150th ‘Foundation Day’ of Nilgiris district celebrated

Udhagamandalam: The 150th ‘Foundation Day’ of the Nilgiris district was celebrated recently in St. Laurence Church, Slough, in London where John Sullivan, the builder of modern Nilgiris, is buried. Sullivan was remembered on that day.
The chief guest at the function was Harmohinderpal Singh Sohal, Mayor of Slough, who said in a mail to the Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC): “Today I attended a ceremony at St. Laurence’s Church, Slough, to mark the 150 years of the formation of the Nilgiris as a separate district within India as well as remembering the 200th anniversary of the journey of John Sullivan, the then collector of Coimbatore for the East India Company……”

According to the NDC, Sullivan‘s grave was cleaned professionally for the first time and a fresh coat of paint was given to the railings. Sullivan died on January 15, 1855.

James Wilkinson Breeks took over as first commissioner on August 18, 1868 when the Nilgiris was officially separated from Coimbatore district.

Sullivan’s descendants Oriel Sullivan, professor of sociology of gender, University of Oxford, Colin Sullivan, who had visited the Nilgiris some years ago, his sister Georgina Moseley and her husband who had served in the army in the Nilgiris attended the function .

Dharmalingam Venugopal, director, NDC, said, “Sullivan’s contribution to the Nilgiris, provided by the NDC, was displayed at the event which was organised by the verger of the 800-year-old church, Alan and his wife Julie.”

In a mail, Harmohinderpal Singh Sohal said: “It’s really amazing that about 150 years ago there was someone who cared about the indigenous people and wanted to protect their rightful land and resources. I hope more and more people in India and here in the UK will be made aware of the excellent work done by John Sullivan and will appreciate it. I will do my bit and during my term as mayor, I will publicise it within the Indian community living here in Slough.”

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