Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tourism      Hill Stations      Tamil Nadu     Coimbatore    


Place : Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu
Altitude : 1200 to 1600m above mean sea level
Temperature : 0-30°C (Summer 15-25°C, winter 0-10°C)
Significance : One of the unpolluted and beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu.
Best Season : September to May
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Known for several tea estates and plantations, Valparai is a hill station in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. It is a tiny hill station, yet to be over-developed like many hill stations in Tamil Nadu like Oooty, Kodaikanal etc.

It it is located 3,500 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai Hills, a mountain range on the Western Ghats. It is about 95 km away from Coimbatore, 64 kms from Pollachi and about 33 kilometres from Chalakudy.

The tea estates, dams, view points, cool climate and plenty of nature walks make Valparai an apt place for a hassle free vacation. It is also a favourite destination for wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, photographers and naturalists. Indira Gandhi Wild Life Sanctuary, Monkey falls and Aliyar Dam are on the way to Valparai.

Valparai receives the highest rainfall during the monsoon season. Chinnakallar, in Valparai receives the second highest rainfall in India next to Cherrapunji. There is a falls in Chinnakallar and it is situated 15 kms from Valparai.

Valparai's history dates back to 1846, when Mr. Ramasamy Mudaliyar started coffee plantation in his private estate. Afterwards, in 1864, the Karnatic Coffee Company coffee acquired estates from the Government of Madras and started a coffee plantation in Valparai. But they sold some part of their land. In 1875, the roads and guest houses were built by soldiers for the visit of England's Prince of Wales. But, the visit was eventually cancelled. In 1890 W Wintil and Nordan bought a huge portion of land in Valparai from Madras State Government. Wintil assisted by a great planter from UK, Carwer Marsh, planted tea and coffee in Valparai by deforesting the area. Carwer Marsh built a friendly relationship with the local people here. He was later known as The Father of Anamalais. A statue of Carwer Marsh sent by his wife from UK has been erected Kavarkal Estate on Valparai- Pollachi Road.

Now, Valparai's major portions of the land is owned by private tea companies like Wood Briar, TATA, BPTC, Parry Agro etc. The Valparai people are mainly plantation workers who live within the tea, coffee and cinchona plantations.

There are around 41 steep, hairpin bends after Pollachi, starting from the Aliyar Dam to reach Valparai. Due to this reason, it is a favorite for motorcyclists and driving enthusiasts. On the way, one can enjoy the beautiful views of the Aliyar Dam, greenery of the hills around.

Since, Valparai, gets rain most of the year, it has some of the biggest dams in the country. Most of these dams are surrounded by tea gardens which makes a very scenic. The Sholayar Dam (20 kms from Valparai and 27 kilometres towards Chalakudy), Nirar Dam (7 kms from town bus stand) and Aliyar Dam (30 kilometres towards Pollachi) are the best and are a must-see. The view of Aliyar Dam from the top of the hairpin bends is a must see.

To promote tourism in Valparai, Valparai Tourism Development Council and Valparai Taluk Merchant Association joined hands with the Sports Aviation Association in Chennai to bring adventure sports to this region.

The Valparai town is surrounded by the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve making it a haven to sight wildlife of all kinds. The tea plantations are surrounded by evergreen forest and Elephants, leopards, tigers, boars, lion-tailed macaques, gaur, Nilgiri Tahr, spotted deer, sambar, and Giant Squirrels are quite commonly seen in the summers. The drive to the town from Pollachi passes through the sanctuary, one can see these animals.

But, if one wishes to spot wild animals during all times of the year, then the place to visit is Pudhuthotam Tea Estate, about 4 kms from Valparai town. It is here that the Indian Gaur can be seen grazing in huge herds and it is here that one can spot the extremely endangered Lion Tailed Macaque playing in healthy numbers.

Valparai is also great for birders. The Great Hornbill, the Malabar Pied Hornbill and the Grey Malabar Hornbill are regularly seen here. A lot of other birds endemic to the Western Ghats are also spotted here throughout the year. Top Slip inside Anaimalai Tiger Reserve and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve are also pretty close by for those who want jungle experience.

Balaji Temple (10 kms from Valparai), Sidi Vinayak Temple, Aliyar park, a leisure place to enjoy the natural scenery of Aliyar dam, Monkey Falls (Chinna Kuttralam) near Aliyar Park, Annai Velankani Church (10kms) are some of the other sightseeing places near Valparai. Valparai is also blessed with many view points some of them are Number Parai View Points, Aadamparai – Dam and Nallamudi Poonjolai View Points (12kms). From Nallamudi Poonjolaione can see waterfalls fall into the gorge below from the neighbouring state of Kerala.

In addition to sightseeing, travellers can also go for trekking and can also make a visit to the tea estates.