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Unspoilt Scenic Hill Stations in South India (Part 2) - Valparai

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Debapriya Deb, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    The first installment of this series - "Unspoilt Scenic Hill Stations in South India" - introduced you to the picturesque Kotagiri hill station in Tamilnadu. I will be covering Valparai in the second part. Valparai is situated in Tamilnadu's Coimbatore district on top of the Anaimalai Hills of the Western Ghat range.

    My Favorite Offbeat Hill Stations in South India : Part 2 - Valparai

    'Durga Puja' - the greatest festival of the year for any Bengali household, brings in a sense of carte blanche in me. I feel the urge to deviate from the usual course and disappear in wilderness. So planning for a short trip in the month of October has turned in to sort of a ritual for us.

    It was no different last time around. We went to our hometown, Silchar in Assam, on the eve of 'Mahalaya' and indulged ourselves in the festive mood till the 'Vijaya Dashami', which marks the end of the celebrations. I had my leaves approved till 5th October, 2014. Soon, it was time for me to return to my workplace. However wifey, alongwith my daughter, decided to stay back for a couple of weeks more. So I came back to Bangalore all alone and resumed office work from the following day.

    The work life of an Indian IT professional is either tedious or soporific. It was getting increasingly difficult for me to cope up without the company of my wife and daughter. I desperately needed an immediate hiatus. Travelling alone is not my cup of tea, so I called up my close friend Sourav to enquire about his availability. Being an ever-ready travel enthusiast, he gladly agreed to join me for the trip.

    It was the time to finalize the destination. Between Kemmannugundi in Karnataka and Valparai in Tamilnadu, we decided in favor of the latter. In the meanwhile, two of our common friends Rauben and Tapan came to know about the plan and expressed their willingness to be a part of the trip. So it was turning out to be a great reunion of old pals - an opportunity to revive the golden college days.

    We embarked on the journey to Valparai from Bangalore on the 10th of October at 10 PM. Our ride was Sourav's brand new Renault Duster and it was the first time that the beast was out on a long drive.

    Straightway we headed to Bangalore Central Mall at Jayanagar 9th blog to have our dinner. After finishing off the dinner at Central's Howrah Bridge - a decent wallet-friendly Bengali resturant, we had a round of fag and then set out on the actual journey via Hosur Road. It was already 11 PM by then.

    Here's an intruduction to our destination and the planned route -

    Place - Valparai
    Category - Hill Station
    Elevation - 1193 m (3914 ft)
    State - Tamilnadu
    Nearest Town - Pollachi (65 KM)
    Bangalore to Valparai Route (459 KM) - Bangalore <> Hosur <> Krishnagiri <> Dharmapuri <> Salem <> Palladam <> Pollachi <> Valparai

    Sourav was behind the wheel at the beginning of our journey, while I was seated beside him on the front seat. When batchmates meet up after a while, it's obvious that the fun-filled college days would invariably come up sooner than the later. Even before we could cross Hosur, it made a grand entry in to our discussion.

    Tapan, a self-proclaimed detractor of the current breed of hindi filmy music, had enough of the 'nonsense' (according to him) being played on the music system.

    "Dude, I can't imagine how could your taste deteriorate to this extent! Can we please listen to some sensible music" - a well directed bouncer from Tapan to Sourav.

    "How about some of those unforgettable 'Nachiketa' songs?" - Rauben was quick to point out his preferences.

    Those who are not aware of 'Nachiketa', here's a brief introduction. Nachiketa is a modern-day Bengali lyricist, composer cum singer who managed to strike the right chord with the young guns. He is regarded as a trendsetter in introducing an all new genre of music to the Bengali youths in the mid of 90's. Nachiketa was an inspiration behind our own music band as well.

    Yes, we had formed a contemporary Bengali music band during our college life. Rauben used to play the rhythm guiter and was the lead vocalist of our band. Tapan was the go to man for any purcussion instruments, while Saurav's proficiency with the flute, mouth-organ and other aerophonic instruments made him a versatile member of our band. I had the responsibility to come up with the lyrics and tunes. No intention of blowing my own trumpet, but we did manage to garner some rave reviews in the musical circles.

    Anyway, let's get back to the story. Sourav replied to Rauben in a feeble voice, "That would have been great, but I have none of the Nachiketa numbers with me at the moment."

    "As if we expected otherwise!" - Tapan's verbal tirade on Sourav continued.

    "Not to worry", I assured my friends, "I do have a collection of Nachiketa songs on my mobile."

    The decible level inside the car soon attained a new high. It did not take more than a few minutes for the atmosphere to turn in to a boys hostel room of an engineering college.

    Sourav was not used to night driving. Moreover, we encountered lots of goods trucks throughout Hosur to Krishnagiri which hampered our progress. It took us little more than 2 hours non-stop drive to reach Krishnagiri. We decided to take a tea break near the Krishnagiri TNSTC bus stop. We still had to cover another 350 KM to reach Valparai.

    Tapan never lets an opportunity go begging to ridicule Sourav. "At this rate, we should be reaching Valparai by 5 AM in the morning", he made a mockery of Sourav's sluggish driving.

    Sourav did not quite get the sarcasm and reverted, "350 KM in flat 3 hours? Have you gone mad? Get your maths right and don't make stupid assumptions."

    Tapan replied cheekily, "No way I was suggesting you to cover the distance in 3 hours. Sunday 5 AM is what I was suggesting. Don't you think 3+24 = 27 hours would be sufficient?"

    You do not have to be a psychologist to understand Sourav's plight. Somehow he digested the insult and suggested that someone else should take over the driving responsibility. Little did he know that it gave Tapan another chance to fire a googly.

    "That would be a lot better. I do not wish to die a virgin", - Tapan was at his usual mood to catch Sourav off-guard.

    This time, Sourav managed to hit a huge sixer! "Virgin? We have not yet forgotten that Rajashree episode."

    The comment was in reference to Rajashree Bhattacharjee, who was a year junior to us in college. Tapan and Rajashree were in an incident-filled relationship during the final year of engineering. As they say - "one hint is enough for a wise person" - it was enough for Tapan to shut his mouth, although only for the time being.

    After a round of fag with hot 'Chai', we continued to drive towards Salem. It was evident that none of his co-passengers had confidence in Sourav's driving abilities. Being the most experienced driver among the four of us, Sourav forced me on to the driver's seat for the reminder of the journey. The clock had already gone past 2 AM mark and I was keen to arrive at Valparai before sunrise.

    That was the first time I was driving a Renault Duster and I must say that it impressed me to a great extent. Duster may not be a 'hunk', but the balance of the car is impeccable, even at the very high speed corners. I could easily attain the speed of 140/150 KMPH without even the slightest of graining. After the initial burst of pace, I slowed down and continued to drive within 120 KMPH mark.

    The rest of the journey was uneventful. We passed Salem junction at 3:15 AM and arrived at Pollachi at 5:30. Valparai was another 65 KM away through the beautiful ghat section that contained 40 odd blinding hair-pin bends. The weather was chilling. We had another round of smoke before the climb started. There was a checkpost where we had to make an entry before proceeding towards Valparai. The road was in excellent condition and traffic was sparse. We noticed a small waterfalls enroute and stopped there for a couple of minutes. It was almost dawn and I could notice the first appearance of light in the sky.

    We had booked 2 days' accommodation at Green Hills hotel in Valparai, but had no idea on the exact location. To make the matter worse, there was no signal on our cell phones. We found a small tea stall on one side of the road and asked the vendor for directions. Thankfully, he was aware of the hotel. After another round of 'chai' with 'sutta', we checked in to our rooms. It was exactly 7 O'Clock.

    A quiet hill station situated in Western Ghat's Anamalai mountain range, Valparai is the home to many streams, waterfalls, valleys and shola grass lands. Surrounded by dense evergreen forest and tea gardens, you can be assured that Valparai's tranquility can bring out the joy and peace within you.

    Places of interest in and around Valparai:

    Aanamalai Wildlife Sanctuary: If you are a wildlife enthusiast, a jungle safari at the Aanamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, situated at an altitude of 1400 meters, can help you in spotting tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sloth bear, deer, lion-tailed macaque, Malabar giant squirrel, porcupine and a host of native and migratory birds.

    Aaliyar Dam: Located in the foot hills of Valparai, it's a scenic place suited for family picnic.

    Birla Falls: Just a 2 KM drive from Valparai town, Birla Falls offers a unique combination of waterfalls in the backdrop of lush green tea estates.

    Manompally Forest: It's an ideal place for adventurous treks along the beautiful Manompally river with a high probability of wildlife sighting.

    Grass Hills: The most secluded, most beautiful and most enchanting place at Valparai is the unique shola grasslands - found only in the higher reaches of the Western Ghats. Tour of Valparai is incomplete without a visit to the grass hills, especially for the nature lovers.

    Athirapally falls: Catch a majestic view of the cascading water at this beautiful place. The road that leads to the waterfalls is as impressive as the destination itself.

    Nallamundi Valley View Point: You can get an excellent view of the Anamalai peak and several waterfalls scattered through the green forest from Nallamudi valley view point. This is truly a sight to behold.

    Monkey Falls: An amazing place to rejuvenate your body and soul.

    Loams View Point: 9th hairpin bend enroute Valparai from Pollachi gives a panoramic view of the Azhiyar dam.

    Iraichal Parai Falls: Located amidst lush green scenary, it's the source of water for Nadumalai River - which flows through Valparai.

    Chilla Kallar: Another mesmerizing waterfalls which can be accessed via an adventurous trek through the scenic jungles. On the way, there's a hanging bridge constructed in the pre-independence era.

    As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words" - let's fall in love with Valparai through some of the amazing photographs we captured during the tour.

    The refreshingly chilling breeze, foggy weather, majestic grass-lands, amazing waterfalls and above all the picturesque mountain range - Valparai had all the elements in full essence to make a memorable trip. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our two day's tour of this tiny fairyland.

    We set out on the return journey on 12th October at 4 PM. This time, we took SH19 through Thirupur to avoid the peak hour traffic at Coimbatore bypass. We rejoined NH-47's 4-laned stretch a little ahead of Avinashi town.

    From that point, the drive was a breeze. Followed the NH-7 through Salem - Krishnagiri - Hosur and reached Bangalore at 11:30 PM.

    DhongiBaba and Chahal like this.

  2. Pathani03

    Pathani03 New Member

    I am scheduled to go to Coimbatore for some office work, sometime during this year not sure when though. Valparai seems like a beautiful place to visit especially that scenic waterfall.

    Can you please tell me when the best time to visit the hill station is, I would love to see the place just like you have shown in the pictures, clear sky and greenery?

  3. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    For clear sky, lots of greenery and adequate water in the falls, you should visit Valparai in the post-monsoon season. August to October is perhaps the best time to plan your trip. Even March-April can be a good option, but most probably the waterfalls would be running dry.