Rewind Time at Yercaud

coffee estate, yercaud, tamilnadu

Imagine a place in the hills, where the wind sometimes wafts, sometimes freewheels. The mercury is too cautious to cross the 30th degree mark, and the homes are the old world. Where a thousand greens tinge the same hill. The forests become lakes and lakes become forests in a wink. And a dozen peaks take your eye to the furthest horizons. More than 173 years ago, Sir Thomas Monroe, the governor of erstwhile Madras Presidency, found such a place. Not enough has changed in Yercaud. Like many of its sisters, it has avoided the ravaging beast of urbanity. The whirls of smoke don’t choke its forest air, and time is sedentary. Yercaud resorts take pride in showcasing the antiquity of the place, giving you much to marvel at.

Yercaud Forest walk, Tamilnadu – Image via Flickr by Joseph Jayanth

Shevaroys for the Quaint Nature Lover

Nestled in the Shevaroys Range in Eastern Ghats, Yercaud is some 5,000 feet above sea level, and, luckily for the reserved, sparsely populated. The jewel of South India, it heavily contrasts the bustle and chaos of regional metropolises. Like many hill stations, it still retains its colonial buildings and institutions like the prestigious Montfort School, Fairholme Bungalow and Grange summer resort. Central to its charm is the Yercaud Lake, a silvery body of water lined by hills, dense parks, and natural shoals. When you’re not boating, the lake-side parks, which include The Botanical Garden and The National Orchidarium, offer irenic strolls.

yercaud lake, botanical garden yercaud, tamilnadu

Botanical Garden, Yercaud, Tamilnadu – Image via Flickr by solarisgirl

The undulating landscape attracts trekkers from around the country to see the enchanting Kiliyur Falls empty into the valley below as it swells with the waters of Yercaud’s lakes. On the way to the highest point of Shevaroys Hills, where its famous temple stands, is the hill station’s oldest cottage, Norton’s Bungalow. Situated nearby, the Bear Cave is a short potholer’s journey of a few hundred metres.

High Points and Horticulture Delights

Yercaud hill station, yercaud, tamilnadu

Hill station in Yercaud, Tamilnadu – Image via Flickr by Joseph Jayanth

When the British developed this hill station, they introduced fruits to sustain its economy, a trade that still continues. Visitors to Yercaud can stroll through its citrus fruit groves, banana plantations and coffee estates, where the coffee bloom dots the forests with white flowers in fairy-tale effect. The plantations transport you to old-time India, where regional cultures blended seamlessly with borrowed British idiosyncrasies.

Coffee estate in Yercaud, Tamilnadu – Image via Flickr by V.v

During the time of the British, trekking to Yercaud Hills’ vantage points wasn’t uncommon for both men and women. The topography is home to old and new temples and fascinating places to visit in Yercaud that you may stumble into. East of the hills lies the popular Pagoda Point, where the sun drowns in into the vast, dense jungles of Yercaud edging towards the brightly-lit Salem city – a breathtaking sight for an evening picnic with friends and family, where you can indulge in archery after your picnic, depending on the Yercaud hotels you may be staying. Like Pagoda Point, these hills are home to many other vantage points: Tipperary Viewpoint, Karediyur viewpoint, Arthur’s Seat and Lady’s Seat, which aristocratic British women had been known to visit. A short distance from Lady’s Seat is Yercaud’s renowned Silk Farm and Rose Garden, both popular attractions that immerse you in the artistry of nature and man.

yercaud hill station, tamilnadu

Hill station in Yercaud, Tamilnadu – Image via Flickr by Joseph Jayanth

Because that is really what a holiday in Yercaud is all about: witnessing the endearing relationship between its few residents and its overwhelming nature. Whether you’re starting from Chennai, Hyderabad or Bangalore to Yercaud, your travel will be comfortable thanks to the fine roads.

 

This is a guest post by Nanditha, who is a travel writer by profession and works with HolidayIQ. She is a lover of world cultures, languages, and food, and guides travelers to make travel adventurous with her experience.
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Sikkim Diaries: Waterfall-breaks on the Way to Lachung

waterfall, lachung, sikkim

This is the second part of my North Sikkim tour photo series. If you have missed the first part, click here to view the photo-essay on my journey to Lake Gurudongmar.

We reached Gangtok in the afternoon, on May 7, 2016, and headed for Lachung the very next morning. The shared taxis/rental cars for Lachung are available at Vajra taxi stand, just outside the city. Unfortunately, a technical fault was detected in our car right after we started from Vajra. It took some time to get it repaired. Therefore, it was a delayed start from Gangtok at around 12 pm.

mountain roard, sikkim, lachung

The weather was fine and the views were great. The rows of white and colored prayer ‪‎flags, with the sublime mountains in the background, added a pristine charm to the ‪‎landscapes.

prayer flags, gangtok, lachung, sikkimblue prayer flags, Gangtok, Sikkim

Unfortunately, the road condition is extremely bad in North Sikkim. It was a rough ride throughout on the broken mountain roads, but the torturous journey was compensated with breaks like these… 🙂

waterfall, lachung, north sikkim

Our first stop was at Seven Sisters’ Waterfall.

seven sisters waterfalls, lachung, sikkimseven sisters waterfalls, lachung, sikkim

There was a natural pool at the bottom of the falls.

natural pool, waterfalls, lachung, north sikkim

And we could see big boys were having fun in the water.

waterfall, natural pool, lachung, sikkim

swimming, waterfall, natural pool, Lachung, North Sikkim

This part of the Himalayas is green and verdant year-round as it receives sufficient rainfall to boost the streams and waterfalls. We stopped as many times as we could to take in the beauty of the hills and rivers on our way.

mountain road, road trip, hills, river, sikkimhills, mountains, sikkim, himalayas

And took pleasure in small things as well…

blue berry, berries, fruits, hills, sikkimThere were quite a few waterfalls on the way up to Chungthung, a small town, after which the road bifurcates. One goes to Lachung and the other leads to Lachen, the gateway to Gurudongmar, the iconic lake in North Sikkim.

waterfall, mountain road, sikkim, lachung

However, the last and most notable was ‘Bachchan Falls’, which is popularly called so because of its appearance, tall and lean like Big B. 😀   Well, I don’t know if this waterfall is really called so by the locals. I didn’t see any signboard there, indicating the name of this waterfall.

bachchan falls, waterfall, lachung, sikkim

My Sikkim diary will continue. Please don’t forget to share your thoughts on this journey if you like it.

Before I stop for now, here are a few more beautiful moments captured on the way…

waterfall, lachung, sikkim

hills, river, mountains, lachung, sikkim, landscapegreenery, woods, hills, lachung, sikkim

bridge, mountain road, sikkim

waterfalls, mountain road, lachung, sikkimwaterfalls, lachung, sikkim

river, stream, lachen, lachung, sikkimriver, stream, lachung, lachen, sikkim

waterfall, lachung, sikkim

And a selfie is the way to go when there is no one to click your pics. 😉

selfie at waterfallTake care. See you soon.

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Sikkim Diaries: Visiting a Piece of Heaven Called Gurudongmar

lake, Gurudongmar, Lachen, North Sikkim

Gurudongmar was on my bucket-list since 2011 when I planned with my friends for North Sikkim travel for the first time. Unfortunately, due to a devastating earthquake in Sikkim in the same year, we had to cancel our trip. Nevertheless, visiting Lake Gurudongmar was my destiny. I finally made it after 5 long years. 🙂

Selfie, Lumia 540, Gurudongmar, lake, north sikkim

Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, at approx. 17,800 feet above the sea level, the holy lake is about 3.5-hour drive from Lachen, a small village where tourist can halt for the night.

We started early, at 4 am. It was a terribly bumpy ride on the rough mountain roads till the army check post after Thangu, which was our only halt during this hectic journey.

mountain roads, north sikkim

north sikkim, mountain, desert, road

26641876673_f105988cca_hThe road gets better from here, offering a smooth ride, which is a rarity in North Sikkim. 😛   😀  mountain, road, desert, north sikkim

North sikkim, lachen, gurudongmar, landscape, mountains

As we were nearing the lake the landscapes changed drastically without any trace of trees and plants. It looked more like a desert with dune-like formations visible at the horizon. Exalted and overwhelmed, one of our group members commented that the landscapes reminded him of Ladakh. 🙂

road, gurudongmar, north sikkim

mountain, desert, north sikkim, gurudongmar

Whatever it might look like, the mountain desert looked outlandish and fascinating to me. I was spellbound with the sights of such exotic landscapes.

way to gurudongmar, north sikkim, himalayas

mountains, himalayas, north sikkim

snow, mountains, north sikkim

We saw herds of yaks grazing on the fields, totally indifferent about the tourist vehicles that were running past them.

yaks, north sikkim, mountain desert, himalayas

27150318012_3e53ac0ac2_hFinally, we reached our destination, Lake Gurudongmar, at 7:30 am. That’s how the holy lake looked like in the morning light – still, calm, and unspoiled.

lake gurudongmar, north sikkim, reflection

The first few moments were speechless in silent admiration to such divine beauty.

gurudongmar, lake, north sikkim

There is a temple on the bank. I didn’t find time to enter as I was too busy in absorbing the beauty of nature all around.

gurudongmar, holy lake, north sikkim, himalayas

prayer flags, colors, north sikkim, gurudongmar

lake gurudongmar, north sikkim

Gurudongmar, north sikkim, landscape

And of course, posing for the camera with the lake on the backdrop. 😉

gurudongmar, holy lake, north sikkim, nature

However, amid this clean and clear environment, the taxis/rental cars were the direct agent of air pollution. These rental cars are so poorly maintained in Sikkim. I wonder why the local administration is so indifferent about them while it is so strict about keeping Gangtok clean.

environmental pollution, north sikkim, gurudongmar, mountains

In addition, there are the “litterbugs” who never forget to throw off their disposable belongings anytime, anywhere. If you zoom into the picture (below) you’ll see the discarded water bottles. Is it not the responsibility of the visitors, too, to keep the environment clean?

mountains, gurudongmar, environmental pollution, north sikkim

Our Tour Plan

We were lucky to have the weather in our favor during our tour from May 7 to 12, 2016. Our North Sikkim tour included 2-night 3-day Lachung-Lachen package. We stayed at Hotel Meylong in Gangtok and booked the Lachung-Lachen tour package through our hotel. You can check out my review of Hotel Meylong on TripAdvisor for more information.

Our North Sikkim tour plan was like this –

Day 1: NJP (New Jalpaiguri) to Gangtok (We reached NJP from Kolkata at around 9am by Padatik Express)

Day 2: Gangtok to Lachung (Night stay at Lachung)

Day 3: Visit Yumthung Valley and Zero Point – Back to hotel at Lachung for lunch – drive to Lachen (Night stay at Lachen)

Day 4: Visit Lake Gurudongmar and drive back to hotel for lunch – return to Gangtok by evening

Day 5: Gangtok sightseeing

Day 6: Visit Changu (Tsomgo Lake), Baba Mandir and Nathu La pass and return to Gangtok

Day 7: Start for NJP after lunch and reach there by 7:30 pm and board the train to Kolkata

Some Important Info

Please note that if you are an Indian citizen, you should carry your Voter ID card/PAN card/driving license as photo identity proof along with 4-5 photocopies of the same document and an equal number of passport size photographs for Lachung-Lachen tour. You may need to submit these documents to get the travel permit. However, you cannot rent cars on your own and arrange the tour directly. You have to go via a local tour operator or your hotel’s travel desk. They will arrange everything for you.

Finally, don’t forget to pack an umbrella if you are visiting in the May-June season. You may need it anytime. 🙂

To be continued…

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