John Sullivan M.C.S
Born in London on 15th June , 1788, John Sullivan was the Englishmen destined to have greater cultural impact on the Nilgiris Hills than any other single person. From a humble position as writer in East India Company at Madras , He rose to the very high position of the District Collector in 1814. In 1815 He became the collector of coimbatore. In 1819 , He visited the eastern plateau for three weeks accompanied by a noted French naturalist Jean Baptiste Louis . It was probably on February 22, 1821 that John Sullivan first visited WOTKYMUND with a badaga guide. He acquired the stone house hill, and started building the first house of Udhgamandalam, the stone house in which the government arts colleges is housed now.
John Sullivan M.C.S had a strong love for nature and prosperity for agriculture .His love for gardening was so strong that he lost no time in actively engaging himself in the development of the area in general and Udhgamandalam in particular. His contribution towards the early growth of Nilgiris is remarkable. The European flowers , vegetables and fruit trees were introduced only by him. A number of old varieties of plants of Europe and South Africa form part of the Nilgiris flora today, thanks to Sullivan. He imported improved seeds of barley and popularized them in the Hills; for the Badagas of lower plateau , barley is the staple grain and they call it SULLIVAN GANGI. The first road to the Nilgiris from sirumugai was formed in 1820 due to his initiative. He planned and executed formation of the famous lake at Udhgamandalam by damming up the streams in the surrounding area. The first improved track originated with his request of March 1819 and this was the Kotagiri Ghat. In 1826 he improved another pass up to the southern side of the hills, which was later known as Sullivan’s Ghat. His interests were thus very broadly concerned with the development of the district.
Sullivan retired to England in 1841, a tragic man who had lost and buried his young wife and two children in St.Stephen’s Church graveyard, Udhgamandalam. He left behind him a great mark in the form of a flourishing new town , Udhagamandalam, India’s first Hill Station.