There’s no end to the beauty that the southern states of India has been abundantly blessed with. Travelogues have sung glory about the verdant greenery while nature enthusiasts have been taken aback by the resplendent glory of the bountiful surroundings. The clearest of blues and the most refreshing of greens, the most robust coffees and teas and also the ultimate abode of peace that south India remains exuberant in makes it no less than a paradise. Yet within this paradise, there rests numerous other charming places that are no less beautiful but are far less explored. Indeed there might be a paradox at play- in being relatively unknown these hamlets have retained their classic natural allure.
One such very quaint hill station nestled in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is Valparai. A perfect tea town, emanating the warmth of nature and the many fragrances of its blooming beauty, Valparai houses more than enough elements to have you besotted. In fact the wonder trove of magnificence and peace that Valparai encompasses have earned it the title of the seventh heaven of India. Here’s a roundup of the 15 places you must visit while in Valparai so that you don’t miss out on any of the heavenly vibes permeating this unspoiled paradise-
A picturesque picnic spot and as magnificent a tourist attraction, the Aliyar dam is one of the places to must visit in Valparai. Sitting at the foothills of Valparai some 1000 feet above sea level, the Aliyar dam nestles also a well maintained park and play area as well as an aquarium and boating zone to let you while away a full day of recreation amidst the mist of the mountains and the mystery of the wilderness.
A very picturesque and equally prominent tourist place in Valparai is the Koolangal river. Beneath the clear waters that flow calmly lies a bed of pebbles that makes the below water view a really different sight to cherish. In fact it is the ample presence of the pebbles that have rendered the river its name. The slow flowing, shallow waters of the Koolangal river also make it easy to wade through it at your own pace and thrill. Some few kilometers away from Valparai, the river also serves as an excellent picnic spot with its surrounding greenery and its winding meanderings.
A waterfall that is so majestic in its exuberance that it has come to be named the Indian Niagara- what more would you want out of a country that fascinates you over and over again with its myriad vista of natural bestowings? The Athirapally falls is all the glory you will ever need to find solace in serene solitude and bustle with its picknicking allure all in once. A segmented waterfall that is as majestic a view to behold from its base as it is from the top, the Athirapally falls also is a double delight as it also has the really amazing Vazhachal waterfalls making their way down to glory barely some few kilometers nearby. What’s more, there’s even the equally exquisite Chapra falls that is just the perfect stopover to explore even further into the mystics that the clear mountain water eternally holds.
Enroute the picturesque expanse of Valparai lies another pretty place that serves as a prominent tourist stop over. The Tiger Valley with its all encompassing spectacular view of the Azhiyar reservoir and Kadamparai is worth all the detour on your journey to Valparai. The vast array of greenery and the many windmills present on the valley make it even more a beauty to behold and relish with all your nature craving senses.
Valparai is home to numerous dams and one of such among the umpteenth tourist attractions is the Sholayar dam. The second largest rock dam in Asia offers scenic views of the surrounding greenery while being a majestic existence in itself. Nestled by the Anamalai hills, this humongous dam remains as tranquil and verdant as the entire expanse of Valparai itself. Gushing waters, ample abundance of natural flora and fauna, the fascinating criss cross trail make the Sholapur dam one among the more raved about spots in town. Surrounded by the Sholayar forest and resplendent with the many lush tea plantations that characterise its backwaters, the namesake dam is a prominent feature among the touristry places to visit in Valparai.
The place in India that has the heavens opening up to shower the third highest amount of rainfall over it, Chinnakallar is every bit a natural haven. Nestling a namesake waterfall- one of the most exotic you will ever witness- Chinnakallar remains steeped in its geographical as well as natural significance. Located deep inside a dense forest, the spectacular waterfalls is accessible only after you have made it through an adventurous trek upon a hanging bridge, through narrow lanes among rugged bushes, that enhances further the allure and aura of the falls. Roaring with the exuberance of its gushing waters and spellbinding in its misty surroundings, the Chinnakallar waterfall is indeed a beauty to behold in this place also aptly called the Cherrapunjee of Tamil Nadu.
Vellamalai Tunnel River
A river that flows through a tunnel just because- sounds fascinating enough to make it to your list of places to visit in Valparai? Well then it’s the Vellamalai tunnel river that has you in its beckoning. Diverting the water from Chinnakallar Dam to Sholayar dam throughout the year, the some 6 kilometers long Vellamalai Tunnel remains pretty boisterous during the monsoons with even a pretty waterfall in tow. Even otherwise, wild flowers and creepers dot the mouth and end of the tunnel helping it retain its charm and appeal throughout.
The name Monkey Falls that characterise this among the places to visit in Valparai isn’t any misnomer. Seething with hordes of monkeys, this picturesque falls however also dwells in the magnificent beauty it nurtures and the huge tourist footfall it commands day in and day out. The sparkling waters cascade their way down numerous rocky cliffs even as the evergreen forests perfectly encapsulate making for quite a sight that is a true treat for the senses.
Apart from the beauty however, the waters are also said to be one of nature’s finest source of minerals which just enhance the allure of this place every bit more. Soul soothing in its ambiance and spirited in the arduous trek amidst dense forests and steep slopes that help visitors reach the waterfall, the Monkey Falls should definitely be a prime feature in the itinerary of any visitor to this lesser known place in Tamil Nadu.
Loam’s View Point
Valparai is one of those few places on earth that is not just steeped in natural beauty but that also comes with quite a few majestic viewpoints to soak in all the encapsulating beauty and glory of this natural heaven. One such prominent sightseeing place that offers breathtaking view of the entire vista of beauty is the Loam’s View Point, at some 780 metres above sea level. Whether it be the Aliyar dam or the Anamalai mountain, spotting some endangered Nilgiri tahrs or even a view of the scenic mountain road and not to forget exquisite sunsets far up to the expanse of the plains, this spot is just the perfect place to stand and revel in the amazing array of wonder that Valparai has been abundantly endowed with.
Among the list of places to visit in Valparai, another unmissable spot some 15 kilometers away from town is the Nallamudi Poonjolai or the Nallamudi viewpoint. Located within the Nallamudi Tea Estate, this particular viewpoint is a wonder to tread along for more reasons than one. Making your way some distance within the estate amidst the lush tea plantations as you are greeted with ample hints of the wildlife that graze in the surroundings makes for quite an experience to savour, as you find yourself in full tandem with the glory of nature’s bounty.
Once atop the view point and you are welcomed by the sound of gushing waters and the strong whoosh of the mountain breeze. The view therefrom is no less stunning- whether it be taking in the striking majesty of Anamudi peak, the tallest peak in South India as it towers up to the clouds or the many waterfalls that streak their way down steep cliffs, the myriad flora inhabiting the dense greenery as well as a few tribal hamlets scattered across the length and breadth of the valley. It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that the magic of Valparai seems even more enticing from atop the rocky platform of the Nallamudi Poonjolai.
A protected area in the Western Ghats, Grass Hills is a part of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and among the prominent places to visit in Valparai. Tough tussocky grass characterise the landscape some 2400 meters above sea level in this secluded part of the naturally endowed region that is really a delight for the eyes. Joining the high ranges of Kerala, the Grass Hills also provide ample scope for encountering numerous Ox bow lakes. Such expansive biodiversity make Grass Hills also a restricted area to trek through all the exotic fauna and picturesque beauty. Peaks and plateaus make up this shola grassland ecosystem that is a really exotic and prime attraction of Valparai.
Some 20 kilometers away from Valparai lies a reserve forest by the name Manompally that is a woodland of veritable natural grandeur in its verdant expanse and lofty environs. An adventure haven that offers more than a few daunting treks and comes with the bounty of some exotic flora and fauna, the Manompally forest is a sheer wonder and an evident tourist attraction set amidst the quaint charm of the magic hill station that Valparai is. The Manompally river flowing in full tow along the reserve forest enhances further its beauty and lure making it yet another of the places to must visit in town.
No detour to the hills is complete if you let slip the mystique and spirituality inherent in them from your folds. Naturally then Valparai’s Balaji Temple makes it matter as one of the prominent places to visit there. However, it isn’t just the allure of the mystics that do up the temple forever teeming with devotees and tourists alike. Conveniently located within a tea estate, the temple also houses a garden and a children’s park. Making your way up to the temple however is no mean feat as you need to ascend some steep 500 meters before you can enter the temple premises and bow down your head in reverence before a golden statue of Lord Balaji- the reigning temple deity there. Whether you are on the lookout for some spirituality or the serenity, the beauty or the aura, the Balaji temple will not have you disappointed.
Iraichal parai falls
Somewhere nearby the Balaji Temple you would also encounter yet another waterfall that makes for those places to must visit in Valparai. Originating from the springs that run abundantly through the Grass Hills, the Iraichal Parai falls are no less beautiful than any of the other waterfalls that dot the region.
Karamalai Annai Velankanni Church
For you to seek spirituality high up the hills there also rests in Valparai the Karamalai Annai Velankanni Church. A really magnificent specimen of architecture, the church remains seated in really tranquil environs with greenery and misty allure enveloping it in its confines. The church also plays host to an annual festival every September that attracts a whole lot of visitors and tourists. Be it the encompassing view of the surrounding tea estates or the small river that streams beside it, the Karamalai Annai church is definitely one of the places worthy of your visit while in Valparai.