Saturday, November 01, 2008

Vacation at Valpaarai

Valpaarai….. A travelogue…

Sholaiyar Dam ( picture on left)

It was a very unplanned trip – All of a sudden, my hubby dear came up and said lets go to Valpaarai ( later I figured out that one of his official partners’ friend had a guest house and during a discussion this idea came upon him) and thus began our trip to this amazing place which was full of lush green tea estates, waterfalls, dams, wilderness and lots of hairpin bends ( 40 to be precise – 28 going up and 12 going down ). The unplanned trip definitely turned out to be a real good holiday.
From the hustle and bustle of citylife to a place covered in green carpet all over with plenty of fresh unpolluted air to breathe, most importantly the silent serene atmosphere was a welcome change for all of us. This place is quite close to the borders of Kerala. Gods own country is a just a couple of kilometers `away and interestingly, my mom hails from Chalakudy which was just 89 kms away from the place where we stayed.
From Chennai, Valpaarai is approximately around 650 kms and the route to we took to drive was Chennai – Dindivanam-Salem-Tirupur-Pollachi-Valpaarai. With some lavish breaks during our journey we reached this place in 18 hours and that’s a long drive. Hubby dear has a lot of stamina… he drove alone.
Though we could not enjoy the drive up to Valpaarai ( we were going up at midnight and all we could see was just plain darkness), we realized we missed quite bit when we drove down to Pollachi – the drive was incredibly beautiful. Its better not to go to this place unless you know of a place to stay in Valpaarai, because there are not many decent hotels up here and this place is yet to be commercially exploited.
Most of the large tea estates here are owned by TATA, and remaining places are filled by dams such as Sholayar dam and the Azhiyaar dam and a lot of water bodies. One of these dams is the second largest in Asia. Azhiyaar dam’s guest house is the place in which one of the oldest Rap songs of tamil cinema, “Vishwanathan, Velai vendum “ was shot. Walking on the dams is permitted and is wonderful. Monkey Falls is on the way to Valpaarai and is a reasonably big waterfall and there are those numerous small ones on the way to Valpaarai.

Few moments we enjoyed during our trip other than the drive up and down all those hairpin bends include the long steep walk around the tea estates for almost 2 hours called Sajitha Estate which is around 250 acres ( mind you, it’s a small one compared to the TATA tea estates which are much bigger), drinking the black tea prepared for the workers – its got a peculiar smoky taste, and our moments of glory when Denny and I joined the workers to cut the tea leaves with specially made scissors attached to netted plastic bags. None of us can forget the way the head of the monkey clan at LOME view ( this place gives a comprehensive view of Azhiyaar dam) gave signals to the others to attack us. But the head of our group, JOE the great, outwitted the monkey clan he he he…. The estates and the places had some very funny names such as the Hospital Waterfalls – an Hospital named Waterfalls. There was a few minutes when we were driving down those hairpin bends when a massive wave of mist engulfed our path and it was heavenly to drive through those curves and bends in the mist.

Above : A New recruit tea picker ( sounds rhyming with Rag picker?) and that’s green tea :-)
Our guide ( can we call him that??) showed us the tracks of a tiger – he showed us a place where a tiger had slept the previous night and the paw marks looked very much like those of a tiger to our untrained eyes. We only have the experience of watching all these on Discovery Channel. Denny never dared venture out on his own after that.. but he had some brow raising questions such as does an Anaconda live here, do you have pythons here? Are there any Crocodiles in the water? Will a hippo attack us, Can we see an elephant? etc., and of course his infamous question during the drive all along was “When will we have our next flat tyre?” which kept sending jitters through joe’s spine ha ha..
Although our guide and the owner of the resort told us that we can spot exotic wild animals after seven in the night, all we could spot was a wild brown rabbit, monkeys and a couple of very exotic looking birds and of course the very interesting Tiger paw marks.

We had gone for a early morning walk on the Sholayar dam ( which we could not make it though) on one of the days and on the way back we stopped at a typical teashop that you find in the hillstations and ordered for Chai. A very unassuming man there, who seemed a regular customer of that place told us that one us have been bitten by a leech and all of us checked our legs and didn’t figure out anything. The man showed us a very small leech on the floor which had a slight bulge on the belly side – and insisted that it has sucked out someone’s blood in our group. We frantically checked again with no evidence of a leech biting any of us. Later we figured out the leech had bitten Joe as there was a spot above his ankle that was bleeding. Thankfully it was not a big one..Wisdom from experience…
On the way to Valpaarai we had two flat tyres and got my parents all worked up – they did start up on their prayers. It was their maiden voyage with us. The drive was a little too hectic on Joe, driving around 18 hours at a stretch one way, and that’s one of the reasons we didn’t want to venture to Athirampally and Vazhachaal… which was close. Our guide had warned us of the bad roads leading to that place and the special permissions that we had to take because we would be getting into the forest range.

Though this was a very short trip, the serenity of the place charged us all up.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Vincy, I am from Chennai, great to read about your trip to valparai. It is one place that I am never done with, I travel at least once in three months. Try Chennai-trichy-dindigul-palani-pollachi route to valparai. It is much shorter, and travel time would be 12 to 13 hours max. God bless you all.

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  2. Thanks Frank for your suggestion.

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  3. Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....
    Madurai Hotels, Pollachi hotels

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