Valparai is a hidden gem nestled in the tranquil embrace of the Anaimalai range in the Western Ghats. It offers all the delights of a hill station without the bustling crowds and clamour. Picture a landscape adorned with sprawling tea and coffee estates resembling delicate emerald handkerchiefs scattered across the terrain. Valparai has been fortunate to retain its pristine allure, shielded by stringent forest and zoning laws that have prevented the excessive urbanisation that have affected destinations like Ooty.
Embarking on a scenic drive from Coimbatore, you'll encounter the renowned 40 hairpin bends that add an element of thrill to the journey. Resting at a modest elevation of 3,500 feet above sea level, Valparai is considered one of the younger planting districts in South India. It witnessed the establishment of its first tea factory as recently as 1910. The region boasts several charming old bungalows, lovingly transformed into atmospheric accommodations that beckon weary travellers.
Immerse yourself in the lush greenery and enchanting aura of Valparai by embarking on a plantation tour amid the embrace of evergreen forests. These are home to the Nilgiri tahr, among others. Their numbers have dwindled due to habitat destruction and they can now be found only in a few places like the Anaimalai Hills.
Allow yourself to be captivated by the natural beauty and serenity that envelops Valparai. The destination promises to create cherished memories as you find solace amid its captivating landscapes.
Valparai is surrounded by a lot of natural beauty so for nature enthusiasts there are a lot of places to explore. Immerse yourself in breathtaking vistas by visiting popular viewpoints like Nallamudi Poonjolai, Loam's Viewpoint, and the Koolangal river. Enjoy panoramic views of tea estates, misty mountains and cascading waterfalls.
Athirappilly Falls: A short trip from Valparai, travellers must witness the majestic Athirappilly Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in India. Marvel at the gushing waters as they cascade down a rocky cliff amid lush greenery.
Anaimalai Tiger Reserve: Formerly know as the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, travellers can embark on a wildlife adventure as the reserve is home to various endangered species. Explore the dense forests, spot wildlife such as elephants, leopards, and lion-tailed macaques, and enjoy birdwatching.
Tea Plantations: Valparai is renowned for its vast tea estates. Take a stroll through the tea gardens, learn about the tea-making process, and savour a cup of freshly brewed tea amid the serene surroundings.
Sholayar Dam: Visit the Sholayar Dam, one of Asia's largest, which offers a mesmerising view of the backwaters and surrounding hills. Enjoy a peaceful boat ride or picnic along the dam's banks. The drive from Valparai is absolutely stunning.
Karumalai Balaji Temple: Pay a visit to the Balaji Temple, a popular religious site in Valparai. It's a peaceful spot among the sounds of the city where you can sit and meditate or admire the intricate architecture, participate in temple rituals and experience the spiritual ambience.
Aliyar Dam: Explore the scenic Aliyar Dam and park near Valparai. Enjoy boating on the tranquil reservoir, relax amid lush gardens and indulge in adventure activities like ziplining and rock climbing.
Monkey Falls: Unwind and rejuvenate at Monkey Falls, a natural cascade surrounded by dense forests. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters and enjoy the beauty of the cascading waterfall.
Valparai offers a range of delightful purchases, starting with the aromatic teas from its renowned plantations. The region's spice plantations provide an array of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper and cloves. Pure and natural honey produced by local farms is also worth exploring. Look for tribal handicrafts, such as bamboo crafts and wooden sculptures, reflecting the local culture.
Additionally, Valparai's lush surroundings yield herbal products, including oils, soaps and creams. And for coffee enthusiasts, freshly roasted beans or ground coffee can be found alongside the tea options.
You can stay at one of the many heritage bungalows in Valparai. These are old colonial bungalows in Valparai that have been converted into heritage stays. Furthermore, Valparai offers a range of resorts and homestays that provide comfortable and scenic accommodations in a natural environment. There are also designated camping sites in and around Valparai for the outdoorsy tourist, where you can experience the wilderness and enjoy the serene surroundings.
Coimbatore and Kochi are the nearest airports. Drive to Valparai via Pollachi from Coimbatore (about 3hrs) or via Chalakudy from Kochi (4hrs). The nearest railhead is Coimbatore (100km).