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Old 8th September 2015, 15:30   #1
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Default Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

A holiday was long due and started the search for places to visit. I am based out of Chennai, so a hill station was the logical option to beat the heat. Tamil Nadu is mostly famous for temples and a handful of beaches. Pichavaram came t our mind, but the though of doing that two-hour boating in the hot sun was a no no and that too with a 2.5 year old baby (son).

We began searching and searching and narrowed down upon Meghamalai, but it is supposedly too too virgin and finding decent restaurants and accommodation was a challenge. Suddenly, I remembered that I needed to go to kolli malai, a long time wish. Combined kolli malai with Yercaud and it sounded like a perfect plan to me. Suddenly, I remembered that my baby could not travel for more than 4 hours at a stretch. We came to know this the hard way, when we tried to go to Kumbakonam the last time. Searching for the route to Kolli Malai, the midway mark came at Ulundurpet, but the unavailability of decent hotels online was a challenge. Kallakuruchi, turned out to be the next logical place to stay. My family prefers to go somewhere, rather than sit idle at the hotel (I prefer to stay idle at the hotel). I looked out for places to visit around Kallakuruchi and came up with Kalavarayan hills and Gomukhi dam. Kalavarayan hills, being a bit far away, I decided to visit Gomukhi dam. Also, at Kallakuruchi, we found online, a decent hotel called hotel SR park.

brief plan dates:
Date Day Time Start Itenary
28-Aug-15 Friday 10:00 Drive towards Kallakuruchi
28-Aug-15 Friday 13:00 Break for Lunch
28-Aug-15 Friday 14:00 Drive and reach Kallakuruchi
28-Aug-15 Friday 15:00 Check in and take rest
28-Aug-15 Friday 16:00 Depart and reach Gomukhi mini dam
28-Aug-15 Friday 16:45 Spend time at Dam
28-Aug-15 Friday 18:00 Drive back to Hotel
28-Aug-15 Friday 19:00 Freshen up
28-Aug-15 Friday 19:30 Dinner
28-Aug-15 Friday 20:30 Relax
28-Aug-15 Friday 21:00 Sleep

29-Aug-15 Saturday 7:00 Wake up
29-Aug-15 Saturday 7:00 Freshen up
29-Aug-15 Saturday 8:30 Breakfast
29-Aug-15 Saturday 9:00 Depart towards Kolli malai
29-Aug-15 Saturday 9:00 Reach Kolli Malai
29-Aug-15 Saturday 12:00 Lunch and check in
29-Aug-15 Saturday 13:00 Visit Falls, Botanical Gardens, Boating and Siddhar Caves
29-Aug-15 Saturday 16:00 return to resort
29-Aug-15 Saturday 17:00 spend time at resort / take rest
29-Aug-15 Saturday 19:30 Dinner
29-Aug-15 Saturday 20:30 Relax
29-Aug-15 Saturday 21:00 Sleep

30-Aug-15 Sunday 7:00 Wake up
30-Aug-15 Sunday 7:00 Freshen up
30-Aug-15 Sunday 8:00 Breakfast
30-Aug-15 Sunday 8:30 cover remaining places
30-Aug-15 Sunday 10:30 Drive to Yercaud
30-Aug-15 Sunday 13:00 Lunch and check in
30-Aug-15 Sunday 14:30 Explore Resort
30-Aug-15 Sunday 18:00 back to room
30-Aug-15 Sunday 19:30 Dinner at hotel or outside
30-Aug-15 Sunday 21:00 go to bed

31-Aug-15 Monday 7:00 Wake up
31-Aug-15 Monday 7:00 Freshen up
31-Aug-15 Monday 8:00 Breakfast
31-Aug-15 Monday 8:30 Roam around places in Yercaud
31-Aug-15 Monday 13:30 Lunch enroute
31-Aug-15 Monday 14:30 Sightseeing / Shopping
31-Aug-15 Monday 18:00 Spend time at resort
31-Aug-15 Monday 20:00 Diiner
31-Aug-15 Monday 21:00 go to bed

1-Sep-15 Tuesday 7:00 Wake up
1-Sep-15 Tuesday 7:00 Freshen up
1-Sep-15 Tuesday 8:00 Breakfast
1-Sep-15 Tuesday 8:30 Head towards chennai
1-Sep-15 Tuesday 13:30 Lunch enroute
1-Sep-15 Tuesday 15:30 Reach Chennai

Hotels Booked:

Hotel SR Park Kallakuruchi (www.hotelsrpark.com)
N.P.S Resort Kolli Malai (http://npshotels.in/)
GRT Nature Trails Yercaud (http://www.grthotels.com/yercaud)


Quick Trivia: I booked hotels at Kallakuruchi and Kolli Malai through Travelguru.com and Yatra.com. My experience was pathetic. I had to spend so much time and money(phone calls) to confirm the booking. Apparently, these sites have a policy to pay the hotelier only two days before the check in dates, BUT when we book, I was given only two hours to book (called the customer care and booked through them for additional discount). Book through Cleartrip.com for peace of mind. I booked GRT through them and did not face any issues.

Fast forward to 28th August and we are on schedule on start at 10:00 am. When I was checking my car, I noticed a puncture on the rear right tyre. Since there was sufficient nitrogen, We drove about 4 kms to the nearest puncture shop and managed to fixed it. It costs us rs 150/- and 30 mins.

We started from Velachery and took the route below

Velachery --> Pallikaranai --> Pallavaram --> Chengalpet --> Villupuram -->Ulundurpet --> Kallakuruchi

Just before Villupuram, my windscreen rubber had come loose and was lashing against the car. I tried hard but could NOT find someone who sells fevi-qwik.

We stopped for lunch at the Vasanta Bhavan @ Villupuram Toll Plaza. This hotel is around 300 mts to the right, after the Villupuram toll plaza when coming from Chennai, towards Trichy. This is the best Vegetarian hotel you can find enroute. Vasanta Bhavan is a chain of hotels, for those who are not familiar. I had meals and my wife had Biriyani. If you are a family traveler, please eat here. I can vouch for the food. It is of good quality and will definetly NOT rip your pockets or stomach. Loo is clean (both gents and ladies) and the staff being locals are super friendly in service. A Rs. 30/- tip can bring a huge smile on their face. They even pointed me to a small tuck shop run by an old lady, who surprisingly stocked fewi-qwik. I purchased two packs just to be sure.

Trivia: we saw lot of boards en-route reading "KFC". This time, it was Kumbakonam Fresh Coffee OR Kumbakonam Filter Coffee and NOT the KFC Chicken restaurant

The drive was totally a standard drive with 4 line excellent roads all the way upto a few kms before Ulundurpet. A few kms, before the right turn towards Salem, the road is being re-laid / patched and they have blocked the "towards-Trichy" side of the road. We need to drive on the opposite side of the road, which is really dangerous, given the maniacs that try to overtake on the one-up - one-down lane stretch, separated by barrels.

We reached hotel SR Park Kallakuruchi (Google maps GPS helped) without any issues and got checked into the room. I would rate the room a 6/10 for family travelers and an 8/10 for bachelor/friends group travelers. The room was decent enough, but there were lot of black ants and probably the sheets and linen could have been cleaner. The AC was chilling - no doubt in that. The hotel does not have much business and ours was the ONLY room that was occupied in the hotel. Maybe, their business depends on the adjoining Marriage hall.

We freshened up and headed towards Gomuki dam. The drive was about 40 mins, including some traffic jams on the way. GPS helped us reach the spot. It is a completely deserted spot. We were the ONLY tourist there. We drove a couple of 100 mts down and there is a small bridge like thing. To the left, there is a flight of step that leads up to the dam. That small gate is open. The steps are broken and totally unfriendly with insects and shrubs. We managed to climb up and it was a good sight. The Dam, the catchment and the hills giving a beautiful backdrop !! wow it was really relaxing. A cool breeze was adding up to the joy. We spent about an hour and decided NOT to go to main dam, as it was already late. We clicked some pictures and left from there. Again - even when the place is so good, We saw many used alcohol bottles around. Since we had some time, we decided to "explore" some parts and we just drove to the other side of the dam (towards the hills). We saw some typical villages and their lifestyle. My baby son enjoyed it a lot. Tiredness was slowly taking over and I could convince my family to turn back and head towards the hotel. We took the same route back and reached the hotel. We freshened up and had some idlis in the attached restaurant. They were so soft, that we became mad after them. Rs 15/- for two large spongy idlis were a steal. We called it a day and slept off.

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A security risk Incident: It was around 12:45 am and we heard someone vigorously knocking our door. We do not know, even till today, whether it was a human or animal or ghost which knocked our door, but we did NOT open the door. I am no body-builder or fighter and I do not have any police, goon, mafia or political connections, to help me out if I land in trouble.

We woke up in the morning and enquired about it but as expected no one knew such a thing ever happened. We could have actually pushed hard and looked at the CCTV footage, but we did not want to waste time. Even if something antisocial elements had knocked the door, with bad intentions, it would be very well in connivance with the hotel management. I am sure it was pre-planned as even if there was an emergency, the reception could have called us on the intercom or our cellphones. I did not want to waste time on this. If you are travelling with ladies - beware.

We hogged up the same idlies, checked out of the room and proceeded towards Kolli Malai

Kallakuruchi --> talaivasal --> Attur --> take left before the Attur bridge --> Malliakarai --> Namagiripettai (take left) --> belukuruchi --> Kalappanaickenpatti --> Karavalli --> Ghat Road --> Indian oil petrol pump (continue straight along the smaller road and not the main road) --> NPS Resort.

At Karavalli, at the foot hills of Kolli Malai, we need to pay Rs 20/- ticket and also register at the forest check post. They asked me various details like where I was from and why I am travelling to kolli malai etc and they let me go. They did not ask me for bribe. I voluntarily paid Rs. 20/- to help the locals maintain a plastic-free forest zone.

It is very easy to find the resort with GPS Google maps.

Check in was a breeze and the very well knew we were coming. We were allocated one room, but we weren't happy with that, so we asked the Manager Mr. Babu for another room and we were allotted another one. The room was a tent-type room.


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Last edited by scopriobharath : 3rd October 2015 at 16:13.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 16:14   #2
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Default re: Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

Little nice things to know
  1. Mr Pari, the MD/CEO/Owner of the resort, was constantly calling us and even sent an SMS on how to reach the resort. It was a nice gesture. We felt very comfortable.
  2. Kolli Malai does NOT have any "walk-in" restaurants, neither does the uphill drive. We need to pre-book the meals and food at the resort. The taste and Quantity are more than sufficient. We opted for the vegetarian option, but I am told the non-veg is equally good.
  3. The breakfast and lunch buffet (unlimited) costs Rs 250/- per person per meal, which is really worth in my opinion, although I felt breakfast was a bit on the pricier side.
  4. No soda in rice - perfect.

After lunch, we just lazied around the hotel. My son was amused by the beavers they had in a cage. We then departed towards the boating and associated park. It is around 20 mins drive from the resort. We paid an entry of 20 per head, 15 for camera and 10 for car. we also paid 50 for boating. The park consists of a children's slide, see-saw and a climbing frame. We need to walk about 5 mins to the artificial lake and since the boats are very few, be prepared to wait. We waited for almost 30 mins to get a ride. The time limit is not enforced, so people tend to misuse the same.

There is another park, which is a few 100 meters before this boating park but according to people, it is not worth the visit. We skipped it as either ways we were out of time. They close at 5:00 pm dot.

On the way back we visited Seekuparai view point. There is a board indicating the same. GPS would do good too. The view was marvelous. I personally like view points a lot. It was decently crowded and we could hardly manage some pictures. Someone (supposedly a local) advised me to get out of the place, as it was already 6:00pm and supposedly it wasn't a safe place to hang-on. We decided NOT to try our fate and we left immediately.

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Reached the resort and helped us to some tea and coffee. We played some shuttle-cock and my son was buzy with some bat and ball. These all are provided by the resort free of cost. As we were playing, I was tired and thankfully it started raining. We ran to our rooms and from the balcony, we were enjoying the rains. There were some insects around but it was expected in a forest resort. As the rain subsided around 8:30 pm, we were served dinner. We opted for hot Chapathis, Chole, Tomato +onion gravy, idly and sambar. They serve rice or biriyani on request. Again, this was 250/- per head, but worth the money and fresh.

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With a heavy dinner, my energy was almost drained out and I just crashed on the bed.

We got up next morning, had breakfast and drove to nearby waterfalls, Thenaruvi. There is a Rs. 10/- entry ticket for cars. Water was cold and the crowd was less. I took a small shower in the waterfall and then we moved on to Namaruvi. My son had slept by then, so we did not climb down, but we managed to see it from the road itself. It wasn't as big as the previous one, but worth visiting.

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Last edited by scopriobharath : 3rd October 2015 at 16:25.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 16:26   #3
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We headed back to the hotel for lunch, as we had decided to check out and head to Yercaud. Lunch was served (almost a variation of yesterday's menu), we settled the food bills, checked out and finally started our descent from Kolli Malai. the 72 hairpin bend roads were again very scenic and engaging to drive.

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Kolli Malai --> Hair pin road ---> Kalappanaickenpatti --> turn right --> Rasipuram --> Salem --> Yecaud ghat road. (sufficient sign boards are present)

Was a non-stop uneventful drive and we tanked up at Salem & grabbed a bite. We were charged Rs 20/- as an entry fee to yercaud.

We chose yercaud for sunday evening as it was a weekend ending period and most traffic would be heading downhill, but we were wrong, There was almost 70% traffic going uphill towards yercaud. Had booked GRT Nature trails, as I got a good deal, with breakfast.

Check in was super smooth and the room was super clean. Well, it is a star hotel, so it was on par with what they claim. I was tired after the long drive (with traffic), so decided to stay back at the hotel itself and explore. The hotel / resort is huge with lots of facilities for kids and adults. There was some kind of a DJ arranged, who was conducting some games. WE participated in that. The next game was Housie / Thambola with each ticket priced @ 50/ - . We skipped that game and decided to explore the Sky walk and the terrace. View of Salem and Rasipuram from the top was breathtaking. The sky walk should be experienced in the morning and not in the night. We just walked around a bit and explored dinner options. We weren't much keen to have a buffet, so decided to go outside and have something. We stopped at an Annalakshmi veg hotel. We really regretted the decision as food was pathetic. We drove back to GRT and ordered room service and ate. As always - I was very very sleepy and just crashed on bed.

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it was an uneventful night (rather a bit hot) unlike Kallakuruchi. We freshened up, had some room coffee in the coffee maker and headed out to the complementary buffet breakfast. The spread was lavish and nice a.k.a any star hotel.

Last edited by scopriobharath : 3rd October 2015 at 16:37.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 16:42   #4
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Post Breakfast, at around 9:30 we headed towards the boating lake. it was hot, so we decided to come back in the evening for boating. We were charged Rs 30/- for parking, which is purely a rip-off.

We started by visiting the aquarium first. Paid Rs 5/- entry per adult and glimpsed the fishes there. Nothing great to write home about as the maintenance was average, just like any other govt run aquarium. I like fishes and so does my baby son, so we felt paisa wasool. We then visited the garden / park bang opposite the aquarium. there were some birds / animals to look at and a plethora of trees / plants. We spent about 30 mins there and departed towards the "view points" . PAgoda point, Gent's seat, Ladies seat and botanical gardens are at the same location. Pagoda point has a telescope house run by the govt, but it was closed on Monday. We visted the places and it was well maintained (much better than the aquarium). One can buy saplings and take home if needed. I particularly enjoyed the rose garden inside the botanical gardens.

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Old 3rd October 2015, 16:44   #5
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Default re: Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

Our tummies started shouting enough of seeing, feed me some lunch. We decided to head back towards the town. We narrowed down on to Hotel Shevaroys, which was good, when I had been there around 5 years back.

Quick Tip: Please DO NOT use GPS to reach this hotel, as GPS(google maps) is incorrect. We called the hotel and they guided us perfectly. It is on the way to the yercaud bus stand, to the left. The quality has detoriated too much - viz the taste and service was very very bad. That too, we had ordered meals, which at lunch time is a readily available item.

After a bad lunch, leaving a bitter taste in our mouths, we came back to the hotel, took some rest and started again at around 4:30 pm. this time we went to boating and then to the Karadiyur view point.

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Tip: If you opt for the motor boating option, supposedly they were talking only a 6-7 minute boating ride, compared to the 10 min promised ride. Please take care.

We slowly came back to the hotel and spent some time at the hotel, loitering around lazily. For Dinner we explored aimlessly, got lost and finally ended up eating in golden rock restaurant, opposite to the lake. The service and food were excellent. It was much better than the options available outside.

We came back to the hotel, slept and in the morning, after the breakfast, we spent some time at the children's park and the adventure zone. It was good. We packed up at around 11:00 am, checked out and headed towards Chennai.

Route: Yercaud --> Kuppanur (turn right)--> Valasaiyur --> Turn left --> Minnampalli --> Salem-ulundurpet highway --> Ulundurpet --> Turn left --> Villupuram --> Chennai velachery

The drive was uneventful and we reached Chennai at around 8:00 pm, navigating through all the traffic. We really enjoyed the holiday and it was really refreshing, only yo come back to the hustle and bustle of Chennai.`

Last edited by scopriobharath : 3rd October 2015 at 17:00.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 17:01   #6
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Default the Sky Walk bridge at GRT Nature Trails

Skywalk and Adventure park

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Old 5th October 2015, 11:58   #7
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Default re: Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th October 2015, 17:50   #8
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Default re: Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

Thanks for the Travelogue. I somehow missed Kollimalai in all my travel and your travelogue has convinced me it is worth a visit. You said it has 70 hairpin bends on the way to the hill top. I hope you put up one picture to show the hairpin bend and the width of the road.

I find that narrow hairpin bends always pose a problem for wider vehicles eg;Masinagudi in Nilgiris

How much did the resort charge you for the stay ?

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Old 5th October 2015, 19:05   #9
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
Thanks for the Travelogue. I somehow missed Kollimalai in all my travel and your travelogue has convinced me it is worth a visit. You said it has 70 hairpin bends on the way to the hill top. I hope you put up one picture to show the hairpin bend and the width of the road.

I find that narrow hairpin bends always pose a problem for wider vehicles eg;Masinagudi in Nilgiris

How much did the resort charge you for the stay ?

Oh those 70 hairpins are very wide. Two cars / SUVs / Tempo travelers can pass easily. In fact a bus and a car can also pass easily. It is not narrow at all.

I am sorry - I don't have a picture, as I was travelling with my baby son. This is the first time we have taken him to the hills and secondly he was asleep, so we just drove non stop so that he does not vomit (if at all). I could not click any pictures on the way.

Resort charged 2150/- (through travelguru.com) and RS 250/- per person per meal, to be paid directly at the resort (250/- for lunch, 250/- for dinner and 250/- for breakfast) Evening and morning tea/coffee/Milk were complementary. Unfortunately, there is no restaurant to have food. We must have at resort only. As mentioned above, breakfast is pricey but lunch and dinner are VFM. If you are a non-vegetarian, it is an added plus.

Last edited by scopriobharath : 5th October 2015 at 19:06.
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Old 5th October 2015, 19:40   #10
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Default re: Road-trip: Chennai to Kallakurichi, Kolli Malai & Yercaud

Quote:
Originally Posted by scopriobharath View Post
Oh those 70 hairpins are very wide. Two cars / SUVs / Tempo travelers can pass easily. In fact a bus and a car can also pass easily. It is not narrow at all.

Resort charged 2150/- (through travelguru.com) and RS 250/- per person per meal, to be paid directly at the resort (250/- for lunch, 250/- for dinner and 250/- for breakfast) Evening and morning tea/coffee/Milk were complementary.
Thank you Bharath. I could notice that you add lots of details in your travelogue which will prove to be very useful for others.
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Old 9th October 2015, 17:12   #11
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Default Re: the Sky Walk bridge at GRT Nature Trails

Excellent snaps and good narration, Kolli mala has been long on cards.

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My son was amused by the beavers they had in a cage
Don't think we have beavers in India (not seen even in our zoos), it might be some other pet animal, got a snap to share to confirm the identity
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