Kumaraswami Kamaraj ( 1903-1975) was an Indian independence activist and politician who served as Chief Minister of Madras state from 1954 to 1963. He was the founder and president of Indian National Congress (organization) and widely acknowledged as ‘King Maker’ in Indian politics. He was known for his simplicity and integrity. He played a major role in developing the infrastructure of the Madras state, particularly in developing the power plants and worked to improve the quality of life of the needy and the disadvantaged.
Kamaraj had immense love for the Nilgiris and its people and contributed a great deal for their education, employment and welfare. He was the first to tap and promote the tourism potential of Nilgiris by making it inclusive. He set up a separate Tourist Office Ooty and acquired the sprawling Jodhpur palace as a state guest house. He opened the first of a chain of Tourist Bungalows (later Hotel Tamil Nadu) in Ooty for the benefit of the middle class visitors.
Against much resistance, Kamaraj opened the first government arts college in Ooty in 1955 by saying that it was not a petty shop to be closed if there was no business but a place of education where generations of local students will learn. Today nearly 5000 students study in the collage.
Though a staunch nationalist, Kamaraj had great appreciation for the contribution of the British in developing the Nilgiris.