Saturday, October 04, 2008
Elagiri Hills, Vellore District, Tamilnadu, India [Also spelt Yelagiri]
I will keep saying that out of all metros Chennai is not the place to be in unless you are a Tamilian or understand/speak Tamil.
But the countryside of Tamilnadu is a different. When I see the villages of Tamilnadu or even the roads I think it gets more marks compared to many other parts of India as far as villages and state or major or minor Roads are concerned. Bihar and West Bengal are horrible [unless they have changed from 1980s when I used to drive in the different districts of West Bengal and Dhanbad District if Bihar-now in Jharkhand]. Hey! I am diverting.. my blog here is not on Tamilnadu villages but on Elagiri Hills.
Tamilnadu has its own share of Natural Beauty. All one needs is to get out of the standard mind set and just talk of Temples whenever one asks "where can I go for the weekend? Ohh? Why not try that temple..." Temples and their structural beauty notwithstanding, these type of suggestions from Local Chennaiites kept giving me a feeling that all TN has is Temples and temples and temples. But no! It has hill stations, wild life sanctuaries, Bird Sanctuaries, Sea beaches, Water Falls, bio preserve sites, forts and what not. All you require is some reasonable money because Tamilnadu is a cheap place money-wise -- you can either reach these places by bus or train or have your own car or mobike. And just take a camera.. lots of subjects to choose from!
So I pushed off to Elagiri Hills on 1st Oct .. it is easy to reach. Do not follow any map given on the web. The ones I saw speak of different touch points.. no need. Just take the Bangalore Road from Chennai which is called Poonamalee High Road and go on the toll road only. Do not turn right or left but travel on the well asphalted wide road - very easy to distinguish.. and cross Hyundai, Samsung, Nokia etc factories and Sri Perumbudur and continue on this road only.
At a place called Ranipet. This will be the 2nd toll gate (one is before Sri Perumbudur). After the toll gate the NH-4 bends rightwards under the Flyover to go towards Bangalore via the Hoskote road (do not worry about these names). Just go straight without turning right. On the right side the flyover will be above you- the traffic is one way towards Chennai on this.
Now you will be on NH-46- this is the Toll road that continues to Krishnagiri then turns right to Hosur and Bangalore. Continue straight till you reach Vellore. Do not go left or right till then, just move over the flyovers wherever you see them. After Vellore there is a place called Palikondaj.. There was a place to eat on the left side.. big place.. lot of cars in the parking place.. seemed to be a good joint.. You can stop there for eating.. Lunch or Brunch whatever..
After Vellore- Ambur then Vanyambadi. Here you will see Sign Board (all signs have English too) which will tell you to take the left side road and not go on the flyover. Here YOU WILL LEAVE THE Main road and not take the flyover-- [But remember before this you were travelling only straight!].. then turn left till you reach Ponneri. The picture of this crossing is shown in my blog. Turn left here. A TN Tourism Board [ letters not visible] welcomes you.
From here it is 14 kms to the top.
View of the plains from the hills.
Elagiri Hill is actually a Plateau. You take 14 hair pin (wide ones) to rise 1020 mtrs above sea level and then at the top it is flat and not like Darjeeling or Sikkim or Oooty etc.. where you will find steep roads and so on. This place recently hosted an international Paragliding festival under the aegis of Yelagiri Adventure Sports Association. http://www.jimandaz.com/8/tourists_can_now_experience_paragliding_yelagiri_hills.htm
Do not go for sight seeing. Go if you like to RELAX.. and have quality time for yourself or with family. A manmade lake - small one is there for boating... and a small nature park where you have Musical Fountain at 7 pm ...You probably have seen larger lakes and parks like Nehru Park at Mumbai or musical fountains at Brindacan Gardens etc. So as I said this place is not for sightseeing. But if you love nature then plenty here for those who get tired of Chennai or Bangalore.
For youngsters- it can be for some trekking-- walking in the woods.
For old- some healthy air and walks
For families- Some laughter and time spent together.
For singles- Enjoying the silence and the chirping of birds.
For not so newly marrieds- recall the honeymoon days without spending much.
You do not get drinks here. Resorts do not encourage, but you know how to circumvent this. Zeenath Taj resorts is among the best I feel. Try it out. Rs 1200 plus service tax.