Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 8th September 2015, 17:44   #16
BHPian
 
Nempuguru's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Bangalore/Udupi
Posts: 127
Thanked: 280 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Very refreshing travelogue. Those lush green landscapes soothing to the eyes. Nice pictures. Lucky to spot herd of Indian Guars aka Bisons.

Apart from Valparai, Parambikulam any other sight seeing places near Pollachi? Can that be combined with extended weekend trip to Valparai from Bangalore?
Nempuguru is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2015, 19:07   #17
Distinguished - BHPian
 
nkrishnap's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,252
Thanked: 3,447 Times
Default

Wonderful thread. Just returned from Monica Bungalow today. Lovely quiet place with great hospitality. All I did in a day was to just relax as I have done the Valparai quite a few times.

A sample pic ☺
Attached Thumbnails
A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station-1441719414683.jpg  

nkrishnap is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2015, 20:10   #18
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
Amazing pics as always Jacs!
And the roads are great, except for a short distance near the KL TN border. Sure you had a ball with the Fusion. Awaiting more pics.
Thanks Deepak. Yes, exactly the short stretch after KL border is still bad but not worrying at all. Fusion played around for three days as no passengers in rear bench. Here comes the next batch of pictures, but some are borrowed from wife's mobile cam.



Quote:
Originally Posted by voyageur View Post
Hello Jacob,

Wonderful pictures man. Valparai is of course one of the close hill stations to us Keralities.

Thanks for sharing. Cheers!
Thanks Buddy. I am going to do this circuit again with family towards another hill in Anamalais by end of this month.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amarjeetphukan View Post
Loved your write up and specially loved your encounter with the elephants and peacock. Really nice pictures. Now waiting for the next one.
Thanks Amarjeet. Next episode in an hour from now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dafpnp View Post
:-)
While I was reading through initial lines, I started thinking of a similar trip, with just the spouse and leaving the kids to grand parents.
And in my thought process, I ditched the Innova and picked my Fusion :-) later to know that you also have a fusion.
My kids have also been calling the vehicles matching the first letter of name with an animals'.
Innova is Tiger (T comes from Toyota), Logan is Rabbit (Renault) , Fusion is Fox (Ford)
I find Tusker is a nice name for Innova looking at it's size.
You should do this buddy. Its mesmerizing. Loved the naming strategy from kids. Fox is a lovely name for the Fusion. BTW Tusker is all mine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by arulpeem View Post
H Jacs,
A very well written travelogue. I enjoyed your photographs. The lush green surroundings are really soothing to the eye and almost took me there. Valparai is really quaint little place and much quieter than the Ooty or Kodai. The herd of gaurs is really a large and you are lucky to see them that close. Thanks for sharing.
On another note the monkeys are Nilgiri langurs. Lion Tailed Macaques have mane that goes all around the and the tail is much shorter and will have a tuft of black hair at the tip and thus the name Lion tailed Macaque.
Thanks Arul. I pray to god that only peaceful travelers find these travelogues so that Valparai remains the young green hill unlike the abused Ooty or Kodai.

Thanks a lot for the insight on Monkey business. You are right, I stand corrected now but then my sighting list got added with a new entry "Nilgiri Langurs". I am having a Lion tailed Macaque towards end of this travelogue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nitinbose View Post
That's a real rejuvenating weekend! The countryside roads in Kerala are often much better than the city roads, so the driving is often a breeze.
Thanks Nitin. Roads are good all around except for Nirar and Chinnakallar side which will come up shortly in this travelogue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nempuguru View Post
Very refreshing travelogue. Those lush green landscapes soothing to the eyes. Nice pictures. Lucky to spot herd of Indian Guars aka Bisons.

Apart from Valparai, Parambikulam any other sight seeing places near Pollachi? Can that be combined with extended weekend trip to Valparai from Bangalore?
Yes boss, you have lot of options which can be clubbed but Parambikulam-Valparai itself is good enoughfor a long weekend. If its not too far from Monsoon, you should try Athirappally for the waterfall as well as the forest drive from Valparai. Rather than travelling to other towns, try getting permissions for restricted zones around Valparai


Quote:
Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
Wonderful thread. Just returned from Monica Bungalow today. Lovely quiet place with great hospitality. All I did in a day was to just relax as I have done the Valparai quite a few times.

A sample pic ☺
Thanks buddy. Good to know your very fresh experience with Monica. And yes, if your idea is Nirvana, then nothing else is needed other than a peaceful stay at the Bungalow.
jacs is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2015, 21:17   #19
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Day 2: Sunday, 23rd August 2015

Its 6AM! Siren from all the surrounding tea factories rang one by one and it was loud enough to wake us up. But it was not just we two wake up. But all the insects and birds around us also woke up breaking the silence of Monica Garden. Chirping of birds were so lovely that we could not resist from coming out of the tent. It was still dark unlike 6AM in Kochi, please refer my first picture in this travelogue. It was really cold and we decided to use the intercom facility in the tent to order coffee. We quickly freshened up and reached the Bungalow kitchen and grabbed our hot coffee. One of the bird was whistling so professionally that it resembled some Tamil song. And the caretaker who served us coffee helped us with the name of the musician “Malabar Whistling Thrush”.

Like the booting process of a PC, we were on feet with full energy after the coffee. Breakfast should be ready by 8AM and we have two hours at disposal. Asked wife whether she would like to try out the area in Parle Agro where the Bisons were supposed to be seen in the early morning hours. As obvious, she nodded “Yes”. Here’s a quick map, Puthuthottam is very nearby.

A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station-63a.jpg


It was cloudy but sun started lighting up the lush green tea gardens slowly as we reached the school area where the Bisons should be hanging out. Looked at the car clock, it read 6:40AM. But no Bisons! We took a quick round through the narrow roads around this area to see if the herd is still taking rest in the valley sides. Came across few peacocks on the way.

Name:  64.JPG
Views: 3731
Size:  411.7 KB

Name:  65.JPG
Views: 3732
Size:  567.8 KB

Name:  66.JPG
Views: 3755
Size:  796.7 KB


Wife is good at spotting things, guys who read “The Wilderness” (Three days in "The Wilderness" - My best Wildlife trip so far) travelogue on my Mudumalai trip earlier would know about her hawk eye! She pointed to a large black spot in one of the tea valleys and it was a Bison as we went closer through the road.

Name:  68.JPG
Views: 3761
Size:  720.8 KB


It rained the previous night and hence grass is wet and area is slightly muddy. Chances of leeches looked high. But we waded in through the very narrow path through the tea plantations for a close glance of this black mammoth.

Name:  67.JPG
Views: 3678
Size:  650.0 KB


I suppose it is a Bull, that too a single who is known for arrogance. Though we were not wearing bright colored clothes, we camouflaged ourselves among the tea behind a small tree. Not that it did not see us but at least not to intimidate. It observed us for few minutes and continued with its fresh grass breakfast as we enjoyed the sight for some time.

Name:  69.JPG
Views: 3655
Size:  680.9 KB

Name:  70.JPG
Views: 3565
Size:  694.1 KB

Name:  71.JPG
Views: 3523
Size:  727.8 KB


After some satisfactory clicks, we decided to return as we realized the bull is still hungry and the breakfast could continue for hours. Road is about a hundred meters from the spot and there were few small houses nearby along with a temple. We reached back the car parked on road side. Luckily no leeches or sign of bites though full of dirt.

Name:  72.JPG
Views: 3479
Size:  205.3 KB

Name:  72a.jpg
Views: 3461
Size:  146.4 KB


A guy came out from a nearby house and walked towards the Omni parked on road side. Looks like he was observing our Bison adventure from far. We exchanged a smile. He got into the car and started his day. This is what happened. Not sure if it is due to the cold weather.

Name:  73.JPG
Views: 3449
Size:  215.8 KB


Bison was still grazing in the valley and I decided to try my luck with birds. 300mm is not sufficient but that’s the maximum I had and handheld shooting also challenge a quality click. Here’s what I could capture in a presentable quality, rest were all shaky images.

Jungle Mynah

Name:  74.JPG
Views: 3426
Size:  315.6 KB


Bay-backed Shrike

Name:  75.JPG
Views: 3408
Size:  237.9 KB


White-breasted Waterhen

Name:  76.JPG
Views: 3379
Size:  602.7 KB


Again a Jungle Mynah?

Name:  77.JPG
Views: 3356
Size:  528.7 KB


What more to expect from a pre-breakfast drive? We decided to leave but someone came running to us from opposite direction. A mongoose? It was not all alone but had a partner too. They were not camera shy at all. They continued running towards us and I kept clicking them. They are Stripe-necked Mongoose, different from the one I spotted during BR Hills drive.

Name:  78.JPG
Views: 3367
Size:  533.0 KB

Name:  79.JPG
Views: 3371
Size:  553.8 KB

Name:  80.JPG
Views: 3367
Size:  568.0 KB

Name:  81.JPG
Views: 3331
Size:  547.5 KB


And here is a pic from wife’s mobile to show how friendly they were to us and it was we who decided to bid farewell, not the mongoose.

Name:  82.jpg
Views: 3287
Size:  96.0 KB


It was about 8AM by then and we were hungry enough to drive back through the Puthuthottam stretch. We missed to click a Sambar deer in a matter of few seconds as it dashed through the road upon honking from a bus. But a Barking deer cheered us up before we reached the human inhabited area after forest stretch.

Name:  84.JPG
Views: 3328
Size:  746.2 KB

Name:  83.JPG
Views: 3303
Size:  563.3 KB



(to be continued…)

Last edited by jacs : 8th September 2015 at 21:22.
jacs is offline   (11) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 9th September 2015, 15:31   #20
Senior - BHPian
 
cool_dube's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,097
Thanked: 268 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by nkrishnap View Post
Wonderful thread. Just returned from Monica Bungalow today
Looks like it has been raining TBHP-ians @ Monica Bungalow I was there from 4-7 Sept. Wanted to do the Sholayar - Athirapilly route as well but could not. Looking at the pics posted by jacs, looks like I will have to plan another trip soon.

Apologies for the hijack... please continue with the t-log jacs.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by cool_dube : 9th September 2015 at 15:38.
cool_dube is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2015, 07:18   #21
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by cool_dube View Post
Looks like it has been raining TBHP-ians @ Monica Bungalow I was there from 4-7 Sept. Wanted to do the Sholayar - Athirapilly route as well but could not. Looking at the pics posted by jacs, looks like I will have to plan another trip soon.

Apologies for the hijack... please continue with the t-log jacs.
No problem boss, thanks for stopping by. Sholayar - Athirapally route is a must do for a driver. Especially your beast is goanna have fun. There are some resorts around Athirapally, only that the toppers are bit expensive. Checkout Rainforst
.



My Day 2 Continues...

We straight away headed to the dining area as it was 8:20AM already and both of us were really hungry after the morning trek. Breakfast was complimentary irrespective of the deal we got on the accommodation. The spread consisted of Toasted Bread, Jam, Butter, Live Egg Omelets or bulls eye, Idly, Tri-color chutneys, Sambar, Live Dosa, Watermelon Juice and Coffee/Tea. We concentrated on Plain roasts directly from stove. Again all the food items were homely and tasty.

After the thorough breakfast, had some quick chat with Raja (He was back at work by the time we finished our breakfast). The Malabar Whistling Thrush was still singing and Raja helped me to spot this avid musician. First look from far below, I thought it was a crow. Upon full zoom on the 300mm, it was Bluish bird about the size of a Pigeon as pictured below.

Name:  85.JPG
Views: 3172
Size:  314.8 KB


Then a Hill Mynah.

Name:  85a.JPG
Views: 3199
Size:  283.6 KB


There were lot of Rose Apple (Syzygium jambos) trees around popularly known as “Panineer Champakka” in Kerala. Fruits are really expensive now a days due to its unavailability. It has the flavor of rose-water when eaten, a must try. In Monica, the trees were in flowered stage then with no fruits hence just a flower click for identification.

Name:  87.JPG
Views: 3179
Size:  511.3 KB


Then my question was on the instruments seen in the fences behind my tent. Raja explained me those are alerting system for Animal movements. I was suspecting this small loud speaker was the nearest siren sound heard in the morning.

Name:  88.JPG
Views: 3160
Size:  504.0 KB


We informed Raja that we would be leaving around 10AM and hence to keep the bills ready. And also that we are going to Sirukundra Estate Bungalow after a spin to Aliyar area. Raja agreed to remind the care taker at Sirukundra that we would reach only by 2PM and dinner needs to be arranged for us.

Wife went inside the tent for packing things, very light luggage and hence nothing difficult. I decided to spin around with the camera clicking some interesting things in Monica Garden. African Tulip Tree is a common sighting in and around Valparai. Some tea gardens are bordered by them and in fool bloom, it looks as if the forest is flaming in fire. So brilliant red color. Here is a closer look to the flower of this tree.

Name:  89.JPG
Views: 3145
Size:  627.7 KB


Other clicks are some ferns around the pavement, our tent, view of Bungalow from tent side, some tiny white flowers, a moth, a Lilac Lantana flower bunch and the walkway to tents from the Bungalow.

Name:  90.JPG
Views: 3095
Size:  645.0 KB

Name:  91.JPG
Views: 3178
Size:  619.9 KB

Name:  92.JPG
Views: 3038
Size:  430.0 KB

Name:  93.JPG
Views: 3050
Size:  385.8 KB

Name:  94.JPG
Views: 3036
Size:  466.7 KB

Name:  95.JPG
Views: 3048
Size:  265.0 KB

Name:  96.JPG
Views: 3041
Size:  383.5 KB


Wife peaked out of the tent to remind me that its already 9:30AM. Keeping the camera aside, I got ready quickly and took the luggage (did not bother to call Raja for taking just two backpacks) to the car which was parked in front of the Bungalow. And we posed for some clicks in memory of Monica while Raja brought the bills.

Bill was just 600 Rupees for our Dinner as we pre-paid the accommodation and breakfast was complimentary. Very reasonable! Is it not? Well! Interested to know how much I paid for a night stay at Monica with Complimentary breakfast and the Ala-Carte Dinner for two. INR 3900.

Paid the bill. Thanked Raja and the other staffs for ensuring we had a peaceful stay. Yes. They did ensure not to infringe to our privacy at any point in time or rather no over-courtesy. But they ensured very prompt support for each and everything we approached them for. I have rated 5/5 for Monica Garden Bungalow in GoIbibo & TripAdvisor. Highly recommended for its cleanliness, ambience, food, service and reachability.

Look carefully, you can see the year of making engraved on the walls of the Bungalow.
Name:  97.JPG
Views: 3060
Size:  311.8 KB

Name:  98.JPG
Views: 3058
Size:  664.3 KB


(To be continued...)

Last edited by jacs : 10th September 2015 at 07:25.
jacs is offline   (13) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2015, 13:11   #22
BHPian
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tiruppur
Posts: 88
Thanked: 59 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

A comprehensive review and description of your stay at Monica Bungalow. Jacs. Really looks a must visit accommodation in Valparai. Looking forward to your Sirukundra t-log.
venkatt1800 is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2015, 16:45   #23
BHPian
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Pune
Posts: 527
Thanked: 134 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

This is a beautiful travelogue. I didn't there is such a peaceful, non commercialized hill station existed in south. I only knew of Ooty, Kodai and Munnar. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and sharing your experience with us!
shipnil is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 10th September 2015, 17:18   #24
BHPian
 
FuelInjector's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: TN38
Posts: 368
Thanked: 252 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

wonderful travelogue @Jacs. the pictures are also very nice. Congrats on having a great time and wishing many more enjoyable travels.
Do you know if two wheelers are allowed in that stretch between chalakudy and valparia? I was told by my friend long back that they were not allowed.
FuelInjector is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 11th September 2015, 07:07   #25
NPV
Distinguished - BHPian
 
NPV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Namma Bengaluru
Posts: 4,196
Thanked: 3,643 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by FuelInjector View Post
Do you know if two wheelers are allowed in that stretch between chalakudy and valparia? I was told by my friend long back that they were not allowed.
Not too sure about the rules disallowing 2 wheelers but I don't remember seeing 2 wheelers between the Vazhachal and Malakkapara checkposts, this is mostly the forest area where there could be restrictions. For sure you can take your 2 wheeler between Chalakudy-Athirapilly and Vazhachal. Same for the stretch from Pollachi-Aliyar-Valparai-Sholayar Dam (on the other side of the hills).

Now that you're nearer to these places, isn't it time to plan a trip there ?

Last edited by NPV : 11th September 2015 at 07:18.
NPV is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 11th September 2015, 07:08   #26
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
A comprehensive review and description of your stay at Monica Bungalow. Jacs. Really looks a must visit accommodation in Valparai. Looking forward to your Sirukundra t-log.
Thanks Venkatt. Shall certainly coverup Sirukundra as well through this weekend. And Stanmore Bungalow in a nut-shell also as a bonus!


Quote:
Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
This is a beautiful travelogue. I didn't there is such a peaceful, non commercialized hill station existed in south. I only knew of Ooty, Kodai and Munnar. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and sharing your experience with us!
Thanks shipnil. There are many hill towns in South but Valparai is something unique. You would not regret your decision of driving down.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FuelInjector View Post
wonderful travelogue @Jacs. the pictures are also very nice. Congrats on having a great time and wishing many more enjoyable travels.
Do you know if two wheelers are allowed in that stretch between chalakudy and valparia? I was told by my friend long back that they were not allowed.
Thanks boss. Yes, two wheelers are allowed on main roads all through out including Athirappally - Valparai route. Restriction is towards the denser forest routes and far view points. There are even some areas where no tourist vehicles are allowed at all.
jacs is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 13th September 2015, 14:59   #27
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

From Monica, we drove towards Loam’s view point which is about 34KMs away towards Pollachi direction. We took the Old Valparai route for onward drive and roads were good all through out.

Name:  99.JPG
Views: 4880
Size:  503.8 KB

Name:  99a.JPG
Views: 2748
Size:  49.3 KB

Name:  100.JPG
Views: 2770
Size:  558.1 KB


Just before Iyerpadi, this route joins the same road from Valparai town and found the sign board for Pollachi which is left U turn. After driving further, came across the start of the hairpin bends. Yes the 40/40. Road towards right takes to Balaji Temple which is also a place of interest in Valparai.

Name:  101.JPG
Views: 3577
Size:  622.2 KB

Name:  102.JPG
Views: 2926
Size:  578.1 KB


We drove sedately, scenery turned to hills or a Green hill view with tea gardens everywhere. Some temples, row houses and Silent water streams added contrast to the greenery. We wondered how people get on top of these hills for harvesting tea. Guess their daily calorie burnt!

Name:  103.JPG
Views: 2611
Size:  473.7 KB

Name:  105.JPG
Views: 2603
Size:  410.2 KB

Name:  106.JPG
Views: 2632
Size:  368.6 KB

Name:  107.JPG
Views: 2612
Size:  566.7 KB


Road sides were covered with wild climbers and creepers, most of them were full bloom with tiny flowers. And tiny water bodies throughout the route. Thanks to the season.

Name:  108.JPG
Views: 2610
Size:  725.2 KB

Name:  109.JPG
Views: 2602
Size:  439.0 KB


Please find the picture of a new tea planted in an estate sector. Some General Knowledge on tea. Tea plants have a life expectancy of 100 years. Replantation is a tedious task involving deep tilling of the soil to remove roots from the old plants and various rounds of preparation before the new sapplings are planted. Once planted, tea is ready for plucking from 4th year onwards. If you remember the flower and seed posted earlier, the tea plant normally reaches that maturity after first three years of planting. Most of the active tea estates sectors are planted at least 40-50 years old.

Name:  110.JPG
Views: 2635
Size:  519.6 KB

Name:  111.JPG
Views: 2730
Size:  497.3 KB


We crossed waterfall estates since planned to stop by in return leg. Further driving takes us to Attakatti where some Forest department area, looks like they have some Elephant Safari as part of their Save Tiger Training center. We stopped at 14/40 hairpin bend from where the view of Aliyar Dam is possible without any hindrance and one can see the loam’s view point from here. So this is a parallel view point at much higher altitude but not sufficient space to park more than just one or two cars.

Name:  113.JPG
Views: 2598
Size:  604.4 KB

Name:  114.JPG
Views: 2533
Size:  250.8 KB

Name:  115.JPG
Views: 2668
Size:  676.7 KB

Name:  117.JPG
Views: 2572
Size:  410.2 KB


While I mentioned about Aliyar dam to wife while planning the trip, she never thought the catchment is so large. Due to the lack of a wide angle lends, I tried to make a Panorama by compiling three clicks. Far from perfection, I know.

A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station-116.jpg


We spent some time on the breath taking view of Aliyar dam and decided to return as it was getting hot. Loams view and Aliyar dam is reserved for a next trip to TopSlip which is going to happen very soon! After few miles of steep climbing, we noticed that the temperature is rising inside the cabin and to our surprise Fusion’s AC stopped working. Fan is blowing but no sign of cooling and the AC indicator itself is not turning on. Good that we decided to return as temperature gets higher as we drive down the hair pins. We rolled down the windows and enjoyed the breeze till Attakatti and the temperature became friendlier again.

Chalakkudy is 134KMs as we could see in the signboards near Attakatti where I mentioned about the Save Tiger Training center earlier. Again as I mentioned earlier, there were many tiny water bodies on the way. Something made me curious was this Arch with a check-post towards the forest which restricts the road for public. May be part of the Save Tiger Training project? Couldn’t make out anything as it was completely written in Tamil. Anyone here who can translate?

Name:  118.JPG
Views: 2761
Size:  667.7 KB

Name:  119.JPG
Views: 2663
Size:  698.8 KB

Name:  120.JPG
Views: 2928
Size:  574.9 KB


We reached Waterfall estates and decided to take a tea break. They have a small tea stall alongside a small garden, weak water fall and a bridge. Products from Waterfall estate is available on sale here and one can also refresh with a hot tea or coffee and some quick grab snacks. A decent tea we had, still not comparable with the one we had from Selva’s shop in Puthuthottam. Found this KL07 registration Duster with two mountain bikes loaded in the parking area as we took off from Waterfall Estates.

Name:  121.jpg
Views: 2551
Size:  433.2 KB

Name:  122.jpg
Views: 2592
Size:  369.7 KB

Name:  123.jpg
Views: 2532
Size:  408.7 KB


Though it was about to be noon, climate was cool and we were able to drive comfortably with windows rolled down and almost forgot the AC. We drove back comfortably towards Iyerpadi with just one more stop at this view point.

Name:  125.JPG
Views: 2520
Size:  541.9 KB

Name:  126.JPG
Views: 2498
Size:  444.1 KB

Name:  129.JPG
Views: 2509
Size:  436.3 KB

Name:  129a.JPG
Views: 2487
Size:  352.5 KB

Name:  130.JPG
Views: 2494
Size:  482.9 KB

Name:  131.JPG
Views: 2470
Size:  328.4 KB


(To be continued...)
jacs is offline   (9) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th September 2015, 21:07   #28
Senior - BHPian
 
jacs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kochi
Posts: 1,402
Thanked: 666 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

From Iyerpadi, we decided to take the route via Puthuthottam to Valparai town so that we could have lunch from Hotel Green Hills and then head to Sirikundra Estate Bungalow. Being noon, we did not spot any wild animals in Puthuthottam area. But thought of clicking these hanging bridges built across road by Forest department where monkeys can cross safely and thereby avoiding road fatalities. We could see the local inhabitants carrying fire-wood from the forest area which is their affordable source of energy for cooking.

Name:  132.JPG
Views: 2317
Size:  611.5 KB

Name:  132a.JPG
Views: 2354
Size:  725.6 KB


This time, we tried a Chicken Biriyani at Green Hills which was a tasty choice. But two portions were good enough to fill three people. Got some nice pickles and raitha as accompaniment too. We managed to empty our plates with lot of patience and the bill was just 220 Rupees. Very reasonable for the quality and quantity. After picking up a bottled water as well and proceeded to our second day accommodation. Sirikundara estate starts immediately after the bridge while we take left from Valparai circle while driving from Town side and take the estate road itself. The main road is towards Nallamudi Pooncholai which is a popular view point in Valparai and then its goes all the way to Kochi but through some other different route which a passerby explained while I enquired. But no sign of this road anywhere in the Google maps which needs more research.

Estate roads were narrow and this route also takes us to Nirar Dam and Chinnakallar after Sirikundra. We drove peacefully and reached a small bridge over a small river. To our surprise, it read “Koolangal River” which is also read to be a view point in Valparai. A calm and shallow small river where one can safely take bath. “Koolangal” means pebbles in Tamil. River basin is known to be naturally laid with pebbles and hence the name. To be honest, nothing much to be excited about Koolangal River and we did not bother to stop. We drove towards the Bungalow.

Name:  132b.JPG
Views: 2473
Size:  513.9 KB

Name:  132bb.JPG
Views: 2295
Size:  69.4 KB

Name:  132c.JPG
Views: 2755
Size:  602.2 KB

Name:  132d.JPG
Views: 2620
Size:  568.8 KB


Sirukundra means “the formation of a cluster of small hills” and the landscape is different from that of Monica but Tea gardens relate them together. Built in 1917, Sirikundra Estate Bungalow is seven years older than Monica and has been furnished accordingly to preserve the retro ambience. We drove up till the car porch and the care-taker came running to us. It was about 2PM by then. Bungalow was fully occupied by a large family group and hence he did not wanted us to stay around infringing their privacy. After authenticating my identity, he guided us to park the car close to the tent area behind the Bungalow. Though I felt little upset on his eagerness to vacate us from the main bungalow but he did what is right to the guests staying there.

Parked the Fusion in front of the small outhouse on backside of the bungalow. AC was still not working. It should be the fuse but did not wanted to check it out as I badly needed a power nap. Tents were towards the boundary of the fenced compound overlooking the forest behind. And was same inside out as the tent we stayed the night before in Monica. Crashed to bed in no time after reaching.

Name:  133.JPG
Views: 2305
Size:  698.2 KB


I just woke up and realized time was already 3:50PM. Felt as if it was the next day! I called up reception through the intercom and ordered tea to be served in the tent. BTW the caretaker’s name was Babu as I recollect. And I asked him about ChinnaKallar and Nirar dam. Bad news was that roads are really broken towards ChinnaKallar side as in only SUVs can take the abuse. Good news was that Nirar can be visited, only that we need to cross the check post before 4:30PM else they would not allow of the fear that we return late and could encounter wild animals on road. We quickly refreshed and headed to the parking area even before the tea reached the tent. Had tea from the outhouse itself which actually is a dining area for the guests living in the tents and the wooden chalets in Sirikundara Estate Bungalow. Well, wooden chalets? I shall detail it in the detailed coverage of the Bungalow with review.

Name:  134.JPG
Views: 2368
Size:  687.9 KB


Started to Nirar dam which is just about 9KMs away but Roads were not as good as it used to be in earlier routes. We were stopped in the forest check post. They enquired about our destination of travel and cautioned us not to take ChinaKallar route. Entry fee was 20 Rupees per head but they do not keep change making it a 50 for two. We proceeded further to reach the circle where directions are clearly mentioned. Nirar dam is towards right from the circle.

Name:  134a.JPG
Views: 2239
Size:  35.3 KB

Name:  134b.JPG
Views: 2275
Size:  607.7 KB


Roads were bad but nothing that Fusion can’t take and we did not had to worry at all. There were some really bad cuttings where concrete is broken and it merge the old tarmac where low sprung cars could have a problem. In about 10-15 minutes of slow driving, we reached Nirar Dam but gates were closed for vehicles and had to park on the road side. Luckily no tourists were there, we saw some vehicles returning while coming.

Name:  135.JPG
Views: 2260
Size:  616.2 KB


Nothing to comment about the size of the dam as it is not a huge catchment like the Aliyar or any other famous ones. What we liked is the serenity of this location. No commercialization except for a very small shop selling snacks and tea, a waiting shed for those who public transport (Yes, bus service is there at limited intervals) and some quarters for security staffs to stay.

Name:  136.JPG
Views: 2210
Size:  455.9 KB

Name:  137.JPG
Views: 2211
Size:  355.8 KB

Name:  138.JPG
Views: 2209
Size:  374.0 KB


We could see some twisty roads going through the bottom while looking towards the shutter side from top of the dam. While enquired, security guard told it’s the way towards the foot of the dam and inside the shutters for inspection purposes but not allowed for public due to security reasons. I had seen pictures already in the internet while initially searching for Nirar and hence not bothered to try getting permissions. I asked him where the narrow mud road adjacent to dam goes and he told it goes to another small shutter at the beginning of the water tunnel. Water tunnel? I remembered my colleague Sunil did mention about the 8KM long tunnel in Valparai while he heard about my visit.

Name:  139.JPG
Views: 2201
Size:  759.6 KB

Name:  140.JPG
Views: 2189
Size:  358.9 KB


This route is not permitted for public being slightly inside the forest and not much area to park vehicles etc. Upon asking if we can visit that place, the guard looked around and upon seeing no other visitors are there apart from us both, agreed to permit but another guard who was then in the waiting shed was appointed to accompany us. I realized the power of networking that too in local language. We thanked him and proceeded to the tunnel area which is about half a mile from the Dam. Roads were narrow and full of mud after the previous night’s rain. Climate changed as we reached there, the place is surrounded by hills and forest making the place appear dark though it was just 5:30PM. I felt it’s a canal and not a tunnel. It is clearly written that the length of this water canal is 8.05KMs and the cost of the project was 9 Crores while built. We decided to return as it started drizzling.

Name:  142.JPG
Views: 2167
Size:  614.9 KB

Name:  143.JPG
Views: 2174
Size:  772.5 KB

Name:  144.JPG
Views: 2163
Size:  671.5 KB

Name:  145.JPG
Views: 2164
Size:  769.8 KB

Name:  146.JPG
Views: 2157
Size:  590.7 KB

Name:  148.JPG
Views: 2146
Size:  342.6 KB

Name:  149.JPG
Views: 2139
Size:  369.3 KB

Name:  151.JPG
Views: 2141
Size:  444.9 KB


It was still raining as we crossed the check post just before 6PM and found the signboard saying Valparai is just 7KMs from the check post. We were hungry and decided to taste something since dinner was two hours away. Driven further towards Valparai town passing by the Sirukundra Bungalow. This time we decided to try another place which served chats and discovered that they sell hot soups. Warm up ourselves with a Mutton soup topped with crispy soya chunks. Unique from any soups we had till date, it was worth the try. Buildings painted with bright colors were really adding contrast to the scenic beauty of Valparai town and we clicked it from Sirukundra road.

Name:  153.JPG
Views: 2144
Size:  584.5 KB

Name:  154.JPG
Views: 2128
Size:  432.5 KB

Name:  156.jpg
Views: 2131
Size:  331.3 KB

Name:  157.jpg
Views: 2116
Size:  325.9 KB

Name:  158.JPG
Views: 2133
Size:  344.1 KB


It was dark by the time we reached Sirukundra Bungalow and security guard was just waiting for us to get inside for closing the electric fence near the entrance. I asked him why so early to which he replied that elephants used to come often to eat fruits from a nearby tree. Babu was there at the dining area and enquired what time would we like to have dinner. I asked him how early we can and he agreed to serve within an hour.

We relaxed in the verandah of the tent after a warm water shower enjoying the serenity of the place. Since it rained and was cloudy, not able to see anything but only darkness as we looked towards the forest in front. We walked slowly to the dining area chit chatting about the return plan. Food was prepared and brought straight from Bungalow kitchen to the outhouse and served hot. Dinner at Sirukundra consisted of Chapathi, Chicken curry, Vegetable Pulav, Veg Kurma, Aloo mutter dry, Mixed Raitha, Pickles and Tender Coconut Soufflé. Food was yummy and sufficient. Back in the tent, we retired to sleep after cancelling all early morning plans for a sound sleep.

Name:  159.jpg
Views: 2138
Size:  232.8 KB



(To be continued…)
jacs is offline   (11) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 18th September 2015, 07:54   #29
BHPian
 
Cruzerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Kochi/Singapore
Posts: 60
Thanked: 32 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Amazing travelogue, Jacs. Keep it coming. Can't wait to read the return leg of the trip.
I am surely going to plan a trip to Valparai next time I visit Kochi.
Cruzerman is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 18th September 2015, 19:57   #30
BHPian
 
mukundmenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Kochi
Posts: 77
Thanked: 26 Times
Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Really refreshing travelogue. Thanks for sharing details on road conditions and routes taken, will come handy to others (including me!) who have kept the Valparai trip on the backburner for too long. Always had doubts on the road conditions through Valparai- reserve area, which are now cleared thanks to you.
mukundmenon is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Info required: Kolli malai - small hill station subbusos Route / Travel Queries 29 27th August 2016 11:16
Another weekend, yet another Hill Station - Yelagiri Mr.Boss Travelogues 7 2nd August 2014 23:02
Kodaikanal - The last unspoilt hill station.....so far ajmat Travelogues 29 5th July 2012 19:52
Off to cure my sins, visitng a hanging bridge and a 7000 feet hill station snaronikar Travelogues 45 9th June 2009 22:20
Suggest me a good Bike to use in a hill station !! SX4 Motorbikes 28 22nd March 2009 22:49


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 04:44.

Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks