meteorological observatory, meteorological observations such as temperature, wind velocity, runoff, rainfall, sunshine hours etc. are being observed. Daily and monthly reports after compilation of the data observed are prepared and inferences like maximum rainfall, temperatures etc. are made.

In addition to this, Runoff due to rainfall is also observed and rainfall-runoff relationship to groundwater is studied.

The Groundwater Wing of Public Works Department has been carrying out detailed systematic investigations in Kanniyakumari district from 1971 onwards. The multi disciplinary data like hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology, geophysics are collected and compiled. Based on the detailed micro level survey conducted, groundwater potential of all the nine blocks were arrived which helps to implement further minor irrigation programme utilising groundwater. Moreover, Kanniyakumari district is bounded on the east, south and west by sea coast. On the coastal tract, deterioration of groundwater by saline intrusion is possible due to indiscriminate groundwater extractions. This aspect is being studied in detail in order to demarcate salt water fresh water interface.The consultancy service offered by Groundwater Wing of P.W.D. is helpful to identify favourable locations for dug-wells and borewells. The Groundwater Wing of P.W.D. can also help the organisations engaged in groundwater exploitation to formulate schemes in Kanniyakumari district, utilising the data collected and expertise gained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEOLOGY

The district’s characteristic variety is markedly seen in its geology also. The Tamil literature classifies land into five categories, namely, Kurinji (hilly tract), Mullai (Forest), Marudam (agricultural land), Neidai (sea-shore) and Palai(desert). In Tamil Nadu, there is no Palaibut Kurinji and Mullai sometimes acquire the qualities of Palai, due to scarcity of water. So, main varieties of land are only four, all of which are available in Kanniyakumari district. The northern and western parts of the district are hilly tracts and forests. In the south-eastern and middle parts, we have agricultural land, traditionally known as the Nanjil Nadu (the land o1 plough), The southern border of the district is a long sea-shore. The highest point of the district is Mahendragiri (1654 m.) and the altitude varies very frequently with perhaps the onJy exception of the plains in Agastiswaram and Thovala taluks. The district is full of scatterd rocky ridges, interrupted by valleys and plains and is bordered beautifully in south by sandy beaches and isolated boulders.

In addition to this, Runoff due to rainfall is also observed and rainfall-runoff relationship to groundwater is studied.

The Groundwater Wing of Public Works Department has been carrying out detailed systematic investigations in Kanniyakumari district from 1971 onwards. The multi disciplinary data like hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology, geophysics are collected and compiled. Based on the detailed micro level survey conducted, groundwater potential of all the nine blocks were arrived which helps to implement further minor irrigation programme utilising groundwater. Moreover, Kanniyakumari district is bounded on the east, south and west by sea coast. On the coastal tract, deterioration of groundwater by saline intrusion is possible due to indiscriminate groundwater extractions. This aspect is being studied in detail in order to demarcate salt water fresh water interface.The consultancy service offered by Groundwater Wing of P.W.D. is helpful to identify favourable locations for dug-wells and borewells. The Groundwater Wing of P.W.D. can also help the organisations engaged in groundwater exploitation to formulate schemes in Kanniyakumari district, utilising the data collected and expertise gained.

The district’s characteristic variety is markedly seen in its geology also. The Tamil literature classifies land into five categories, namely, Kurinji (hilly tract), Mullai (Forest), Marudam (agricultural land), Neidal (sea-shore) and Palai (desert). In Tamil Nadu, there is no Palaibut Kurinji and Mullai sometimes acquire the qualities of Palai, due to scarcity of water. So, main varieties of land are only four, all of which are available in Kanniyakumari district. The northern and western parts of the district are hilly tracts and forests. In the south-eastern and middle parts, we have agricultural land, traditionally known as the Nanjil Nadu (the land of plough). The southern border of the district is a long sea-shore. The highest point of the district is Mahendragiri (1654 m.) and the altitude varies very frequently with perhaps the only exception of the plains in Agastiswaram and Thovala taluks. The district is full of scatterd rocky ridges, interrupted by valleys and plains and is bordered beautifully in south by sandy beaches and isolated boulders.

Geological antiquity : The South Indian Peninsula is usually described as a “Horst” i.e. a highland with both the sides faulted. The eastern coast seems to have been faulted during the earliest geological period called Archaean times. After this, however, a number of sedimentary formations have been formed by numerous transgressions and regressions of the sea.

The story of the western coast is different. Interestingly enough-in the context of the legend that Parasurama reclaimed this land from sea-the faulting of the western coast including Kanniyakumari district has occurred later, during the early Miocene times, i.e. roughly 25 million years ago. Subsequent to the faulting, the sea should have transgressed in, as evidenced by marine sedimentary formations in parts of the west coast. But later on, the sea has receded, with concomitant uplift of the land mass. The deeply entrenched and relatively youthful streams, waterfalls, high hanging valleys, alluvial flats and patches of marine sediment at high elevations, and the presence of elevated seacliffs near Colachel and Sucindram bear testimony to the uplift of the land mass. The shelly lime stones found at Kanniyakumari strengthen this theory of uplift of land mass in this area. Nagam Aiya has quoted the following observations of Bruce Foote

At Cape Comorin and two other places along the coast to the northward are formations of small extent but very considerable interest, which, by their mineral constitution and by the abundance of fossil marine shells they enclose, show themselves to be of marine origin and thus prove that the coast line of the Peninsula has undergone some upheavel since they were deposited.

The uplift which possibly happened in stages has rejuvenated older streams. An example of wind gap resulting from river piracy is provided by a gap at Mekkode. The capture of the Paraliyar by the Kodayar probably in Tertiary times has caused this.

Geological formation : The rock formations of Archaean age fall under two groups viz., the Khondalites represented by the Garnetiferous sillimanite- graphite gneisses, and garnet biotite gneisses which occupies a major part of the district; and the Charnockites which are exposed in the areas included between Radhapuram, Aramboli, Kulasekaram, Thuckalai and Rajakkamangalam. The charnockites also occur as lenses and patches within the khondalites. The khondalites have also intruded by thin pegmatite bodies and quartz veins.

Warkaia beds of Tertiary age are exposed as thin cappings southwest of Kuzhithurai near the Coast. The coast belt near Kanniyakumari, Kovakulam, Lipuram, Vattakottai etc. contain formations of Sub-Recent Age, viz., the calcareous sandstones, shell and Kankary Limestone.

Mineral Wealth: The principal mining activity in the district is noted for heavy mineral placers concentrated on the sea coast by wave action, carrying ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, garnet, sillimanite and silica as mineral sands. Barring the heavy mineral sands, other occurrences of mica, graphite, clay, limestone and kankar are minor in nature. An isolated occurrences of sulphide mineralisation with basemetal like copper and nickel and traces of molybdenum, and cobalt and gemstones like chrysoberyl and aquamarine associated with the pegmatite and pebble beds require further investigation.

Heavy Mineral Sands: The beach sands over a stretch of 6 kms. from the mouth of the Valliyarto Colachel in Manavalakkurichi and a little beyond in the district contain heavy minerals like ilmenite, rutile, zircon, garnet, monazite sillimanite and magnetite with minor percentages of leucoxene. The principal concentrations are ilmenite – 45 to 55% garnet- 7 to 14% zircon – 4 to 6% monazite – 3 to 4% rutile – 2 to 3 % and sillimanite – 2 to 3 %.

The Indian Rare Earths Limited, a Government of India undertaking, is engaged in mining and processing of the heavy mineral sands of Manavalakkurichi. Mining is being done by manual methods and by dredging, while processing of the sun-dried, sand is done by electro-magnetic and electrostatic separation. The Indian Rare Earths Limited has set up a processing plant at Manavalakkurichi with an annua! capacity for the production of 65,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 1500 tonnes of rutile; 5000 tonnes of zircon; 3500 tonnes of monozite and 4500 tonnes of garnet. A wet concentration plant has been set up at Manavalakkurichi with Australian technical know-how to enrich the heavy mineral content from 50 to 95%. Mechanical dredging is also resorted to excavate about 1200 tonnes of beach sands daily and to produce 600 tonnes of heavy mineral concentrates.

The estimated reserves of different mineral fractions are as under:

Llemenite 4.70 Million tonnes Rutile 0.08 Garnet- 0.13 Zircon 0.15

The monozite, a phospate of the rare earth cerium, with thorium oxide is being processed at Trombay Atomic Plant for the manufacture    of rare earth oxides and nitrates. Ilmenite, rutile and zircon are being used for internal consumption and also exported. Garnet is also exported against specific demand.

Metallic Sulphides: Sulphide mineralisation, carrying copper nickel with traces of molybdenum, bismuth and cobalt is found within pyroxene granulite and along the contact with the gneisses in Mangamalai,1.5 kms. south west of Arumanallur in Thovala taluk. The sulphide mineralisation is traceable as a gessan capping measuring 100 metres by 10 metres. The ore body is principally of pyrrhotite (iron sulphide) along with other sulphides of copper (chalcopyrite and bornite) and molybdenite (Mos). Detailed investigations have indicated that the ore carries 1% copper, 0.6% Nickel and traces of molybdenum, bismuth and cobalt. Since the exposed extent of mineralisation is meagre, the occurrence appears to be uneconomical for commercial mining and winning of the metalllic ores.

Shell and kankary limestones : Along the coast, east of Kovakulam to Kanagappapuram, in Agastheeswaram taluk, occurrences of shell and kankary limestones have been recorded with the average thickness ranging from 0.35 metre to about 2.5 metres.The different patches are located (i) east of Kovakulam (ii) Cape Comorin (iii) Lipuram Kalvilaikudiyiruppu (iv) Krishnanpudur (v) Vatta Kottai and (vi) Southwest of Kanagappapuram. The total reserves for all the occurrences are estimated at 2.43 million tonnes. However, the limestones are highly siliceous with silicon content ranging from 10.93 per cent to as high as 43.3 per cent. The Cao content is less than 40 per cent. As such these limestones can be used only for producing burnt-lime for local use. Mining of limestones in these areas may not be possible as they are covered by rich cultivated fields, coconut grooves etc. reflecting the importance attached to agriculture by the local people.

Graphite: An occurrence of graphite has been noticed in the hill.384, 1.5 kms. Southwest of Arumanallur.

Mica: Phlogophite mica occurs in small quantities at Kakaponkulam, Kizhaguvila and Kuzhithura in Kalkulam taluks, at the contact of charnockite and quartzo-felspathic rock; and mica schist and charnockite.

Clay: Minor pockets of white kaolinitic clays are reported in the coastal tracts in the southern and western parts, beneath the laterite and alluvium. In some places the granitic gneisses have been weathered to yield siliceous kaolinitic clays.

Gemstones: The occurrence of chrysoberyl and aquamarine (i) in the pegmatites near Tadikkarankonam, Sengammal Estate and Mahendragiri in Thovala taluk and (ii) in association with the pebble beds at Palukkal, and Midalam, in Vilavancode taluk was examined in detail. Chrysoberyl of semi-precious varieties, of both clear and cat’s eye varities occur only sporadically in the pegmatites which traverse the khondalites.

FLORA

The special characteristics of Travancore flora are, as Nagam Aiya says, “its diversity, beauty and economic value”. He quotes T.F. Bourdillon, the Conservator of Forests, from his article on the Flora of Travancore (published in the Malabar Quarterly Review-June 1903).  it is reasonable to infer that one continuous forests of uniform character stretched from the west coast of India to Assam and Burma, and that the plants now found in the opposite extremes of India are the descendants of a common ancestor. The forests that still remain are the relic and the development of the great forest that covered the continent, and in the interests of science, the preservation of these remains from complete destruction has not come a day too soon

The variety of flora seen here, makes him say, Undoubtedly the most remarkable feature of the forests of Travancore is the extent and variety of the Flora. The vegetation and Flora of Travancore are of exceptional interest first, because they are the relic and development of flora which was at one time uniform over a large part of India, secondly, because of the extraordinary variety of species occurring within a small area, and thirdly because many of these species have been taken as types of plants with which others from all parts of the world have been compared.

The flora of Kanniyakumari district can still fit in this description well. There are valuable timber trees, trees yielding gums, resin and dyes, avenue trees, cycades and palms, bamboos and reeds, fibrous plants, medicinal plants and flowering and ornamental plants, in the district, making it the botanical garden of Tamil Nadu.

Botanical divisions: A distinct type of Xerophytic flora is seen on the sides of hill ranges of the district. It is dominated by large grasses towards the top and by shrubby forms at the base. The prominent grasses are species of Andropogon (Ramacharrlj, Panicum, (inchipul) lemon grass and fodder grass. Large clumps of bamboo and dense growths of Ochlandra (Eral) and cane are the plants belonging to the bamboo family which are found here in abundance. Growing sheltered by the grasses are a number of subordinate annual herbs, which have an ephemeral existence and herbacious perennials which are partly bulbous and partly rhizomatous, and which put forth their shoot only during the short favourable seasons. Others flower very rarely. The shrubby forms are constituted by species of Phoenix, Cycas, Inthai etc., in the lower elevations, while at high elevations are seen Angiopteris. Typical forest swamps of monsoon forests are found in Muthukuzhivayal, with typical vegetation of the swamps of the forests. Several specimens of grasses, cyperus and eriocaulon form the prominent features of these swamps. Another important grass found here is the lemon grass.

In the lowlands and in the valleys sheltered by the hill ridges, paddy, the main food-crop, is grown extensively. Tapioca is the second importanl food crop and is cultivated mostly in Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks. There are extensive palmyrah topes in the plains, in the Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks, and on a lesser scale in the Agastiswaram anc Thovala taluks. Beautiful coconut topes are found in the narrow stretches of the sandy sea-board and along the banks of rivers, tanks, the Manakudy lake and along the estuary at Thengapattinam in the Vilavancode taluks.

The Banyan, the Peepul (Alamaram and Arasamaram) the jungle jacl (Anjili), Eugenia (Naval), the Portia tree (Poovarasu or Cheelanthi), th< Tamarind tree, the Laurel tree (Punnaimaram) the India Beech (Pungut Albizzia (Vahai), Poinciana (Varach/j, the Gold Mohur tree, the Rain tree (Thoongumoonchimaram, Kodukkapuli), the Neem tree or the Margosa tree (Veppu), the cashewnut tree and the Casuarina (Kattadimaram) are the most important avenue trees that grow in this region. Among the trees and plants producing edible fruits, the most common are the mango tree, the jack, the custard apple (Panchi), different varieties of plantains, banana,, pineapple, cashewnut, guava, the sapodilla plum, the wood apple (Vilankai), the (elanthai), naval, Papaya and the bread fruit, Oranges, lime fruit and pomegranate are also grown with profit. Grape-Vine is grown in certain parts. The mangoes and jack fruits of Surangudi, a small village in Agastiswaram taluk, are noted for their excellent taste. Bananas are cultivated on a commercial scale in the hilly tracts. The arecanut is grown to some extent in the Kalkulam, Vilavancode and Thovala taluks.

A large variety of medicinal plants is grown here, of which some 60 species can be grown in the kitchen garden. The suggestive name Maruthuvamalai (the hill where medicinal herbs grow)given to one of the hillocks indicates this fact. Kolumthu is cultivated at Thovalai for its springs which are aromatic.

Besides the above, different varieties of vegetables, pulses and beans are also grown here. Groundnut is grown in a few acres. Among the spices and condiments grown in this area, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, chillies, tamarind, onion, garlic, coriander, cumminseed, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, mustard and bay- leaf or Kariveppalai are the most important.

Among the tuberous plants which yield edible roots, the varieties worth mentioning are:- sweet potatoe, arrow-root, chenai, chempu, chivakilangu, Karunaikilangu, chiruvallikilangu and tapioca or maravallikilangu.

The hedges are composed of a variety of thorny or succulent shrubs, such as Screw-pine, Prickly-pear, Pineapple (Anasipalam), Agave, (Karthalai), Euphorbia (Kalli), Castor (Amanakku) etc., the hedges are overgrown with a number of climbers most of which are leafy. Rants such as Jatropha (kattamanakku) Pithecolobium (Kodukapulli), Casuarina (Kattadi) Sesbania (Agathi) and the Erithrina (mullumurunkka), Pongu and Lantanna (unni) are also grown as hedge plants.

The important plants with showy or scented flowers are Chempakam, henna plant (maruthontri) Chemparuthi thetti, the ceylon Jasmine or nanthiarvattam, asokam, arali, nalumanippu, mally or mullai and pitchy. Several varieties of roses are cultivated in the gardens.

In constrast to the xerophytic vegetation, this district possesses also a typical hydrophytic flora. In most of the tanks are large associations of lotus and water lily plants and other smaller types of Limnanthemum growing amidst them. Among other associations of floating plants are those of Trapa bispinos generally found covering the water surface beneath the shade of the big banyan trees and pistia statistis. Growing submerged are Ceratophyllum, Utricularia, Chara, (pasi) etc., all forming a close tangle underneath. Nearer the shore are Neptunia and Hygrovhiza intermingled with Aeschynomene aspera, Ludiwigia and Ipomoea reptans. They often so closely cover portions of the margin that they are deceptive of solid ground beneath.

Other tanks with shallow water and the river basins in dry weather exhibit reeds which grow in marshy soil, consisting of juncus, scripus, cyperus and typha growing together and forming a close palisade of leaves over the surface of water. Large number of marshy plants grow in the spaces between the reeds and along the margin.

The vegetation in the Cape area is typically xerophytic. Associations of Acacia planiformis (odai maram) groves form the characteristic endemic tree types. Trees grown in the other areas are also found here, but they all have a stunted appearance or assume the umbrella shape as the Acacias. Growing in the Acacia woods are cactus, agave, aloe, etc., with a ground vegetation consisting of a number of typical xerophytic herbs including many grasses.

Some species of grass occur in the sandy areas. Forms belonging to all the three major divisions of sea-weeds grow here attached to the rocks. There are also the marine flowering plants growing along the waveline in sand and at shallow depths. Several other species are found attached to rocks and covering the shore near the waveline. A little to the interior are the brown algae and a number of red algae.

Though varying slightly from place to place, the vegetation in the midlands is on the whole similar to that found in the lowlands.

A few varieties of fungi and mushrooms are found throughout the districts which are medicinal, edible and parasitic. The bracket-like growths found on the jack tree, commonly known by the name of “Palamanjal”, are in some places used as medicine, Muttaikalan is a common edible variety. Bud-rot, a disease, which is commonly found to attack coconuts, is attribted to a fungus in this area. The stem-bleeding disease, the leaf blight disease and the wilt disease which attack the coconut tree are also caused by fungi.

Cultivated plants In gardens and parks: Ornamental plants which have the capacity to stand the xerophytic conditions are cultivated in these gardensss

Lochnera Pusilla (Murr.) K.sch.

Thevetia Peruviana (Pers.) Merr.

Leucaena glauca (Linn.) Benth.

Peltophorum Pteroca-rpum Baker.

Cassia fistula Linn.

Lochnera rosea (Linn.) Reichl.

Nerium indicum, Mill.

Delonix regia (Boj.) Raf Melia azedarach Linn.

Bauhinia purpurea Linn.

Pithecellobium dulce (Roxb.) Benth Tecoma stans Jus s.

Plumeria rubra f. acutifolia woods.

Erythrina variegata Linn. Var. Orientalis (Linn.) Merr.

Duranta repens Linn.

Tabernaemontana divaricata (Linn.) R.Br,

Allamanda cathartica Linn Quisqualis indica Linn.

Canna sp.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima Sw.

Excoecaria cochinchinensis Lour.

Codiaeum variegatum Linn.

Russelia equisetiformis Schol. & cham.

Millingtonia Hortens is Linn.f.

Samanea saman (Jacq.)Merr.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn.

Ocimum americanum Linn.

Muehlenbeckia platyclada (Muell.) Mcisn.

Bougainvillaea spectabilis willd.

Mirabilis jalapa Linn.

Gomphrena globose Linn.

Murray a paniculeta (Linn.)

Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.

Achras zapota Linn.

Though Casuarina equisetifolia Linn., thrives very well in these sandy soils, they are not planted on a large scale.

Vegetation and Forests

A.Vegetation: Several studies have been made about the

Vegetation of the district of which the one by M. Parameswaran Nair deserves special mention. A note on the Vegetation and Forests of the district has been specially prepared by R. Gopalan and A.N. Henry of the Botanical Survey of India for the Kanniyakumari District Gazetteer. The following description is mainly based on this Note.

The district can be divided floristically into three regions – Vegetation of Coastal region; Vegetation of plains between the coast and the hilly regions; and Vegetation of ghats (hills).

Coastal vegetation : The coastal flora is poor due to the factors like sandiness, dryness of soil, scanty rainfall and wind velocity. The coastal vegetation can be divided into two types viz., Foreshore Sandy Vegetation and Inland Sandy Vegetation.

Foreshore Sandy Vegetation : In this area Spinfix littoreus Merr., Ipomoea pescaprae Sweet, Sesuvium portulocastrum L, Trianthema portulacastrum, L., Atriplex repens Roth, Cyperus rotundus L, Mollugo cerviana (L.) A.DC Tephrosia purpurea Pers., T.Hirta Ham., Pedalium murex L., Portulaca oeraceae L. and P. quadrifida Linn, are commoly seen.

In marshy backwater areas species like Suaeda nudiflora Moq., Salicornia brachiata Roxb. and Arthrocnemum indicum Moq. are frequently met with.

The sea coast has no mangroov flora. However, on the west, the backwaters at the mouth of several rivers and canals connecting them are often thickly fringed with Pandanus tectorius Soland. Acrostichum aureum L. and Excoecaria agallocha L. are comon in shallow waters. In Thengapatnam – Munjirai backwater area Barringtonia racemose Roxb., Ixora coccinea L. and Nauclea missionis wight and Arn., are noticed.

Inland sandy vegetation: This area is characterised by the occurrence of Euphorbia tirucalli L., Jatropha curcas L., J. gossypifolia L., Cleome aspera Koen., C. tenella L. f., Aerva lanata Juss., Phyla nodiflora (L) Green and Zornia diphylla Pers.

Vegetation of plains between the coast and the hills: Southern tropical thorny forests: Some regions of the plains and up to 200 m elevation represent the Southern tropical thorny forests. This type of vegetation is seen in places like Anjukramam, Vattakkottai, Kanniyakumari, Maruthuvalamalai, Colachel and Kuzhithurai. The umbrella tree Acacia plainfrons Wight & Arn., is commonly seen around Kanniyakumari and gradually disappear towards the west. Azima tetracantha Lam., Casuarina equisetifolia Forst. Dodonaea viscosi Jacq., Launea sarmentosa (Willd.) Alston, Lepidagathis pungens Nees and Jatropha maheswarii Subr., & Nayar are commonly met with in Kanniyakumari.

The xerophytic plants like Zizyphus oenoplia Mill Z. mauritiana Lam., Flacourtia indica (Burm.f.) Merr Atlantia monophylla Corr., Jatropha glandulifera Roxb., Ricinus communis L., Toddalia asiatica Lam. and Lawsonia inermis L. are noticed.

Flora of the Interior plains: Common trees of the plains are Cassia siamea Lam., Dichostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arn., Morinda pubescens Smith Thespesia populnea (L.) Sol. ex Correa, Ficus bengalensis L., F.Retusa L., Mangifera indica L., Alstonia scholaris R.Br., Pongamia pinnata (L.) Merr and Calophyllum inophyllum L. Besides, shrubs and undershrubs like Crotolaria gigantea (L.) R.Br., Cassia auriculata L., C. occidentalis L., C. tor a L., Jatropha curcas L., J. gossypifolia L., Vitex negundo L., Crotalaria striata Dc., Capparis sepiaria L., zizypus xylopyrus willd. Dodonaea viscosa L., Cleodendrum serratum (L.) Moon, Hibiscus surrattensis L., and Ehretia microphylla Lam. are quite common. Borassus flabelifer L. is common throughout.

Rhinacanthus nasuta (L.) Kurz, Asystasia gangetica T. And., Heliotropium indicum L., Acalypha Fruticosa Forsk., Vernonia cinerea Less., Androgrophis paniculata Nees, Trichodesma indicum R.Br., Justicia simplex D.Don. Micrococca mercurialis Benth. and Peristrophe bicalyculata Nees, are some of the herbaceous plants growing under the shades of shrubs and trees.

Cissus quadrangularis L.( Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt and Pergularia daemia (Forsk.) Chiou are notable climbers frequently met with.

Weed flora : The occurrence of Ammannia baccifera L., Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennell, Cantipeda minima (L.) A. Br. & Aschers., Coldenia procumbens L, Dentelia repens (L.) J. & G. Forst,., Eclipta prostata (L) L, Gisekia Pharnaceoides L, Sphaeranthus indicus L., Tribulus terreshis L„ Vicoa indica (L.) DC. Centella asiatica Urb. Cyperus kyllinga Endl., Spilanthes acmella Murr. Melochia corchorifolia L., Lobelia alsinoides Lam. Lindernia anagallis (Burm.) Pennell and Ludwigia parviflora Roxb. contributes to the weed flora of the plains.

Struchium sparganophorum (L.) 0. Ktze., an alien weed and a new entrant to the Indian Flora is commonly seen along the banks of Thambaruparani river at Kuzhithurai and Munjirai regions.

Aquatic Flora : In this district ponds, tanks, lakes and canals are numerous providing a rich aquatic flora. The aquatic flora is mainly divided into 3 major divisions; the emerged amphiphytes; the submerged hydrophytes and the floating hydrophytes.

The emerged amphiphytes: These are represented by Hygrophila auriculata (Schum.) Heine, Aeschynomene aspera L., Scirpus articulatus L., S. supinus L., Hydrolea zeylanica (L.) Vahl, Limnophila heterophylla Benth Monochoria vaginalis Presl and Saccolepis interrupta stopf.

Submerged hydrophytes: This type occurs throughout the basin of tanks. Ottelia alismoides Pers., Vallisneria spiralis L., Lagarosiphon alternifolius (Roxb.) Druce, Hydrilla verticilla Royle, Blyxa octandra Planch and Certophyllum demersum L. are commonly met with.

Floating hydrophytes : Two types are observed: Rooted hydrophytes with floating shoots and leaves; and Free floating forms.

Rooted hydrophytes with floating shoots and leaves: This type is represented by the following: Aponogeten natans. (L). Engl. & Krause Potomogeton indicus Roxb Nymphaea stellata Will, N.Pubescens Nymphoides hydrophylla Kuntze, Ludwigia adscendens. (L). Hara, Neptunia cleracea Lour Pseudoraphis aspera Pilger, and Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.

Free floating forms: Eichhomia crassipes Solms. Trapa bispinosa Roxb Lemna paucicostata Hegelm, and Azolla pinnata R.Br. are the dominant species and they completely cover the water surface.

  1. Forest

The total area of Kanniyakumari district is 1684 sq.Kms. i.e., 650,024 sq.miles or 1,68,356.216 hectares. Out of this, an extent of 48423 hectares is covered by forests. Reserved forests alone account for 44799 hectares. An extent of 3605 hectares is unclassed forests and for 19 hectares, there are reserved lands.

Most of the forests in the district are in the catchment areas of nume rous streams and rivers. The forests situated on slopes of hills and plateaus vith high rainfall, need protection from deterioration and denudation. Consistent with this, and principles of sylviculture, the forests are exploited for timber. Planned efforts are being taken to keep the forests in a state of ever-increasing productivity and to develop economic forest plantations. Suitable areas are brought under teak and matchwood plantations.

The jungles have about 600 species of gigantic timber trees and 3,500 other plants, many of which are of great economic value. Of the valuable timber trees, the most important are teak, rosewood or blackwood, anjili (the jungle jack) Karunthali (the Malabar ebony) Manjaikadambu, Ventekku, Karumaruthu or thembavu and Vengai, which are generally used in house building and for making furniture, ploughs, yokes, barrows, carts, railway carriages, agricultural implements, etc., Many other varieties of valuable trees including sandalwood are also found to grow here. Besides softwood such as elavu, (         )there   is a good supply of reeds and bamboos. The wood of elavu is used for making sea going boats, planks for tea chests, toys and matches and the cotton floss obtained from the fruit of this tree is used for stuffing pillows and cushions. Plantations of cardamom and tea are seen on the higher elevations, while pepper, rubber, ginger and turmeric flourish in the lower elevation.

An annual yield of about 1,00,000 c.ft. of timber is expected from the forests. Besides this, revenue could be got from the sale of minor forest produce bamboo, rattan etc., Timber is being extracted by Government both by selection-felling and clear-felling systems. Mature trees alone are extracted in the selection-felling system. In the clear-felling system, after the extraction of timber, the residuary growth is clear-felled and the area

planted up with useful species, such as teak etc., which are of commercial importance. There is possibility of developing commercial timber and matchwood plantations and lac cultivation. The region is also conspicuous for the large area and coconut palms. Another prominent tree in the area is the glossy-leaved jack. Plantain, mango and jack tree are common in the district. During the rainy season, every hollow is filled with vegetation and ferns. Extensive palmyra topes are also seen in the plains of the region. In the interior of the district are seen jack, anjili, mango, tamarind, cashew and other similar trees in large numbers, while on the hill slopes are found several plantain topes and tapioca fields of different varieties.

In the forest areas commercial crops such as coffee, tea, rubber, pepper, cardamom, etc. are grown in plenty.

After giving an account of the forests of Travancore, Nagam Aiya ruefully mentions:

The foregoing account of our forests might produce an impression on the general reader of the abundance of forest wealth in Travancore. This, however, is a chimera, whatever might have been their condition in by-gone times, when Travancore forests are said to have been indented upon for the building of the British Navy, and Travancore Teak entered largely in the construction of ships that fought the battle of the Nile and gave victory to Nelson at R. Trafalgar. Such is not the case at any rate now

Considered in any light it may be safely stated that the ‘untold wealth’ of the Travancore forests is a thing of the past; it cannot apply to present day conditions. If a sustained policy of care and economy is vigilantly followed for the next 100 years or so, the Travancore forests may be resuscitated with real advantage to the State and prosperity to the agricultural ryots.

The growing population and the consequent pressure on land reduces the extent of forest. The deep concern expressed by Nagam Aiya about 80 years ago, happens to be more relevant now.

The forests of Kanniyakumari district have been described earlier by A.N. Henry and M.S. Swamlnathan . The following is a more recent account of R.Gopalan and A.N. Henry.

Southern tropical dry deciduous forests : These forests, ranging from an altitude of 200 to 600 m. occur in Keeriparai, Mangolamottai (lower Kodayar) Maruthaparai beat of Kulasekaram, Ulakkaruvi near Alagiyapandipuram range and Kuttiyar region of Pechiparai. Some areas were cleared in this region for rubber plantation by the Forest Department. In the undisturbed forests the following trees and shrubs occur:- Haldina Cordifolia (Roxb.) Ridsdale Cochlospermum religiosum (L.) Alston, Dillenia pentagyna Roxb., Hydnocarpus laurifolius (Dennst.) Sleumer, Hymenodictyom excelsum (Roxb.) Wall., Lannea coramandelica (Houtt.) Merr., Semecarpus anacardium L.f. and Terminalia chebula (Gaertn.) Retz.

Desmodium triangulare (Retz.) Merr. var. congestum (Wight & Arn.) Sant, forms the main undergrowth. Aeginetia indica L. and A. pedunculata (Roxb.) wall., the root parasites, have also been recorded from this region.

Southern tropical moist deciduous forests : These are met with around Kilaviarumalai and Kulikasam river near Balamore and Vallachithode at Lower Kodyar at an altitude of about 60 m. These forests give a dense appearance. The common trees of this region include Acronychia pedunculata (L.) Miq., Alstonia Scholaris (L.) R.Br., Scleropyrum wallichianum (Wight & Arn.) Arn. and Vateria indica L. The lianas Gnetum=ula Brogn. and Derris thyrsiflora (Benth.) Benth. var. eualata (Bedd.) Thoth. occur in this area. Lithophytic herbs like Begonia floccifers Bedd. and B. malabar ica Lam. are abundant in Vellachithode and Kilaviarumalai.

Southern tropical wet evergreen forests: This type of shola forests is found in Upper Kodayar, on the way to and at Muthukuzhivayal and Mahendragiri etc., above 800 m. bordering, or in between grasslands. These forests are very dense and impenetrable. Due to the heavy monsoon rains epiphytic and terrestrial orchids grow abundantly in these regions. Trees are very tall with huge trunks. Some of the common

trees and shrubs are:- Aglaia boundilonii Gamble. Cullenia exerillata A. Robyns., Dimocarpus longan Lour., Elaeocarpus munroii (wight) Mart.,

tuberculatus Roxb., E.venustus Bedd , Gatcinia travancorica Bedd . Lingustrum travancoricum Camble. Symplocos cochinchinensis (Lour.) Moore subsp. laurina (Retz.) Nooteb., S. nairii Henry, Gopalan & Swamin., Trichillia connaroides (Wight & Arn.) Bentvelzen, Vernonia monosis DC. and V. travancorica Hook, f

Common climbers include Embelia basal (Roem. & Schult.) A. DC., Smilax zeylanica L, Tetrastigma sulcatum (Lawson) Gamble and Zanthoxylum tetraspermum Wight & Arn.

Aeschynanthus perrottetii DC., and Hoya pauciflora Wight are the common epiphytes of this region.

Grassy Swards : At the higher altitude of Muthukuzhivayal, Mahendragiri and Upper Kodayar, this type of grasslands occur. The grasses like Chrysopogon orientalis (Desv.) Camus, Eulalia phaeothrix (Hack.) O.Ktze., Themeda trimula (Nees ex Steud.) Hack, and Zenkeria sebastinei Henry & Chandrabose, are common in this region. Amidst grasses and also in rocky crevices beautiful flowered orchids, and Impatiens are seen growing with Fems. The other herbs include Acrotrema arnottianum wight, Centratherum rangacharii Gamble, Exacum travancoricum Bedd., Leucas vestita Benth. Linum mysorense Heyne, Hedyotis purpurescens Hook, f., Heracleum candeolleanum (Wight & Arn.) Gamble, Senecio ludens C1. and Smithia blands Wall, ex Wight & Arn. On dripping rocks Utricularia roseopurpurea stapf ex Gamble and U.reticulata smith are commonly met with.

This district is one of the botanically rich areas of Peninsular India. The richness and diversity of this region are due to the variation in its elevation from sea level to about 1800 m., tropical climate, heavy rainfall and the mountainous configuration. It is unfortunate that the rich flora and fauna of this district are disturbed due to clearing of forest areas for hydro-electric projects, raising of plantations like Rubber, Cardamom and urbanisation. In upper Kodayar and Lower Kodayar a major portion of the rich forests has been cleared for the Kodayar Hydro-electric Project. Vast forest areas have been cleared in Keeriparai, Pechiparai, Perunchani and surrounding regions for raising Rubber Plantations which are further extended. It is very essential to protect the rich but vanishing flora of this district.

WILD LIFE

The district is rich in wild life.20 The hill forests of this district exhibit a large variety of fauna and most of the South Indian species are represented. Elephants abound in the upper reaches of Asambu, Veerapuli and Kamala reserve. But the most frequented place is Mahendragiri. Herds are found in the Muthukuzhi valley. During rainy season, they descend to Kodhayar lake. Round about Othakadai and Blackrock estate, tigers descend to the lower reaches in October-November months. Panthers are more common than tigers in all forests. Bears are fairly common at elevations of 3,000 feet and over. They sometimes descend to lower levels like the estates in Veerapuli and Asambu forests. Small herds of bison frequent the sholas and grass areas around Muthukuzhi valley and the higher reaches of Asambu. Muthukuzhi valley and whole of Asambu are favourite resorts for Sambur. Spotted deer and barking deer are comparatively rare. A good number of wild dogs are found in Muthukuzhi valley. Black monkey inhabits the sholas and the moist deciduous forests of the hills. It is said that these animals have been heavily shot in the past for their skin and medicinal flesh. Jackal, fox, mongoose, hare and otters are some of the less important animals of this district.

The Pechiparai region may well develop into an ideal game sanctuary. If only the evil of illicit poaching is completely stopped, the district’s life will grow and flourish well.

FAUNA

Ferguson21 refers to Travancore fauna as belonging to the great Indo-Malay or Oriental Region and within that to Cisgangetic sub-region. He points out, however, that the hill fauna of Travancore has affinities with that of the Himalayas and the south western hill-group in Ceylon.

Mammals: Ten Orders of Mammals are found in this district. They are (i) Order Primates (Old World Monkeys) (ii) Order Lemuroidea (monkey having fox-like faces) like the Slander loris, (iii) Order Carnivore (cats and dogs) (iv) Order Insectivora (Hedgehog) (v) Order Chiroptera, (bats) (vi) Order Rodentia (Squirrels, rats, mice, hares, etc.,) (vii) Order Proboscidea (Elephants) (viii) Order Ungulata (the mammals such as

pigs, deers etc.,) (ix) Order Cartacea (Whales, porpoises, Dolphins), (x) Order Edentata Indian (Pangolin variety of toothless mammal.)

(i)         Primates (Old world Monkeys) These are found in the sholas and moist deciduous forests all over the district. There are four species namely (1) the grey or Bonnet Monkey (Macacus sinicus) (2) Toque monkey (M. Pileatus)

(3)        Lion-tailed monkey (Maccucus silenpus) and (4) Nilgiri langur. The first two varieties are found in the low country while the latter in the hills at elevations of 2000 feet. In Ayurvedic medicines the flesh of the Nilgiri langur is used. These animals are all voracious eaters of wild forest fruits.

(ii)        Lemuroldea Monkeys under this category are rare. Slender Loris a specimen occurs in the interior forests.

(iii)       Carnivore (Cats and dogs) Carnivore or beasts of prey are well represented here.

Tigers (Felis Tigris) are found around the Black Rock estate in the district. During October, November months these animals descend to the lower reaches and are also found in the villages bordering the forests. They are of a very destructive nature to other animals like pigs, deer, and porcupines. Occasionally young bisons also fall victims.

Panthers (Felis Pardus) are found in almost all the jungles of the forest from the scrub jungle to the moist deciduous forests. Very often they kill sheep, cattle, sambur, goats, dogs, jackals, etc.,

Bears (Sloth) (Melurssu Ursinsu) usually reside at elevations of 3000′ and over, but sometimes descend to the lower levels like Veerapuli and Asambu reserves. They live in caves on hill-sides and eat wild fruits and nuts found in shola forests. Usually they are harmless to man but there are instances of attack on hill tribes in defence of their cubs.

Wild dogs (Cyon Sukhunensis) abode in hills. Many of them are seen in Muthukuzhi Valley. They hunt in packs usually six to twelve upon deer, wild pigs, etc.,

The Mongooses id are very common in the low country and also in the jungles. Four Varieties of them are found here. The most familiar among them is Horpestes Edwardsit with a dim grey colour, short legs and long body.

Jungle cats (Felis Chaus) are found in the low country and are slightly bigger than the domestic cats. These cats very often attack poultry in the neighbouring villages.

Jackals and foxes are also common animals of the jungles.

(iv)       Insectivore (Srineceus micropus) The only Hedgehog found in the south is the South Indian variety and it is found all over the district.

(v) Chiroptora Bats are very common. The large fruit eating

bats are called flying foxes. There are different species of bats namely Pteropus medius (giganteus), Cynopterus marginatus, Vesperugo abramus and Cerivolua picta. The first of these is the largest Indian bat with a head resembling that of a fox. The commonest of them is the Vesperugo, hiding during the day time in holes of trees and roofs and flying inside houses in search for small insects towards night fall. The cerivoula picta is beautifully coloured.

(vi) Rodentia   (Squirrels, rats, mice, hare, etc.,)

Among the squirrels, the palm squirrel or the stripped squirrel is the most commonly found in the country side. It is a beautiful creature with three coloured stripes on its back and long bush tail, moving among the trees and making continuous chirrups. Another variety, the Malabar squirrel found in the jungles is a dark brown animal with white lower parts and black tail. It lives in the holes of lofty trees in the moist deciduous and ever-green forests. This is one of the protected animals, not allowed to be shot in the reserved forests.

The Hystric laucura (Indian Porcupine) is found all over the forests. It is very destructive to crops. During the day-time, it remains in caves amongst the rocks and burrows made by itself in hillsides, river banks etc.,

Rats, mice and hares are very common. They are very destructive to nurseries. Muss rattius which is found in house holds are of a troublesome nature. Muss booduge is the Indian field mouse found in the gardens.

Proboscides (elephants) Round about the Kodayar and Perunchani Reservoirs and along the Corrimonya and Balamore roads elephants do considerable damage by trampling over and uprooting young trees and breaking down branches of bigger ones. These animals are found in abundance in the upper reaches of Asambu and Veerapuli reserves. In Muthukuzhi valley groups of elephants are found. The elephants found in these areas are of a timid nature. Solitary males or rogues are seldom found.

Ungulata (Pigs, deer, etc.). Deers (Cervidae) are seen throughout the hilly forests of the district. There are three species found in the district, viz., spotted deer (carvus axis) sambhur (Carvas Unicolour). Barking Deer (Ceruvlus muntjac). Muthukuzhi valley and the whole of Asambu forests are the favourable resorts of the Sambhur deer.

Bison Bos Cauruse is the largest of the two bovine found in the forests. They live in rock caves on hills upto an elevation of 5000 feet Small herds of bisons frequent the sholas and grass areas around the Muthukuzhi valley and higher reaches of Asambu. Usually they are of a timid nature.

Ibex Hemitragues Hyluerius, known as the wild goat is usually confined to grassy slopes.

On the hills and in the scrub jungles are found wild bears (suscritsatu$ in herds. They are destructive to groundnuts and root crops. It is considered to be the most courageous of all wild animals and fights to the end. There are desperate fights between wild bear and tiger.

Cartacea (Whales, Porpoises, Dolphins) Aquatic Dolphins and porpoises are found in the river mouths and back waters. Whales are not seen in this district, except the standard ones on the shores. In 1904 a large Fin whale or Baleen whale (Balenoptera indica) was stranded on the coast at Rajackkamangalam.

Edentata Indian (Indian Pangolian) It belongs to the variety of toothless mammal. Indian Pangolian or scaly ant-eater is a nocturnal animal of this group, found in the wilderness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIRDS

The forests of this district support a variety of avi-fauna. About 360 varieties are found in this region. The richness of the avi-fauna of this region may be understood from the fact that out of the 204 species of the South Indian Passerine birds 140 birds are found in this region.

The House Crow (Corvus splendens splendent) ris the most common of the Indian birds found in the district. In size it is somewhat smaller than the jungle crow. Still a different type is the uniformly jet black jungle crow. Its voice is different from that of the common house crow, the “Caws” being deeper and hoarser. Very often we see it in the countrysides also. Usually it is solitary and rarely goes in parties. Land crabs are its favourite food during monsoons.

There are also the babblers going about in pairs or in groups on the ground or in low bushes. Two varieties are common (i) the jungle babbler and (ii) the common babbler or the Rat bird. The jungle babbler is an earthybrown bird. It has an untidy appearance and a long tail that gives the impression of being loosely stuck into the body. While feeding, the babblers chatter which now and then grows very loud. Slimmer than the jungle babbler is the common babbler or rat bird, a resident of the dry plains. Very often we see it in groups of seven or eight. It feeds largely on the ground and when it runs its tail which is about four inches long, seems to train on the ground like that of a rat. A series of short pleasant thrilling whistles are produced by the bird.

Early in the morning and some times late in the evening or in the dead of night, we hear the mellow voice of cuckoo. Cuckoo is, a great black fowl almost as large as the crow, with a much longer tail and a green bill.

Beautiful in colour is the golden oriel. This is a bright yellow bird with black in the wings and tail, and a conspicuous black streak through the eye. It is usually known as the mango bird fond of orchards and groves or large trees such as banyan, mango and tamarind. The birds have a rich soft mellow note.

The Indian Robin is one of the common birds of our villages. It frequents the open and dry parts of the countryside and often visits gardens and compounds. It is a sprightly little black bird with red colour under its tail. White patches are visible in each wing in flight. Insects and caterpillars form a main item of its food. There is also the magpie-robin or Dhayal, usually seen in the neighbourhood of human habitations. It is a trim black and white bird with cocked tail as in the Robin and is one of the fine songsters.

The tailor bird (Orthotomus sutoriu a small restless green bird, visits very often countryside. The loud cheerful calls (towit’towit’) are among the familiar sounds of the warblers.

The Red vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafervicinu^j is familiar in elevations of about 4000 ft. throughout India. It is a brown bird with black head, and scale-like markings on breast and back and a conspicuous crimson patch under the tail. Usually it is seen in plains where food is plentiful, like a banyan tree with ripe fruits.

Many times we come across the Iora (Aegithinatiphi^j a small bird of different colours, in our gardens and groves. The colour of the female is green. The bird is usually seen in pairs which hunt for caterpillars and insects among the foliage, hopping from twig to twig. The birds keep in touch with one another by mellow whistles and short musical chirrups.

Of the Shrikes, the scarlet Minivet is the commonest, and found in the woody country and ever-green jungle. It has a pleasant whistling of ’Whee tweet’ – or ’Whi-ri-ri’.

The Drongo or the (King crow) (Dicrurus macrocercu^j a glossy black bird with forked tail is very often seen in the countryside. This feeds exclusively on insects which are harmful to cultivation and hence is a friend of the farmer.

Any one can see the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) walking on the grass land. The colour of the bud is dark brown and its bill is bright yellow. A large white patch on the wing is visible when the bird is in flight. The bud is an excellent mimic and can be taught to talk. It usually imitates the notes of other birds.

The common weaver bird {ploceus baya) a small sparrow-like bird is a wonderful phenomenon of the coconut palm groves. It builds or rather weaves flask-shaped nests which hang from trees, the entrance being from below. Usually palm trees are selected for this purpose. Several kinds of material are used. The best is very thin stripes of coconut leaves. The bird notches the edge of a leaf with its beak and then tears off a long thin fibre. The neck of the nest is first twined, which is gradually expanded in the form of an inverted wine glass or a bell of the size suitable for accommodating the family and the mouth of the bell is then divided into two parts, one made suitable for laying eggs and the other prolonged into a long neck.

The voice of the small sky-lark, a hen sparrow-like bird with dark streaks in plumage, is very often heard in low country and on the hills. It has a peculiar fluttering flight and is a songster of exceptional merit. As the breeding season draws near, the males engage in singing displays.

The sun birds, or the honey suckers, pretty little birds with beautiful colours are very often found in gardens. There are mainly three species viz., cinnyris zeylanicca cinnyris asisaticaand cinnyris lotenia.

Wood-peckers are very common species. They feed exclusively on insects which they pick off the trunk of trees. They are very skilled climbers moving up and down the tree trunk in a series of jerks; the head is always pointing upwards. They excavate their nests in dead trunks of trees. The common varieties found are the Golden backed wood pecker (Brachypteraus bengalensis), the yellow fronted pied wood-pecker (Dryobates mahrattensis) and the southern Rufous wood pecker (Micropternus brachyurus). Whistling Thrush, besides the rocky hilly streams are heard the voice of the Malabar whistling thrush, a bird of blue black. In the breeding season it develops a rich human whistling and hence known by the name whistling school boy. Aquatic insects, snails and crabs form part of its diet. Paradise fly catchers visit frequently shady groves, gardens and deciduous jungle with bamboo clad regions. It is a white bird with black head and two long ribbon like feathers. The female resembles a bulbul and is of a grayish white colour.

House sparrow (passer domesticus) is found in most places where there are human habitations.

Parrots are found mostly in hilly and woody areas. The female is green all over while the male has a rosy collar and black neck-tie. The beak is coral red. Its food consists of fruits, berries and grain and it causes considerable damage to ripening crops. Its flight is graceful.

weaves flask-shaped nests which hang from trees, the entrance being from below. Usually palm trees are selected for this purpose. Several kinds of material are used. The best is very thin stripes of coconut leaves. The bird notches the edge of a leaf with its beak and then tears off a long thin fibre. The neck of the nest is first twined, which is gradually expanded in the form of an inverted wine glass or a bell of the size suitable for accommodating the family and the mouth of the bell is then divided into two parts, one made suitable for laying eggs and the other prolonged into a long neck.

The voice of the small sky-lark, a hen sparrow-like bird with dark streaks in plumage, is very often heard in low country and on the hills. It has a peculiar fluttering flight and is a songster of exceptional merit. As the breeding season draws near, the males engage in singing displays.

The sun birds, or the honey suckers, pretty little birds with beautiful colours are very often found in gardens. There are mainly three species viz., cinnyris zeylanicca cinnyris asisatica and cinnyris lotenia.

Wood-peckers are very common species. They feed exclusively on insects which they pick off the trunk of trees. They are very skilled climbers moving up and down the tree trunk in a series of jerks; the head is always pointing upwards. They excavate their nests in dead trunks of trees. The common variety found are the Golden backed wood pecker (Brachypteraus bengalensis), the yellow fronted pied wood-pecker (Dryobates mahrattensis) and the southern Rufous wood pecker (Micropternus brachyurus). Whistling Thrush, Besides the rocky hilly streams are heard the voice of the Malabar whistling thrush, a bird of blue black. In the breeding season it develops a rich human whistling and hence known by the name whistling school boy. Aquatic insects, snails and crabs form part of its diet. Paradise fly catchers visit frequently shady groves, gardens and deciduous jungle with bamboo clad regions. It Is a white bird with black head and two long ribbon like feathers. The female resembles a bulbul and is of a grayish white colour.

House sparrow (passer domesticutf is found in most places where there are human habitations.

Parrots are found mostly in hilly and woody areas. The female is green all over while the male has a rosy collar and black neck-tie. The beak is coral red. Its food consists of fruits, berries and grain and it causes considerable damage to ripening crops. Its flight is graceful.

Beside the inundated paddy fields, ponds, Kutcha wells and sandy sea shore are seen the common king fisher, in turquoise blue with brown head and a conspicuous white colour in front and a red bill. From a favourite perch on some bare branch it can survey the country round and it hurls down on creeping prey ; flies off with it to another perch and tears the victim.

Bee eaters are very common (Merops Orientali$. It is a slender bright green bird, tinged with reddish brown on head and neck with the central pair of tail feathers prolonged. They utter a pleasant note of tit* tit’ tit’.

The Indian blue rock pigeons are seen all over the plains. It is a slaty grey bird with glistening colours around the neck.

Amongst the game birds, the jungle-fowl is the commonest (Gallus Sonnerattlj. It multiplies during the period of bamboo flowering and seeding. The Asambu forests in Azhakiapandipuram range is noted for its dwelling. Grey partridge (Francoliuns SPP.,) is another game bird which is very often seen in the thorny scrubby country. It is a greyish brown game bird in the dry open grass, fields of the scrub jungle.

There are two main varieties of owls namely the spotted owlet (Athene Brama) and the Barn owl or screech owl (Strix flammeetj. The spotted owlet is brown or grey in colour with dark brown spots in lower plumage. It comes out at dusk and also in midnight and pours forth continuous squeaks and chuckles; some times two of these shouting at once. The Barn owl or the screech owl is a reddish brown bird with white and black bars. Its face is round but its body is long. It lives in the wood. But occasionally it strays into the country side and perching at house tops, shouts at dead of night. It is considered to be a harbinger of bad news and is driven off by villagers. Other varieties found are the Brown Fish owl (Ketupa Keylonensis) and the Indian great Horned owl (Bulo-bubdj.

There are two important species of kites in this district viz., Pariah kite and the Brahminy kite. The pariah kite is a large brown bird, a good scavanger in towns and villages. Perching on tree-tops, it fixes its eyes on the ground for scraps that can be lifted. The Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) is a rusty red bird of prey, with a white head. It has a sharp vision. It flies round and round high up in the skies in search of prey. Frequently it visits the coastal areas. Its food consists mainly of crabs, lizards, small snakes and fish.

Among the birds of prey the white backed vulture (Pseudogyps bangalensiQ and the white scavenger vulture are the prominent The white backed vulture is very common in India It is very dark grey, almost black in Colour Its eye sight is remarkably keen. These birds gather in targe numbers at a carcass from nowhere within a very short time. The white scavenger vulture or pharaos chicken is another variety. Its plumage is dirty white and the tips of wings are black. The neck is covered with feathers.

Water birds are very common along the coastal back waters and also inundated paddy fields and tanks which support them The white breasted water hen, (Amauronis Phoenioutu^ is popular slaty grey bird which we see in the marshy pieces over-grown with reeds and bushes and on the margins of ponds clad with bamboo reeds. The sound which this bird can produce is very astounding. During the dry season it is silent enough but as soon as the rain begins it gets boisterous and roars as if it were a wild beast. Its flying capacity is much limited,

The coot is another water bird found in and around the tanks and inundated paddy fields. This is the most duck-fake of the rails and is frequently shot and eaten as a duck.

Very often we come across storks, in inundated paddy fields, tanks, ponds, and rivers. It is greyish white water bird with a reddish black bill An almost similar type is the crane seen in the well-watered plains Its food consists mainly of insects and reptiles.

There are four species of ducks common in the area. Their bodies are long and boat-shaped, their plumage close-set and well-oiled, their legs short and their feet converted into paddlers by a web which stretch from toe to toe. With the aid of these they swarm swiftly over the surface water.

In the paddy fields and ponds the paddy bird (Ardeola gra$ is abundant. Its plumage is mostly white and it is seen where there is water and food. Its diet consists mainly of frogs, fish, crabs and insects.

Reptiles

The reptiles include crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, lizards and snakes. Two species of crocodiles, nine of chelonians, 33 of lizards and 74 of snakes, recorded in the old Travancore State, are generally found in the Kanniyakumari district.

The Hamadryad (Naia bungarus) usually frequents the rivers and streams in Shola forests. This is a special variety occurring in the district. Viper (Echis Carinata) and the Cobra (Naia tripudian$ are also a common species found in the hollows of trees and in dilapidated houses. Rat snakes are also frequently found but they are not poisonous. In dry sandy tracts one comes across pythons (Python molru^j.

Amphibians

Among the amphibians, e.g., frogs, 34 species are found, of which three, Rana aurantiace, Ixaius Travancorious and Buffo fergusoni are peculiar to this region. These amphibians are found in regions which have a damp situation, in paddy fields and in places where the rain water collects.

Fishes

The coast of Travancore is well known for the rich variety of fishes. Nearly 370 fishes have been found. The top fishes, whale sharks and saw fishes are abundant in the seas. Flatfishes, prawns and shrinks and scraps are also found in large quantities. Rock Oysters occur in densely group colonies at Kovalam and Vilinjam. Though edible they are not commonly used for eating purposes as it is difficult to open their shells because of their firmly interlocking edges. A kind of small Octopus is also found under the rocks at Cape Comorin.

On the coast of Vilinjam and Kovalam the sacred chank (Turbinella Pirurrij occurs in fairly large quantities. Large numbers are fished up every year and exported to Bengal where they are sawn and made into bangles, rings, etc. At Cape Comorin two species of Top Shells Trochidac (Trochus, radiatus and Costatu$ are fairly abundant. The shells of the species are thick and very pearly within and are used for button making.

Arthropoda

This is a very large group comprising of Insects Myriapoda (Centipedes and millipedes)x, Arachnida (Scorpions, spiders etc., crustacea, (crabs) Onychophora (peripatus). Onychophora are not represented in this part. Among the insects ear-wigs, cockroaches, leaf insects, grass-hoppers and crickets should be mentioned. Among the poisonous insects, the varieties of scorpions and spiders are found in the district. The Ticks of the genus Ixodes are commonly found in the grass lands and they attack all land vertibrates including snakes and lizards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CUMATE

The district has a warm humid climate, with no cold season. The summer season is particularly oppressive. The summer from March to May is followed by the southwest monsoon season from June to September. October and November constitute the post monsoon or retreating monsoon season with frequent thunderstorms. The period from December to February is the northeast monsoon season although the rains are confined to the first half of the season and the rest of the period is one of clear bright weather generally.

Rainfall : Records of rainfall in the district are available for a iood net work of 19 stations for periods ranging from 15 to 70 years. The details of the rainfall at these stations and for the district as a whole are given in tables 1 and 2. The average annual rainfall in the district is 1469.7mm. The rainfall in the district in general increases from the southeast to the northwest and varies from 807.4mm. at Thamarakulam (old salt factory) near the southeastern coast to 2262.2 mm. at Pechipparai. There is some rain all the year round. The least amount of rainfall is received in January and February. The heaviest rainfall, often associated with thunderstorms, is received during the retreating monsoon period, October and November. While 39 per cent of the annual rainfall is received in the two months of October and November, the thunderstorm rains in April and May constitute 17 per cent of the annual total. The southwest monsoon rains during the period June to September form 37 per cent of the annual total. The variation in the rainfall from year to year is appreciable, being more so in the southeastern parts of the district. The highest annual rainfall during this fifty year period amounting to 154 per cent of the annual normal occurred in 1933. 1908 was the year with the lowest rainfall which was only 55 per cent of the normal. Annual rainfall less than 80 per cent of the normal occurred in 14 years in the fifty year period 1901 – 1950. In this period the rainfall was less than 80 per cent of the normal in two consecutive years once, three consecutive years once, and four consecutive years twice, in the district as a whole. Even five consecutive years of such low rainfall occurred during the period 1934 – 1938 at Kottaram. It will be seen from the table

2 That the annual rainfall in the district was between 900 and 1600 mm. in 38 years out of fifty. On an average, there are 86 rainy days (i.e. days with rainfall of 2.5 mm. or more) in a year in the district.

Temperature: Kurt It a ml»orote>yca< observatory in t» disWct IN KaMy afcunwi The record* of Kan«vyakumari though anwMiki lot short period may toe tikin as fairly represents ve of Via corKttfton which prevaia In la cftatnct In general From about the mxMki of Ftbruay to about Vm las! week of May. whan fte aouViwest monsoon usually arrives over Via (SetHct, lha day tempafaturat remain fairfy high with the mean daffy maximum Iemperafure at about ^3 1*C In March tha maan daily maximum temperature It 32 1^0 The nights ara comparatively coot m February and the minimum temperature rises gradually arid by May, Vie mean deity minimum temperature becomes 26 t°C The Opprestlvenets of tha weather it often relieved by coot tea breezes and frequent thunderstorm* With the onset of Vie southwest monsoon, temperatures decrease appreciably There is a slight increase m temperature m I October But in general, tha day temperatures continue to be nearly tha I tame at In the montoon season titt about January The nights however are slightly cooler in the period November to February

The highest maximum temperature recorded at Kanniyakumari was 38.2^C on 1973 May 15 and 1973 November 15. and the lowest I minimum was 18.8 °C on 1974 February 7

Humidity : Humidity is fairly high throughout the year in the district January to March is the driest part of the year the relative humidities in the afternoons specially, being between 65 and 70 percent.

Cloudlnett : The months January and February is the period of mainly clear or lightly clouded skies. There is increased cloudiness m the I next three months, the skies being heavily clouded and threatening on many days when thunderstorms follow. In the southwest and retreating monsoon seasons, skies are often heavily clouded or overcast, to December moderate to heavy clouded skies are common.

Wlndt I Winds are generally light to moderate with some ttrengthening in force during the southwest monsoon season, Dunng Vie period December to February the winds are mainly northeasterly, Duhng the period March to November, the winds are mainly from Via northwesterly or westerly directions.

Special weather phenomena :  Thunderstorms occur  in all the months of the year. The period from March to May and the months of October and November have a high incidence of thunderstorms.

In tables 3,4 and 5 are given the temperature and humidity, mean wind speed and special weather phenomena respectively for Kanniyakumari.

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