Kundala Valley Railway

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Kundala Valley Railway
Kundala Valley Railway: Mrs. A.W. John on the monorail
The engineer G. S. Gilles at Munnar Blairgowrie Halt
Locale Kerala
Transit type Monorail (1902–1908);
2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway (1908–1924)
Number of lines 1
Began operation 1902
Ended operation 1924

Kundala Valley Railway was the first monorail system in India.[1] It was a privately owned monorail system, later converted to a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway, that operated in Kundala Valley, near Munnar in Kerala, from 1902 till 1924, when it was destroyed completely by Great flood of 99.


Monorail (1902–1908)[edit]

Kundala Valley Railway was built in 1902 and operated between Munnar and Top Station in the Kannan Devan Hills of Kerala . This railway was built to transport tea and other goods. Initially a cart road was cut in 1902,[2] then later replaced by a monorail goods carriage system along the road leading from Munnar to Top Station for the purpose of transporting tea and other products from Munnar and Madupatty to Top Station. This monorail was based on the Ewing System and had a small wheel placed on the track while a larger wheel rested on the road to balance the monorail. This was similar to the Patiala State Monorail Trainways. The monorail was pulled by bullocks. Top Station was a transshipment point for delivery of tea from Munnar to Bodinayakkanur. Tea chests arriving at Top Station from the Kundala Valley were then transported by an aerial ropeway from Top Station 5 km (3 mi) down hill to the south to Kottagudi, Tamil Nadu, which popularly became known as "Bottom Station". The tea was shipped 15 km (9 mi) by cart to Bodinayakkanur, then by rail to other places in India and by ship to England.[2]

Narrow gauge railway (1908–1924)[edit]

In 1908, the monorail was replaced by a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge light railway.[2] Light steam locomotives were used to pull trains to stations at Madupatty and Palaar.Great flood of 99 completely destroyed the Kundala Valley Railway in 1924, and the line was never rebuilt.[2] After the loss of the railway, a network of ropeways was used to ensure speedy transportation of tea and other products.


The Munnar Railway Station building still stands, now housing the regional office of Tata Tea. The railway tracks have been replaced by a road in front of this building.[3] Aluminium Bridge near Munnar was once a railway bridge on the line, but it has since been converted to road traffic. Several remains of wheels, tracks, sleepers, stations, signboards, etc. exist at several part of Munnar and Kunadala Valley, notably at Top Station in Theni district Tamil Nadu.


  1. ^ Mumbai gawks as train chugs overhead. Telegraphindia.com (2013-02-19). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  2. ^ a b c d "Sands of Time" (PDF). Newsletter of Tata Central Archives. Tata. V (1): 5–6. January 2006. 
  3. ^ "Remains of Kundala Valley Railway, Munnar". Irfca.org. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 

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