Living at a Latitude of 13° 04' North and Longitude of 80° 17' East and may be 1 meter above mean sea level we decided to explore 11° 46' North, 78° 12' E and 1426 meters above mean sea level... (Ok, enough... we went from Chennai to Yercaud)
Yercaud was dubbed as Poor man’s Ooty and was believed to be a very good place. With several hotels and resort companies including Club Mahindra and Starlings’ having their presence here, I was of the opinion that it should be an exciting place. When I was planning the itinerary some people told “One day is just not enough to see all the places in Yercaud, you need to spend more time”. But after our recent visit to this place, I would term Yercaud as “Nothing great-Just an OK OK place”
We started Friday night 9PM from home and was joined by Ganesh and Narayanan at Kattipara Junction near Guidy. Ganesh had offered to bring his i10 Asta (it has a nice sun roof) for the trip and with few participants dropping out we were only four and there was no need to rent another vehicle. We set out on our journey to Yercaud. There was a shorter route that would have saved some 50 kms, but we took Vellore-Krishnagiri-Salem-Yercaud route, primarily because road was good and I was familiar with route till Krishnagiri (as I’d driven Chennai Bangalaore couple of times this way).
Ganesh drove till Krishnagiri and I took over from there. Road from there was partially under construction, though a heavy toll of Rs 48 was collected from us. We reached near Salem, stopped for tea and got direction for Yercaud. Narayanan had GPS on his mobile and helped us with directions. The uphill road was good with 20 hairpin bends. We reached Yercaud town by about 4.30AM (Total of about 400 kms in 6.5 hours time) and noticed signboards indicating distance to various places of tourist attraction-all were within 2-6 km from each other (unlike Wayanad or Coorg where they were spread all over the district). We’d made no prior hotel reservations as we felt it won’t be necessary. At 4.30AM we started looking for hotels-we had numbers of few and started calling them, waking up the operator/receptionist from sleep and asking “We’re in Yercaud, do you have a room? Can we check in?”. Parking outside the Lake Forest (A Club Mahindra Affiliate Resort) which we made our first call, said “No availability”. Couple of attempts later we got green signal from Hotel Shevaroys. We went there, checked in after ensuring that it is a 24 hours billing (some hotels will have predefined timings like Check in 12Noon, Check out 11 AM which wasn’t convenient to us). Room was good, priced around 1700+ for four of us (Rs 1250 for room, Rs 300 for two extra beds and taxes- extra bed fees were relatively less- Woodlands in Kalpetta had charged us Rs 800 for 2 extra beds last September) . By five AM we were done with check in formalities and went for a quick sleep.
Woke up at 7, got ready by 8, went to restaurant (Note: breakfast was not complimentary in Shevaroy's) and we were all set to explore Yercaud by 9AM. Before that, I went for a walk and was surprised to see a group of ducks and goose roaming freely in the hotel campus. They were going from one place to another in a highly disciplined manner, forming close groups. I went near and offered some food, without slightest fear all of them rushed towards me, with a big quack quack sound and flapping their wings. After getting their piece of biscuit these ducks had no willingness to let me pat them. There was also a wild Turkey.
Pagoda point was the first place we went-4kms from city-nothing special here-just a few point. Next we went to lady’s seat- another view point. Next was Children’s seat, followed by Rose garden. Tickets fee to be paid. Rose Garden was nice-had roses of several colours (see photos) and plant siblings for those interested in buying one. Ganesh and Narayanan bought a few. Upon enquiry we learnt that Kiliyur falls has no water and roads to the place is being relaid. Shevaroy temple was the next point. This temple looks boring and uninteresting from outside, but inside it is a kind of cave, which is said to continue till Mysore, Karnataka. There’s another view point and a big field near Shevaroy temple.
Yercaud seems to have lots of Bauxite resources. Botanical Garden was the next on agenda but was closed (why do they keep a tourist place closed on a Saturday?). Another place, called Bears cave happens to be in a private property and is not open for tourists (though websites said-“property owner is kind enough to keep it open for tourists”). It was lunch time by now and so far we hadn’t seen anything exciting. Just several few points and a rose garden.
On our way back to city we stopped by a shop that sold herbal medicines. This shop was operated by Ramesh Singh who warmly invited us inside and struck a conversation. This person showed us an ancient list which contained several places of tourist interest in Yercaud, most of which now nonexistent or are private properties. He suggested that we can visit Bears’ cave and refer to his name if required. He also invited us to spend some time with him in his garden later in the evening to see sunset. We bought some herbal medicines/items and set out to check Bears’ cave. The last stretch of road was not good for i10 and we chose to go by walk. Without much disturbance we entered the private property and explored the cave. It is relatively small one-looks nice but not worth the hype- Nothing in comparison with Edakkal/Guna/Antaragange or other major/popular caves you might have seen.
After a mild trek downwards we went to Club Mahindra’s Lake Forest for a buffet lunch (Rs 204 per head). This hotel has lots of ancient artifacts in its premises. It was little late so most of the items were cold. Ice cream, though part of buffet was served separately only on enquiry. Post lunch we set out to visit a place called Anna Malai Temple- this place is near to Pagoda point we went in the morning and could have been clubbed had we knew it in advance. On the way we spotted 2 ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). Upon enquiry the caretaker said it costs Rs 500 for a round in a 300 meters track. Tempting but being expensive, we moved on. Anna Malai Koil (Temple) offered a very nice view. It is a nice place to relax for a while.
We came back to Yercaud city and went for a boat ride. Nothing special in this and the gardens nearby. We went back to Ramesh Singh’s house and he took us to a sunset view point through his garden. His Dog Nancy (a Labrador) gave us company. On the way few Baisons were spotted and Narayanan was quick to grab one (in camera frame). Sunset was nice. After stopping at his parent’s house en-route, we departed from Ramesh Singhji’s house and went to Hotel. We’d covered all available places of tourist interest in one day (12 hours flat). Temperature was modest-not at all chilling. Only Kiliyur falls and Botanical Garden were missed. We checked out at left Yercaud next day 6.45 AM, heading towards Hogenakkal. Overall, Yercaud wasn’t that great, but not that disappointing either (thanks to Ramesh Singhji). I’ll call it satisfactory.