Nestled in the Anaimalai hills, Valparai may not resonate the popularity of Munnar or Ooty despite being laced with beautiful tea gardens. Though slowly catching up on the travel circuit, being fairly unexplored remains this tea town’s charm. Located near the forests of Sholayar and at a height of more than 3500 feet above sea level, Valparai has a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
Though the hill town does not boast of a long list of things to do or attractions to visit, the 40 hair pin bend road from Pollachi to Valparai is a beautiful ride with magnificent vistas all through. The sprawling Aliyar dam shows up as soon as you enter the Anaimalai reserve. Monkey falls, just off the ghat road is a popular one and gets its name from the numerous bonnet macaques which can be spotted here. Cascading over boulders, the falls is a nice place to take a shower. As the rule goes, all waterfalls are best enjoyed during monsoon or post monsoon. Further ahead, Tiger valley offers panoramic views of the thick canopy, expansive valley and looming hills in the background.
The views get better as the road winds up and Loam’s view point (hair pin bend 9) offers a stunning aerial view of the magnificent Aliyar dam and the plains below. The blue waters and the brown dry landscape form a beautiful frame. Hair pin bends further until no. 14 offer nice views of the dam and the winding road. The views go off shortly after that with shola forests popping up intermittently. The road serpentines its way past tall trees with shrouded canopy and is a delightful road to ride through. Closer to hair pin bend 30, tea gardens pop up without a cue as beautiful frames replace one another.
A very small town with one major road that is lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and churches, the winding road past tea estates take you to Valparai’s attractions. The spread out tea gardens over the rolling hills of Valparai form a surreal frame. Head out in any direction and the road meanders past the numerous plantations which are a sight to behold. Valparai is also known for its avian fauna such as egrets and storks which can be easily spotted fluttering around. The hill station is also home to lion tailed macaques which are not commonly seen elsewhere like other macaques. Puthuthottam forest stretch near the town is where they can be easily spotted, happily gazing at the vehicles passing by. Two designated people cycle around the region carrying placards- ‘Go Slow, Lion Tailed Macaque Area’.
Nallamudi Punjolai is probably the most popular attraction in Valparai. Located a short drive away from the town, this vantage point inside a tea plantation offers vistas of Italiyar falls, tribal settlements in the valley and the majestic hills in the background. The walk through the gorgeous tea gardens is a nice experience. If lucky, you could also spot a few bisons strolling through the estate.
The road further leads to Sholayar dam, going past more plantations and vistas. An expansive dam, it offers nice views of the surroundings from the top and is the second deepest dam in Asia. However, the water levels can be quite low after the monsoons. Nirar dam is another attraction near Valparai, however, the region is frequented by elephants and remains shut during those days. A short ride away from the town is Chinnakallar known to receive heavy rains. It is also popular for its dense forests and a ride through them is definitely recommended.
Valparai is where you don’t have to tick off places to visit. Instead, you can joyfully ride through its plantations, enjoy the wonderful vistas, soak in the aroma of tea, frame the macaques, stroll through its roads, eat off the street and wash it down with a cup of hot tea.
Anaimalai hills, Coimbatore district.
Nearest town- Pollachi (65 Kms)
Closest rail head and airport : Coimbatore (105 Kms)
Frequent buses ply from Pollachit to Valparai. There are also buses from Coimbatore to Valaparai.
- Have minimal expectations, this is not your run of the mill hill station with a long list of places to visit.
- Check if visitors are allowed to visit places such as Nirar dam and Chinnakallar beforehand.
Food and Accommodation:
There are small restaurants on the main road with limited options to choose from. Valparai has quite a few budget, mid range hotels and home stays around the town. I stayed at Hotel Holiday Break, a good mid range hotel with all basic facilities. If you would like to have a stay amidst tea plantations, Monica Garden Bungalow, Sinnadorai Bungalow and Stanmore Garden Bungalow are well recommended.