Valparai. We had not heard of this place before.
There are some dates in the calendar which help you plan in advance and Good Friday weekend is one of them. It is a holiday for the company and opportunity to explore for us. This time we went to verdant Valparai and came back refreshed. A place so soothing, it will make you go back again. A few snippets before we take you through our journey.
Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.
As we plan for this weekend, we rule out Wild life sanctuaries. With wild fires in Nagarahole and Bandipur and safaris not being operational, it makes no sense. The next option is to head hills again. We feel only Ooty and Kodai in South India can be considered as hill stations where the weather is really cool even during sweltering summers. The other places like Munnar, Yercaud, Coorg or Chikkamagalur may not be as cool as Ooty/Kodai but definitely better than Bangalore. Having been to all these places, it had to be a new place this time.
When we were looking for options, the name of Valparai suddenly cross our mind. We had read about it. It is still small and not commercialised, green and soothing to eyes and body! It is closer to Coimbatore which was a plus point. Poorna’s cousin stays in Coimbatore. We can now plan to visit him and proceed to Valparai.
We start looking for stay options in Valparai. We find there are not many good places to stay in Valparai like Munnar. There are only two properties – Waterfalls Estate and Stanmore estate by Woodbriar group. We call them up and find that there is no room. We call Woodbriar group for Stanmore. “Sorry sir, it is running full” comes the reply.
We again call Waterfalls and ask the manager to suggest if there are any other good places for stay in Valparai. Rasha, the lady manager of Waterfalls then suggest “Sinnadorai Bungalow” and give the number of its Manager – Ms Sujatha. What is all this “Sinnadorai – Periyadorai” stuff ??? The name of the place sounded odd and we keep our fingers crossed. However, with no choice, we call Sujatha and luckily, she says that they have two rooms available. We ask her if they have a website and she says yes and provide the link. We log into the website and pleasantly surprised at the elegant British planter’s bungalow perched on a hill. It is managed by Parry group. We call Sujatha and ask her to block two rooms as we are five.
Since my cousin stays in Coimbatore, we plan to travel on Thursday evening and stay with him. That way we could beat the weekend rush on NH 7 on Friday morning. We decide to stick to the regular route as i will be driving at night.
We leave office at 4 PM, get on to Hosur road elevated highway at Madivala at 4.30. We reach Hosur in half hour – thanks to elevated highway. We slow down a bit in Hosur manoeuvring the traffic. As we come out of Hosur, it is a pleasure again but slow down once again on Krishnagiri ghat section as they are widening the road making it six lane. Ghats done, we cruise and cross Toppur. we are surprised to see where all the road humps have vanished. We reach Salem bye pass at 7 PM and take the loop to hit NH to Erode.
Salem – Erode is a breeze and we cruise to Avinashi comfortably. Now the hassles start with two lane roads, diversions and monster state transport buses honking and driving recklessly. To be fair, the roads are quite wide and condition is good and we continue to drive comfortably and reach outskirts of Coimbatore at 9.45 PM. With a stop for ten minutes to pick up the soft drinks from the ice box after crossing Salem. We enter Coimbatore and reach my cousins place. We are meeting after a year and the guy is a jovial bloke and has kept all the beer ready. We have good time and hit the bed past midnight after savouring excellent pulao prepared by his wife.
We get up leisurely and the breakfast venue is a foregone conclusion. It had to be “Annapurna”. We get ready and head to the restaurant which is very close to my cousin’s place. The place is full and looks like a dining hall of a kalyana mantapam!! We get a table quickly and sumptuous breakfast of Pongal, vada, Idli and Dosa should hold us in good stead till we reach Valparai.
We bid good bye to my cousin Prashanth and his wife Poornima and head towards Pollachi. A nice 45 minutes drive and we are in town. We find no signage for Valparai and we ask locals who seems to be clueless. We waste 20 minutes figuring out the road and finally an old man on the bike seeing us going in circles offers to be the pilot and ask us to follow him. We do and finally hit the highway.
Pollachi to Aliyar dam should be one of the picturesque drives after rains. As we reach Aliyar dam, we could see holiday picnic crowd. The dam itself is small and has nicely laid out garden and children play area. We drive past the dam and stop at the entrance of Anaimalai tiger reserve. We notice some steps leading to the water of the lake and we step out. We see huge expanse of water and lovely birds.
We are now to start our climb to Valparai. It is exciting as we relax in our seats and start the climb slowly savouring the beauty of Anaimalai range. Summer has dried out all the water falls – there are numerous ones. This place after rains must be one of the most beautiful drives in the country similar to our own Charmadi ghat. The road has been relaid recently and is in excellent condition. The hairpin bends are not a steep as in Kalhatty ghat to Ooty. We stop at various spots to get down and enjoy the sights. The sights of backwaters of Aliyar dam from Loam’s Point – named in the honour of Capt Loam who surveyed this road in 18th century – at 9th hairpin bend is just mind blowing.
Let the pictures tell the story now
We cross the steeper part of the ghat in a relaxed manner. The sights are awesome and we make an immediate decision to come again in monsoons when you can see those lovely waterfalls with names given by British like Monkey falls. As we drive, we see the beautiful greenscapes welcoming us. We are now in fabulous tea country. It is green, green and only green everywhere. Occasionally disturbed by the purple of blooming Jacaranda trees. These sights are soothing to the strained eyes which has got used to white and grey in Bangalore. The greenery accompanies us all the way till we reach Sinnadorai’s Bungalow.
We finally reach Sinnadorai Bungalow and we are stunned at the beauty!
We are ushered into lovely rooms facing a fabulous valley. We are now ready to explore Valparai!
Postscript – This is the first part of Valparai experience. The second and third part in the series can be seen here
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