Nice landscape of Akkamalai
After getting down the ghat, we went to Monkey falls. As the name suggests, this place has lot of monkeys. The falls was dry and we did not waste any time there and headed towards Aliyar dam. This dam is in the plains and attracts lot of holidaying people.
We then went towards Top Slip. Twelve kms before Top Slip was Sethumadi, where the entry tickets for the park is given. At about 11:30AM, we reached Top Slip.
We went to information center and were told that the next Safari was at 2:30PM and the last one was at 5PM. There was also an option to go to Parambikulam that was just next to Top Slip. We had confusion where we need to go. This is the place which needed at least a couple of days to explore but we were in a hurry to cover everything like day tourists. We decided to go to Parambikulam. We were stopped at Kerala check post. There was a new rule to allow only 30 vehicles in the day and only one vehicle was allowed every 20 minutes. This was to reduce the pressure on wildlife due to excessive human intervention. The next available slot was only at 3:40PM. All our plans had gone for a toss. Confusion reigned on our minds and after a long discussion we decided to ditch the Top Slip Safari and go for Parambikulam in the evening.
We came back to Top Slip again and went to the only canteen there. The food was only served on prior order and the canteen guy was turning away all tourists saying that they should have made an order earlier. Even tea/Coffee is served only at certain time. This is ridiculous but that’s the way the Government works. Luckily our driver had told about this and we had called the canteen guy and had ordered for lunch. The food was simple and was OK.
We killed time till 3 and then started towards Parambikulam. We found that at the check post, the guard was allowing some vehicles to enter for bribe. The rule made for a genuine cause was being exploited by these forest guards. We crossed Kerala border and reached another check post. Here we were forced to take a guide. The guide was hopeless and never opened his mouth. We were also asked to return by 5:45PM. The time was very short and we decided to ditch the dam and go to “Kannimari”, which is the largest teak tree in the world. We did see a lot of wild life and the highlight was a pack of wild dogs that crossed the path. This was the first time I saw them in the forests.
After Kannimari, we then reached a view point where we watched the panoramic view of Thoonakkadavu dam.
I also heard that there is a jeep (or tram??) path from Chalakudy to Parambikulam where the forest was thicker than the one between Athirapally and Valparai.
It was then time to head back. The Anamalai hills started to fade away in the background as we moved towards Pollachi. We boarded the train at 11:45PM from Coimbatore after having dinner at “Hotel Annapurna”, one of the best in Tamilnadu.
It would be better if one spends at least 2 days in Valparai. Athirapally falls and nearby places can be covered in a day. The second day can be spent in Akkamalai (Grass hills), but needs permission. I could not get much information where to get permission. One can contact Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Panagal Building, 1, Jeenis Road, Saidapet, Chennai - 600015. Ph no: 044-4321738. They will at least give direction to obtain permissions.
Valparai is not yet a “developed” hill station. There is only couple of hotels. The facilities are very basic.
Hotel Green Hill: 04253 – 222262
Krishna Lodge: 04253 – 222234
Top Slip and Parambikulam:
One has to stay for at least two days to really enjoy the beauty of these places. Both the places have guest houses, but guest houses and cottages in Parambikulam are in a more isolated and scenic location.
For accommodation at Top Slip contact, Department of Forestry in Pollachi (Wildlife Warden Office, 178 Meenkarai Road, in Pollachi, Ph: 04259-225356)
For Parambikulam, Accommodation can be reserved through the Range Officer, Thoonakkadavu. (Ph: 04253 – 277250)