274 SHE VARO Y HILLS
in Salem District, Madras, lying between r r° 43' and r r° 57~ N. and
78° 8' and 78° 27' E., and occupying an area of 150 square miles.
They are divided into an eastern and a western section by the deep
valley of the Vaniar stream. The western portion consists of three
plateaux, of which the Green Hills, the highest point of which is
5,410 feet above the sea, is the largest; and on the southern extremity
of the eastern portion, at an elevation of 4,500 feet, stands the well-
known sanitarium of YERCAUD. The valley between the two was
clearly once a deep lake fed by the Vaniar, but the stream gradually
cut through the barrier which held back the water and the lake
became the bed of the river.
Geologically, the range consists of Archaean plutonic rocks of the
cbarnockite series, and these have weathered into the rugged masses
characteristic of that family.
There are three routes up the hills. From the Mallapuram station
on the Madras Railway a neglected but easy ghdt leads for rq miles
to Yercaud, and from the Kadiampatti station a steeper way reaches
the same place in i i miles. But the usual route is up the ghdt on the
side facing Salem town. This begins 5 miles from the town and is
about 6 miles long. A good cart-road has recently been constructed
The upper levels of the Green Hills plateau are covered with grass,
and on no part of the Shevaroys is there any considerable growth
of forest. The rainfall, though nearly double that of the surrounding
low country, averages only 63 inches annually and is scarcely sufficient
to support heavy timber. The temperature is most equable, rarely.
exceeding 75° or falling below 6o°; and the soil and climate are
peculiarly favourable to smaller vegetation, which grows with the
greatest exuberance and adds largely to the natural beauty of this
picturesque range. Up to 3,000 feet there is a zone of bamboo, and
on the higher levels some teak, black-wood, and sandal-wood are found.
Among the imported trees and plants which thrive readily may be
mentioned the pear, peach, apple, guava, citron, orange, lime, lemon,
strawberry, and potato; and the Australian acacias, eucalyptus, and
casuarina do well. There are g,ooo acres planted with coffee, most
of it under European management.
The indigenous inhabitants of the range are the Malaiyalis ('hill
men') or Vellalas. They are not an aboriginal tribe, but are without
doubt Tamils from the low country who either emigrated or fled to the
hills within comparatively recent times, and their customs present few
points of ethnological interest. Their own tradition is that they came
from Conjeeveram at the time when the Musalmans became the domi-
nant power in the South. They speak Tamil and are nominally Hindus,
but have very vague ideas of the principles of their faith. They are