Yercaud, in Salem District, Tamil Nadu, is a less explored and undiscovered hill station that is located in the Eastern Ghats at an altitude of 1515 meters (4970 ft) above sea level, in the Shevarayan range of hills (anglicized as Shevaroys). The word Yercaud is derived from the Tamil words yeri and kaadu, which mean lake and forest, respectively. With a total area of 382.67 square kilometers, including Servarayan Temple at 1623 meters (5326 feet), the Yercaud Taluk covers 382.67 square kilometers, including reserve forest. A large part of town is situated around Yercaud Lake, and in addition to its picturesque setting, this hill town is also named as Emerald Green Lake. One can explore this quaint hill station's unspoiled beauty, taste some native coffee and eat fresh fruits from its trees such as jackfruit, bananas, and pears. There is a diverse collection of flowering plants blooming all year long in the Botanical Garden, Rose Garden, and Orchidarium. Epitomized as the Jewel of South India, the untouched charm of this lake hill-station and its quaintness, undoubtedly, make it one of the most popular places to visit in Tamil Nadu.
Infused with raw natural attractions and a rustic aesthetic, the destination Yercaud, is situated at an altitude of 4970 ft above sea level. A major attraction in this region is Yercaud Lake, also known as Emerald Lake. As it is less crowded than most hill stations, it remains relatively raw and affordable. Furthermore, Yercaud is a compact destination, easily explorable in a day or two. Fruit orchards, spice and coffee plantations embellish the hill, which also attracts all kinds of vacationers because of its abundant flora and fauna. For nature lovers, trekkers, and adventurers, Yercaud is a paradise due to its pristine and unspoiled nature. There are a number of trekking trails that lead to Kiliyur Falls and Tipperary Point. Therefore, trekking through all this is an extremely rewarding experience.
It is believed that Yercaud in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu dates back to the Stone Age, where artifacts have been discovered at the ancient shrine at Shevaroy Hills (also called Servarayan Temple), about 5 km from the Yercaud lake. Sir Thomas Munroe, former governor of Madras, discovered this place in 1842, and the Scottish collector David Cockburn contributed to its development. This makes him known as the Father of Yercaud, and he introduced various plantations here like coffee, pears, and apples. The arrival of more Europeans in the city over the years led to further expansion of the city's plantations, including tea, cinnamon, etc. It was MSP Rajes, the first Indian coffee planter to settle in the town, who established the famous MSP Plantations and MSP Coffee.
Demography & Agriculture
When it comes to demographics, most of the population are tribal, but are known as Malayalis (Hillmen) or Vellalas. Indigenous tribes do not exist in India; they migrated from Kanchipuram 500 years ago. The two languages spoken in Yercaud are Tamil and English. Agriculture is the main source of income, with coffee as the most significant crop. On the "Grange Estate" in the year 1820, coffee was first cultivated. It was at that time that Mr M.D. Cockburn brought the coffee plants from Africa to Yercaud. In addition to coffee, the estate raises jackfruit, star apple, fig, lacota, water apple, oranges, guava, and spices such as black pepper and cardamom. Additionally, sandalwood, teak, and silver oak can be found in abundance.
One of the highlights of this region is the annual summer festival, which is held in the month of May. It is dedicated to Lord Servarayan, the presiding deity of the Shevaroy Hills. It's a 7-day festival featuring flower exhibitions, dog shows, boat races and a village fair, which gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the rich heritage of this region.
Flora and Fauna
With its exotic flora and fauna, Yercaud in the Eastern Ghats is one of the jewels of the South. Yercaud is also known as Ooty of the Poor for its low-cost tourism, and is home to the famous National Orchidarium and Botanical Garden, which covers an area of 18.4 hectares with over 3000 trees of coffee, jackfruit, pears, oranges, banana, citrus fruit, and spices. It also has a rich variety of wildlife including bison, deer, jackals, ant-eaters and birds like the whistling thrush, Indian gray hornbill, peacock and racket-tailed drongo. The city has some famous parks and gardens offering floral masterpieces, such as Anna Park and Rose Garden. The picturesque Kiliyur falls is another attraction of Yercaud.
Sights To Visit In Yercaud
Yercaud Lake (or) Emerald Lake
One of the most picturesque spots to visit in Yercaud is the Yercaud Lake, which has breathtaking views of the mountains and lush green plains. Boating is popular in Yercaud because of its picturesque surroundings and quaint water bodies. Located right in the heart of Yercaud, you can find several bistros and restaurants by the lakeside that serve the true taste of Tamil Nadu, so you can enjoy absolute serenity and satisfy your taste buds at the same time. It offers travelers a wonderful opportunity to discover Tamil Nadu's food and cuisine through its ingenious use of spices. Epicureans will find Yercaud Lake to be an excellent culinary destination.
32 Km Loop Road Trip
A 32 kilometer long stretch of road that begins at Yercaud Lake and leads through a bunch of turns like U-pins surrounded by agricultural plantations on both sides. This 32-Km Loop Road connects Semmantham, Nagalur, Manjakuttai and Kaveri Peak villages. Traveling through these villages, one can taste various varieties of coffee; the inviting aroma of the coffee beans will surely fill your senses. It is highly recommended that you drive here only if you are confident about your driving abilities. Hiking in the environs is one of the best things to do in Yercaud.
After trekking for about three kilometers through rugged and rustic terrain, one can reach this beautiful waterfall located in the Servaroy hills of the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu, which plunges from a height of 300 feet. There is nothing better than escaping to a serene location like the waterfall when you are feeling depleted and stressed. Monsoons are the best time to visit this waterfall since the water level at the base rises, providing a mesmerizing and interesting view of the waterfall.
It is also known as Pyramid Point and lies on the eastern side of the Yercaud hills. It is today surrounded by a Rama Temple. At this point, the visitors can hear nature usher all its beauty and transform the visit into a heavenly experience. The picnic spot offers a magnificent view of Attur and Ayothiapattinam.
A viewing platform offers a great view of the zigzagging Eastern Ghat road. There is a magnificent view of Mettur Dam and Salem town from the top. There is also an observing tower with a telescope to enjoy the breathtaking view from the tower. Tourists can only access this viewing tower during daylight hours. There is a natural rock formation in the form of a seat, which makes it appear comfortable. This Lady's Seat was a popular recreational spot for British females in Yercaud, offering views of clouds, mists, and greenery. It was a favorite hangout for British women and was also the venue for kitty parties during the olden days. Hill stations get soaked in the majestic rays of the sun during the day and offer some of the most stunning sunset views at night.
Shevaroy Hills (Servarayan Temple)
The Shevaroy Hills are a popular tourist destination in Yercaud. The hill is amazing, and people come to enjoy the scenery and relax here. This hilly region is home to a few old cottages and homestays.
A visit to Servarayan Temple is an excellent way to learn more about the spiritual development of this region in Yercaud. The temple is located at the highest point of the Servaroyan range, which offers the best view of the Mettur Dam. The region is blessed with mists and fogs, which enhance the beauty of the temple and its surroundings. This narrow cave temple was constructed by ancient tribes of Yercaud and is dedicated to Lord Servarayan and Goddess Kaveri. There is a belief that the bottom of the temple cave touches the river Cauvery. So, Goddess Kaveri is worshiped as the presiding deity by all the villagers in and around this region. There is an awe-inspiring and enthralling path leading to this holy Servarayan temple. To unravel the mysteries of hills in Yercaud, explorers must cover this path on foot or engage in trekking activities. Thousands of Tribals gather here every year to celebrate their Annual Festival in May.
The Park is located adjacent to the Emerald Lake, which offers incredible insight into the natural species of plants and animals around Shevaroys Hills of Tamil Nadu. The Flower Exhibition, a major event in the Yercaud region, is held in this park every year during the month of May. A must-see within Anna Park's colorful grounds is the Japanese Garden, which demonstrates the ancient Japanese art of growing and training miniature trees (Bonsai). The park is a popular spot for botanists and horticulture aspirants.
A British officer by name Norton, a powerful Criminal Lawyer in Chennai, owned a private European Bungalow in Yercaud that is now a popular place of interest. It served as a summer retreat for British officers and commanders based in India for many years. In spite of the fact that this historic bungalow is a private property, officers and commanders would come here for vacations to beat the scorching heat of the Indian summers.
The Bear's cave is located near Norton's Bungalow, is 7 feet below ground level and contains a deeper gorge leading to the cave of Servarayan Temple (the temple of Lord Murugan). Even though fallen rocks and boulders blocked their way, the explorers were able to remove them and continue their exploration. Without encountering any obstacles, one can explore the cave for around 60 feet. It is believed that the bears lived in this cave, which later served as a secret hideout and an escape route for Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore.
Kottachedu Teak Forest
Kottachedu Teak Forest is a must-visit if you are curious about how life was during the Stone Age. With its flora and fauna, the teak forest will take you back to the past, explaining how people lived before modern developments. A variety of endemic species can be found in Kottachedu Teak Forest, including Deer, ant-eaters, Rabbits, Squirrels, Mongooses, Bison, Hares, and Foxes. The forest also has a variety of birds to see, including swallows, kites, paradise flycatchers, and sparrows. In India, Kottachedu Teak Forest shares most of its fauna and floral traits with the Eastern Ghats. Those who live along Tamil Nadu's southern coast should consider visiting this site. Make sure you visit the Vaniyar River and its dam while you're there.
Sri Raja Rajeswari Temple
At the south-west corner of Yercaud, you can visit the Sri Raja Rajeshwari temple, one of the most peaceful places to visit. Known locally as Kalyanagari, this is one of the most intricately built holy structures in the area. The temple is adorned with the deity of Sri Rajarajeshwari that is established on the Shakti Peeth which enhances the temple's charm. There were a number of devas and rishis who came here to attain siddhi in the past.
Silk Farm & Rose Garden
Located two kilometers from Yercaud, one can observe the cultivation of Mulberries, the growing of silk worms, and the spinning of silk. You will also learn more about their breeding process. In addition, you will learn about how silkworms are raised and how silk is produced from their sheaths. The silk farm also depicts how silk production began in India with the importation of Chinese skills from the mainland.
Yercaud, however, has a fantastic rose garden that will enchant your visit. You will be fascinated by the flamboyant roses in the garden and learn more about the different species. There are different species of the queen of flowers, their aromatic glee, and the stunning views of the garden are a perfect delight for visitors.
This park is a great picnic spot for families as well as for travelers since it offers beautiful views of the valley and allows you to get engulfed in the beauty of the landscape. The park is also a perfect destination for wildlife and nature photography enthusiasts who can see Deer, Ducks, and Peacocks roaming freely. The park closes down at 5 pm, so one can visit nearby locations after visiting it. Yercaud Lake and Lady's Rock are two nearby attractions that can easily be accessed from the park; moreover, evenings are the best times to visit these attractions.
The Vijayanagar Empire constructed the Sankagiri Fort in the 15th century. Later, it was ruled by DheeranChinnamalai and Tippu Sultan before being annexed by the British.
Best Time to Visit
The serene atmosphere and breathtaking views of Yercaud can be enjoyed at any time of year. However, October to June is the best time to visit Yercaud because of its cool, dry weather. Every year, a seven-day Summer Festival is organized in May with several activities namely flower exhibitions, dog shows, boating races, and village carnivals.
Where to Stay
There are several hotels, cottages, and homestays that offer budget accommodation. It has several mid-range resorts (Shambala Resort & Spa by Sparsa, Glenrock Estates, GRT Hotels (Great Trails Yercaud), The Brooks Resort & Spa, Myst Yellow Lake Resort & Spa, Premier Inn, Saffron Villa Yercaud, etc.) and almost all the stays here offer panoramic views of mountains.
How to reach
The nearest city to reach Yercaud is Salem, about 32 km away.
By Air : Almost 38 km away, Salem Airport is the nearest airport to reach Yercaud. Next nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli International Airport,Tamil Nadu at a distance of 168 km. Yercaud is well connected by road and there are many public and private transport available.
By Rail : The nearest railway station is Salem Junction which is about 38 km away from this hill station.
By Road : Yercaud is connected to major cities by TNSTC. Alternatively, it can be accessed via Kanavaipudur from Dharmapuri. A regular bus service runs between Yercaud and Salem, which has connections to Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Tiruvannamalai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Pondicherry, and Tirupati.