Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit – Frank Borman
Yercaud is a small tranquil hill town in Salem, down the south of Tamil Nadu, India. Spread over the Shervarayan hill range in the Eastern Ghats at an altitude of 1515 meters (4970 ft), it is also known as Shevaroys Hills. Yercaud is a perfect destination for nature lovers who want to escape the busy city life, at least for a while, though the place is commercialized, you can enjoy and feel the pristine beauty of the hills. Also called as the Jewel of the South, it enjoys charming and pleasant weather around the calendar that makes it a perfect pick for travelers to make a short vacation.
People call this hill station as Poor man’s Ooty because things here are less expensive and affordable than other popular hill station in Tamil Nadu, including Kodaikanal and Ooty. Trekking enthusiasts prefer this hill station for its picturesque landscape and breath-taking scenic. The name Yercaud is coined from two Tamil names, ‘Yeri’ (lake) and ‘Kadu’ (forest). There’s a cave temple atop the hill at 1623 m (5326 ft) high where Lord Shevarayan and his wife Goddess Kaveri are the local deities which is also the highest point in Yercaud.
The exotic hill town is about 30 km from city of Salem. The Ghat road is well maintained and the sightseeing along will be mesmerizing and eye-catching. The Ghat road has 20 hairpin bends along the 25 km stretch and negotiating them will not be a big deal for regular drivers. Stick to your lane and do not feed monkeys while driving on the Ghat road and you will feel the chillness of the air and savor of the nature as you enter the foot hill. There are some viewing points all along the ghat road, pull your vehicle sideways to witness the picturesque of the Shevaroys hills and the valley.
Though commercial tourism has intruded this place, major part of the hills are untouched and still remains unexplored. The dense reserve forest is a home for several wild animals including bison, deer, hares, foxes, mongoose, squirrels, kites, sparrows, swallows and snakes. Sandalwood, teak and silver oak are found abundant in Yercaud. It’s a typical hill station which does not experience extreme temperatures, so people from local areas hit Yercaud frequently. The silver carpet covers the entire region in winter and it looks charming and beauteous. The summer festival celebrated here in the second week of May, lasts for seven days, and is very popular which pulls hundreds of spectators from nearby places. The festive sports dog shows, boat races, flower shows and fairs. The town looks spectacular with flashing lights in the evening and it will be busy till late night.
Yercaud offers a lot of personal products for sale such as natural oils, perfumes, skincare products and several spices at an affordable cost. The town has many seminaries and convents. Sacred Heart Convent and Montfort School built during the British rule are some of the beautiful sights in the town.
Must Visit Places in Yercaud
The big lake or Emerald Lake
One of the major tourist attractions in Yercaud town, this tranquil lake is the only natural lake among all the hill stations lake in the South. It is situated in amid of beautiful lush green mountains and valleys including ‘Deer park’ and a ‘Leisure park’. The beautiful landscaped garden surrounding the lake with a floating fountain at the centre of the lake is an eye-catching sight. The lake features boating such as self pedaling boats and rowing boats. One can spend around 20 minutes of boating around the lake, witnessing the beautiful landscapes and valleys of the Shervarayan hills. Boating during winter is a must do thing as the entire lake will be covered with silver mist which would be spectacular experience.
The Deer park is located near the lake and a perfect destination for kids. You can see lots of deer’s fenced around and advisable not to feed the animals.
Another crawling attraction here is the Anna Park, adjacent to the Emerald Lake. It’s a hub of natural species of plants, herbs and trees of Shervarayan hills. The tourism department hosts several flower shows in May every year. If you are interested to know how Japanese grows plants, then it is perfect choice for you. Japanese Park is located inside the Anna Park where they grow species in Japanese style.
It’s a cluster of rocks resembling a seat like structure, which owes the name. It is about 2km south-west of Yercaud town. It offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the winding Ghat road and the Salem town. Overlooking from this view is a 200 feet sheer drop of the beauteous landscape and serene valley of the Shervarayan hills. There is a watching tower with a paid telescope view, where you can see the entire stretch of Yercaud hills and the clear view of Mettur dam down the South. Gent’s Seat and Children’s seat are nearby viewpoints similar to Lady’s seat.
It is preferred to visit the viewpoints in the early evening or morning, as it would be spectacular witnessing the flash lights of vehicles on the winding Ghat road and secluded sight of the rise and fall of the sun and mountains down the South.
It is one of the breath-taking attractions in Yercaud that streams through the Shervarayan hills and falls atop 300feet down the Killuyur valley. The waterfall is about 3kms from the Yercaud Lake. Amidst natural scenic of the valley the waterfall gives you a refreshing bath as well as a mind-blowing sight. The ideal time to explore the falls is immediately after the monsoon, with water levels at its maximum. The parking lot is 2 kms before the falls and one has to trek a steep pathway through the woods. You should not definitely miss this, if you plan for Yercaud after monsoon.
The orchidarium is about 2kms from the Big Lake, a mandatory attraction for nature enthusiasts. Featuring more than 30 varieties of orchids among most of them are stated endangered which also has large collection of native orchids, such as ladies Slipper (an insect eating orchid), Shevaroys Bombax and others. You can have beautiful sightings of Kurinji flowers, very common in this mountain range that only blooms once in twelve years. It is claimed to be the third largest orchidariums in India.
If you are curious to explore different varieties of roses, then it’s a must watch place. There a lot of beautiful and colorful roses and you can get nursery plants too. The savor of the roses refreshes your soul.
There’s a Silk farm near Rose Garden and you should get prior permission to visit place where you can learn about the cultivation of Mulberries, the growing and cultivation of silk worms.
Otherwise called a Pyramid Point is another viewpoint in the eastern part of Yercaud Hills. It is reportedly said that the local tribes have built four piles of stones forming a pyramid or pagoda structure, thus coining its name. Now a Rama temple is located between these pagodas. You can get the picturesque view of the Salem town and villages down. In the evening or early morning, the rise and fall of the sun amid the orange-red and silver clouds would be a significant eye-catching sight over here.
Servarayan temple is the highest point in Yercaud hills, 5326 feet above the sea level. The main deities are Lord Servarayan and Goddess Cauvery, representing the Servarayan hills and the Cauvery river. It’s a narrow and dark cave temple that attracts thousands of local tribes and devotees during annul festival celebrated in the month of May. It’s flat-topped plain surface, excites you with a splendid picturesque view of the entire Yercaud hills. It offers you a good sight of silver clouds, beautiful lush green landscapes and valleys amid the rise and fall of the mountains.
It’s a castle like building built in 1820 by the then collector of Salem, M.D. Cockburn. It served to Robert Clive, East India Company as a holiday resort, whenever he made a vacation to Yercaud. There is a resort alongside of the Grange, set amidst coffee & Orange plantations and Silver Oak Trees, a delightful get away for the well heeled traveler.
This viewpoint is about 2kms from Yercaud town that offers the breath-taking sight of the south part of Yercaud hills. You can also witness the Elephant Tooth Rocks that are pure white rocks believed to be the remnant of a meteorite that was fallen here. The beautiful scenic view of the lush green valley of the Yercaud hills can be witnessed from here.
Whoever might be, a biker or a driver, or a nature enthusiast must experience this 32 km loop road drive that passes through dark woods, coffee plantations and lush greenery on either side of the road. It’s a mesmerizing journey through the native villages including Kaveri Peak, Manjakuttai, Semmantham, Nagalur exploring the culture and traditions of the locales, savoring the aroma of the full-grown coffee, scenic view of the green carpet that gives you a refreshing treat to your eyes and soul.
Some of the other popular tourist attractions are Bears hill, Kottachedu Teak Forest, Heaven’s Ledge, Fairholme Bungalow, Bears Cave, Montfort School, The Retreat and the Sacred Heart Convent. There are lot of private lodges, resorts and hotels for accommodation.
The nearest railway station is Salem and the nearest airports are Trichy, Coimbatore and Bangalore. All are well connected to Yercaud by road. There are frequent government buses plying between Salem and Yercaud. Have a wonderful and safe journey. Adhere to safety when you are on Ghat roads. Please don’t leave behind any plastics on any hill stations and conserve the nature and wildlife.
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