A holiday cannot get better than this Dams,rivulets,wild animals,reserve forests,waterfalls all this when I drive through to this pristine beauty called Valparai. Starting from Polachi the foot hill of Valparai you are greeted by non-ending scenery. Firstly the Aliyar dam followed by monkey falls proceed another 10kms you enter Annamalai Tiger Eeserve the drive has 48 harpin bends the beauty makes you dizzy not the roads. Midway you reach waterfalls ....yes it's the name of the village greeted by small rivulets flowing through the roads.... from here to Valparai you are accompanied by sprawling lush green tea estates on either side.
Surprising but true the whole town of valparai is plastic free and people here love their nature and strive to preserve it hence you will find neatly cropped home gardens ,no dust or debris on the road.
Though there are many new homestays cropping up suggest book your accommodation at the Briar or chinnathurai bungalows not many hotels hence food will be a problem in small homestays.
The Briars own more than 25000 hectares of lush green tea estate and 3 properties inside them catering to the tourist. Each property is a colonial British bungalow having its own charm.
We stayed at the Monica tea bungalow on the fringes of the Annamalai forest overseeing the tea estates. Hospitality of the staff is fabulous they are well behaved and enquire about your food preference, style and taste and strive to meet your expectations.
The rooms are huge overlooking the garden with French Windows. The whole place has an antique touch starting with the design of your cots to the display items. The britishers really lived a kings life. Take a small stroll around the bungalow, or visit the balaji temple since the bungalow is on the fringes of the forest you can sight some exotic birds like the horn bill, parrots wild pigeons, owls in the evening a treat to bird lovers and some giant Langoors for the animal folks. Next day we drove to the athirampali falls 85kms from valparai the falls is highly brearhtaking and has been captured through the lenses of various film makers strating from maniratnam to rajmouli (guru ,bahubali).Caution the road to the falls is through thick dense forest beauty and the beast .beast refers to the narrow roads and elephants which scare you not for the New drivers.The falls has entry to both its peak from where you can witness the water plunging 50feet below ,you can also take a swim in the chalakudi river ,the foot of the falls requires a small 3km trek which is steep while climbing back. Note carry food and ample water as the place does not have good hotels.Caution forest checkposts count the number of plastic bottles you carry and your food packets coz the place is no litter zone,ensure to carry empty bottles back elese you might be fined at the checkpost.
On the way back we stopped at the sholiyar dam for a few snaps and drive back to the bungalow. What we thought would be a 5hr visit engulfed our whole day.
The next day we had a visit to the tea factory organised by our host the Briars followed by check out. Best time to visit September to January as climate is pleasant post monsoon.
It's a boon for nature lovers and a lovely place to rejuvenate your tired body and soul.
Few things to remember.
1. The bungalows are amid nature hence loud music is not permitted.
2. The Briars bungalow does not serve alcohol hence carry your brand for an enjoyable drink.
3. Carry your medicines as the place is 8kms from the valparai town also the town shuts early.
4. Do not venture out in dark as the place is known for leapords even langoors look ferocious.
5. Most of the tourist places do not have barricaded or sign boards hence be careful as the places are mostly wet and slippery.
6. Leaches are in plenty carry dettol and ankle length boots of you are scared about leach bites.