MUNNAR: Surrounded by rolling hills, dotted with tea plantations, Munnar, one of the top tourist destinations in the country, was known as the summer residence of the British raj elites.
The Munnar hills celebrated a rare honour last week, as the postal box, opened to serve the estate workers and officers at the erstwhile Munnar, Kanan Devan Hill Produce Co Ltd, completed 100 years.
Before the dawning of the information age, letters were the only means of communication and for the thousands of plantation workers in Munnar, the postal service was a boon that helped them stay connected to the outside world.
The postal department under the then British government had opened post offices at Devikulam and Munnar in 1890 and 1918, respectively, for effective communication.
The Munnar Kanan Devan Hill Produce Co Ltd got its own post box in 1920.
That mailbox – Post Box No. 9 – is celebrating its centenary.
The post box has etched a place in the history of the hill station, helping transportation of post cards, letters and parcels to the company and its workers for over hundred years.
“Though the postal service started earlier, the dedicated post box was issued to the company in 1920 as per our records. It is the oldest post box in the state and also figures among the oldest in the country. The postal department had provided a box and a postal bag with keys to the company. None other than officials from the department and the company could open the box,” Munnar post master K Murugaiah told TNIE.
“The Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Co has been maintaining the post box all these years, keeping alive the legacy of postal service. As a mark of our respect, we honoured the company by presenting a memento on the occasion of postal week,” he said.
“Though there are no authentic records on the exact date of commencing postal service in Munnar, available information indicates that postal services started at Devikulam in 1890 and at Munnar in 1918.
“It was an effective tool of communication for the 50,000-strong population, including the estate workers and their families staying in and around Munnar town,” said KHDP managing director K Mathew Abraham.
The old post office was located in a humble cottage near the Munnar workshop. It was shifted to a new building in 1928.
The Munnar Club, the first one in the hill station was started at the post office building and it had a tennis court, a billiards table and a library, said an official.