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Old 1st July 2008, 19:06   #1
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Smile Bangalore to Injiparai (Heaven on Earth), ~450 kms via NH 209

We planned to celebrate Our First Wedding Anniversary by lazing out on the beaches of Langkawi.
But for our Investment, which swallowed huge number of Vitamin 'M' in the recent months... leaving us to consider options in South India. We chose Injiparai.

Injiparai:
--------
Injiparai is famous for the ~5000 acres of tea estates, owned by Stanmore Group (formerly owned by HLL).

Injiparai Bungalow is situated at about 9kms from Valparai offering fantastic view of the Tea-estates, Tea-factories and backed-up by a wonderful river flowing just behind the bungalow.

Why Injiparai:
-------------
1) Last year at about the same time, I asked Sam suggestions for places of interest for trip after marriage.
Never heeded to much of Sam's suggestion last year. This year, remembered the Yeti and took a plunge down a road least travelled (not the road literally).

2) After reading many TBhpians travelouges on Valparai, especially Kerala TBhp meet, decided that Valparai and surroundings are the best place for a family vacation.


Route Taken:
-------------
Bangalore - Kanakapura - Kollegal - Malavalli - ChamrajNagar - Dhimbam - Bannari - Sathyamangalam - Annur - Coimbatore - Pollachi - Valparai - Injiparai.

Road Conditions:
----------------
The entire stretch is two-way, with no medians, expect lot of Truck and Pick-up vehicles.

Until Kanakapura:
- NH 209 is ok with lots of pot-holes, some very bad ones that could cause damage if driven over 20kph.
- Max speed possible - 100kph at isolated stretches.

Until Kollegal:
- Roads in pot-holes, cant say any better.

Until Malavalli:
- Kollegal to Malavalli, a stretch of about 3-4 kms are very bad, with the right side blocked completely.
- Roads are good until You cross Shivanasamudra.
- Roads are pathetic in and around villages with numerous, unmarked speedbreakers.

Until ChamrajNajar:
- Roads are good, with isolated stretches being very poor.

Until Dhimbam:
- Lots of pot-holes before, in and after Talakad.
- Excellent winding roads inside forest (Bilimuri Sanctuary).
- Can easily hit 3 digit speeds.
- Ghat roads with fabulous view after Dhimbam checkpost.
- Mist spreads very rapidly at this monsoon season (June till Sep), offering less than 5 mtr visibility.
- Has around 16 hair-pin bends, none extreme but be very cautious.
- A couple of stretches have only holes for roads, be extremely cautious if You are exceeding > 80kph speeds.
- Pot-holes are being reworked upon in certain hair-pin bends.
- KA and TN borders are in this ghat section, and TN side roads are Fantastic.

Until Kovai via Bannari, Sathy and Annur:
- TN side roads are much wider, lane marked, fabulous and winding, no issues at all.
- Expect idiots overtaking on the wrong side at curves,
(encountered these species lot of times on the way back to Bangalore, saw a truck fall off a small bridge near an Arts college on this stretch, for avoiding an idiot)
- Expect traffic at a small bridge crossing near Sathy and near market-places.

At Kovai:
- Sathy road is infected with traffic, with diversions and one-ways making it a hell.
- Avoid going inside town if You could find an alternate.
(Another TBhpian, think 'CSentil', has given an alternate in one of his drives, i missed it and paid the price).

Until Pollachi:
- Excellent roads, with unmarked blockades near almost all villages.

Until Valparai:
- Excellent roads, but good enough for only one vehicle.
- Up and Down on the same roads, be very cautious.
- 40 hair-pin bends are a breeze, offering fantabulous views of the Aliyar Dam, Cliffs, Water-Falls and Tea-Estates.
- Bus and Truck drivers are very friendly (usually) if You are overtaking them.
- Expect stares from two-wheeled, fast paced ninjas always appearing on the wrong side of the road.
- Oncoming bus and truck drivers are a menace, always make You endup on the rocky side of the roads.
- Be very cautious at KavarKal, 1500ft high on the hills, rapid Mist spreading zone.
- Fantastic view of the Tea-Estates.
- Lots of private roads, easy to get lost - Locals are very helpful in guiding.
- Be very careful not to hit monkeys of the Lion-tailed type, they are endangered and protected,
(being even on the innocent side of the incident can become ugly with forest officials, good for the animals)

Until Injiparai, 9 kms off Valparai:
- Excellent Roads, Fantabulous Views.


(To be continued...)
Bangalore to Injiparai (Heaven on Earth), ~450 kms via NH 209-valparai_drive_1.jpg
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Old 1st July 2008, 19:10   #2
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Wonder why you took the abovementioned route?
Why didn't you take the Hosur- Dharmapuri-Bhavani-Coimbatore route which is much better?
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Old 1st July 2008, 19:20   #3
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Hmm, langkawi se injiparai - life's like that only man.
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Old 1st July 2008, 20:20   #4
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Interesting! Never heard of this place. Looking forward to the next part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeep View Post
Wonder why you took the abovementioned route?
Why didn't you take the Hosur- Dharmapuri-Bhavani-Coimbatore route which is much better?
Same question, especially when Rocky said that the road thru Kanakapura was bad!
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Old 1st July 2008, 21:20   #5
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That's because its supposed to be the shortest route to Coimbatore from Bangalore. If you check out mapmyindia that's the route that's marked as the shortest and it is supposed to be a NH also.

Only a good SUV is to be used for this route according to some people I know who have used this route.

Actually one can take Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangud - Chamrajnagar - Thimbam - Sathy - Cbe.

You mean the lion tailed macaques? They are an endangered species and hence the care, which is great to know !! Did you see them? Awesome, as they are quite rare and not easy to spot.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 10:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Hmm, langkawi se injiparai - life's like that only man.
Yes, Lifes like that, post marriage especially

@Jeep and HappyWheels,
Well I never wanted to take the dull Hosur road, wanted an exciting drive.
When we reached Dhimbam, We knew it was worth the painful drive.

@CSentil,
Yes, the lovely lion tailed macaques. We saw a dozen of them on road, guarded by two forest dept folks who cautioned every vehicle on the road to be very slow.

Thanks Guys. The tight schedule at office leaves me very little time to pen, shall keep updating though.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 11:36   #7
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Valpari is a very beautiful and silent place. I feel TN Govt should promote this place a lot.
Some spots were better than Munnar. Drive from Pollachi to Valapari has so much to offer. Also this place is yet to be exploited like Munnar.
I am sure this can be one good destination for couples if there are good hotels for stay.
I enjoyed my 4 days stay here much more than my trips to any other destination in South India.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 13:00   #8
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Valpaarai is not yet commercialised to encourage tourists. I mean things like accomodation and guide operated tours and stuff like that.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 13:31   #9
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@Rocky. More details please -- especially lodging/boarding with costs. I had promised my wifey a vacation to the far east but looks like it will be within 500 Kms radius of Bangalore this year. :-).
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Old 2nd July 2008, 16:38   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
@Rocky. More details please -- especially lodging/boarding with costs. I had promised my wifey a vacation to the far east but looks like it will be within 500 Kms radius of Bangalore this year. :-).
You do not have choice of hotels in Valpari. In 2004 there were only few lodges. That is the major disadvantage of Valparai. But the roads to and around is good.
Someone who has gone there most recently can give you update about stay and hotels.
If you are going with family, Munnar may be better choice. Valpari and Munnar are east and west of same mountain range and offer similar views.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 16:46   #11
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@sj,
AFAIK, not having many hotels/lodges is the best part of Valparai.
I hope it doesnt go the Ooty/Kodai way inviting numerous tourists only for the beauty to be spoilt.

@Khan,
Sending You a PM.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 16:48   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sj_koova View Post
You do not have choice of hotels in Valpari. In 2004 there were only few lodges. That is the major disadvantage of Valparai. But the roads to and around is good.
Someone who has gone there most recently can give you update about stay and hotels.
If you are going with family, Munnar may be better choice. Valpari and Munnar are east and west of same mountain range and offer similar views.
Contact speedzak - there are tea estates around Valparai that provide good homestay options and then there's some kind of Club which has 4 guestrooms as well. Zak has the numbers for a couple of them.

The only hotel in Valparai is called Green Valley or something like that and is very extremely basic - its more like a resting place for travellers.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 16:48   #13
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Rocky you can't keep us waiting like this man. Please update maadi
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Old 2nd July 2008, 17:23   #14
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Nice description and only one pic? Do post them man. Waiting for rest of your travelogue with pics of course.
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Old 2nd July 2008, 17:59   #15
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Default Day 1 - Long Post

Day 1: 27th June, 2008.
We started early to bypass the maddening Bangalore traffic and reached Talakad section at around 9:30AM. At Shivanasamudra section, I misjudged a speedbreaker and hit SwiftDy's underbody twice, no damage done, however the worse was yet to come.

Just ahead of the Talakad entrance on the NH209, a maddening truck from the opposite direction injected me onto a pot-hole. A pot-hole I thought, and carried some speed (<30kph) into it completely midjudging the depth of the pot-hole until I heard the big thud from the front left. Expecting the worst, stopped the vehicle and surprisingly found no abnormalities, the tyre, alloys seemed to hold up. Suspecting the damage the suspension would have took, drove cautiously only to be balled over by the way SwiftDy handled, no damage done. Very Good.
+5 for SwiftDy.

Sporting the widest grin in recent times, I started pushing SwiftDy to the Dhimbam ghat section. The KA-TN borders meet at this section and to no surprise the TN side roads were fantastic with precision lane markings and almost perfect roads. ~20 minutes passed and We were staring at the 16th hair-pin bend completely ceded to the Mist. Thats when We realised that the scene we were living through was worth the bad roads taken.

We stopped at a cliff point to enjoy the view, the excitement cannot be described in words, (little did we realise that the best was yet to come). There was hardly 5-10 mtr visibility with trucks literally crawling in the opposite direction, we surpassed the ghat section enjoying every second of the drive. Soon enough We were at Bannari, with a brief stop at the Bannari Amman Kovil, the drive continued on the Sathy road. We reached Coimbatore soon and was stunned by the traffic situation. One-ways, diversions, pathetic policing, maniacs all pointed to one thing and one thing only - Cautious Drive.

We missed couple of turns, courtesy misdirections from locals but finally managed to take the correct road to Pollachi, courtesy respectful bus conductors. +1 for these guys. The rest of the drive included various pit-stops for various replenishings including fuel. Not surprised that SwiftDy returned 20.9kpl despite the unsaid road conditions. Another +5 for SwiftDy.

Soon enough We stopped to buy entry tickets to Valpaarai with the forest ranger enquiring the purpose of visit. "I am here to smuggle oodles of Ganja from here" were plonked immediately by the devil inside but the soul took control with the mouth saying "Good Evening Sir, We are tourists from Bangalore". Least expected were the words we heard from the ranger, "You have a Good Stay". We stopped for a brief time at Monkey Falls only for the animal to strip off SwiftDy's headlamp cushion strip. Little damage, put it back in place and drove on (had Fevicol for these chomps but never applied it).

The roads to Valparai were excellent considering the ghat sections and monsoons, offering fantabulous views of the Alyar Dam and Ghats. When we started from MonkeyFalls, the sun was shining with occasional rain clouds pondering over the sky. We were astonished and amazed by the view of the cliffs and numerous waterfalls that we failed to keep an eye on the weather conditions. In a matter of minutes the sunshine receded for gloom to take-over as we were watching the mist advance slowly on the roads above.

Taking the 40 hair-pin bends was a breeze, SwiftDy responded amazingly except for a couple of human errors when I had to shift to 1st gear to climb the incline. All of a sudden there was a yelling, took a while to realise that it was me shouting in awe, excitement and happiness. After some encouraging (controlling) words (and hands) from Wifey, the drive continued with mute squalls. We were welcomed by tea estates extending beyond horizon, spate of waterfalls that seem a plenty, the lovely Mist accompanied by Drizzle, kids returning from schools, workers exhausted after plucking tea and suffering leaches and wet yet good roads.

We stopped at a place where there was absolutely no visibility, with rain seemingly intent on halting every road user. After a brief stop at the temple there and a Hot Tea from the only shop, found out that the place stands tall at 1500ft above sea level edging Valparai by a massive 200ft. Such a warm (cold actually) welcome to "KavarKal", the rapid mist spreading zone. I was IMPressed. We continued the drive in search of our destination.

We were informed in Pollachi by the contact person that his mobile might not be reachable in Valparai and that the landline number he then gave would be the only respite. There were no surprises, our mobiles were in flight-mode in Valparai - no rechability whatsoever. The excitement was drubbed with anxiety when the locals informed that there were three such bungalows, all in different directions. No mobiles, No PCOs in sight, a very tired family, the time ticking beyond 5PM and lost for accurate information..., We somehow managed to drive through one of the Stanmore Estates to find the Estate Administrative Office.

We were given accurate information, induing us to reach the destination by 5:30 PM.
Welcome to "Stanmore Bungalows - Injiparai Tea Estates"

(To be continued...)
Bangalore to Injiparai (Heaven on Earth), ~450 kms via NH 209-valparai_drive_4.jpg
I remembered little in the hurry on the previous day to cast the camera batteries to electricity, hence less number of pictures.

Last edited by Rocky_Balboa : 2nd July 2008 at 18:10.
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