If you google ‘hill stations in South India’, you’ll probably book a hotel in Coorg, Ooty, Coonoor, Munnar or Chikmagalur. Considering how famous these destinations have become over the last decade or so, we don’t blame the tourists for thronging these places. But wait, there’s more. For years tourists have frequented hill stations of Ooty and Coonoor for their lush green meadows and tea estates. But over the last few years, the population has boomed in these destinations thanks to over-commercialization because of an influx of tourists. They no longer have the appeal of a quaint hill station. This is where Valparai beats all these other hill stations and you must explore all the great places to visit at Valparai.
We chanced upon Valparai on the internet while looking for a weekend getaway and were taken aback by its natural beauty. Valparai is a newly explored tourist spot located in the Anamalai Hills that falls in Tamil Nadu. The drive up to Valparai takes you through the forest, perfectly landscaped tea gardens and sometimes an encounter with elephants, leopards or other wildlife!
The beautiful hill station shares its boundary with Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Eravikulam National Park, and Vazhachal Forest Division and as a result, it’s a haven for animals such as elephants, wild boars, mountain goats, black monkeys, and leopards.
Valparai is different from other tourist spots in the South because of some of its unique nature and ecotourism is given more importance than the regular form of tourism. And we highlight the most stunning places to visit at Valparai and nearby.
Places to visit at Valparai
Annamalai wildlife sanctuary
Annamalai wildlife sanctuary is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters and is full of wildlife such as pangolins, sloth bear, panther, elephant, tiger, gaur, deer, etc.
Located at Aliyar in the foothills of Valparai, is a famous picnic spot near the dam. The park opens at 8.30 am and closes at 5.30 pm, with a very minimum entry charge. With very few visitors during the week days, this is easily one of the best places to visit at Valparai.
Your journey to Birla falls will take you 2 km away from Valparai and the path is surrounded by tea fields. Watching the waterfall in the mid-green tea fields is a pleasant view for the eyes.
This reserve forest has adventurous treks and a high probability to sight some of the endangered species. There is a trekking shed( rest house) on the banks of Manompally river which doubles up as a base camp for those bent on adventure. Prior permission from the Forest Department required.
It probably is one of the most secluded, most beautiful, most enchanting and the most peaceful place on earth. The shola grasslands are a unique ecosystem that hosts species like the Nilgiri tahr and Nilgiri Pipit which are not found anywhere else in the world. Nature lovers would love to explore this spot and prior permission from the Forest Department is required.
Sighted the elusive Black Panther yet?
Almost everybody knows that a black panther had long made the dense forests of Kabini its abode. And the best way to spot them is to spend a few nights in the gorgeous wildlife reserve.
An 80 km drive from Valparai through one of the thickest evergreen forests in India simulates the canopied rainforests of Amazon and Central Africa. Popularly known as ‘Punnagai Mannan falls’ or ‘the Indian Niagara’, Athirapally falls has been the backdrop for many south Indian movies. On the way, there are two other falls Charpa and Vazachal.
People can reach the Nallamudi valley viewpoint through a gateway in the tea garden. From here you can spot an excellent view Anaimudi peak, the highest peak in south India. There are few falls on the valley one of which appears as streaks. This is truly a sight to behold. The nearby tribal settlements provide ample opportunity to satisfy the explorer in you.
One of nature’s finest and purest sources of minerals and ayurvedic formulations, these falls truly rejuvenate your body and mind.
This gives a panoramic view of the Azhiyar dam. Consider yourself lucky if you spot endangered Nilgiri Tahr, the State animal of Tamil Nadu.
It provides a spectacular view of Kadamparai and the upper Azhiyar projects. Windmills situated on the plains can be a feast to the eyes, try zooming-in your binoculars for a couple.
Considered to be one of the wettest places in India at par with Mawsymram, Cherrapunji, and Agumbe. You can reach the waterfalls in this area by a trek through a hanging bridge, a legacy of the British.
Best Time to visit Valparai
Sitting pretty at 3,500 feet, Valparai might not be perched on towering mountains like the Himalayas but the weather here is pleasant throughout the year. Located amidst lush greenery and picturesque tea garden, the quaint hill station is a nature lover’s abode and can be explore during any of the season.
However, the best time to be there is post monsoons, when the rain gods bless the hill station with magnificent shades of green and small rivulets flowing through the terrain. If you are looking to explore all the places to visit at Valparai then September to January are the best months for you. Avoid going there during monsoons, as the torrential mountain rains might limit your outdoor time.
How to reach Valparai
Coimbatore airport is the nearest international airport to Valparai – approximately 124 km (the journey up winding roads towards the end means that you should budget 3-4 hours to get there by car from Coimbatore airport). International flights to Singapore and Sharjah are provided by Silk Air (A subsidiary of Singapore Airlines) and Air Arabia respectively. Domestic airlines fly to Coimbatore as well.
Pollachi To Valparai – Public buses are available every 30 minutes from Pollachi Bus Terminal. Because people use this a lot, it may take more than 4 hours to cover the distance of about 64 km. Visitors arriving via Coimbatore must-visit Pollachi and then catch a bus to the Valparai bus from there.
Coimbatore Junction is the nearest railway station. The distance is 105 km from Valparai and is connected to all major cities in India.
Where to stay in Valparai
Valparai is yet to get commercialized and therefore there aren’t a lot of stay options available. Therefore the ones that are there, will provide you with an excellent experience! Our favourite hotel chain is the Briar Tea bungalows that have Monica and Sirukundra estates where people can book luxury tents or cottages. These are the most premium properties in Valparai that have amazing locales, great food, and unmatched services. You can also explore upscale properties like Sinna Dorai Bungalows and Great Mount Coco Lagoon.
For homestays and other hotels, you can check out your favourite online booking site and plan your vacation there!
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