Rolling hills, green meadows and refreshing waterfalls… Yelagiri is where you can soothe your frayed nerves
Along the meandering path to Yelagiri Hills, the flowering gulmohur trees provide a pleasant respite. As you watch the city fade into a distant blur in the rear-view mirror, the cell phone reception drops — bar by bar and the worry of deadlines and meetings vanishes. This stands true to what is advertised in the official website of Yelagiri Hills — charming, small and rustic hill-station in Tamil Nadu.
At about 920m above sea-level, the weather at Yelagiri is pleasant — though tainted by mugginess during the summer, but the breeze and chill during the evenings make up for it. Winters are not too cold either. Nestled amidst four mountains, Yelagiri comprises 14 small villages, largely dependent on agriculture.
Unlike Ooty or Kodaikanal, Yelagiri is not flocked by too many tourists yet. Proximity to Bangalore and Chennai makes it an ideal weekend getaway. Start early to enjoy your day at the hill-station. The road is flanked by meadows and fields on either side, the greenery stands out in contrast to the metalled smooth road. Spot the hills and let the breathtaking view of the clouds playing merry-go-round around the hills sink in. The ghat road drive is perhaps the most exciting part of the trip. The roads are long and winding, lined by eucalyptus trees. It’s refreshing to watch the rays of the sun cut through the leaves. The ride uphill has 14 hairpin bends. It is interesting to note that each bend is named after Tamil poets such as Ilango, Bharathiar and Thiruvalluvar. The seventh bend offers visual respite as you take in the view of the mountain slopes and green forests that carpet the hills. Before the 13th bend, there is a Telescope House maintained by the Forest Department, stop over to enjoy the view.
Hit the Puganur artificial lake. Boating enthusiasts can pay and go around the lake. Attached to the lake and park is a small zoo as well. If you’re interested in trekking, then head to Swamimalai. At 4,338 ft. Swamimalai is the highest point in Yelagiri Hills. The trek to Swamimalai is easy and starts with a muddy path along the eastern side of the lake. The view from the summit however is definitely worth the climb. It is an enchanting landscape dominated by the colour green dotted with the grey and blue mountains at a distance with warped cumulus clouds approaching. If trekking is on your agenda you could climb up Yelagiri Hills — a treacherous climb, it takes about two to three hours to climb to the top of the hill.
On the other side of the hill are the Jalagambarai Falls. Located 14km from Tirupattur, this is where the river Attaru meanders through Yelagiri Hills and falls from a height of 30m. It’s a tedious walk downhill. The roads to the waterfalls are rather narrow but well-maintained. Give the waterfalls a miss during the summer months, as the water levels drop down to a trickle because the waterfalls are largely dependent on the rains that feed the river. Another trek that you could perhaps indulge in is from Puthur to Perumadu Waterfalls. To reach the falls you will have to trek through the mountain jungles. The forests have thick undergrowth, it is better to go with a local guide.
There are no plush restaurants in Yelagiri but a few located at the centre of the town, Athnavur, offer north Indian and south Indian cuisines at reasonable prices. Carry cash because there aren’t many ATMs in Yelagiri and they do not accept credit or debit cards. Untouched by rampant commercialisation, Nature is still thriving in the hills. Yelagiri isn’t for those looking for things to do or sights to see. The hills offer an experience of tranquility with long walks on the roads that seem to lead deep into forests.