A mystical cover of mist slowly roves across the valley, and as it moves, a gentle drizzle of rain drops drifts in the air towards you. As you stand in the comfort of your balcony, the magic of the rain mixed with the myriad lights of the valley below transport you to a world so surreal that, doing nothing becomes all what you want to do here. Welcome to Yercaud.
For all the western ghats buffs among us, this idyllic hill station of Yercaud, nestled in the green bosom of the eastern ghats, comes as a surprise. A relaxing 4 hour journey from the maddening crowd of Bangalore lands you in Yercaud. Ideal for a quick weekend visit, Yercaud is one of those hill stations which still remain calm and peaceful, tucked away from the prying eyes of the tourist crowd. Apart from visiting a couple of view points, and boating in the lake, there is nothing much to do, and that is why you actually enjoy the beauty of this place.
The route is simple.
Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Yercaud (230 kms)
Once you reach Salem, you will reach a Y-junction where you will have to choose between going into the city, or continuing on the NH7. Take the road that goes into the city, and reach the five-road junction. Here, take left towards the Sarada-college road. After about 3 kms on this road, you will reach a signal where you should take left to reach Yercaud. There are sufficient sign boards all along to guide. The ascent is gradual and starts around 8 kms from here. The hair-pin bends are manageable if you have previous ghat-driving experience. Also, the roads are butter-smooth throughout the drive. Expect to pay tolls close to Rs.200.
One of the highlights of this drive is the breakfast at Adayar Ananda Bhavan just before you reach Krishnagiri. You can feast on yummy dosa, vada, idly, pongal and filter coffee. But the place is perpetually crowded and you will have to elbow your way through a crowd eager to pounce on the offerings as much as yourself. The food tastes good, and there are not too many good alternatives to this place. A2B also serves packeted snacks that you can carry and much along on your drive.
My enjoyable experience in Yercaud was also due to my place of stay. I chose GRT Nature Trails, a wonderful boutique hotel overlooking the Shevaroy hills. The hotel itself is perched on the slopes of the hill, and the view from here is spellbounding. The view is also available from the rooms. The rooms are super-comfortable and provided with 3-star facilities. One highlight is, they have a good collection of movie DVDs (English, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu) and books – ideal for anyone who just want to laze around in the room. The hotel property itself is tastefully done, and has a ‘Skywalk’ on the roof. This is a glass-floored walkway, some 100 feet above the valley below. At night, the whole of Salem town comes alive with lights, and it is a treat to watch. So, even if you do not stay here, it is worth visiting the roof-top restaurant to get a spectacular view in the evening.
There are other good accommodation in Yercaud as well. Check out hotel reviews on TripAdvisor. Hotel Shevaroys is an option I found pleasant and affordable.
Coming to food, we had our lunch at the GRT hotel’s restaurant. It was a buffet with a decent spread. The best part was the Tamil dishes on the spread – vazhaikai poriyal, karunai kizhangu varuval, poondu meen kulambu, and many other similar stuff. I and my wife relished the food quite well. The desserts were yummy and there was a lot of variety to choose from. The restaurant itself is quite comfortable and located at the highest point in the hotel, overlooking the valley.
A small lake in the center of the town attracts tourists. We chose a pedal boat, and pedalled as much as we could. The boat was too small for my size, and I had to really struggle to fold my legs and pedal. Choosing an oar-boat will be a better option – it comes with a boatman. Around the lake, don’t miss sampling the hot bhajjis. We also had bhel puri, but it was not much impressive. Adjacent to the lake, there is a deer park. It houses some animals in enclosures, and is ideal for a small walk around. My wife, especially, enjoyed the swings put up in the park.
There are a couple of view points – Ladies’ seat, Gents’ seat, Children’s seat and Pagoda point. There is a Servarayan temple, and a rose garden as well. These are your typical tourist spots, and can be covered in the morning. It shouldn’t take more that 3 hours to see all of them. The drive up to these view points and the winding routes are much enjoyable than the destination itself. Some vendors around these view points sell different varieties of fruits, which would be worth trying out. Monkey menace is omnipresent – so beware!
If you are interested in a bit of descent and climb, you can visit the Killiyur falls. But, expect flowing water only during the monsoons. Also, there is an All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) track near the Grange resort. It would be fun to try this out with a bunch of friends.
Despite all these, as I had mentioned before, spending a night here, and lazing around doing nothing much is the ideal way one should enjoy Yercaud. Some blogs claim that a day trip to this place is sufficient. My take is, you gain nothing in a day trip. Spend a night and relax in the hills; enjoy the sun rise and the sunset; boat in the lake; have a cozy dinner with your partner; take a small walk – eat hot bhajjis; wake up in the morning – drive around to the view points; have a pleasant drive back to Bangalore. This is how I would recommend spending a weekend in Yercaud.
We were done with our stay in Yercaud by noon on Sunday. I and my wife decided to take a detour to Hogenakkal falls near Dharmapuri on our way back. That was an interesting experience as well – but to talk about in another post. This is the route we took on our way back.
Yercaud – Salem – Omalur – Mecheri – Pennagaram – Hogenakkal
Hogenakkal – Pennagaram – Palakodu – Rayakottai – Hosur – Bangalore
I liked this route better because of the greenery, variety in terrain and small villages that come in between. In contrast, the spectacularly laid NH7 is a bit monotonous and boring. So, it could be a good option to make this detour while driving back.
In short, Yercaud is definitely a worthy break for a weekend visit from Bangalore.