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Old 29th November 2022, 14:41   #1
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My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Prologue



Its been quite a while since our last trip (My Travel Diary: Exploring Udhagamandalam, Queen of Hill Stations and Western Ghats) and the itch to travel again has been growing steadily. Yercaud was next in our "Travel List 2022", but the plans kept getting postponed for some reason or the other. Finally the plan came to fruition on 25/11/2022.

Yercaud is often called Poor Man's Ooty. A scaled-down, less commercialized, less congested version of the popular hill town. The nickname might sound demeaning, but I've been told that Yercaud is what Ooty used to be a few decades back. This pretty hill station is location on the Shevaroy/ Servarayan hills of the Eastern Ghats, which is why some people also call it the King of Eastern Ghats. Located at a far lower altitude than Ooty (1600m vs 2200m), its far less crowded as well. Yercaud is sometimes bashed on travel blogs for not being as beautiful as her cousins like Ooty, Kodaikanal or Munnar. One "Travel Vlogger" was lamenting the fact that she couldn't get a single "Insta-Worthy" pic at the end of her one day trip!

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This is where Team-BHP came in for me. There are several travelogues here such as this (Wanderlust Traveler: Bangalore to Yercaud)and this (Hummerís Travel: A weekend at Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud) and this (Two Dominars and a Street Triple ride to Yercaud)and this (Getting out of the City in a (Honda) City - A day trip to Yercaud) and so many more. One can always get balanced, detailed, non-cringeworthy, non-clickbaitey, properly written travelogues here. Thanks to all the OPs for their beautiful travelogues. All of them helped me immensely in planning this trip.



ROUTE

Yercaud is around 200 kms from Coimbatore, out of which the last 20 kms or so are the ghat section. As per GMaps, its around 175 km to Salem and the estimated time is around 3 hr 15 mins. Which translates to an average speed of around 55 kmph!! As a Keralite, those are mind-boggling numbers!!! From Coimbatore, its NH 544 (old NH 47) all the way to Salem, followed by SH 188 to Yercaud. Total tolls: Rs.215 one way.

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STAY

There are sufficient options for stay in Yercaud for all budget ranges. If booking at home-stays, make sure to call them up to confirm the booking. We booked 2 rooms in NJK Residency. The place is right in the middle of town, and is within walk-able distance from the Lake.

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THE GANG

Our friends Alex and Sheeba joined my wife and I for this trip. “Good company on a journey makes the way seem shorter.” Hats off to you guys for making this such an enjoyable trip, and also for putting up with our eccentricities and weirdness!


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PLACES TO VISIT

The following are the places we planned to visit over the weekend:


1. Yercaud Lake Boating
2. Gents Seat
3. Ladies Seat
4. Lake Park
5. Manjakuttai View Point
6. Nallur Waterfalls
7. Cauvery Peak
8. Karadiyoor View Point
9. Servaraayan Temple
10. Pagoda Point
11. Peeku Park


THE RIDE

Our ride for the trip was my Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI. Now sitting at 49,xxx kms, she'd be hitting the 50k milestone on the way!

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Last edited by GeneralJazz : 5th December 2022 at 10:00.
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Old 30th November 2022, 09:41   #2
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

DAY 01



Our route plan for the day:

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As usual with any trip, we too had a tough time falling asleep the previous night. Still, we managed to get up by around 4:30AM. Alex and Sheeba came to our apartment by around 5:30 AM, and we hit the road by 5:45 AM.

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BREAKFAST

For breakfast, we stopped at Hotel Sree Saravana Bhavan Classic. The hotel is outside Erode, just by the NH. We reached the hotel by 7:10AM, just as our tummies were starting to rumble. The hotel was very clean and well maintained.

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Ordered a combination of pooris, doshas, vadas and some extra strong filter kaapi. Food was very excellent and the interior had a nice ambience.

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After the breakfast and a bio break, we hit the road by 8 AM. It had been a while since I'd driven on TN highways, and I loved every km of it! Beautiful, straight 4 lane roads, with the only annoyance being these slow moving lorries hogging both the lanes. On the plus side, one could manage to overtake them, albeit with some waiting and honking, unlike the section of the NH in KL, where there's a traffic signal every few km. Its a never ending struggle, just to overtake them, only to find them hogging both the lanes at the very next signal!

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A few kms later, the Rapid finally hits the 50k milestone!! It took 9 years to get here!

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By around 8:40 AM, we reached Salem. The NH544 merges into the NH44 and continues along to Krishnagiri. We had to get off the NH and took the SH188 to continue to Yercaud.

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Outside of Salem, this giant board welcomed us to Yercaud!

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CLIMBING THE GHATS

Just a few kms ahead, we reached the 1st hairpin bend towards Yercaud. Each hairpin bend (valavu) has a name. Alex tells me they are named after Tamil historical figures.

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The entry checkpost comes up immediately after the 1st hairpin bend. Entry ticket costs Rs.50.

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There are multiple viewpoints along the way, and we stopped at a few of them. The Rapid is looking pretty pleased with herself, having completed the milestone recently.

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The gang. Fog had started to envelope the area. It was looking so beautiful that we just had to stop for pics.

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The winding roads covered in fog and the blurry headlights of oncoming vehicles cutting through it, made for a very mesmerising sight.

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At the 2nd hairpin bend. The decoration is to commemorate the 44th Chess Olympiad which was concluded a few months ago in Chennai.

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UNNAMED WATERFALL

Immediately after the 3rd hairpin bend, there's a small waterfall by the road. We parked the Rapid on a slightly wide section of the road.

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Its a small and slightly hidden waterfall, very easy to miss unless one is specifically looking for it. Nothing spectacular about it, but the way its hidden, the rocks and the tree near it, and the foggy environment gave it a very mystic feel. Anyone with half decent photography skills can take awesome looking snaps from here.

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Sri Saalaipaarai Muniappan Temple near the 12th hairpin bend. The temple is dedicated to the local deity or Kuladaivam.

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As I mentioned earlier, each of the hairpin is named after a prominent figure in Tamil history. Alex and Sheeba were explaining to us the story behind each of these figures. So lost were we in their stories, that we were quite taken aback when we reached Yercaud town! The awesome roads and the fantastic company made us lose track of time! We reached Yercaud by around 10 AM.

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YERCAUD LAKE

Yercaud Lake boat house was our first stop for the day, both figuratively and literally! Coming from Salem side, there are two roads to the right. The one with the arch in the entrance leads to the boat house, while the other leads to Hotel Tamil Nadu, a TTDC run hotel. The road is quite narrow and there's very limited parking space in front of the boat house. But since we reached quite early, that too on a working day, we were able to get a parking spot right in front. Parking fees Rs. 40.

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Thanks to our timing, there was no queue at the ticket counter. We took tickets for the row boat. Rs.200 for 20 minutes and an additional Rs.200 as a refundable deposit. Motor boats were also available, but we preferred the slow and calm nature of the row boat. The repetitive movement of the oars have a calming hypnotic effect!

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All life-jacket-ed up and ready to go! Since we were quite early, we had to wait for the boat oarsman (is that what the person rowing is called??) to arrive.

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The brightly painted boats floating in the lake had a very wallpaper-ey feel to it.

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The rower (?) took us on a leisurely cruise around the lake. We were thoroughly enjoying the tranquility when the silence was suddenly broken by the loud roar of a motor boat engine. It zoomed past us and we were caught in its wake. All the bouncing around was a bit scary TBH!

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Once the motor boat had zoomed off to the other corner of the lake, we were free to take in the beautiful sights in silence.

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With our allocated 20 mins running out, we returned back to the jetty. The boat house also has a small garden / park and a few snacks stalls. While on our way out, we spotted this Smol Boi all curled up into a furball. Aaaaaawwwws all around!!

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It was around 10:45 AM by the time we came out. Food stalls had opened by then, and we had some yummy masala kadala (peanuts) and raw mangoes.

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OG and the new kid. Call me biased, but the Rapid looks more elegant compared to the Slavia (no offense to the owners!).

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DAY 01 Continued.....

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 30th November 2022 at 22:00.
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Old 30th November 2022, 20:40   #3
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

DAY 01 Continued...




DINNER PLANS


We had planned to have dinner from Sweet Rascal. Its a small restaurant / cafe located on the Lovers Lane, part of the Regent Hill Resort. Here's the thing with this restaurant, food is made as per order. You have to visit the place directly and give them the order, for the next meal. The manager was very friendly and helpful and took our order.

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LADY'S SEAT


Once the dinner plans were taken care of, we headed to the Lady's Seat view point. Its a hill top point overlooking the hairpin bends leading to Yercaud town. Infact, we were able to spot the Lady's Seat on our way to the top. According to a legend, an English woman used to sit here during evening hours to enjoy views of one of the rocks that looked like a seat. The road leading to the point from the town are quite narrow. I guess it would get all clogged up during peak tourist season.

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There's a small parking space near the entrance with a bunch of stalls and the usual shooting / archery games. The only other visitors were a bunch of kids who came in the minivan behind. They seemed to be making some sort of Instagram dance reel.

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It was too foggy to see anything from here. We spent some time enjoying the cool weather.

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We wanted to spend some more time here, but we were literally chased away by the monkeys. They were very aggressive for some reason and kept screaming at us. The viewing tower with the telescope seemed to be closed.

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GENTS SEAT

Gents Seat is another view point, about 0.5 km from Lady's Seat. I believe the area comes under the "Genetic Heritage Garden, Yercaud". We had to take an entry ticket to go in.

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The entry to the view point. Its a short climb to the top. Be careful of insects. We saw several "kambilipoochi" or "choriyanpuzhu" (blanket worm) on the way.

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The view point. It was still too foggy to be able to see anything from here.

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The antennas are part of the Doordarshan Satellite Relay station. There's another viewing hut visible in the pic, but the path leading to it was too overgrown with plants and weeds. We didn't want to risk stepping on any danger noodles.

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After getting off the Gents Seat, we set about exploring the nearby areas, which turned out to be more interesting that the view point itself. At one glance, it looked like a lonely gazebo built for tourists to sit, but on closer inspection, we realized it was actually built to house one ethereal looking statue of a lone woman pointing downward (mid dance pose??). We wondered and speculated as to the treasures that may be buried at this spot!

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The gazebo stood onlooking a steep garden filled with variety of shrubs groomed and looked after (almost). And amidst them, were a series of structures that resembled photo frames, which were used to their maximum to aid us in clicking aesthetic pics.

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LUNCH

By now it was 1 PM and our tummies had started complaining. We drove back into town and headed over to Thambi Prabhakaran Unavagam for lunch. The hotel is named after Velupillai Prabhakaran, with his pictures and emblems hanging inside.

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The place may not be very fancy, but the food was fantastic! We ordered chicken biriyani, mutton roast and fish fry. Loved every single item! Especially the mutton roast, loved the flavour!

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ANNA PARK

With our tummies at 101% capacity, we needed a walk for everything to settle down. We walked over to Anna Park. Its a beautiful park near the lake, within just a few meters from the hotel. Entry ticket is Rs.15 per person.

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A beautiful and well maintained park where one can spend a couple of hours. Being a weekday afternoon, it was almost completely empty.

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We spent an hour or so exploring the park. There's a greenhouse on one side, which houses a wide collection of plants. Besides the greenhouse, there's a nursery with plants for sale. Most saplings are priced Rs.20 or Rs.30, and we bought a whole bunch of them!

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NJK RESIDENCY

It was close to 3 PM by now, and the heavy lunch combined with the early morning drive, was making our eyelids heavy. From the park, we drove straight to our hotel, NJK Residency. Our rooms were on the first floor and the staff helped us with our luggage. The rooms were small but very neat. We hit the bed for an hour or so of shut-eye.

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EVENING TEA


By 5:45 PM, we left for town, in the hunt for some super strong tea. We were still a bit groggy, and the cool weather mandated some hot fluids. Our expectations for a good tea were low, Yercaud being a coffee plantation town and all. While driving through town, we came across this spot, which seemed to be the town square of sorts. Plenty of shops selling home made chocolates, coffee powders, perfumes and other assorted items. We spotted a stall selling tandoori tea, and made a beeline towards it.

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It might not have been the best tea we ever had, but the at that time, we were using superlatives to describe it. The cold weather and the hot tea had us blowing fog from out mouths with each breath. After tea, we spent some time window shopping at the different stalls, working up a hunger in time for our dinner reservation.

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DINNER

We reached the hotel Sweet Rascal by 7 PM for dinner. Its a small and very beautifully set place, surrounded by plants and trees and all manner of foliage. They also have their pet birds and dogs nearby. The ambience was fantastic!

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They have these funny phrases written all over the place!

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Food was truly delicious. We had ordered BBQ Chicken, squid fry, fish tawa fry, mutton roast and egg dosha. Every single item was splendidly yummy, we even ended up ordering another plate of squid fry. We washed down all these tasty dishes with some milkshakes and mocktails.

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BACK TO HOTEL

After the extremely sumptuous dinner, we took one more slow drive around town before making our way back to the hotel. The staff had arranged a small campfire for us in front of the hotel. Spent close to an hour in front of the fire, playing dumb charades and antakshari, till the fire fizzled out. We retired back to our rooms, to end day 1.

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End of Day 01

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Old 1st December 2022, 21:07   #4
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

DAY 02



Our route plan for the day:

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My wife and I woke up early and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Wait, let me rephrase that statement. I woke up early, and then annoyed my wife till she grumpily got up and came with me. The weather was a very pleasant 20įC.

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BREAKFAST

NJK residency doesn't have an in-house kitchen, so the breakfast is provided by a nearby hotel. The staff gave us tokens to be redeemed at the nearby Malar Hotel. Anticipating the long drive along the Loop Road, we started by 8:45 AM.

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The hotel wasn't very clean and the food was mediocre. We didn't eat much and hoped the coffee would sustain us till lunch.

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LOOP ROAD

We started along the loop road in the counter-clockwise direction, since we wanted to visit the Nallur Waterfall early in the day (in case it rained in the afternoon). The narrow, winding Loop Road crosses through forests, coffee plantations and hills with the occasional small towns and villages. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive, while the passengers were equally happy with the view.

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MANJAKUTTAI VIEW POINT

The first view point along the Loop Road is Manjakuttai View Point. The entry to the view point is via a small and narrow road. Its possible to drive upto the point, though the narrow width might cause problems if there is traffic.

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The viewpoint has an elevated platform, a short walk from the parking. The platform is eastward facing, hence making this an excellent sunrise view point.

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We spent about 30 mins here, taking in the beautiful views of the Eastern Ghats. Though not as huge as its Western sibling, the Eastern Ghats has a charm of its own.

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There were a few tea / souvenir stalls by the parking. One of them sold Cinnamon sticks. The aroma was too much to resist and we bought some. By the time we got back to Coimbatore, the whole car smelt of Cinnamon!


Back on the road, we continued along the Loop Road. The road was mostly empty and I had great fun with the Rapid. The remapped 1.6 TDI had me grinning from ear to ear! We passed through some truly beautiful spots and stopped at so many of them for pics!

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Beautiful, beautiful drive!

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NALLUR WATERFALLS

To get to the Nallur waterfalls, we took a right from Vellakadai town. The point shown in GMaps is is actually accurate, but deceptively nondescript. The only indication that there's a point of interest nearby, would be a tiny tea stall. If it weren't for a few cars parked by the road, we too would have missed it.

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Yes, this is the way to the falls. Its about as discrete as it gets. If in doubt, listen closely, you can hear the waterfall. From here, its only around a 10 min hike to the falls.

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Its a narrow, slightly steep path down to the falls. 2-way traffic on some of the more narrower sections gave me nostalgic flashbacks of North KL "highways". With each hop, skip and jump, the sound of flowing water kept getting louder!

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Nallur waterfall was small yet very pretty, which was augmented by the preceding hike! Its a multi level falls, with sufficient water flow to take a bath.

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Do note that there is no place for women to change comfortably. By the time we reached, even though it wasn't crowded, the girls weren't comfortable to get in the water. Plus a few of the men there were very clearly drunk. One guy had a nasty fall, yet wasn't sober enough to realize he had multiple abrasions. At the lower levels, there were a few natural pools and we had our fun sitting with our feet in the cool water. The spray of the water on our faces was very refreshing indeed. After making sure we'd taken the required amount of pics and selfies, we started the climb back to the top.

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CAUVERY PEAK

Our next stop was the Cauvery Peak Coffee Estate, owned by MSP Plantations. The Cauvery Peak Estate has a 100+ year history, dating back to British India.

Quote:
Our story began in the 1920’s when the illustrious MSP family migrated to the Shevaroys from a small, dry, southern town in Tamil Nadu, India. It was then that our forefather, MSP Senthikumar Nadar, started trading in coffee, cardamom and other spices like many others at that time.
Quote:
1867

Cauvery Peak estate assigned to Mr. E. Joachim by the erstwhile British India.

1925

Rao Bahadur Senthikumar Nadar Coffee, Spices merchant from Virudhunagar Purchases First Estate in Devikolam, Kerala.

1936

MSP Nadar travels to Europe to export Raw coffee under the name Hill Tiller & Co.

1937

MSP Nadar purchases Glenfell Estate.

1942

MSP Nadar purchases Thangavilla Bungalow.

1957

Mrs. Thangama Nadar and Mr.MSP Rajes purchase Cauvery Peak Estate and forms MSP Nadar sons to administer the estates

1965

MSP Rajes visits Costa Rica to procure HRC seeds

1975

MSP Plantations formed by Mr.MSP Rajes & Mr.Vijayan Rajes in place of MSP Nadar sons.
Cauvery Peak Estate offers guided tours of their coffee plantation. The cost of the tour is Rs.600 per person, with the key highlight being able to drive our own vehicles through the estate. Tours start at 11 AM and 1 PM. We arrived by around 11:15 PM, but thankfully they were yet to start the tour. We purchased the entry tickets from their cafe (which smelt amazing!)

We got the tickets and made our way back to the car. They have a separate entrance for the tour, and we drove in through that.

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It was a very unique experience for us. We have been to plantations previously, but all of them were in "jeeps". Being able to dive our own vehicle through the thick of the plantation was extremely satisfying! Our guide asked us to drive till a cross road and wait for another vehicle to catch up.

Once there, he gave us a brief history of the plantation, about how it was set up by the British and then taken over by MSP Nadar. We were surrounded by coffee plants with berries of different shades of red.

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After the brief history, we continued forwards along the trail. The path was very motorable and the Rapid had no trouble at all. I let the other car go ahead and took my time enjoying the drive!

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Our first stop was near one of the man made lakes. Our guide, Mr. Arun explained to us that there were several such lakes all over the plantation (7 IIRC). The plantations depended primarily on the monsoons (both SW and NE) for water, and these lakes were critical for water storage.

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We spent some time here taking in the beautiful atmosphere. The cloudy weather made it all the more enjoyable.

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The next stop was actually just a few meters away. The gang walked ahead while I took the car. Just as I was nearing the spot, they started frantically waving at me, asking me to come see something. Whatever, it was, it could wait. First car pic, then nature pic!

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By the time I parked and walked over, I was able to fully grasp what all the fuss was about! The view was breathtaking! The hills and valleys of the Eastern Ghats was a sight to behold!

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Our next was the Wet Processing Station. This is the first step in coffee processing. Its located at a higher elevation, since it requires the processed output to flow down towards the next steps.

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Here, the plucked coffee beans are thoroughly washed and cleaned. During the cleaning process, the ripe fruits sink to the bottom of the tank while the less ripe ones (pea brains, as they called it!) will float to the surface. Our guide tells us that the ones those sink are the "first quality" ones and will be processed separately. The "first quality" products are mainly exported, with only a few domestic customers, one of which was Blue Tokai. MSP estates also sell them through their retail outlets.

The "second quality" ones are separately processed and sold off to local buyers, which includes the most of the instant coffee brands available in the market. Our guide also tells us that different companies add their own scents / ingredients to their instant coffee products, hence we get different smells / flavors for what is essentially the same coffee bean.

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In these machines, the coffee fruits are processed to separate the coffee bean and the rest of the fruit (cherry). The resultant coffee bean is called parchment coffee and is left out to dry for several days.

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The "second quality" coffee cherries, waiting to be processed separately.

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For the next step of the process, we had to go back to the main entrance. There, we went around exploring the garden. They have a very wide variety of plants, surrounding the place in greenery. There are man made streams here and there, linking water catchment areas and the lakes.

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The next step in the process is to remove the husk from the shells. This happens in the Dry Processing Station. Here, the beans are processed to remove the husks before roasting. This process also separates the defective beans.


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The final step of the process is Roasting. Here, the beans are roasted at very specific temperatures for a precise duration. This room smelt heavenly! Our guide was explaining to us, rather enthusiastically, about different levels of roasts and acidity levels and strength, and grind size and so on, but most of that was lost on amateur coffee enthusiasts like us!

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With that, the coffee plantation tour came to a very satisfying end. Though expensive, the experience was totally worth it. By now it was past 1 PM and our tummies were up in arms. The estate had a small cafe and we made a beeline to it.


Day 02 to be continued....

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 5th December 2022 at 18:55.
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Old 3rd December 2022, 20:08   #5
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Day 02 Continued....

LUNCH

For lunch we ordered some sandwiches and samosas, along with a variety of their coffees. The food was decent and the coffee was supreme!

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After lunch, returned to the cafe and bought some coffee powder. They had a variety of combos on offer and we bought some of them. We have a basic coffee machine at home and couldn't wait to try them!

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We spent close to an hour here, simply enjoying the environment, surrounded by all manner of plants and flowers. The sapling you see in the pic are actually coffee. We cheekily asked if they were for sale, sadly they weren't!

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KARADIYOOR VIEW POINT

Our next stop was Karadiyoor view point. Its about 40 mins from Cauvery Peak and we had to take a right turn from the main Loop Road. By now, a modest drizzle had started, making the drive all the more pleasurable.

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This is the entry to the view point. Entry / parking tickets have to be bought from here.

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This is where things start to go downhill, figuratively speaking. The road deteriorated into nothing pretty soon. Mud and rocks and slush. At every turn, I was concerned about getting stuck. There isn't enough room to even make a turn, one would have to reverse all the way back. I was starting to panic a bit when I started to see oncoming vehicles. That was a relief in a way, meaning atleast some of them have made it to the end. I guess we were lucky, the drizzle hadn't made the path a complete slushy mess.

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This is the entrance to the view point. The spot is exceptionally well maintained. Its really annoying that such a pretty place can only be accessed by such a pitiful road. Why cant they take care of that as well?

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There is a viewing platform at the far corner. The footpath leading upto it, and the nearby bushes and plants are very well maintained and groomed. There seemed to be caretakers actively looking after the place!

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The view from the platform. Nettur Dam is visible from here.

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Next to the platform theres a very neat and pretty lawn. All the plants are very well maintained. An excellent setting for photoshoots, we had great fun taking pics in all manner of poses! We had the entire place for ourselves while we were there, resulting in a whole lot of goofy madness!

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It was around 3 PM when we left the spot. We carefully made our way through the treacherous path back to the main road, thankfully not running into oncoming vehicles or scraping the bottom.


KINGSWOOD CAFE

A little ahead on the Loop Road, we stopped at Kingswood Cafe for coffee and snacks. Its just by the road and is located in a very scenic spot.

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The location and the scenery is where the good things end. The service is almost non-existent. It was almost 15 mins before someone came to take our order. And then it took more than 30 mins for just coffee to arrive, which turned out to be pretty awful. We cancelled a couple of items because of the delay.Another item never arrived. Then at the cashier, they neither had change nor were they able to get the card machine working. There was no network coverage, and their wifi sucked big time. None of their card machines were able to connect. After wasting yet more of our time, they took us to another corner of the building where we were able to connect to a different wifi network, which thankfully worked long enough to GPay the amount. What a mess! Come here only for the ambience, not the food.

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ON THE WAY

It was raining heavily by the time we were back on the road. Though the drive through the rain was delightful, we were still a little upset with our experience in the cafe. And then all of a sudden, just in time to lift our spirits, we reached this gorgeous section of the road! The road was lined with these lush, green, thick bushes dotted with stunning yellow flowers!

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There was a small clearing on one side and we parked and quite literally jumped out! The rain too slowed down to a very gentle drizzle.

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We weren't satisfied till we had taken umpteen number of pics in a myriad of poses! There's a sloping rock to the side and we climbed that as well. All previous discontent were out of the window! If not for the rain, which came back with a bang, we'd have stayed there for much longer!

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SERVARAAYANKOVIL / SHEVAROY TEMPLE


Our last stop for the day was the Servaraayan Temple. A temple devoted to Lord Servaraayan, a local deity and goddess Kaveri. Its situated at an altitude of 5326 feet and is the highest point in Yercaud. From the Loop Road, its a short climb to the temple entrance.

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Next to the temple is a large ground. There are plenty of snacks stalls and even an ATV rental here. At the far end, theres a giant wheel, a pirate ship and a couple of other attractions (which TBH didn't look very safe or well maintained).

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Bang in the centre of the ground is the old satellite relay station. Seems to be abandoned now.

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After driving around the ground for a bit, we found a swell spot to park. The ground was fairly dry and crowd was scant.

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Took out our mat and set up a teeny-weeny picnic here. We had taken something something parcel from the cafe, that along with some snacks and drinks made for a very lovely little sunset picnic!

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Done for the day, we drove back to our hotel. The town was slightly more crowded, being a weekend. We reached the hotel by around 5:45 PM and headed straight to bed for some much needed rest.


DINNER

For dinner, we went back to Sweet Rascal. We had given our order the previous day itself and they had all the items ready by the time we got there. They had this adorable little feathery birb inside, who was quite talkative!

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Food was very delectable and we loved every crumb of it. We ordered squid batter fry, prawn fry, chicken BBQ, mutton curry, all of which were extremely tasty.

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After dinner, we went for a leisurely drive around town before heading back to the hotel to retire for the day.

End of Day 02

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 5th December 2022 at 18:58.
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Old 4th December 2022, 13:17   #6
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

DAY 03



Our route plan for the day:

My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South-20221204_12h44_17.jpg


It was the last day of our trip. We planned to cover a couple of places in the morning and leave the town by noon. We finished all our packing in the morning itself and started by around 9 AM.


BREAKFAST

For breakfast, we went to Malar Hotel again. This time the food was absolute trash though. Dosa tasted sour, as if they used old batter. Chutney was taken right out of the fridge, it was cold and there was condensation of the serving bowl. Not one item was appetizing. We only took a few bites and left the place disappointed.


PAGODA POINT

Our first stop was the Pagoda Point, which was just a short drive from the town centre. It was still early and we were able to find parking quite easily.

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The view point consists of a viewing tower and a short walkway. There are plenty of snacks and games stalls everywhere.

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The gang trying their luck with the games, bringing out their inner dormant hunter-gatherer instincts with archery and shooting! Both Alex and Amju turned out to be excellent shots, which was a point of concern for me and Sheeba!

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The view from the top of the tower. A small village can be seen in the distance.

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The rock pyramid, which gives the place its name, can be seen right next to the viewing tower. Its said to have been built by the local tribes long ago.

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PEEKU PARK


Peeku Park the was last item in our Yercaud itinerary. Its a small and attractive bird park close to Pagoda Point. Sufficient parking is available in the front.

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It was around 10:30 AM by the time we reached, and the crowd was only starting to build up. The weather was quite cloudy and cool, making it all the more pleasant. There's a counter near the entrance to purchase entry tickets, which costs Rs.250 per person.

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Inside, there are rows housing a variety of species of fowls, each in their own separate cages. The entire park is very clean and well maintained. They also have a section housing turkeys.

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And now, the crown of the park, the aviary! Its located towards the end, and we walked over to it with much anticipation.

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A large instruction board outside the main door. Please note and follow these instructions. The entrance is surrounded by a small pool of disinfectant to clean the bottom of our shoes, before entering the aviary. The staff also warned us to remove any jewellery and keep then in the pockets.

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The inside of the aviary is split into 3 caged sections, perhaps separating incompatible bird species. The first section housed a small variety of birds. We were allowed to feed them, and they would sit on the plate and eat.

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The second section is where the fun starts. Its the largest of the 3 and the birds can easily fly around inside. Once inside, the staff gave us each a handful of seeds to feed the birds. A few of the more curious once landed on our palms to eat.

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Look at them, eating the seeds with their cute little beaks!

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A few more landed on us. The hungrier ones went straight for the seeds while the more curious ones started pecking around at our heads and ears.

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One of them dive bombed Alex sending him running for cover!

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Sheeba was a little afraid of them first, but soon started having fun!

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Pretty soon it became an all out assault! We were covered in birds, with them pecking and gnawing (albeit very gently, almost ticklishly) at our faces, hair, ears. Some of the more aggressive ones went for watches and earrings. It was truly the most fun we had in a very long time, and easily the best part of our trip. We would shake them off, only for more of them to come land on us! Some of the more adventurous ones started exploring our pockets! It was a very unique experience indeed!

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One of them took an instant dislike towards my screen guard and proceeded to wreck it!

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Birb - 1, Screen guard - 0

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We wanted to spend more time here, but it was starting to get crowded. The staff requested us to move to the third section and we did. The birds here were a lot calmer. They did come to us to eat though.

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Nigel here was pretty silent and didn't care for us. Doesn't seem to be too impressed by all the pretty birds!

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After the aviary, we went back outside to explore the rest of the park. Theres a duck pond, an ostrich pen, a goat pen, pigeon cages, rabbits and hamsters. The staff gave us leaves to feed the rabbits and hamsters. They also let us feed the ostriches, but the way in which they snatched the leaves from us was a wee bit scary TBH!

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Near the exit, there are a row of shops, including a snacks stall, a small nursery and a souvenir shop. We bought some snacks and drinks to pacify our tummies till lunch. By the time we left, by 12 PM, it was significantly crowded. The parking lot was full and the attendants had a tough time managing.


TO SALEM

From here, we went back to the hotel to check out. The town had become very busy, with plenty of traffic. Once at the hotel, we freshened up and quickly checked out. The owner was there at that time, and he apologized profusely for the terrible breakfast, promising to tie up with a different, better restaurant in the future. By 1 PM, we were on the road. The town was pretty congested by now, and it took us several minutes to cross it.

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Once outside of town, crowd thinned considerably, with most of the traffic heading up to Yercaud. After a couple of hairpin bends, the weather became very foggy and it started to drizzle.

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We did run into some traffic a little later. Plenty of rash and careless drivers as well. It was very obvious that many of them only had city driving experience and had no idea how to drive on the hills. Take a look at the way this guy was driving! Several times he caused oncoming vehicles to stop to give way! It was getting very annoying watching him!

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LUNCH

For lunch, we stopped at Nila Soru Restaurant, just outside of Salem town, on the Steel Plant Road. We reached the restaurant by 2:30 PM.

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The restaurant had a nice ambience. The service was quick and the food was pretty good, albeit a tad too spicy, which had us ordering multiple lime sodas!

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BACK TO COIMBATORE

After lunch, we resumed the journey back by around 3:30 PM. Traffic was moderate, but it was very annoying, as well as tiring, having to zig zag in between slow moving lorries occupying both the lanes. By around 4:45 PM, we crossed the Vijayamangalam Toll Plaza and stopped for coffee at a nearby bakery.

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By 5:45 PM, we reached Neelambur and took the diversion to Coimbatore. Finally, by 6:15 PM, we reached home.

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CONCLUSION

Total Distance Traveled: 500 km
Total Fuel Consumed: Approx 32L
Average Fuel Economy: 15 kmpl

And that was it for our Yercaud diaries! Like I always surmise after these entries, here's looking onward to more of these expeditions, especially with the same company, it always is enriching to our souls and therapy to our minds spending time with these guys. And also here's me reminding you, life really would be incomplete if you didn't visit the Peeku park aviary, take it from me!
(Ofcourse, unless you have a crippling ornithophobia...in that case do stay away!)

Untill next time, GeneralJazz signing off!

Last edited by GeneralJazz : 5th December 2022 at 19:05.
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Old 6th December 2022, 09:23   #7
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th December 2022, 12:02   #8
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Awesome travelogue. I have been to Yercaud once and I realise now, that there are several places which can be visited in Yercaud itself. Yercaud is very close to Bangalore and another trip can be surely planned to cover the places elaborated in your thread.

By the way did you the famous Yercaud oil.
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Old 7th December 2022, 16:48   #9
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneralJazz View Post

DAY 02



[We were surrounded by coffee plants with berries of different shades of red.


Day 02 to be continued....
Yercaud is one of the most favorite places of mine as well. I visited it in the summer of 2019. It is one of the few places in India which offers a simple and relaxed way of spending your leisure time: Thankfully it has not yet been commercialized a lot and so you have enough facilities necessary for a happy getaway. In Yercaud, I did not get the feeling of always having to be on guard around touts of all sorts that one encounters at many tourist places. The place felt so laid back.

Thanks a lot for sharing the travelogue, and great to hear that you all enjoyed the trip..
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Old 7th December 2022, 20:13   #10
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Great trip!

So you guys booked a reservation at Sweet Rascal or did you just walk in? Had the privilege of getting our request 'accepted' by the owner and enjoying their meals.

Nice food with an owner who keeps you entertained!
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Old 8th December 2022, 03:16   #11
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Great Trip, It took me back to my college Days


I did my engineering in Salem (1998) and for us it was a heaven for our weekends and we used to go by bike with friends. During one of the rides, it was 1Am in the morning (I was having an Rx100 those days) we encountered a wild Bison which we never came across before and after in Yercaud. It was a narrow escape as it was in the middle of the road during Night, and only visible due to its white socks color pattern on its foot.


From an accommodation point of view, If you are expecting a similar facility as in Ooty or Kodaikanal, Yercaud is not comparable as it’s a small tourist spot. Also, if you are driving from a far place with just Yercaud as the destination, then some of these comments were true if you go with lots of expectation. Home stays and affordable hotels started coming up in the last 8-10 years or so and service was still not up to the mark when I visited in 2015. Back in the late 90’s availability of resorts/home stays were limited and Shevaroys was only a good hotel and was expensive for a lot of us.


There was a bus service named NS (Yellow/Green window frames with unpainted/steel finish body) from Salem to Yercaud (That service is still active) and in 1998, they were using a Tata 1312 TC model which was new at the market. Those days Tamil Nadu was dominated by Ashok Leyland Buses. I specifically used to board that bus since 1312 TC’s had a turbo whistle which is different from other engines of the time.


My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South-salemyercaddec032011-141.jpg


This is a British bungalow on the way to Mt-Fort school at Yercaud and was used as a Post office after independence for some time. Now it's private property.


My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South-salemyercaddec032011-148.jpg


An Old Enfield 200 we saw in Yercaud during one of our trip
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Old 8th December 2022, 12:11   #12
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Awesome Travellogue! Yercaud is one of the more silent and off-beat spots to visit in TN. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of fancy resorts and tourist spots like Kodai/Ooty but is the best place to go if you're looking for relaxed weekend drive.
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Old 8th December 2022, 13:14   #13
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Nicely written GeneralJazz, I could see alltogether a different and more beautiful Yercaud through your lenses.

Thanks for mentioning my travelogue : https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...s-yercaud.html (Hummerís Travel: A weekend at Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud)

Place was so crowded in June when we visited and we couldn't find good restaurants, I am amazed to see the same place in a different avatar during your trip.

We liked the Cauvery Peak drive and Peeku Park the best out of Yercaud. I liked the coffee smell so much inside the shop, happy you mentioned it here, but I think we missed the coffee plantation tour, which seem to be an awesome experience.
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Old 11th December 2022, 21:17   #14
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Beautiful log GeneralJazz - can feel the fun you guys must have had. With so much detail, this will be the go-to reference for anyone visiting Yercaud
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Old 12th December 2022, 12:35   #15
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Re: My Travel Diary: Exploring Yercaud, the Jewel of the South

Quote:
Originally Posted by MDED View Post
Awesome travelogue. I have been to Yercaud once and I realise now, that there are several places which can be visited in Yercaud itself. Yercaud is very close to Bangalore and another trip can be surely planned to cover the places elaborated in your thread.

By the way did you the famous Yercaud oil.
Thank you so much MDED. Do plan another trip to Yercaud! There are still more places to cover in Yercaud. We skipped the famous Kiliyur Waterfalls, our current fitness levels would have made the climb back embarrassing! Unfortunately, we couldn't get the oil. We did ask in a couple of shops, but they only had the usual overpriced "yookaali" (Eucalyptus oil), lemongrass etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GST View Post
Yercaud is one of the most favorite places of mine as well. I visited it in the summer of 2019.
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Thanks a lot for sharing the travelogue, and great to hear that you all enjoyed the trip.
Thanks GST. Yercaud isn't as commercialized as Ooty, or even Kodai, yet. One point of concern here was the amount of plastic waste, especially around the popular touristy points. Nilgiris have a No Plastic policy, Yercaud doesn't. Hope the local administration comes up with a reasonable solution soon.

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Originally Posted by Turbohead View Post
Great trip!

So you guys booked a reservation at Sweet Rascal or did you just walk in? Had the privilege of getting our request 'accepted' by the owner and enjoying their meals.

Nice food with an owner who keeps you entertained!
Thanks Turbohead! We walked in to make a reservation for the next meal!
Loved the food and ambience of the place, and the owner is one chill dude! Plus I believe the place is completely run by women!

Quote:
Originally Posted by arunrajk81 View Post
Great Trip, It took me back to my college Days
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Thanks arunrajk81. The lack of accommodation seems to be a common complaint, though I believe its mainly due to Yercaud being unfairly compared with the highly commercialized Ooty and Kodai.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vignesh207 View Post
Awesome Travellogue! Yercaud is one of the more silent and off-beat spots to visit in TN. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of fancy resorts and tourist spots like Kodai/Ooty but is the best place to go if you're looking for relaxed weekend drive.
Thank you vignesh207. Totally agreed, its a very underrated location and is a perfect location for a relaxed weekend. And I loved the drive from Coimbatore on the beautiful highway!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hummer View Post
Nicely written GeneralJazz, I could see alltogether a different and more beautiful Yercaud through your lenses.

Thanks for mentioning my travelogue : https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...s-yercaud.html (Hummerís Travel: A weekend at Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud)

Place was so crowded in June when we visited and we couldn't find good restaurants, I am amazed to see the same place in a different avatar during your trip.

We liked the Cauvery Peak drive and Peeku Park the best out of Yercaud. I liked the coffee smell so much inside the shop, happy you mentioned it here, but I think we missed the coffee plantation tour, which seem to be an awesome experience.
Thank you hummer. I guess we were able to enjoy more since we went during off-season. Peeku Park was the best part of our trip, and the drive through the Cauvery Estate was fantastic, especially being able to drive our own vehicle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Beautiful log GeneralJazz - can feel the fun you guys must have had. With so much detail, this will be the go-to reference for anyone visiting Yercaud
Thank you so much Praveenji! Really hope this log would be of use to fellow travellers!
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