Thursday, March 31, 2011

Salem District Introduction


Salem is  a Geologist’s paradise,  surrounded by hills and the landscape dotted with hillocks.  Salem has a vibrant culture dating back to the ancient Kongu Nadu. As a district, Salem has its significance in various aspects.
What is Salem noted for:  There are many things in Salem that are noteworthy by virtue of its location and social set-up.  
a) The Stanley Reservoir:  An architectural marvel and important land mark  in  the Mettur Division of Salem, it is the heart that pumps the life giving water to the farmers of the Cauvery basin who suffer the vagaries of Indian monsoons.
The sixteen Gates is an Engineering master-piece and regulates the flow of water released from the Mettur Dam to the lower reaches covering the paddy fields in the eight  districts  of  Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam.
b)  The  Salem  Steel Plant: This was an ambitious project started with a view to utilise the locally available iron-ore from Kanchamalai to produce steel. Now it is a public sector company engaged in rolling out cast steel blacks into sheets of required  dimensions by cold and hot extrusion methods.
c)     Mineral Deposits:   The district is rich in mineral deposits like Magnesite, Bauxite, Granite, Limestone, Quartz and Iron ore.  Allied industries like Magnesite mining, cement manufacture, refractory bricks manufacture, Aluminium smelting etc thrive well.                
d) Agriculture produces:   Many agricultural products from Salem have a wide spread market throughout the country.
  • Mango fruits from Salem are enjoyed and much sought after, specially the variety Malgoa-which is the pride of Salem besides a number of other newly introduced  hybrid varieties.
  • Tapioca  locally known as Maravalli (or) Kuchi Kilangu is extensively cultivated by the farmers of Salem. Salem holds a monopoly in Tapioca production. The tubers are used primarily to produce starch. A variety of food items like chips, fryums, papads, Noodles and  vermicelli are also produced from tapioca. Tapioca and castor Research centre functioning in Salem is engaged in Research and Development activities to produce high yielding and disease resistant varieties
  • Sago-serve  is run by the Government, to provide a competitive market where farmers gain a broader profit margin without to hassle of the middle-men dealings.
  • Coffee The slopes of Yercaud hills are covered with vast plantations of coffee, shaded by silver Oak trees, Narasus coffee – a popular brand has its origin in  Salem. 
e)   Sandal wood:  Santalum album species of Sandal wood grows in the forests of Salem. They fetch high prices as their heart woods yield high oil content about 6% (average). The Mysore Sandal soap company is a noted buyer of Sandal woods from Salem.
f)    Animal Husbandry:   The Sheep Research station located at Mecheri in Mettur, developed and introduced the popular Mecheri Breed. The breed is popular among the farmers and is reared mainly for meat purposes.
g)     Dairy:  Salem Diary has an impressive milk production and the district stands first in milk production.  A variety of milk products have been introduced by the Diary recently and are effectively marketed.
 h) Cottage Industries:      
  • Production of un-bleached sugar-vellam or Nattu Sarkarai – is a major cottage industry among the sugarcane cultivators of Salem.    
  • Rope making is another major cottage industry. Ropes are made by people out of the fibres of coconut, Aloe vera, Cotton, Jute.  Salem has a sizeable weaver population and weaving is an important house hold industry here. Both silk and cotton fabrics woven in Salem find popular market throughout the State.
  • The Ammapet weaver’s co-operative society has a turnover of 2.40 crores and its main products are cotton sarees,  bed sheets, towels, silk sarees and dhotis.
  • Silver works: Making of Silver ornaments and artifacts by hand work is an important cottage industry in Salem. Silver anklets made in Salem are popular throughout the country.
i)      Cinema Theatres:  Salem was once a popular Tinsel town where the earlier Tamil movies were created in the Modern Theatres.
The people of Salem are great movie viewers and the popularity of cinema is evident from the fact that there are nearly a hundred  and odd Theatres in the district-perhaps the largest in any district.
j)   Temples:  Many temples with intricate sculptures and imposing towers are found in the district of Salem, built by indigenous rulers centuries before the British era. Some of the popular temples are the Taramangalam Shivan Temple in Omalur and the Sukavaneswarar temple, Kottai Mariamman temple, Parsanna Venkatesha Perumal temple in Salem.
k) Forts:     Forts had existed in Salem town and Omalur said to have been visited by Tipu Sultan. Uncared for, not even the ruins of these monuments remain to be seen today. However at Sankagiri an impressive fort is seen on a hillock, with its elaborate and massive ramparts running all the way up the hill.  This fort is  said to have been the holding of  “Theeran Chinnamalai” – an indigenous warrior who fought against British oppression.
l) Tourism:     Yercaud is a popular summer resort in Salem, quite inexpensive yet exquisitely picturesque. The cool and mild climate prevailing here makes it an ideal summer retreat.
The Shervarayan temple deep inside a narrow cavern with a rivulet rippling behind the idols is one of th  main spots of tourist attraction. The flowering of ‘Kurunji’ once in twelve years also attracts tourists. Coffee, spices like cardomom,  pepper, fruits like "Kamala" Orange, butter fruit, Jack fruit are grown in Yercaud and find good market.  
Yercaud houses many colonial buildings and churches. The prestigious residential school ‘The Montfort School” is at Yercaud.


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