Why The Rush?
If you google ‘hill stations in South India’, you’ll probably book a hotel in Coorg, Ooty, Munnar or Chikmagalur. Considering how famous these destinations have become over the last decade or so, we don’t blame the tourist for thronging these places. But wait, there’s more. For years tourists have frequented hill stations of Ooty and Munnar 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. You are greeted by traffic jams as soon as you enter the city, parking issues and the lack of personal space while walking their busy streets. This is where Valparai beats all these other hill stations.
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 Valpari 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 its 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.
Things To See in 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.
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.
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 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 appear 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.
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.
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 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.
Hotels 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 favorite is the Briar Tea bungalows who 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. For homestays and other hotels, you can check out your favorite online booking site and plan your vacation there!
We also have a curated list of best hill stations in South India that you can read here!