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Old 31st August 2012, 12:20   #1
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Default Stunning Valparai

It was back in 2005 when I first heard rumour about the beauty of Athirapally falls. Planned quite a number of times for a visit, but then it remained as plan. Was in Mangalore till 2006, some 400 odd kms from athirapally, then i was in kolar for higher studies some 520 kms away. Time flew by and 2012 july brought me within 160 kms of the falls. I had shifted to Coimbatore for a fellowship degree. Over the period of time I also had come across Valparai, heard about its pristine beauty. Endless tea estates , forests, the route, the weather. Then when I looked up, I came to know that Valparai connects to chalakudy and it's on this stretch the Athirapally takes the plunge.

It was 11th August. I was having a cup of tea with a friend when we decided to do a small trip somewhere close by. We needed to be back by Sunday night as Monday d get very busy with patients pouring in tons. I ll be in Coimbatore for at least 3 years so I ll ve enough time to explore Valparai and around. So decided to to do a rough survey of the places on the way so that subsequent trips can be planned well. Then drive on to Athirapally towards latter half of the day. Plan was decided . Sunday morning we finished the rounds a bit early and by 9 Am we headed south of Coimbatore towards Valparai.

Pollachi is 42 kms south of Coimbatore. Roads in Tamil Nadu are gorgeous to drive, was not any exception. Even with moderate traffic we managed to hit Pollachi in about 40 mins. You need to drive into the city and look for sign boards to Valparai. It took bout 15 mins to exit the city. Drive another 20kms south to aliyar dam, you get first glimpse of what lies ahead.

The mighty western ghats suddenly rises up and you can't help think if continent of Africa decided to come back and collide with India and push these mountain up. There's this sharp mountain which looks like a sphere contrasting itself with a blunt rockface which looks like a mace, and the road you are driving is to the base. These mountains obliterates most of the horizon. The grey rain clouds engulfed the lush green mountain. A waterfall on the mountain was an awesome spectacle.
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Driving past the Aliyar reserve there was a small road diverging from the main road at a long right curve which mentioned towards 'Aliyar reserve'. Did not explore it though. A little ahead comes the first forest check post. They just ask details of where you are headed and from where.
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The drive leading to Valparai is one of the best I ve come across. A steep climb up the mountain with 40 hairpin bends, beautiful flat roads with one corner flowing into the next. Thar floated up the mountain without breaking a sweat, like its counterpart Tahr.
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We reached the place where on GPS i had marked Monkey Falls ( N10.45807 Lat/ E 76.96985 Lon), when we reached the place there was neither the monkey nor the falls. We didnt realise at first and took a road which leaves the main road down thinking there might be a mistake in GPS. drove 200mts and realised it was a restricted road leading to Aliyar power house, reversed back and when we reached the junction back we found two forest officers who stopped us and politely told us that was a restricted area. We apologised and found from them that we cannot enter the monkey falls or the mystic falls( Lat 10.45391 N/ Lon 76.971122 E) area due to supreme court orders. A little further ahead comes up the 9th hairpin bend, which is the Loams view point, a wonderful view of the Aliyar reserve and dam right in front and to the left the never ending mountain ranges with their peaks blending into the clouds.
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We continued along and after series of hairpins at the coordinates Lat 10.41564N Lon 76.99603E you hit the Waterfall Gateway estate entrance.
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A kilometer or two along the narrow estate road u pass next to a what looks like a small village, further up on the left u first see the bunglow called Indraprastha which has three rooms for stay. then they have valley view with 2 rooms and finally tennis court bungalows with 2 rooms. contact details are available on the website. Pick up the number and call, book it by paying a advance.
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Driving further along the road opposite to a long left hander was a temple amidst the thick blanket of fog and a small tea hut next to it. Hot delicious tea with biscuits in the cold drizzle was heaven.
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Next series of hairpin bends takes you past the statue of the founder of Valparai, Craver Marsh.
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There was a downpour around so could not get down and explore around. Taking the left at the next junction takes you to valparai and continue along the road towards Sholayar reservoir.There s a sign board so no confusion.

The sholayar reservoir comes up on your left, the road runs parallel to the bank of the reservoir. That stretch is itself a fabulous drive to the dam.
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you can park anywhere along there and take a small walk over the dam, one side was the reservoir and on the other side the wall falls steeply away towards the downstream, where it runs beneath a arched bridge.
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Half a km from the dam is where you get food in case u need it badly. As we did not go towards Valparai, this was the only place where u get food till athirapally. As you drive down from the dam you come to a junction , one road goes to the left and through the arched bridge seen from the dam. The other road which is in continuation of the road from the dam, hits a small place which looks like market, at the other end is a hotel.
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Its very small boxy hotel. i think there were two. we went into the better looking of the two. Did not know what to expect. The food was served on a green paper made to look like a plantain leaf with a plastic film on the serving side. Found it very interesting. They serve both veg as well as non veg (fish curry). The rice they served that day was the most perfectly cook, not squishy not hard not pasty , just about soft steamingly hot. Very spicy curry to go with it, potato brinjal green chillies and drumstick. Two side dishes.. Rasam and spiced up buttermilk. We ate it to our hearts content. Cleared the bill and soon on our way.
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Old 31st August 2012, 12:40   #2
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

Lovely pics and a good narration to go with that Dr. Harish ! Thanks for sharing, I will have to plan a trip to this heavenly place soon ! Nice set of wheels too !
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Old 31st August 2012, 12:48   #3
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

We passed the arched bridge and were on our way, I was beginning to think we might not hit athirapally on time at the rate we were stopping and clicking pics. You literally go mad, to click this or that.
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The Sholayar dam check post comes up next. Little ahead Malakkappara check post, you need to sign in and st all the check post's officers asks for your driving license. At Malakkappara check post where they check the car and issue a certificate which has to be submitted at the exit. 45 mins from here is Athirapally falls. Maps indicated a pretty straight road, but in reality its mostly ghat roads.
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People take alcohol, but take to an extent that you dont have control over yourself and ending up troubling others is something which i cannot tolerate. on the way there was a small falls by the wayside. i pulled up to click some pictures. Few mins later a tempo traveller KL registration, pulled up next, music was so loud it was already destroying the peace and serenity of the place. 4 idiots got down ,one of them hardly 18 and drunk to their nose. i was concentrating on framing the picture then i felt someone was right on me from behind. This nut was trying to peep into the camera viewfinder and wanted to know what i was seeing. Felt like taking the tripod and wacking his face and say ' can you see now. Just kept quite. next he wanted to click the picture. then their friends wanted me to take their photograph. then the next one was swaying and began his irritating questions,i felt that was it. Another minute there i knew i there would be trouble. before i lost my temper i quietly packed up and got into the jeep drove away. all the different compositions i wanted to of the falls were gone. was very disappointed.
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Play with shutter

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Thought of athirapally cheered me up. That part was going according to plan, i wanted to be there at the falls just at the sunset so that i could play with slow shutter. but i was getting a bit too late for that. i had to slightly push the jeep to reach in time. we reached the next check post at 4:55pm and the ticket closes at 5 pm. you need to pay for the car, camera and falls price at the check post itself, or instead pay for the car and can buy tickets at falls itself. Ticket counter is quite a walk from the entrance itself. That counter closes by 5 10pm. so be there to be safe by 4 30pm.

A small walk along the stone and cemented path below and canopy of leaves above takes you to the river bank,where water plunges some 80 feet. That height might not be much on paper but in reality you gasp at the sheet might of the falls. The milky water hits the bottom and silently flows west into the setting sun. Trek down takes you to the base of the falls.If from top it defined the depth, from below it personified the might. Three massive columns of liquid nature plunges into bed throwing the mist up right up into you, who d be standing on the large boulder that riddles the bank.few more massive columns plunge close to other bank. If monsoon goes at its full blast these two columns join to a single column of millions of gallons free falling into the earth. Its an incredible feeling. And the rumour was true.

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All the mist rising from the falls directly land on the lens so photography is a difficult job. carry a good plastic sheet and wrap the camera up and a good cloth to wipe the lens, which u need to do often. My advice is this, every boulder gives a different composition for the falls with one better than the other, remember these boulders are very slippery and you might end u as a photograph on the wall. Photography is good but not at your cost.

Weather forecast had predicted rain in the area. So had carried an extra pair of clothing, changed inside the jeep. headed west towards chalakudy. a medium right before chalakudy ll take you to kochi - thrissur 4 laner, turn North and then North-East at Thrissur towards coimbatore. Road from Thrissur is not good. Only one stretch in the middle is motorable. Reached coimbatore at 10:30PM. Had a good dinner and called it a day.

Statistics from My Iphone GPS Kit
Distance covered : 224.9 Mi
Duration : 13:00:55
Max speed : 85.9 mph ( not sure about the accuracy , I never crossed 100 on speedometer the entire journey)
Elev.High : 4839 ft
Elev Low : 13ft
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:05   #4
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

This may be a bit helpful.

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Stunning Valparai-aliyar.jpg


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JM Hotel


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Stunning Valparai-athirapally.jpg


Stunning Valparai-chalakudy.jpg
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:08   #5
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

Beautiful photographs of a beautiful place. Gotta make a trip to Valaparai soon. How is the road condition? Have you stayed there and what was the cost?
Agree about those troublemakers, you did well to ignore them and leave. I've faced many onlookers/curious people when I go for shoots and I normally let them have a look at the photographs if I feel that they are genuinely interested/curious. But to these drunkards, I'll also just ignore and move, most of these just want to create some trouble on other's expense.
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s
Beautiful photographs of a beautiful place. Gotta make a trip to Valaparai soon. How is the road condition? Have you stayed there and what was the cost?
Agree about those troublemakers, you did well to ignore them and leave. I've faced many onlookers/curious people when I go for shoots and I normally let them have a look at the photographs if I feel that they are genuinely interested/curious. But to these drunkards, I'll also just ignore and move, most of these just want to create some trouble on other's expense.
Road from malakkapara check post onwards till half way to athirapally is not all that good. Rest beautiful roads.
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:20   #7
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

Beautifully processed snaps there! I could imagine standing at most of those places when I had been there last year. So which is the camera body and lens that you have?
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:25   #8
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further.

Last edited by GTO : 31st August 2012 at 13:48.
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere
Beautifully processed snaps there! I could imagine standing at most of those places when I had been there last year. So which is the camera body and lens that you have?
Canon 40D with 10-22 and 70-200
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:37   #10
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Very beautiful pictures indeed! the 10-22 lens is a macro? I'm not familiar with that focal length.

also what software for post processing? photoshop?
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Old 31st August 2012, 13:55   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drkakkilaya View Post
Canon 40D with 10-22 and 70-200
Now I can imagine why those snaps so beautiful! 70-200 is my favorite of all.

Of course not to mention the composition!

Just last month I got my 10-22. When I had been last year, all I had was a humble kit lens (18-55). So with that I tried the best I could.
Will definitely go once again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bharat4ever View Post
Very beautiful pictures indeed! the 10-22 lens is a macro? I'm not familiar with that focal length.
also what software for post processing? photoshop?
Bharat, 10-22 is an ultra wide angle lens.

Last edited by ampere : 31st August 2012 at 13:59.
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Old 31st August 2012, 14:06   #12
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

awesome snaps - beautifully composed and processed as well.
The hairpins bends, the slow shutter speed waterfall pics and Thar in wilderness --- absolutely Stunning!

The lenses have served to pretty well . Which one did you use for most of the pics? 10-22?


Pls do post more pics!

Last edited by sach.sri : 31st August 2012 at 14:09.
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Old 31st August 2012, 14:27   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bharat4ever View Post
...the 10-22 lens is a macro? I'm not familiar with that focal length....
Fish-eye zoom lens .
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Old 31st August 2012, 14:46   #14
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

Beautiful composed & processed snaps doc. Its almost as I can feel being there. What software do you use for processing?
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Old 31st August 2012, 15:35   #15
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Default Re: Stunning Valparai

Quote:
Originally Posted by drkakkilaya View Post
.......

You literally go mad, to click this or that.
..............

Statistics from My Iphone GPS Kit
Distance covered : 224.9 Mi
Duration : 13:00:55
Max speed : 85.9 mph ( not sure about the accuracy , I never crossed 100 on speedometer the entire journey)
Elev.High : 4839 ft
Elev Low : 13ft
Great snaps Dr.!
I know the feeling..... looks like you have a good kit complementing your photographic skills!
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