House of Ramapuram
They say every story has a beginning.
The story of the House of Ramapuram had its beginnings in a modest house in a small town, Pala, in the eastern hill tracts of Kottayam, in Kerala state, India. Over the last hundred years, the family earned its reputation and standing in the society, through highly educated, accomplished and eminent personalities of their time.
Into this family was born, the young and impressionable Emmanuel Ramapuram, in the year 1889. Having lived through the epochal transition from one century to another, he was appointed as the Ranger-in-charge of South Canara and Coorg under the Madras Presidency.
He came, he saw, and he was conquered, by the pristine natural beauty and culture of Coorg. He perhaps didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of a story that would span a hundred years, enthralling entire generations and touching lives across the world.
They say true love transcends all barriers. This was put to the test early when Emmanuel’s affair with Coorg was rudely interrupted by a deadly bout of Malaria, then a killer disease. He miraculously pulled through after treatment at Father Muller’s hospital in Mangalore, and was promptly recalled to his hometown of Pala and forbidden to return to Coorg.
So Emmanuel then settled down to study Law and practice it in Pala. During this period, he also became the founder president of Pala unit of the Indian National Congress, formed under Mahatma Gandhi and was imprisoned in connection with the freedom struggle. But a life of legal advocacy and politics paled into insignificance beside the summons of the heart, and, in 1926, at the age of 37, he returned to his beloved Coorg.
In those days, for Emmanuel Ramapuram, the journey from his hometown to his adopted land was an adventure by itself. He used to travel from Pala to Kottayam by bullock cart, Kottayam to Cochin by boat, Cochin to Tellicherry by train and from Tellicherry to his plantation in Mattanur by bus. After spending a few days at his Cashew plantation there, he continued his journey to Coorg in a bus to reach Sidapur and walked the last 4 Kms home to Chickanahalli Estate. Like they say, for a true traveler, the journey is itself the destination.
Once in Coorg, Emmanuel’s first act to solemnize his union with the land, was to acquire the Chikkanahalli Estate in Sidapur and Kaimakumbatta Estate in Pollibetta from their British owners. He then went on to acquire more properties in Northern Kerala and Coorg including the cardamom plantation named Somangad Estate. Emmanuel Ramapuram and his partners were the first people from Kerala to acquire property in Coorg.
When Emmanuel Ramapuram succumbed to cancer in 1949, the sprawling plantations in Coorg and Kerala were not all that he left behind. His happy marriage to Mrs. Accamma Ramapuram, an art teacher, bore fruition in 3 fine sons and 4 daughters who carried forward the proud name of the Ramapuram family, establishing it as a business group that always put ethics above profit.
While the father gave up a career in Law to become a planter, the son gave up his studies to further the family vision. Following Emmanuel Ramapuram’s untimely demise, Thomas, the eldest son had to discontinue his final year of graduation in Agricultural Sciences and take over the reins of the family business at the tender age of 21.
At the age of 25 he bought Sampigacolly Estate in Sidapur and the family became the largest private holder in Coorg, owning around 1500 acres of prime plantations. He and his brothers went on to expand the holdings till 1961, when the properties totalling about 1800 acres of prime plantations were divided among the three.
House of Ramapuram
While Thomas E. Ramapuram inculcated vision and values in his seven sons, his wife, Thraciamma gilded this with spirituality. To her goes the singular credit of laying the family’s spiritual foundations that would help it weather the storms of life and the changes wrought by time. While Thraciamma demonstrated the ‘Power of Prayer & Self Sacrifice’ through her life, Thomas E. Ramapuram advocated the virtues of ‘Integrity’ and ‘High thinking & simple living’, through his life. These were to become the cornerstones of the Ramapuram family’s philosophy and, later, its corporate ethics.
Thomas E. Ramapuram and his 7 sons went on to further acquire and develop 1000 acres in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka and started agro based Industries in Kerala and Karnataka.
Today, the legacy of Thomas E. Ramapuram is being taken forward by his seven sons. By making ethical choices based on a strong spiritual foundation, the group has grown steadily to establish itself as a name to reckon with in plantations and plantation produce such as Sidapur Fine Coffees. It has further diversified into the leisure and hospitality sector with Orange County Resorts.
The seven sons of Thomas E. Ramapuram:
Dr. John Ramapuram