Chapter 3 - Havelock Road, Wellawatta and visit to Kodaikkanal

It may have been the fear of living close to a military installation and the danger that this posed that brought about our shift to a house at 185/5 Havelock Road, Wellawatte, near the Spinning & Weaving Mills that was next to the Wellawatte Canal. The shift took place shortly after the Japanese air raid on Colombo.

Mum gave birth to my sister Muriel on 21st July 1942.

Mum in Sari with Friends in Kodiakkanal

During 1943 Dad and Mum took the family to our Grand-father’s property named “Peach Cottage” in Kodaikkanal, South India. I recall traveling on the Night Mail Train of the Ceylon Government Railway, leaving from Fort Station and arriving in Talaimannar in the early dawn. I remember walking across the pier to board the ferry ship “Goschen” and seeing the sea below through the cracks in the floor boards of the pier. The ferry took us to Dhanushkodi where we then traveled on the South Indian Railway to Trichinapoly from where we took a bus to Kodaikkanal.

Muriel carried by Nanny on left with Ed in blazer at front

If we took this journey in 2009, the names of the stations mentioned above have since been changed and would read as follows:- When you land in India you would alight at Ramaswaram and travel on the South India Railway. The 1,000mm (1 metre) guage railway would proceed through Pambam, Mandampam Camp, Ramanathapuram and Paramakkudi, then the Manamadurai Junction and Tiruppuvanam to Madurai Junction to disembark at Kodaikkanal Station and bus on the Kodaikkanal Road to Kodaikkanal.

Dad and Mum in Kodi

Ivor Ferdinands in his publication named “R is for Railways” states:- “The railway men of the CGR lived tranquil and it could be said, self contained life in the railways “towns” of Mount Mary in Colombo, Nawalapitiya and Anuradhapura. They were largely Burghers. Sons in many cases followed their fathers on to the railways and daughters married railway men. It was a life that could be described as reasonably comfortable for the community as a whole. The CGR dominated the lives of many Burghers in a manner similar to that which prevailed in the Indian sub-continent where Anglo-Indians kept the railways in proper order”.

Kodaikanal Lake

“Peach Cottage” was situated beside a lake and I remember being rowed by my Dad in a small boat to visit the town. Mum also tells me that I got sick by eating too many peaches which were in abundant supply on the trees on the property. We must have been in Kodiacanal during the winter months – as I recall having to be rugged up most of the time, as the photograph above shows.

Boating on Kodi Lake today

Kodaikanal is situated at the southern tip of the Palani Hills in the Western Ghats and this beautiful Hill Station is one of the most famous tourist spots in the South of India. At a height of 2,133 metres above sea level, Kodai, as it is popularly known, is set amidst the wooded slopes and “Shola” forests of the Ghats, making for a very pleasant climate throughout the year. This hill resort is known for the hill plantains (bananas) and plums. Several varieties of flowers abound here, including the “Kurinji”, which blossoms once in twelve years. The legendary lake is a man made lake of 60 acres at 7,375 feet above sea level, created in 1863 by Sir.Vere.Hendry.Levinge (1819 – 1885).

Sixty years later I discovered that Grand-Father had a house in Kodikkanal because his half brother lived in the next town. I had no knowledge of the existence his half brother Richard William Rowlands until I was informed in 2002 by my cousin Christopher Carolis, during a visit to Sri Lanka with my daughter Jacqueline, that he was corresponding with Richard Rowlands (R.W.Rowlands’ Grand-son) who lived in Kent. I also discovered that my Grand-father had a half sister, Hope Ferdinands (nee Rowlands).

Kodaikanal to Ooty is a favourite road trip for many tourists who plan to combine both hill stations.

My Grand-Father would have made this journey every time he came to Kodaikanal.

Bryant Park, Kodi

After we returned from India we continued living at Havelock Road.

My Maternal Grand-father Clement Ebert died on 12 January 1944 and I remember Dad and Mum leaving for the funeral from this house.

I would love to visit Kodi again. Could someone give me a discription of the town as it exists today and the best way of getting there from Australia.


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    1. Dear Ed Rowlands,

      Greetings and best wishes from Chennai, India. I have just visited your pages and delighted to send this note to you.

      Just like you I too lived in Ceylon and was born on 18th of August 1947 and brought up in Fairlawn Estates in Upcot in Sri Lanka where my parents lived for their life time and then moved to Nagercoil in India.

      I have taken many similar trip to Thallaimannar to catch the Irwin Steamer Service and come to Dhannaskodi and then to Madurai and to Nagercoil where we had our ancestral properties.

      I have moved to Chennai for my living and settled now in Chennai which was then called Madras! I am 67 years of age and still work for an International NGO called ASSIST as their CSR Head in India.

      I am a frequent visitor to Brisbane as my daughter is settled in Australia. I have traveled so many times to Kodaikanal and Ooty by Train/Bus and Royal Enfield Motor Cycle while working for Averys.

      I could walk down the memory lane for a while after visiting your Blog.

      You could reach me on my email address: Mobile: (+91) 9444562207 and visit my Fb Page : Thompson Srinivas.

      It would be my pleasure to extend any help for you in providing any travel information or details of India/Kodaikanal as I am familiar with all these places.

      Closing with best regards and sincere greetings from this end!

      Thompson Srinivas