While coming back from Kodaikanal, we took a detour towards Valparai, a tiny hill station in the Coimbatore district to Tamil Nadu. It is often dubbed as the ‘Seventh Heaven’ of those who desire to visit hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, andCoorg but are dismayed by the upsurge of the footfall of tourists in those places.
The road from Kodaikanal to Valparai is very scenic with 40 hairpin bends on the way up to Valparai from Aliyar. You can see the forest giving way to plantations as you reach the town.
When I close my eyes, I can still see the lush green tea estate clear as day light. The peak travel periods to visit this quaint town is between Apil to June and September to October.
‘The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour.’Sir James Jeans
Valparai is about 64 kms from Pollachi and 59 kms from Kodaikanal. The road from Pollachi to Valparai has 40 hairpin bends.
It takes about 2 hours to reach Valparai from Pollachi and 4 hours from Kodaikanal on State Highway 78. TNSTC operates buses from Valparai to Pollachi, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Udumalai and Palani.
Valparai is connected to Athirappilly Falls by road and is 130 kms from Valparai to Chalakudi.
History of Valparai
The history of this town revolves around its various coffee plantations. In fact, the region started developing only around 1846 when it’s first coffee plantation was established by the merchant Ramaswami Mudaliyar.
Initially, it was difficult to navigate the dense forests of Valpari and hence cultivating crops in was out of the question. Finally, in 1890, the English merchants Wintil and Nordan acquired lands from the British Raj and launched the coffee industry of Valparai in full-swing through their coffee plantations.
The thriving coffee industry led to increased urbanization of the town. Forest covers were cleared in favor of constructing better roads, thus making Valparai the popular for a tourist destination that it is today.
Things to do in Valparai
1. Tea Estates
Valparai has the most picturesque and well-manicured tea estates apart from coffee and other spices.
These estates are every photographers dream come true. You cannot possibly hold yourself from taking pictures.
The Tamil Nadu Government with the assistance of the Indian government has taken initiatives to promote tourism and develop infrastructure such as hotels and delight parks to attract visitors. The major part of these estates involves in cultivating cardamom but the tea estates remain a major tourist attraction.
The sunny day gave way to little drizzles as we stand there enjoying every droplets falling on us in the tea estates. A hot cup of tea came to our rescue from a nearby tea stall.
Top Tip: You can buy good fresh tea from the roadside stalls at subsidized rates.
2. Anaimalai Hills
The lush green hills and the varied flora and fauna attracts hundreds of tourists to Anaimalai each year.
Annamalai derives its name (‘Anai’ meaning elephant and ‘Malai’ meaning hills) from the large number of wild elephants living in the area. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary all which are a part of the Annamalai Hills are well known for elephants.
3. Nallamudi Viewpoint
A little uphill walk from the main road through the green tea estates, will greet you with the beautiful panoramic view of the mountains and the Pooncholai Village.
4. Sholayar Dam
At a distance of 31 kms from Athirapally & 45 kms from Valparai, Sholayar Dam is a beautiful dam situated on Athirapally – Valparai road. It is one of the top tourist places to visit near Athirapally Waterfalls.
The Sholayar Dam is the second largest rock dam in Asia and measures about 20 Km in length. The dam is an important reservoir under the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project.
The dam is surrounded by lush green plants. Permission to enter the dam can be obtained at the office near dam entrance.
5. Loam’s Viewpoint
Loam’s view point is at the 9th hair pin bend on the Pollachi-Valparai route. From there a panoramic view of the climbing road and Aliyar lake can be seen.
This spot is infested with monkeys and if you are not paying much attention, they might come and pickup your things.
Top Tip: If you have road/motion sickness, it would be a good idea to have an Avomine tablet at the beginning of the journey to keep those vomiting sensations at bay. Those 40 hairpin bends can be difficult for some to handle.
Another plus point of Valparai is that it’s famous for it British Bungalows for homestay. I felt, Valparai is more beautiful and lively than Munnar but Munnar attracts more tourists every year because of lack of awareness about the town of Valparai.
You can visit Valparai if you are planning to visit Kodaikanal, Pollachi or Coimbatore. This lesser known hill station in South India, will rejuvenate you in no time.
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