Yercaud - Jewel of the South1:25:00 PM
I have lived in Chennai for almost 7 years. Over the years, I have been to Ooty, Kodaikanal and Yelagiri, but never got the chance to visit Yercaud. So when God provided me with such a beautiful offer, I couldn't resist it and was immediately 'in' for the trip.
Day 1, 11th Sept 2010: And again, this was a road trip, so we started early in the morning at 8am from Nungambakkam, Chennai. This time again we were ten friends, though there were a few addition and deletion to the previous list. After breakfast in the van and few rounds of antakshari, we reached Vellore through NH 4 at around 11am. There we had another round of proper breakfast. Once done, we headed towards Yercaud without any further delay.
As we started our ascend up the hill, we noticed a milestone which indicated that there are 20 hairpin bends on the way to the hill town. As we were going up, we felt the temperature change from warm to cool and then once we reached the hill top, it was pretty chilly. The road to Yercaud had cofee plantations on both sides. On the way, we made a stop at GRT Nature Trails. The next day was Aman's birthday, so some of us went to get a cake from the hotel's dessert shop. The rest of us, which included me as well, enjoyed the scenic beauty around and took snaps on the glass bridge at the hotel, which overlooked a deep valley.
We reached Yercaud at 2.30 p.m. and proceeded to have lunch at Hotel Shevaroy. All of us liked the place so much that we booked four cottages there immediately after lunch. We spent some time freshening up and putting on warm clothes. Once everyone was ready, we decided to check some nearby view points.
It took us some time to reach a point from where we had to proceed on-foot to reach the Lady's Seat. The view from Lady's Seat was picturesque. It seems an English Lady of yester years spent her evenings viewing the magnificent panorama from the point. We could see the winding ghat roads, through which we had reached Yercaud and the green forests and hills all around.
But we witnessed the real beauty once the sun started to set, as the lights from the houses in Salem lit up. It looked like thousands of dotted lights were floating way down in the valley. It reminded me of a 'Rab ne bana di jodi' scene, where Raj(Shahrukh) and Tani(Anushka) face the lighted Amritsar at night from a similar view point. It was so painfully beautiful, that it made me sad and stunned for a moment. I broke away from the group and took some snaps from the telescopic tower. I stood there for few more minutes alone, feeling the cold breeze and viewing the sheer beauty of the night.
While walking back towards our van, we had a bit of misadventure on the dark and deserted road as some of us took a wrong turn and got separated from the group. It was not before long that everyone reached the van. Back at the hotel, everyone decided to visit Gent's Seat (another view point), whereas I decided to stay back and take a walk around the beautiful cottages, while I waited for them to return. The day ended with Aman's birthday celebration at midnight, after which everyone decided to tug into the blankets.
Day 2, 12th Sept 2010: It took me every ounce of my willpower to step out of the blanket and get ready. Well why not? You don't get to have such cozy 'under-the-blanket' sleep in Chennai. We started with a walk around the coffee plantation inside the hotel compound. They have a pathway that takes you around the plantation. It was a first time experience for me... Walking through a plantation with tall trees all around... (I am not counting the Tea gardens I have been to in Assam)... We had to be careful as it was quite slippery. It was a walk to remember as one can imagine how colorful the place was, from the picture.
After that, we checked out from the hotel and headed towards the Yercaud lake. We saw a funny advertisement on the way to the lake, which said "Donate Blood : 9 million mosquitoes can't be wrong". Once there, we decided to go for boating. The boat-trip round the lake was pleasant, though nothing special as almost every hill station has a lake and boat rides. One which I really enjoyed once was the Shikara ride on Kodai Lake.
After boating, we had a debate whether to visit the Kiliyur Falls or not. We were lucky that we came to a positive decision and decided to visit the falls, as it was the best part of the Yercaud trip. The road to the falls was narrow. At one point our driver declared that we will have to walk from here onwards. The road that we followed went downhill and was a tar road in good condition. It was after few meters that we noticed a board that pointed to a direction saying 'waterfalls'. It was pointing in a direction where there was no road at all, instead we saw a rough, steep and extremely narrow trekking path, where only one person can tread at a time. Two backed out immediately and the rest of us continued on that track, holding on to tree roots and branches. We thanked God that it had not rained, otherwise the tracks would have been slippery too. It was getting steeper and scarier, as we went down and down. One wrong step and we would be dead ducks, rolling down the deep valley.
It took us 30 minutes to reach the waterfall. And man! It was worth the effort. It was a stupendous sight to see. There were already some people down here, who were taking bath in the water of the falls. We rested there for another 30 minutes, while the boys climbed up the rocks beside the falls.
After we were finished with clicking pictures, we gathered the courage to climb back up the track. We were panting as we went up with much more difficulty. We met a couple with a child towards the end of our trek and advised them that though the trek is worth the shot, its extremely dangerous to take kids along. The trek to the falls is not just for hardcore trekkers as it is mentioned on various sites(we had first time trekkers with us too), but you do require a lot of stamina and it would be my personal advice - not to take kids and elderly for this trek.
After this adventurous trek, the Yercaud trip came to an end as we hit the downhill road. We made one last stop at a dhabba in Salem outskirts. The worst part of the trip began from here as our driver decided to take a "short-cut", through which it took us nearly 12 hours to return back to Chennai.