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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Valparai, Top Slip and Parambikulam

9th - 10th June
This time the trip was to Valparai and top slip, situated in the Western Ghats near Pollachi.

Valparai: Valparai is the hill station in the Anamalai mountain range about 64 kms from Pollachi in Tamilnadu. It is a place which is not yet polluted by the influx of the tourists.

Top Slip: Top Slip is about 35 kms from Pollachi. It is the visitor centre for Anamalai wildlife sanctuary. Anamalai is one of the biggest wildlife sanctuaries in the country with some 900 Sq.kms of forest area. Top slip is also the gateway for adjoining Parambikulam sanctuary in Kerala.

Plan: Six of us (Myself, Sankara, Saran, Ajay, Malli and Abhijeet) had planned to stay a night at Top Slip and visit Valparai and Anamalai wildlife sanctuary. We called wild life warden at Pollachi, to book one of the guest houses at Top slip. We were promptly told that “all” the guest houses were booked for VIPs. Well, this is a problem at all Government controlled guest houses. Most of the times, they are booked for “VIPs”. Either one has to plan early by writing a letter and sending DD months in advance or have some “connections” with VIPs to get the rooms booked. Else, take a risk and directly go to the place where the Officials wait till the last second for any VIP’s before giving the room. We people had neither the flexibility of planning a trip in advance nor had any connection with VIP kind of people. Finally, we decided to stay at one of the lodges in Pollachi and cover Valparai and Top Slip. We booked train tickets (Thanks to “Tatkal”) to Coimbatore on Kuchuveli Express.

The Trip:
The journey started on Friday evening at 7PM. Myself, Sankara, Ajay and Malli boarded at Cantonment station while Saran and Abhijeet joined us at KR Puram. We reached Coimbatore at 2AM. Sankara had booked a Sumo for travel and it was ready for us at the railway station. We started towards Pollachi where we had planned to book the lodge. In another 45 minutes, we were at Pollachi. There was some movie shooting going on near Pollachi and all lodges were full. It might also be possible that they were skeptical to give room to strangers at 3 in the night. That was unfortunate and we had to think about alternatives. Driver suggested going to Udumalpet, a small town 30 kms from Pollachi. It meant an additional travel but we had no other option.

We were almost nearing Udumalpet, when Sankara remember some phone number of a hotel in Valparai. The response was again negative, but we got phone number of another hotel. This time we were lucky, the hotel guy said that there were rooms available for stay. We headed back to Pollachi and then towards Valparai. About 25 kms from Pollachi was Aliyar Dam and Monkey falls, but it was still dark and we decided to visit while coming back. After Aliyar Dam, the ghat road starts. This road has 40 hairpin bends.

Initial part is though forests and we saw some “Nilgiri Thar”, a common animal in this area. The next part is through the tea estates and cool breeze refreshed us as we climbed up the ghats to Valparai.
We reached Valparai at 7AM and checked-in to Krishna lodge. We took some rest for couple of hours.
The first destination was Athirapally waterfalls. There was confusion about the distance to this falls from Valparai. The website that I referred had mentioned the distance as 50kms. We started at 11AM. On the way, at about 20 kms,was Sholayar-1 dam.
The Kerala border was next to the dam. After crossing Kerala check post, the road passed through the dense rain forest I had ever seen. The road was extremely narrow and was not in a good condition. There was not a soul or vehicle found for several kms. After one hour in the forest we came across Sholayar-2 Dam. This is was in the midst of the evergreen forest far away from Civilization.

We continued our journey and the forest seemed never to end. There were some anxious moments where the vehicle had to navigate through some fallen trees. Elephant dung was everywhere.

Finally after some 2.5 hours in the forest, we reached another check post and in another five kms, we were at Athirapally falls. The total distance was 100 kms and we had taken nearly 4 hours to cover this distance. There is an alternate route from Pollachi though Palakkad and Chalakudy where the roads are in a very good shape.

After having late lunch in a local hotel, we went to the falls. There is nice pathway to the bottom of the falls. We then went to the top of the falls where lots of people were in water. We enjoyed the cool waters for some time. This falls is quite famous among movie circle and lot of films are shot here.
We started back from the falls at 5:15PM. We wanted to cover the most of the forest stretch before sunset as driving would be tough during dark. Somewhere in the middle, the skies opened up. The driver had a tough time in driving. The downpour continued till we reached Valparai at about 8:30PM. After dinner at a local hotel, we hit the bed.

At 8PM, next day, we started back towards Pollachi. On the way, I could take some pictures of Malabar squirrel and Nilgiri Langur.

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.

More information:

Valparai:
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)







57 comments:

ರಾಜೇಶ್ ನಾಯ್ಕ said...

that was a good account of the trip. I was wondering why you haven't updated the blog....and then comes this story. Liked the langur shot.

Prashanth M said...

Beautiful photos and a nice write-up...

and BTW will it be raining during next week or the week after? any idea about that?

ps: you are blogrolled :)

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks Prashanth!!

When we went, it was quite cloudy and raining sometimes in Valparai.

Since the place is in the western ghats, it should be raining heavily now.

tamilnaduhotels said...

More information about Tamilnaduhotels.

Bala said...

I feel as if i was there in trip with you people.

Anonymous said...

Hello Pals,

We have a similar plan to visit these places. We heard that no road connectivity exists between Valparai and Athirapally falls. One has to take the Valparai->Pollachi->Chalakudi or Valapari->Perumpavur->Chalakudi route.

But I was believing that a route shoud exist through forest and your blog confirmed it. I would like to know more about this route and could I contact you for additional information?

It will be a great help if you can share your views.

Thanks,
Narayanan (SendtoNarayanan@gmail.com)
(09444991270)

Hari said...

Nice photos,but not enough to cover the whole areas in valparai..its nice to stay there in summer season..its a south india's cheerapunji..During rainy season we must travel through bike..its a amazing experience..also must have a chance to see the Estate managers Bunglow..

Jeevan said...

We have planned to visit valparai this month-end and want to know is this month would be quite pleasant to enjoy the nature and cool”? or it would be better visiting it in September after the southwest monsoon.

I am a person move on wheelchair and would it be able to get near or visible distance of Athirapally falls through wheels? I too love being surrounded by hills and forest; this season will be crowded in valparai and could be enjoyable the green?

Your writing inspires the eagerness riding on the Valparai and Top Slip. Your photos are really excellent.

if possible mail me in jeevan.grp@gmail.com Thank you :)

SATISH said...

I am planning to go to Topslip, Parambikulam forest and nearby places with my friends.Most probably we would be leaving on 23/01/2009 come back most probably on the 27th morning.So can u tell me apart from Topslip and Parambikulam what other places can we see in that time.

Shalaidah said...

You write very well.

Anonymous said...

Good Information Planning to hv trip to these places at the earliest

anantha said...

Hi, Can some one confirm if there is a route Exist between valparai and Athirampalli..

H.Satish said...

Hi. The write up is very nice. seems like you are tough trekker, and have done this route dedicatedly..
I am going there next week. Can you give me your mobile number, i will call you for more details. my Number is 94486 87595

subash said...

Is May month a good time to visit Valparai, Parambikulam & Topslip?

Aravind GJ said...

Top Slip and Parambikulam may be closed during April-May as a precaution against forest fire. Check with them before leaving.

subash said...

oh ok... thanks boss... will try to make it before march end... hope there wont be any rains to spoil the show in march...

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SIVA said...

Nice details.Very good coverage,
I will be planning a trip 3-4 days.
in december.Thanks for your info.I may take my honda city.Will it be ok.How about the road conditionPollachi-valparai-athirapalli-top slip.valparai-parambikulam.
IWILL KEEP IN TOUCH

Sri said...

hai guys,i belong to pollachi... its a pleasure going to valparai,, try to opt for 2wheelers for extreme enjoyment... there s no much trafic on the roads... the early u reach valparai the beautiful its....if gud drivers like 'me' it takes only 1.40min to valparai from pollachi... contact me if ur heading to valparai guys... v will rock it up.. im colge student ....

padmaja said...

hi Aravind,
we are planning for a short trip to valparai-topslip. while surfing net for these details, i came thru ur blog.. can u suggest me a good plan? we are planning to start from coimbatore on saturday morning and have to catch chennai train on the next day(sunday night). hope u can help me out. thanks in advance.

naveen said...

hi,
That was a nice blog, got a actual feeling of going to that place.
I came through a website which was very use full to me for travel and stay when I visited Valparai.
www.valparaitourism.com

vinesh said...

Your blog is very nice... i like your blog ....
Madurai Hotels, Pollachi hotels

Sample application said...

hi..we are planning for a short trip to valparai-topslip. before that i don't know abt valparai, i came thru ur blog and get more information..

thanks

Sample application said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sak said...

We too have plan during xmas week. Is this suitable time to go there ?
how about whether ?

GAM said...

Very well written and informative post. Lovely photos too. Thanks.

Cooking said...

this is the first time i ever visited valparai and poii had worst experience. I called up one person named jebaraj joshwa and he had arranged stay at deepika's guest house. He asked us to deposit meagre amount in his account. He confirmed the room rent to be Rs.3000/- per day and he said the cottage is in outskirts of valparai. We were given instructions to reach rotikadai and give deepika's guest house a call. To our shock, guest house is 21 kms down valparai and the place was quite hot, a typical chennai as i would call. When we reached guest house another shock awaited us. We all settled down, one of the employee's of the guest house informed the room to be 4000/-. I called Jebraj joshwa and he claims he has sent an email stating that the room rent is 4000/- per day and also never said the rent was 3000/- per ay. Employee of the lodge asked to vacat the lodge as we would not pay 4000/-. Finally after long talks he agreed for 3500/- per day. My point is dont get fooled by this middle men, please try to get in touch with owners of the lodge and confirm it.

Aravind GJ said...

Cooking,
Its sad that you had a bad experience. It is always better to get some reviews of the place before deciding. Getting in touch with the owner is the best way to book.

jitthu said...

Coking, gud work, u hav shared the bitter experience u had, which will also help us to find people like u mentioned Jebaraj Joshwa - he is still given details & contact info in

www.valparai.com

Be carefullllllllllll

Sathya said...

I was planning to take a trip to Valparai and Top slip but was not sure about where to start and how to go. Your blog has given great details and directions. Thanks for the good work.

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jaison1980s said...

valparai is in kerala dear friend

jaison1980s said...

valparai is in kerala dear friend

Aravind GJ said...

Jaison,
Thanks for the info.

As far as I know (and also from Google maps), Valparaai is in Tamilnadu.

And I remember crossing over to Kerala after Valparai.

Rajasthantraveling said...

This is a very interesting blog and so I like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up good job. Kerala Tour Packages

krish said...

Nice blog. Is the Park open in April and May. Some national parks are closed in Summer. Can someone confirm as I am planning a trip to TopSlip in April 2011.

Aravind GJ said...

Krish,
TopSlip is usually closed in March/April due to forest fires. Check with the forest suthorities before planning.

karthik said...

I just now called after reading the last comment. The forest office informed me that I could get a DD and send over. Meaning that the forest is open the week of 18 - 21 when am planning to go. I plan to drive down all the way from Chennai and stay in Pollachi and visit the nearby places. Kindly post any suggestions.

final year java projects said...

Nature is gift,that gift is present in Valparai really lovely place to visit at holidays and makes our mind happy and calm.

harris said...

ya the valparai- chalakudy route ,one of the breathtaking route across tamilnadu and kerla.here
the driver must be little bit careful while driving.
you have been heard of "beware of dog", but here it is "beware of elephants".
the ride will be much enthusiastic ,
enjoy well,,
KERLA"the gods own country,,,,ya its really true..


yours friendly,
Harris -harrisoft03@gmail.com

Misty Creek said...

For corporate/family/sightseeing/honeymoon packages and stay, please visit www.mistycreekvalparai.com for details.

korinta said...

Oh my god..All the pictures look so natural..It is fabulous..Thanks for sharing it..
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Grass Hills Tours and Travels - www.grasshillstravels.com said...

Nice article. If you are looking for package tours from Coimbatore or Pollachi to Topslip (Anamalai Tiger Reserve), Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Valparai, Athirapally, Munnar, etc, please visit www.grasshillstravels.com or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h-a-nACN-Y

Hai Baji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kritarth Srinivasan said...

Thanks - This is a great blog buddy. Will follow the rest of your posts like your informative style :D
Cheers!

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Aravind GJ said...

Karthik,

Thanks for your comments.

Grabur Deals said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anu Ram said...

Great Blog. Photos are too good . Article was very well written. Thanks for sharing.
parambikulam

Johnson Smith said...

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Pratima Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sameera said...

nice article tours and travelsand best images

Jose Johnson said...

Even though there is an alternative route from pollachi to Athirapally ( pollachi - palakkad- trissur - chalakkudy - athirapally ) , beautiful route would be via valparai ( pollachi - valparai- malakkaparai -vazhachal (checkpost) - athirapally ).. As you said road is not much wide, some parts of the road is not in good condition, but you will never forget the beauty of this place / route...I had gone through this route thrice, still i love to go this way to valparai from Kochin. There are dams, dense forests, rivers, waterfalls, very peaceful ambiance, if you have luck can see lots of animals too :)

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks Jose for your comments.

Ashwin said...

Nice post!!! thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Its really awesome to read this blog. Exlpore to those places by booking tickets in leading Bus Ticket Booking Portal.