After my Pondicherry Bike trip with my cousin in February, I got an opportunity to go for another bike trip. So we both decided for a bike trip from Coimbatore to Valparai and Athirapally falls. The trip was planned in 10 days and I couch surfed all the information regarding tourist spots, bike rentals and accommodation.
We boarded SETC bus at 12.AM on 14th April from the CMBT bus stand. Since there were no direct buses at that time, we had to take a bus to Salem. The uncomfortable bus ride was for 8 hours and we reached Salem by 8 A.M. After having breakfast we boarded another bus to Coimbatore and reached Coimbatore by 1 P.M which was another 5 hour ride. After having lunch at Coimbatore we called the Bike Rental guy and he gave us Hero Honda Glamour bike. I decided to ride the bike with my cousin sitting with two heavy backpacking bags. The Climate in Coimbatore was extremely hot and we had to stop at many places to quench our thirst. We proceeded to the Pollachi Road and reached Pollachi in 90 Minutes which was 40 Km ride. Pollachi is a small, yet beautiful town in the Coimbatore district. Once we reached Pollachi the bike ride was a pleasant experience. There were lots of Coconut Trees and you will never feel the heat. The Tender coconuts you get in Pollachi are the most delicious ones I ever had. From Pollachi we proceeded to the Pollachi-Valparai Road via the magnificent Azhiyar Dam. Since we did not have much time we skipped the Dam. From Azhiyar dam the Western Ghats road starts. Until that, we both were physically exhausted due the blistering heat. But once we started uphill ride, we could feel only the fresh air and beautiful tea estates. The tiredness we had during the ride vanished just like that. In the Valparai Road out first stop was at the Loam's View Point. Loam's View point gives you the stunning view of the Azhiyar Dam
Beware, there are lots of Monkeys at this place. After Loam's View point we proceeded to Valparai and reached the Valparai Town by 7.30 P.M completing our 6 hour bike ride. I had already booked a lodge in the Valparai Bus Stand Road and we settled down in the room by 8 P.M. Once you reach the town there are lots of lodges, cottages, home stays, bungalows and restaurant accommodations. We had our sumptuous dinner next in Plaza Hotel near the lodge. One must definitely taste the big parottas in Plaza hotel. There are few good hotels in Valparai, but we could not find any Vegetarian only hotels
On Days after having our breakfast and hot tea we decided to visit Koozhangal River,Nirar dam, Chinnakallar falls, Balaji Temple and Nallamudi View Point
To reach Nirar Dam you need to ride through the Sirikundra estate road. Koozhangal River is 2 Kms in the Sirikundra estate road. Koozhangal river is full of pebbles and thus the name koozhangal (Pebbles in Tamil). On one side the water flow is very fast and people are advised not to venture in to the water. However on the other side you can take bath and wash your clothes. We just took photos and proceeded towards Lower Nirar Dam which is 10 km from Valparai. The roads were in good condition until the Nirar Dam check post. Once you reach the check post you need to take entry tickets of 20 Rs. per person. The roads after the check post are little rugged. After reaching dam we had some hot tea and then entered the Dam. Lower Nirar Dam is a small dam, but I could not believe how did they build such a dam in the midst of mountains. Since construction work was going on, the sluice gates were closed and there was nothing else to see. But it it is worth to spend some time at this place
However you are not allowed to go the Upper Nirar Dam as it is fully secured by the State Government. Our next place was the Chinnakallar falls. However the falls was restricted from public access due to movement of Wild elephants roaming in that area. So we had to skip the falls and our next place to visit was the Vellamalai Tunnel river and the Balaji temple. From Nirar dam you have to travel through the Sirikundra Kanjamalai Road to reach the Balaji Temple which is 18 km ride. On the way, there is the Vellamalai Tunnel river which we missed. The roads leading to the Balaji temple up to Karumalai Hospital are in very good condition. However after hospital the roads are in very worst condition. You have to drive carefully as the roads are only 15 to 20 feet. Unfortunately the temple opens only at 3.P.M and we were already there by 2.P.M. So we did not waste time and we returned from that place. While coming back we promptly went to the Vellamalai Tunnel River. The tunnel view is not stunning, but the river flows from a tunnel which can be seen from an iron bridge. If you are dare enough you can stand on the bridge and take photos
We reached Valparai town and had lunch at a Chettinad mess. After lunch we reached room we decided to take some rest for the day and then proceed to other places next day. After having dinner we roamed around Valparai town and there is nothing much to see.
On day 3 we decided to visit Nallamudi Pooncholai and Iraichal Parai falls. Before proceeding with the ride we decided to have a bath at the Koozhangal River which is in the Sirikundra Estate road. The water is cold at first, but once you enter you will never want to come out of that. The water is clear and you can find more pebbles than sand. The river is only 4 to 5 feet deep and up to 6 feet at a certain point. So you have no fear of drowning and you can swim as you wish. However the speed of flowing increases rapidly after 6.30 P.M and it is advisable to avoid bathing after 6.30 P.M
WAIT did I tell you about the entry tickets you need to get at Nirar Dam check post. Do not throw those tickets as they are valid for entry in the Nallamudi Pooncholai if you visit on the same day. Nallamudi Pooncholai is about 15 km from Valparai. The roads are in excellent condition and it would be a easy ride. The View point is near the Nallamudi bus stop which we missed and ended up going 4 km away from the view point. We returned back to the view point and had to get the entry tickets since the Nirar Dam entry tickets were valid only for the same day. The entry ticket is 20 Rs. per person. The view point is about 10 minute walk from the entrance. Once we reached the view point, what I saw was the best view point ever in my life. It was stunning and magnificent. You can see the Anamudi peak which is the tallest peak in South India at 8842 feet. We took some photos and spent 1 hour in that place. You must definitely take a panoramic photos of the Anamudi peak and surrounding forest. If you have good eye sight is great you can spot a water fall and a house.x
When I started from Valparai Town I decided to take a time lapse video of entire ride to Nallamudi Pooncholai. However I did not have a smart phone bike mount to hold the smart phone. So I tied my Mobile to the handle bar with my hand kerchief and took time a lapse video.
The time lapse videos are for a very short duration and a 45 minutes bike ride will be captured as a 1 minute video only. Since the mobile was in a slanting position, I could capture only the side of the roads as time lapse video
Here is the time lapse video of bike ride to Nallamudi View Point entrance
Time Lapse video of walk from entrance to View Point
After Nallamudi View point, we decided to visit Iraichal Parai falls which is 23 km from Nallamudi viewpoint. On the way is the Sholayar Tea Estate where a river flows which is a treat to watch. May be it is the Koozhangal River.
From Nallamudi we have to again take the Sirikundra-Kanjamalai Road to reach the falls. However when we inquired about way to the falls we came to know that the falls is deep inside the forest and it is prohibited to enter the falls. Since the Karumalai Balaji temple was on the way we decided to visit the temple. Once you park the vehicle you need to walk 500 meters uphill to reach the temple. The temple is built in the backdrop of the hills and surrounding forests and is well maintained. You are prohibited to use your mobile or taking videos inside the temple premises. The security guards check whether the mobiles are switched. However you can take pictures of the temple from outside the entrance
After darshan of Lord Balaji and Hanuman we reached Valparai town and decided to have snacks. The best snack you can have in Valparai is the Nendran Pazham bajji or simply pazham bajji. Nendran Pazham is a banana native to the Kerala State. We also brought some cakes and Mountain Dew to be consumed while bathing in the river. Again we went to the Koozhangal river to take a bath with Eucalyptus oil which we brought at Nallamudi Pooncholai. Since the water was flowing at increased speed, the bath was soothing and all the tiredness vanished. After bath we had dinner and took rest for the night.
Day 4 was the most interesting and ultimate bike ride of my life. It was the Valparai-Athirapally route passing through the dense forests of Kerala. Before starting we had a second thought whether we should go by bus to Athirapally falls. But a forest guard in Nallamudi Pooncholai informed us that bike ride is the best. So we decided to go by bike. We skipped breakfast in Valparai and proceeded to the Athirapally Route. We had hot tea at tea stall in Stanmore Estate Road and we had opportunity to see stunning sun rise from the Stanmore estate road
After taking pictures of sunrise we then next stopped at the Lower Solaiyar Dam. Solaiyar dam is bigger than Nirar Dam but not bigger than Azhiyar Dam. You can enter only upto the gate as it is prohibited to enter the gate. The sluice gates were closed as there was less water in the other side of the dam. The reflection of the sun in the water was the best picture I took with my mobile. Solaiyar dam is about 23 km from Valparai
After a halt at the Solaiyar Dam we next proceeded and reached the Malakkappara check post which is 2 km from the Solaiyar dam, the entry to the State of Kerala. You need to take entry pass to enter the check post. The forest guards will note the number of plastic bottles you carry. Both the Entry pass and the plastic bottles are the most important things you never lose. If you lose them you will be fined Rs. 1000. From the Malakkappara check post the forests starts. The roads are in very excellent condition and well maintained by the state highways department. During the bike ride you should never stop anywhere except places where people are present. The only such place we stopped was the thottapura view point from where you can see the upper Solaiyar Reservoir. After 15 minutes rest at this place we then proceeded with the bike ride and after few minutes the heart in mouth moment came. Yes while riding through a sharp curve five lion tailed macaques jumped from the road on to the trees. I stopped just few metres before that and my heart was pounding. Except that the ride was very smooth without any such incident. Our next stop was at the Solaiyar Valve house were huge iron valves ascend down the hills and reach the Solaiyar Hydro electric power house
After Solaiyar Valve house we stopped for our breakfast finally at a hotel near Poringalkuthu Dam and boat house. After having delicious Parotta and Kerala Kadalai Curry we then proceeded with out ride through the forest and Chalakudy River. At last we reached Vazhachal Check post which is the entry to Vazhachal falls and Athirapally falls. You need to show Malakkappara entry pass and then get another entry pass at this check post
Entry to Vazhachal waterfalls is just in left side of this check post. We decided to visit this falls after athirapally falls if we have enough time left. Vazhachal falls is 8 km from Poringalkuthu dam and Athirapally falls is 5 km from Vazhachal falls. The parking is just opposite to entrance of the falls. However the entry tickets are to be obtained 250 metres away from the entrance. So better go in your vehicle and get the tickets and then come and park your vehicle.
The entry tickets are 30 Rs. per adult and 200 Rs. for video camera. So after obtaining tickets we walked towards and the waterfalls. You need to walk at least for 500 metres down hill to reach the base of the falls. Be prepared and have water and juice to beat the heat. It is really physically exhausting to walk down the hill. Once you reach the base of the waterfall there are lots of shops selling water, juice, ice cream and other stuffs.
The worst part is the behavior of the people visiting the falls. Despite being warned, not to feed wild animals people throw plastic bottles and half eaten ice cream to monkeys. There are lots of monkeys in the waterfalls, but they do not disturb you. But be aware and do not keep your bags open as they tend to meddle with your bags. We then went near the falls which was damn mesmerizing. The water flow was increasing minute by minute and the water droplets were all over the air. the water falls is full of huge rocks and one has to be very careful while walking on the rocks. You have a great opportunity to take hell lot of photos.
Time Lapse Video of my entire bike ride from Valparai to Athirapally Falls
Now comes the most difficult part, climbing uphill to exit the waterfall. It was physically exhausting to climb uphill and we were severely dehydrated. No amount of water or juice can re-hydrate unless you are physically fit. After exit from the waterfalls we have good lunch at the only available vegetarian only hotel near the waterfall. After having lunch we then proceeded towards return journey to Valparai. We decided to skip Vazhachal falls and Poringalkuthu Dam as we had no time left.
Most important thing is that the vehicles are allowed through Vazhachal check post only up to 4 P.M. So make sure that you exit the check post before 4 P.M. After showing the entry pass at Vazhachal check post we were allowed to exit check post. After exiting check post we proceeded with out ride. My cousin had Jack fruit ice cream near Vazhachal falls. From there the bike ride was just awesome. We made a stop to take pictures of the gushing water in the Chalakudy river
Next we stopped at the Solaiyar Power house for a break from shoulder pain. After 10 minute break we did not stop anywhere in the forest. We reached Malakkappara check post by 4 P.M and were relieved. We showed the entry pass in check post and were allowed to exit the check post. We had hot tea near check post and made a 30 minute long break
From Malakappara check post we finally reached Valparai by 6 P.M with many stops in between. This was the one ride I will never forget in my life. Again we decided to bath in the Koozhangal river for the third time. The bath in the Koozhangal river was relaxing and our appetite reached maximum level. After bath we finally had dinner for one last time in Valparai.
After morning breakfast our trip was almost over except for the downhill ride which is a easy one compared to the downhill ride. We vacated the room by 8 A.M and left for Azhiyar dam which was 45 km ride. The ride was breezy and fantastic. We stopped at Carwar Marsh Statue View point and took pictures of the view point
During the downhill ride we had opportunity to drink fresh water in a small waterfall in the Valparai road. The water was so clear and fresh and we had a head dip and filled our bottles with fresh water
The last place in our bike ride was the magnificent Azhiyar Dam in the Pollachi-Valparai Road which is 40 km from Valparai. The parking is on the opposite to the entrance of the dam. The entry fee Rs. 5 per person and Rs. 20 for Still camera and Rs. 200 for Video Camera. You will have to climb some 100 stairs to reach the see the view of the Dam. The Azhiyar dam is said to be 2 km long but we did not have energy to roam around. After 15 minutes we left the place and had some butter milk to quench our thirst.
Time Lapse video of my bike ride from Valparai to Azhiyar Dam
We then proceeded to Pollachi to reach Coimbatore. We reached Coimbatore by 2 P.M in blistering heat and had some lunch in a hotel. Finally we handed over the bike to the rental guy and reached the Gandhipuram Bus stand to board bus to Chennai. The SETC buses to Chennai ply through Salem and then to Chennai. We reached Chennai by 4.30 A.M after 11 hour ride from Coimbatore
We missed these places in this bike trip
Chinnakallar falls - Prohibited due to Elephant movement
Iraichal Parai Falls - Prohibited as it is located deep in the jungle
Akkamalai Pul Medu or Grass Hills - Need to permission from the forest department. Need some influence
Charpa falls before Vazhachal falls - This waterfall has dried up and there is not even a drop of water in this waterfall
If you have enough time you can visit these places in addition to places I mentioned above:
1. Monkey falls - 1.5 km from Azhiyar dam
2. Butterfly park at Thumboormuzhy - 15 km from Athirapally falls
3. Navamalai - 5 km from Azhiyar dam
4. Thirumoorthy dam and waterfalls - 35 km from Pollachi
5. Poringalkuthu Dam Boating - 13 km from Athirapally falls
6. Kadamparai Dam - 43 km from Valparai
For those who are crazy with taking pictures and videos in a bike ride, you will definitely have to try TIME LAPSE VIDEO of your bike ride. Even though you need lots of efforts to make a time lapse video, you will never forget those bike ride. For time lapse I would suggest following
1. Android Smartphone with good camera
2. Time lapse app like Lapse it Pro or Microsoft Hyper lapse mobile
3. Smartphone bike mount or a hand kerchief
4. Power bank with USB cable