To give impetus to tourism in the region, plans are afoot to convert a Jail at Naduvattam, about 30 km from here, which was built to lodge Chinese war prisoners in 1864, into a museum.
The jail, having three structures, was located on a 150-acre tea estate run by the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited (TANTEA) and remained unnoticed for long as it was hidden behind bushes and trees.
One out of the three structures was recently cleaned and all bushes were removed, after financial aid of Rs six lakh was granted under Hill Area Development Project, official sources said.
The jail comprising of two large rooms, nine cells and a big dining room, would accommodate prisoners, who were brought to work in the tea estate developed by Britishers in nearby Manjoor and also in the vicinity, they said.
The prisoners were brought as slaves and made to work in the estate, they said, adding that disobedient prisoners were taken to the gallows, situated in a corner of the structure.
The area was used to cultivate Cinchona tree, the bark of which was used to make medicine for curing Malaria.
TANTEA has tied up with the tourism department to develop this as a tourist spot, as many things like plates, lanterns and other vessels, used at that time were also found at the estate.
The department has sought more funds for cleaning the area and maintenance of the structures, they said.
Though the structures appear to be dilapidated from the outside, it could be developed as an international museum with necessary touch-up, the sources said.