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Old 31st August 2015, 12:59   #1
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Default A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

It's the Onam vacation and schools are closed for 10 days. The kids decided to spend their valuable time with their grandparents who live far from the city buzz. Kochi is not as buzzing as Bengaluru, where we lived earlier. But still, life in an apartment versus life in an independent house with ample outdoor space made the case. Wifey and me had got a weekend with nothing much to do other than waiting for the upcoming long weekend to join our parents and kids for celebrating Onam. On the way to office (yeah, we drive together), I started a new thread of conversation.

Me : “What about a drive-out during the next weekend? The weekend before Onam.”
Wife : “All friends will be out of town to their native places! As also the kids.”
Me : “Just you and me?”
Wife : Smiling! Confused! "Finally a honeymoon after 7 years of married life?"
Me : “That was harsh on me. Don't you remember the Velankanni trip?”
Wife : “Come on. That was a pilgrimage but yes, we travelled alone.” (Most of our trips were with friends and family. We loved to be accompanied by our dear ones, not that someone barged in.)
Me : Grin! “Ok. Then let’s go. Just you and me!”
Wife : “Where are we going?”
Me : “Certainly not Munnar. Any wishlist from your side?” (Kochi circle BHPians will get annoyed reading this. Munnar is the destination of choice in most BHP meet drives.)
Wife : “Nope. You choose! It shouldn't be hectic and jam-packed drive. A peaceful stay and some fond memories is what I look forward to.”


Oh my God! The ball is in my court and I am going to be responsible for any dissatisfaction from the trip. I was sleepless and going through the internet as well as the recent travelogues. With just two days in hand, it was not worth thinking about a very long drive, which would spoil the fun of a weekend getaway. What should I choose? Beach or hill station or backwaters or wildlife? Both of us share a liking for lush greenery and wildlife as seen in most of my earlier travelogues. Choices in a 200 km radius are not many while in Kochi. Most of the Idukki destinations were covered multiple times in the recent past (sorry no travelogues on them yet). Wayanad was covered in detail while in Bangalore. Qtherwise also, two days were not at all sufficient including travel. Other options that came to my mind were Ponmudi, Parambikulam, Kanthalloor. Parambikulam won the precedence while reading more but upon searching, Valparai caught my attention. Fellow BHPian Laluks, had showcased Valparai and Parambikulam very well in detail and it was there on my cards since then. Though I drove via Valparai to Bangalore in recent years, I never got a chance to stay and experience the lush greenery of this remote hill station.

I inquired with Ampere, Mallumowgli and some other friends who travelled to the Anamalais region in recent years and had a quick run through the relevant travelogues on Team-BHP - the ones from Laluks, M35, NPV, Nutty Nair to gather more information. Most important inference from all these readings was that Estate Bungalows are the way to go for accommodation in Valparai. Hotels and homestays available in Valparai are very basic and wouldn’t be ideal if you decide to spend time doing something rather than just sleeping. Estate Bungalows are exponentially expensive, read INR 10K’ish compared to <2K for hotels. Upon searching Bungalows around Valparai, I was able to narrow the list as below.

1) Sinnadurai’s Bungalow
2) Waterfall Estate Bungalow
3) Monica Garden Bungalow
4) Stanmore Garden Bungalow
5) Sirukundara Bungalow
6) Puthuthottam Annex

Most BHPians stayed in either Sinnadurai’s or Waterfall and both have very good ratings. However tariffs were well above my affordable range when inquired and there was not much scope for negotiations for a single room and single night booking. All the bottom four Bungalows are owned by Woodbriar Group and slightly cheaper than the first two. Upon digging deep, I found that they offer tent houses in Monica and Sirukunadra estates at an entry level budget and one can enjoy all the amenities of the Estate except for the bed. Tent houses? Well, it’s not the same small tents we see in Decathlon. Pictures will talk for them. GoIbibo.com had an irresistible deal for tent houses from Woodbriar. I straight away booked a tent in Monica for a one night stay on Saturday (22nd Aug 2015) and announced the plan to my better half.

Me : “We are going to Valparai.”
Wife : “Where is it? What’s special? How far is it?”
Me : "Don't you remember seeing the clicks of that tail-like hairpins from my Bangalore drive via Athirpally route? It's a hill station near Pollachi with tea estates all around. Not very commercialized like Munnar. It’s a serene place."
Wife : “Hmmm. Any wildlife sanctuaries can be covered during the trip? I want to see a tiger.” Grin!
Me : “Tiger? Not sure of spotting any big cats on this trip. However, the drive is through a forest in the initial leg and Valparai tea estates are bordered by Anamalais Wildlife Reserve the same belt of Parambikulam.”
Wife : Not overwhelmed! “At least elephants?”
Me : “Yeah, I saw elephants on road last time. It’s more to do with green scenery.”
Me : “Infact I have included 24th August (Monday) in my quarterly leave plans - just reserved for Onam vacation.”
Wife : Grave look. “How come? I could have planned too if you had informed about it. It’s a vacation time and not sure if I could manage to get an off.”
Me : Grin! “Try. If then we get 3 days and 2 nights. Sufficient time to relax than just driving.”


I never thought she would come back with leave approvals for Monday 24th August, but she did. So the quick weekend getaway plan expanded to a relaxed three day trip. Went back to GoIbibo.com but to my surprise I was not allowed to modify the booking other than cancelling. Now what next? I need to book the same tent accommodation for the second night as well separately. Tariffs for tent house are same in Monica and Sirukundra but both are different estates by itself with unique facilities. Being light luggage travellers, we did not mind shifting to another place on second day and hence, booked Sirukundra Bungalow for the second night.

There was no confusion about the route, since all required inputs are available in this route-travel-queries thread. Below is the route as per Google maps. There are alternate routes from Kochi, but this is supposed to be the best as of now. 149 km one side and expected duration of travel is less than 4 hours. Cool!

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Kakkanad - Angamaly - Chalakkudy - Athirappally - Vazhachaal - Malakkapara - Sholayar Dam - Valparai

The route takes us through the lush greenery of Kerala till Malakkapara with Athirappally (Niagra of Kerala) and Vazhachaal in between. We decided to skip them both and try during the return leg so that we get maximum time in Valparai, which was our destination and where we were staying. The very high-level plan was as below - just kept placeholders for what to do while at Valparai rather than inserting all places of interest. The reason was something which I already stated - many of these zones are restricted for the public and information available on them is not the latest. And we are not looking forward for a busy jam-packed holiday ticking the target, but a very relaxed one.

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Now the ride! Tusker (Xylo) is our companion for most getaways. But Tusker was out to our native place for ferrying the kids. So the Fusion was appointed for this mission. Tanked up, aligned the wheels and corrected the air pressures, took the spare wheel out and ensured usability etc on Thursday itself.

Sadly, my Canon 1000D DSLR Camera, which has seen the action through these years, was giving a shutter error and not usable without service. Arranged another 1000D and a 24-135 mm lens from a friend who very sparingly uses it, but it came with some fungus on the sensor at the bottom of the frame, which I had to live with during the trip. I took my Sigma 70-300 mm lens along to help me when in luck with wildlife. I was also relying on pictures from my wife's smartphone to fill the gaps left by my beloved cam.

It was Friday and both of us were excited to core about the drive. Accuweather.com cautioned us to carry an umbrella as its expected to rain on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was expected to be sunny. Before hitting the bed, we packed the bags, camera kit, food kit, arranged for some cash in hand, since it would not be very easy to pay using card in remote locations and locating ATMs should be considered only in emergency.

Day 1: Saturday, 22nd August 2015

No repeated snoozing of the alarm like my normal working days. Woke up around 6 AM, picked up a caffeine brew and hopped into my balcony to check out the weather. Wow! Glimpse of the rising sun. It was not very cloudy too.

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We got ready, loaded the baggage in the car, reset the trip meter to zero and started the 1.4 Duratorq Diesel unit. And yes it was just 7:37 - very punctual based on our Indian Standard Time.

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It was drizzling as the car started rolling to the gates.

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The roads were relatively free being early morning and we drove sedately. Passed Aluva town and found a pure veg hotel, Annalakshmi on left hand side with sufficient parking. Had a nice dosa and idly accompanied by tri-colour chutney and sambar and a strong filter coffee to conclude. It was still drizzling. We drove further to Chalakkudy. In about 41 km from Kakkanad, where we started, took left service road before the Overbridge at Chalakkudy and drove right under the bridge towards Athirappally Road. Athirappally Road had good tarmac though a bit narrow and curvy. There was very little traffic as we covered a few miles, greenery on both sides and oil palm groves on right hand side. We entered the Chalakkudy Forest Division and the roads became better and better with lush greenery all around. There was no sign of rains even though it was cloudy.

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We passed by Athirappally falls, just stopped the car on the roadside for a sneak peek and continued further to Vazhachaal check post. All vehicles need to stop for entering their details at the checkpost. No change in process, they will collect the details of plastic bottles, caution against littering on roadsides and carrying alcohol etc. Just a few minutes and we got the pass which needs to be submitted at Malakkapara check post.

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The Fusion munched 78 km by then and it was 9:50 AM - 20 minutes behind schedule. But we were not at all worried as we mutually agreed that this was a leisure trip and not a business travel. As we passed the initial few miles of human inhabitation, the long narrow bridge across the Chalakkudy river welcomed us to a dark green tunnel. Yes, look at the pictures below. Isn’t it beautiful? The river is quite muddy after the monsoon.

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We rolled down the windows and let the fresh unpolluted air flow in and the wind was so soothing. We sedately drove further to the Poringalkuthu reservoir, which is so close to the roads at one curve. A popular stopping point on this route. We stopped for few minutes, it was cloudy but not raining. Found some elephant dung nearby, but it was not very recent. Yes, this route is known for elephant spotting and I did spot some during my previous drive (adding one click from my collection).

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Though narrow, the road from Vazhachaal check post to Malakkapara check post is amazing, with good tarmac, lush greenery and lovely curves, which any enthusiast would love to drive on. Some stretches are poached from both sides by long grass making it single car width, caressing the side mirrors while driving. I kept my pace low so as to avoid excessive honking and braking for traffic from the opposite direction.

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We drove further to reach KSEB Valve House of Sholayar Power House. It’s really interesting to watch the three giant pipes going down all the way to Power House. We stopped there for a few minutes.

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We found the first fauna on this trip, the lion-tailed monkey. From the tail and beard, I believe it was a female, but surprisingly all alone. I smiled at wife. No elephants yet but this was the first time we saw a lion-tailed monkey in wild.

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Now, we reached a famous viewpoint on this route. One could see the catchment area of Poringalkuthu dam from a higher elevation like a helicopter shot. There were couple of other cars also stopped for the enchanting view.

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(to be continued....)

Last edited by Aditya : 4th September 2015 at 19:36. Reason: Spacing, language
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Old 3rd September 2015, 09:08   #2
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Default A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill

Day 1 continued…

The weather was good and we drove further after some satisfactory clicks. The roads continued to be good as earlier. There were small water bodies on the way and we stopped by some of them. Further driving towards Malakkapara, we started getting glimpses of Sholayar Dam from far.

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And in no time, we reached Malakkapara check post. Stopped few meters behind to click the beautiful tea estate. One can spot the tea factory as well in the picture. We submitted the slip provided from Vazhachal checkpost and they made entries in the records, inquired about return plans and opened the gate for us. Fusion has covered 128 km by then and the time was 11:58 AM. Not bad considering the slow driving and multiple stops we had.

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The only bad roads in the Chalakkudy – Valparai route come now, after passing the Kerala Border. But not a major worry at all, cars with lower ground clearance should watch out for about 1-2 km stretch. That’s it. You reach the Tamil Nadu Check post at the start of a downhill. They would inquire where we are heading to and ID proof sometimes. No questions asked to me as soon as they spotted my wife sitting on the passenger seat. Tamilians give lot of respect to ladies and that’s a boon during these trips, where we are aliens in new place.

And there came the next batch of lion-tailed monkeys! There were many of them on trees after the check post area. I was told by a passerby that these animals started inhabiting areas near human settlements for easy sourcing of food. They don’t know our language, so they do not ask for permissions sometimes.

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Kerala Road Transport Corporation operating bus between Malakkapara and Chalakkudy.

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In no time we reached the bottom of Sholayar Dam. Soon after seeing Sholayar Dam shutters, we reach an intersection where Valparai is towards the right, needing a U turn uphill and the route takes us through the Sholayar Dam city.

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We just stopped for a few minutes to check out the dam and click some photos. It wasn't crowded even though it was a Saturday, and we comfortably parked on the roadside. The catchment had sufficient water, being a post monsoon visit.

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The roads was good after Sholayar Dam gate and not as narrow as it used to be before. Watch out for the small humps kept for safeguarding the people living so close to the roads.

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After a few turns, we were uphill and the view of Sholayar Dam catchment was spectacular with tea estates all around. This is one of my favorite pictures from this viewpoint. You can see the winding roads, where we came from on the extreme right side of the picture.

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(to be continued...)

Last edited by Aditya : 4th September 2015 at 19:50. Reason: Spacing, language
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Old 3rd September 2015, 15:53   #3
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Default re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

When did you change from a Xylo to a Fusion! I surely love it. Had fun driving it for 100K km and yes, it did go to Valparai too. In fact it was parked right there, when Dhoni hit that winning six!

Last edited by ampere : 3rd September 2015 at 15:58.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 18:39   #4
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Default re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Oh wow!! Nice writeup. Everytime I see the pictures of the western ghats, i start dreaming about driving down and enjoying the greenery and the hills. They are mystique and magical!!
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Old 3rd September 2015, 20:57   #5
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Default re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Excellent start @jacs, waiting for the rest of the trip to be detailed out
Some excellent pictures as well, thanks for sharing

How was the water level at Athirapilly and Vazhachal ? Guess this will come up in the next part of your travelogue. Looking forward to read the rest of the experiences.
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Old 4th September 2015, 11:22   #6
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Love the write up and those are some really serene pictures. Really takes me back to when I visited Kerala for the first time. I was with the family at the time, so was taking the trip sitting with a driver in an Innova. Desperately wished I was on a bike back then, and your post has taken me back to that sentiment!
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Old 4th September 2015, 12:18   #7
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

jacs, looks like a travelogue full of lush green pictures..western ghats post monsoon are indeed a fabulous sight....waiting for the snaps of your accommodation and its reviews.....
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Old 4th September 2015, 20:47   #8
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
When did you change from a Xylo to a Fusion! I surely love it. Had fun driving it for 100K km and yes, it did go to Valparai too.
Ampere,

It replaced my Accent CRDI after I relocated from Bangalore. Xylo is still with me for family trips.

I recollect you had Fusion before the Duster came in. But it was 1.6 petrol right? Mine is TDCI with some horses less. But yes its a drivers car



Quote:
Originally Posted by praveen_v View Post
Oh wow!! Nice writeup. Everytime I see the pictures of the western ghats, i start dreaming about driving down and enjoying the greenery and the hills. They are mystique and magical!!
Thanks Praveen. Earlier the better. Its yet to be commercialized.



Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Excellent start @jacs, waiting for the rest of the trip to be detailed out
Some excellent pictures as well, thanks for sharing

How was the water level at Athirapilly and Vazhachal ? Guess this will come up in the next part of your travelogue. Looking forward to read the rest of the experiences.
Thanks NPV. I referred yours as preparation for this trip.

As mentioned, my focus of this trip is Tamil Nadu stretch and did not spent time in Athirapally and Vazhachaal. Next episode is ready and getting posted tonight.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
Love the write up and those are some really serene pictures. Really takes me back to when I visited Kerala for the first time. I was with the family at the time, so was taking the trip sitting with a driver in an Innova. Desperately wished I was on a bike back then, and your post has taken me back to that sentiment!
Thanks Tushar. Biking is allowed only on main roads and there were many biker gangs during my trip. Bikes are banned in many of the view points around Valparai.



Quote:
Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
jacs, looks like a travelogue full of lush green pictures..western ghats post monsoon are indeed a fabulous sight....waiting for the snaps of your accommodation and its reviews.....
Yes Venkatt, I am in deep love with the lush green. Shall certainly provide feedback on accommodation, places to visit etc towards end.
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Old 4th September 2015, 22:14   #9
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

From Uralikal; yeah the place from where the spectacular view of Sholayar catchment is clicked, it is only around 12KMs to Valparai town. Roads remained good except for few rough patches around Old Valparai area which comes first before reaching the main town.

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Immediately after Old Valparai, we reach a “T” Junction with written directions. While coming from Sholayar dam side, Valparai town is towards right side which is clearly written. Though not very clear, left is to Pollachi via the 40 hairpin bends but bypassing the town. One can join the same 40 hairpin bend route via Valparai town also through Puthuthottam route. Personally I did not find one route is significantly shorter than other but second route is the one for you if hungry or looking for a place to refresh.

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It’s already 1PM and really hungry. We decided to go to Valparai town for lunch as not pre-ordered in Monica Bungalow. Hotel Green Hills is the only place we could think of in Valparai town as a decent place for in-dining. They had Biriyani, Chinese, Meals and Chappathi to offer. We decided to go with Vegetarian Meals. It was really delicious and we had a lavish lunch.

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Monica Bungalow is actually before Valparai town while coming from Old Valparai side in Kurangumudi direction. Hardly 10 minutes’ drive back from Green Hills. Refer the below map. In about 1KM in Kurangumudi route, there is signboard towards Monica Bungalow and we did not had to ask for directions. Fusion has munched 160KMs by then and it was 1:45PM when we reached Monica. Weather was cool, no rains but not too sunny as well.

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Built in 1925 by the British, Monica Bungalow which is a serene property amidst of the thick woods. Woodbriar group has modified it tastefully and maintained it well without losing its charm and authenticity.

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Raja from Woodbriar group was there to welcome us to Monica. After making entries in the guest records, we were guided to the tent area which is slightly inside. Total 4 tent houses were there in total. Only one tent was occupied other than ours. Each of the tent houses were built on top of concrete basement raised from ground level to safeguard from leeches and other reptiles.

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Raja opened the Zip door and we got inside. To our surprise, it is well furnished with a comfy double bed, bed side tables, reading lights, a pedestal fan, mirror stand, a small table, an open wardrobe etc. Quite roomy for a small family to stay. Very well kept, fresh linens, clean toilet. Nothing less than what they showcase in their website. We were tired and couldn’t resist from taking a nap.

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Not nap but a peaceful sleep I must say, no noises to disturb us and it was so silent that one could hear the breeze and chirping of birds clearly. Woke up lazily around 3:30PM and got ready for a tea drive. Tea drive? A drive with no clear destinations in mind but a strong tea is the motivation. Raja offered tea and snacks but we refused as we did not want to lose time before the sun goes down. He guided us to drive towards Puthuthottam being evening time and there are chances of spotting wild animals.

Thanking him, we drove towards Puthuthottam, passing the Valprai town. Started seeing the thick woods after the temple and could hear the shrill sounds of insects as we went further. Woodbriar group has “Puthuthottam Annexe” on this route but it is not as good as Monica where we lived.

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We couldn’t spot anything and reached the Parle Agro Tea Estates. Lush green tea gardens. We stopped beside a small road side tea shop seeing the Lion-tailed monkeys playing on the roof of the adjacent school.
Secondary reason? “When in Rome, be Romans.” Wife and I could understand Tamil well and also could talk little bit. We headed straight to the tea shop. Selva, the tea shop guy greeted us with a smile.


Me: “We came in search of a nice strong tea”. (Returned the smile)
Selva: “Sure, please have some vegetable bondas while I prepare the tea.” (Showing a tray)
Wife: (Grabbing a bonda wrapped in a piece of local newspaper) “Isn’t this the Puthuthottam area where animals are spotted?”
Selva: “Yes Madam, animals are there in surrounding forests and sometimes they come close to roads.” “Here’s the tea.”
Me: “hmm! Nice tea.” “Local tea factory product?” (Seriously! Tea was really good)
Selva: “Sir, its actually blended by me.” ”Taste of tea is different in each estates or even between different blocks in same tea estate.” “Some are good for black tea, some are for green tea, some are very strong, some have aroma.”
Wife: “Is it?” (Grabbed a Banana Bajil) “Coming back to Animals, any chances in this area?”
Selva: “Right now only Bison is there in this area other than Sambar deer, squirrels and monkeys.”
Me: “Bison?” “Really?”
Selva: “Are there Bisons inside the estate today?” (Yelled to the workers sitting next to the shop)
Selva: (after some Q&As) “They used to be nearby during morning time but now they went to inner areas of the estate.”
Me: “Estate?” (Puzzled) “Can we see now? I mean do we need permissions to get inside?”
Selva: “It’s actually private area bordering forest.” “Let me check if one of the workers can accompany you in.” (Brought in another guy to the scene) “This guy will help you out.”
Wife & me: “Thank you so much bro.” “And tea was really nice.” (Paid the nominal 30 odd rupees and walked towards the car)


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Jeeva is a worker in Parle Agro estates and it’s his home. Very politely he got into the car and guided us towards the estate road. Well, this road takes us towards “Sinnadurai’s Bungalow” as well which is known for its Bison spotting. Bingo! Bisons are like cattle for these villagers and not known for any dangers unless intimidated by someone. He pointed to a small school enroute and mentioned that as the area where Bisons are recently seen during mornings.

As the car approached the narrow winding roads amidst the tea plantation, we could hear peacocks cry and spotted many on the Silver Oak trees. Too far for my lens to capture. This one was sitting in a pole amidst the tea plantations but closer to road and hence the click.

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We were so excited about spotting a Bison in this trip. At least a confirmed spotting like in Zoo! Everytime I look to Jeeva’s face asking if we are near, he told to continue as if he has caught one live and kept at home for us!

And in a sharp turn with steep edges, he asked us to stop and showed a space few meters away to park the car. We got down and started looking around. He smiled and warned about the leeches. Wife is kind of dying scared when she heard the word “Leech”. Still for spotting a Bison, she took courage and walked behind Jeeva and me looking suspiciously on her feet every minute.

Jeeva stopped and pointed me towards the valley. I literally yelled “Oh my god”. Wife was stand still for few minutes on the sight. At least twenty of them in the herd. Look at the picture, no exaggeration.

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I decided to step down further through the tea garden for a closer shot as it’s the first time in my life seeing more than just two or three Bison together. This is a large family consisting of Stallions, Feeding Mothers, Carrying Mothers and Calves. On seeing getting closer, they were in alert mode. All of a sudden, some Bisons who were very close below us but which was out of sight rushed to the group as you can see in the clicks. I got scared and turned all around to see where to run.

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And as many of the BHPians corrected earlier, these are Indian Guars but colloquially known as Bisons to us. It was a real feast for eyes. While driving back, Jeeva showed me the peacock which we spotted earlier is then dancing with full feathers open. I was in a hurry to stop and shoot but Jeeva calmed me down saying it will not run away so quickly.

Some general knowledge from him is that it rained that day and peacocks have tough time once drenched as its tail gets really heavy to move with. This dancing in circle with feathers open is nothing but the way to drain water and make the feathers dry. Just think of the Spin mode of Washing machine!

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We patiently walked through the tea garden for a closer shot. Jeeva was right, the peacock was not in a hurry. He paused while it got our first glance. Then since we remained silent and not scared him, he continued to dance. Now I know, why photography as a hobby did not flourish in me. It need a lot of patience for getting a gorgeous shot as he kept on moving and light was getting dim making focusing even difficult in full zoom. I am sure this is not the best snaps you would have seen of a peacock but it is a mission accomplished for me.

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It was almost 6PM and we walked back to the car which is parked just outside the tea garden. With satisfied minds I gave a warm shake hand to Jeeva and thanked him for sparing his valuable time with us. Believe me, he did not accompany us for money but to help us accomplish the mission of spotting wildlife. That’s the value of a remote village. Selva was busy with customers and I just waved him while driving by. It’s a tea flower picturized below.

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Now Wife wanted to have Pani Puri. It really sounded stupid to me. Finding North Indian chat in a remote town in Tamil Nadu? But yes, we did find couple of shops among the road side eateries in Valparai town selling chats. I am not a fan of chat, but Puri filled with warm Golgappa was perfect match for the weather. Here is a click to disclose the CSAT rating from my wife.

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It got dark as we reached Monica, time was close to 7PM. Enquired about dinner. The guy in charge assured we can walk-in to the Bugalow dining room by 8PM or he can also serve in the tent. We chose the dining area as we wanted a lavish dine in the British mansion ambience. Back in tent, water was chill and we relied on the heater for a comfy bath. So fresh and back to Bungalow for dinner. While they were arranging food in the dining room, I decided to flip through a book about Birds of Anamalais. Ambience in the Bungalow was very rich during the night.

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Dinner is ready! It was exclusive for us and not for all guests in one shot. We pre-ordered Ala-carte for dinner against a whole buffet spread. And it Green salad, Veg Cutlets, Phulka roti, Dal fry, Chicken curry, Chilly Gobi Fry, Jeera Pulav, Veg Kurma, Raitha, Pickles, Biscuit pudding. Now imagine what will a full spread be?

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We had a sumptuous dinner that too in an Antique English ambience. It was drizzling when we finished and had to rush to the tent. Guests in the nearby tent had chosen to get the food served in the tent as they had the small kid. We slipped into our tent after a quick catch up with them. Drizzle turned to rain by then and temperature dropped significantly as we were chit-chatting. It was just 9PM still. But really couldn’t resist from crawling under the blanket and sleep.


(To be continued…)
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Old 5th September 2015, 08:47   #10
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Amazing pics as always Jacs! Have done Ekm, Sholayar, Pollachi, Ekm thrice and monsoon is the season to go. Rains make the forest region bewitching.

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.
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Old 5th September 2015, 11:28   #11
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Hello Jacob,

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

The last time I passed by Valparai, we drove through high range forest for 52 kms. That was many years ago, we were traveling from Pollachi to Trissur. That was pretty scary.

Thanks for sharing. Cheers!
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Old 6th September 2015, 21:22   #12
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

Loved your write up and specially loved your encounter with the elephants and peacock. Really nice pictures. Now waiting for the next one.
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Old 7th September 2015, 11:09   #13
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

:-)
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.
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Old 7th September 2015, 14:26   #14
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

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.
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Old 8th September 2015, 09:22   #15
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Default Re: A rejuvenating long weekend at Valparai – The young green hill station

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.
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