Valparai – Life is Beuatiful

We were planning a trip during the long weekend of 2-4 Oct’15. We knew that the ‘Bangalore Janta’ would be moving out of town and all nearest known popular hill stations will be crowded. So we decided to explore such a hill station which was not very well known on the map of tourism. We wanted a less crowded place, so that we can spend some time to explore mountains, rivers, and waterfalls and enjoy greenery in peace and tranquility. We looked up the western ghat area between Munnar and Kodaikanal and we locked up on Valparai a small town, a tea estate-cum-hill station which is located at 3500 feet above sea level in Anamalai mountain ranges in Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu. Valparai is 110km from Coimbatore and 65km from Pollachi by road. So this is how our journey started.

We (Akshay, Himanshu, Nachiket, Narra, Peeyush and myself Khushal) reached to SBC (Bangalore Junction) by 7:30PM after a tired day in office on Thursday. We boarded Kanyakumari express for a 7 hours journey to Coimbatore. Fortunately we were lucky enough to get seats in the fully occupied general coach. This is indeed a big achievement when you travel by general coach and that too from SBC ;). Now by hook or by crook we had to be awake till Coimbatore or else we would miss the stop. For quality time pass we had a very aggressive debate on politics (Modi vs Kejariwal), very ideal discussion on money-based vs value-based economy (which turned out to be the hottest topic for the whole trip) and we did play card games too.

Tea and Biscuits at Pollachi bus stand

Tea and Biscuits at Pollachi bus stand

We reached Coimbatore around 3AM in morning and took a city bus to Ukkadam bus-stand. Direct state transportation bus to Valparai was at 5:30 in morning, so we decided to get-in another bus till Pollachi which was departing around 3:30AM. Obviously, there was no rush in bus as it was midnight and this one hour journey was very quiet (four of us were sleeping in the bus after the tiring general coach train journey) till we reached Pollachi around 4:45AM. We did not have dinner on the previous day and unfortunately we did not get any chance to eat food during our train journey so everyone was hungry. Next bus to Valparai from Pollachi was in morning 5:30AM and in the meantime we had biscuits and tea at one of the many local shops at Pollachi bus-stand and took a little rest.

Takign rest for some time at Pollachi bus stand

Taking rest for some time at Pollachi bus stand

Finally, we started our journey to Valparai after the bus came at 5:45AM and this was supposed to be the most exciting part of our journey and indeed it was. The early morning on a rainy day made the uphill journey very different. It was a winding ghat uphill road with 40 hairpins bands and full of turns. Wow! Also you can clearly see Aliyar dam on one side of the road and tea estates on the other. It took almost three hours to reach Valparai.

Lunch at Koolangal River

Lunch at Koolangal River

We then settled ourselves in one of the many available home stay, freshen up and went for breakfast straightaway. We came back to room and took rest till 1 o’clock in afternoon. Home stay owners at Valparai worked as sort of a tour guide. We gathered information about nearby places from our home stay owner (Mohammad) and we chose to visit places that were not mentioned in any of the blogs. Mohammad arranged packed homemade food and a guy who took us to Koolangal River which is around 3KM from the town. We walked till the place and had our lunch on the river bank. It was a very delicious homemade Tamilian dish with rice, sambhar, rasam and curry (Thank you Mohammad!). After the lunch we all jumped in the fresh and cool river water for a bath.

Akshay - On a way to Koolangal River

Akshay – On the way to Koolangal River

Bridge on Koolangal River

Bridge on Koolangal River

Koolangal River

Koolangal River

A view from Koolangal River

A view from Koolangal River

We then went further down the road and took some photographs and by evening we returned back to our home stay.

Walking down further the road

Walking down further the road

Photo of the trip ;)

Photo of the trip 😉

Tea estates around Koolangal River

Tea estates around Koolangal River

We had our dinner at Green Hill restaurant and enjoyed a freedom series first T20 match between India and SA (We lost it L ). After the match we left for a small walk on Valparai streets and that very short walk on the road was unforgettable!! Thanks to the few horror stories from the Akshay-the story creator.

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Narra and Peeyush at Rotikadai bus stop

Next day morning we decided to trek and we left for Rotikadai with Mohammad around 7:30 in morning (Thanks again Mohammad for the masala tea). Mohammad picked up a villager from the town to guide us as it was not a good explored trail. We packed breakfast from one of the village shop. The Trek route starts as soon as you get down at bus stop. Firstly it goes through streets of Rotikadai and then you must follow the guide instructions and footsteps. There was no clear routes and we were blindly following our guide and then it suddenly started raining (be aware of the blood sucker leeches!!). It was a craggy trek and due to the rain it was slippery too. After the initial part of the trek the difficulty level was less than moderate and we continued to climb easily and reached to the peak. It is almost 3-4KM from the Rotikadai town. We finished breakfast and then kept ourselves busy to enjoy nature. It was a pleasant morning and the air on the peak was so healthy..! The mountains slopes covered with tall trees and tea estates looked splendid. The cool wind sets up your mood and refreshes your mind. My heart was filled with joy in company of nature and watching clouds traversing across the sky.

A view from peak

A view from peak

Clouds traversing view

Clouds are moving!!

We all @ peak

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Trekking down

Returning back to down

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A splendid view of mountains slopes covered in green

A splendid view of mountains slopes covered in green

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We were down to town by 12:30PM and again returned to rooms. After lunch we decided to visit unexplored, no-at-all crowded waterfall at Vellamalai Tunnel 7km from the town. We took a cab to the place. It was a very small waterfall gushing over the rocks but hammering the rocks too!! The water was so cool that it was freezing and we were shivering but it was the most enjoyable time across the trip. It was almost evening when we came back to the room and then started to plan our return journey.

Vellamalai waterfall and Tunnel

Vellamalai waterfall and Tunnel

A street wall in the town

A street wall in the town

We checked out next morning to catch a bus to Pollachi. We enjoyed breakfast at Pollachi and got in the next bus to Coimbatore. We arrived at 12:30PM to Coimbatore. The very next train to Bangalore was at 3PM and so we decided to move on rather than waiting for 3 odd hours. We boarded the Ernakulam-Bilaspur express at 1:30PM till Salem junction.

Waiting for train at Salem junction

Waiting for train at Salem junction

Sandwiched between peoples - Kodai Express

Sandwiched between people – Kodai Express

We continued to move forward and took another train Kodai express till Jolarpet. It was around 7:30PM and there was no train from Jolarpet to Bangalore till midnight. So we rented an auto till Tiruputtar and then took bus from to Bangalore. We finally reached Bangalore by 12 midnight and returned home filled with the wonder and loveliness of nature.

Home stay info:

It was really a nice home with 2 bedrooms and a large hall with TV connections. It was really pocket friendly for a hill station location and the owner Mohammad was really a nice person. I think this is not available for online booking. You can call Mohammad and book the rooms.

Name: Holiday Home Stay (Owner Name: Mohammad)

Phone: +91-9487094548

Other places to visit: Even after such a great time a Valparai, we did not  cover those places which were mentioned all over the internet like water reservoirs, Monkey falls, wildlife sanctuaries etc., just because of our constraints of avoiding crowded places.!

Anthargange: Night Trekking and Cave Exploration

We were planning to have very short trip which includes trek nearby Bangaluru and we finally choose Anthargange night trekking. This place is about 70km from Bangaluru and famous for a temple situated on a mountain, sandstone rocks and many of the caves around. Many people visit this place for an earthly experience of night trekking and caves exploration and so did we!!

Happy Birthday Nachiket :)

Happy Birthday Nachiket 🙂

It was Friday night after tiring week at work. Gautham and Krishna were the first to board in vehicle from Marathhali. Then they picked up Anand, Darshal, Ronak, Vashist, Bharat, Peeyush, Nachiket, Myself, Sudha, Richa, Anuj, Akshay, Abhishek, Manoj and Sainath. By the time we reached at Indiaranagar for last pickup it was around 1:20 AM. And guess what? It was Nachiket’s birthday.

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

We celebrated his birthday on the footpath.  Thanks to Abhishek and Akshay for arranging this surprise and totally amazing roadside birthday celebration. Then we all boarded the vehicle and almost everything was silent except a fairly average music system of our vehicle. It was around an hour journey and most of us were almost either silent or sleeping. We reached at the venue and all of us packed our bags with food, fruits and water bottles after getting down from the vehicle.

Celebration on Road Foot Path ;)

Celebration on Road Foot Path 😉

Initial part of the trek route (which is not actually a trek but a way to temple) was very well build, with wider steps which leads you to famous temple. We easily reached to the temple with the help of LED torch lights :). Two or three among us went to behind the temple to check whether there was any proper trek path to go further up or not. Fortunately, a path was there and we started night trekking on the slippery granite stones. From there onwards the trek path was having very small but clearly visible footsteps marked on sand stones and passing through small forests. The trek was moderate and within an hour we reached a place where we found level surface surrounded by rocky hills formed of sand stones. It was very heavy and cool wind blew there (I am still having a cold gifted by wind!! 🙂 ) We had planned a camp fire and so few of us went to collect tinder and dry sticks. Due to stormy wind it was very difficult to put fire without help of flammable liquid like petrol. Fortunately we did take petrol in a bottle and we were able to set fire after few trials. While we were camp-firing and having biscuits and fruits, Abhishek and Sainath went to explore nearby cave and came back.

Organizers : Akshay & Abhishek

Organizers : Akshay & Abhishek

On the way to peak

On the way to peak

Bonfire

Bonfire

Group at Bonfire activity

Group at Bonfire activity

Bharat and Peeyush having experience of cool wind

Bharat and Peeyush having experience of cool wind

Now we were ready to start most exciting and interesting part of the trekking, which was cave exploration. The caves here are very narrow and naturally formatted. Moving inside the cave was a bit difficult though we all managed with help of each-others. At first site, the cave seemed like someone did put a flat bottom surfaced heavy carbonite rock with help of two equally sized sand-stone support acting as two columns. I was very curious to know about how they would have been naturally formatted. We enjoyed a lot inside that cave and clicked some memorable pics and came out. This cave exploration was joyful and an enjoyable adventure as moving inside and coming out form cave was like moving slowly, laboriously as in prone position. It will remind you your childhood days where you loved to walk around the home on your hands and knees.

Me at Cave Entrance, passing through very tight space between rocks

Me at Cave Entrance, Passing through Very Tight Space Between Rocks

Akshay & Vashist, sliding in cave like prone

Akshay & Vashist, Sliding in Cave like Prone

Cave Stones

Cave Stones

By the time we came out form caves a foggy and peaceful morning was welcoming us. We decided to explore the sandstone hills around us and to be at peak for a sunrise view. Trail to that peak was not at all proper trekking path though it was reachable by passing over groups of randomized positioned granite boulder having size of my office cubical at least. What you need to do is just: either jump over stones or crawl over sheer rocks. When you jump over stone just be careful not to fall in the gap between the two rocks which was almost deeper than 10 feet!! We moved forward slowly in an adventurous way to the peak where we can see the sunrise and then be there for some time. After that, everyone took different ways to back as it was not comfortable enough to be back on the same way by which we came up.

Amazing Early Morning View of Kolar Town from Peak

Amazing Early Morning View of Kolar Town from Peak

Me and Anuj Jiju in front of Street Lights of Kolar Town

Me and Anuj Jiju in front of Street Lights of Kolar Town

Sun just saying Hallo :)

Sun just saying Hello 🙂

Sun rising slowly

Sun rising slowly

Ohh..It is saying Good Morning to the World

Ohh..It is saying Good Morning to the World

We all gathered at level surface and started out journey back to the temple. It was a very cool experience to trek downstream in early morning. We cancelled our plan to take rest at temple because of lots of monkeys. We came downstairs and we found a view point on right side of footsteps just before to temple gate. We went there and took rest for few minutes. It had stone benches with grilled surrounding edges and gave an exceptional views of the stones sited on mountain hill.

Taking Rest at Sunrise Viewpoint (from left to right) Peeyush, Manoj, Richa and Anuj

Taking Rest at Sunrise Viewpoint (from left to right) Peeyush, Manoj, Richa and Anuj

On the way to Back

On the way Back to Home !!

Viewpoint Near Starting point of trek to see beautiful stone placement over hill

Viewpoint Near Starting point of trek to see beautiful stone placement over hill

Group at viewpoint

Group at viewpoint

Natural view of Anthargange Hills

Natural view of Anthargange Hills

Greenery around Mountains

Greenery around Mountains

Finally we all gathered at our vehicle and came back to Bengaluru again by 10 AM. It was a short yet complete journey which will be memorized forever and ever. Thanks to all who participated and made it enjoyable. 😀