How To Spend A Weekend In Yelagiri Hills

If doing nothing in complete peace and quiet in cool climes is your idea of a perfect weekend, Yelagiri would fit the bill perfectly.
Walk along lush green nature trails
Walk along lush green nature trails

A cluster of 14 hamlets, the tiny hill station away from the disorderly life of our cities is ideal for those seeking some solitude. It&rsquos a half-horse town dignified by one main road, which has a sprinkling of teashops, a few liquor shops and some &lsquofancy&rsquo stores. There&rsquos precious little to &lsquodo&rsquo, and therein lies Yelagiri&rsquos charm. Yelagiri is actually a cluster of small villages spread over a couple of hills. There&rsquos little or no sightseeing, no shopping, no touts and no souvenir hunting. And no sign of the hordes of tourists who have managed to ruin hill stations like Ooty.

Just 228 kilometres away from Chennai this scenic hill station is an abode for nature lovers. Chrck out the Swami Malai Hills, the highest point in Yelagiri. You can indulge in an afternoon out on the boats on the Nilavoor Lake or Punganoor Lake and marvel at sunsets in the Forest Hills. Be sure to visit Fundera Park, home to 300 exotic bird species. Pray your way through Jalagandeeswarar Temple and Moksha Vimochana Temple but do not miss the Vainu Bappu Observatory. It houses a telescope through which you can observe the celestial bodies and marvel at the night skies. The observatory was once home to Asia&rsquos largest telescope. 

During the day, sit by the lake with a book, or just stretch out under a tree and count the leaves as they fall. Come evening, watch the sun set over the hills. If you actually want to do something, take a bus to the nearby villages, trek through the wooded slopes, or visit some of the temples the locals so enthusiastically recommend. Tip Autos and buses are available.

Punganoor Lake Tourism in Yelagiri revolves around this artificial lake. You can take a gentle walk next to the lake and/ or a serene ride on the lake by rowboat or pedal boat. Mercifully, noisy and polluting motorboats have not yet caught on.

The Government Silk Farm involves a longish walk along mulberry plantations and climbing over a couple of fences, but if you manage to get a friendly official to show you around, the sericulture tour is very interesting.

To get to the silk farm, located at Mangalam, head to Yelagiri&rsquos bus stand at Athanavur. From here, it&rsquos a straight road (5km) to Mangalam.

Perhaps the most strenuous activity over the weekend would be a trek up the Swamimalai, at 4,338ft, the highest point in Yelagiri. With paragliding also conducted here, one can capture the ideal glimpse of the location and the 14 hamlets that add to the unyielding gorgeousness of the place. The 2-hour climb may be taxing, but it&rsquos worth it because you get a breathtaking view of the valley. This hill has some good trekking routes through dense reserve forests. These, though, are pretty busy on weekends. The best time for treks to Swamimalai is November to January, when it&rsquos deliciously cool.

Getting There

Nearest airport Bengaluru (198km/ 3.5hrs). Nearest railhead Jolarpettai (20km/ 45mins). There are plenty of cabs available for Yelagiri from the station. Yelagiri is a comfortable drive from Bengaluru along two excellent national highways. You can do the drive easily under 4hrs, or a little more with a break en route. 

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