Yelagiri | India
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Yelagiri (also spelt Elagiri on some signboards) is a town in Tamil Nadu, a state in the south of India. Yelagiri, at a height of 920 meters above sea level, stands majestically amidst four mountains. This is a hill station with a salubrious climate prevailing throughout the year so that winters do not keep visitors away. The main inhabitants of the area are the tribals who live in the 14 small villages which comprise Yelagiri. These tribals are engaged in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, etc. - all the occupations of rural hill folk. Their customs and habits, and especially the structure of their houses is unique and attracts a number of tourists to this hill station.


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Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By car 1.1.1 From Bangalore 1.1.2 From Chennai 1.2 By train 1.3 Public transport 1.4 Things to remember By car From Bangalore Yelagiri is about 150 km from Bangalore and 250 km from Chennai (Madras), good for a four hour bike ride with breaks along the way. Take the NH7 out of Bangalore towards Hosur, turn towards Chennai (onto NH46) at Krishnagiri and continue until you get just before Vaniyambadi. You can see the Hills from quite a distance (on your right). From a break in the highway that comes approx 2 km after the toll gate, turn right into the underpass road that takes you to Tirupathur. Continue some 5 km and at Ponneri Junction take a left to Yelagiri Hills. The routes are all marked with signboards in English. From Chennai Yelagiri is about 258 km from Chennai-Tambaram. Take the Poonamalee High Road out of the city to Ponamalee Town. From Poonamalee, take the Bangalore highway towards Vellore. The distance to Vellore is about 140 km and the route passes through Sriperumbudur, Walajapet. Vellore would be a good place to plan a break, there are a lot of eating places right on the highway. From Vellore continue on to Ambur and then towards Vaniyambadi. On the highway about 45 km from the third(counting from Chennai) toll station, watch out for a signboard for "Elagiri - 22 km". Take a left at this exit. Its easy to miss this left and if you overshoot this you would reach the Vaniyambadi toll station in about 1km. Continue on this road (SH18) till you reach Ponneri junction which has Thirupathur straight and Yelagiri on the left. Watch out for this one as it is easy to miss. (On the left, you'll see a big sign board 'Tamilnadu Tourism Department Welcomes You'. Turn left at this junction, there's a sign board pointing towards Yelagiri.) The roads are well punctuated with signboards in English, and the roads especially the Chennai-Vaniyambadi stretch are excellent (in 2007). It is fairly safe, watch out for the occasional truck that changes lanes abruptly. The last petrol pump is after you turn left at Ponneri, a little before you start on the ghat section. There are no petrol pumps on the hills. There are 14 hairpin bends on the ghat road from Ponneri to Yelagiri and the road is pretty narrow so you can't actually park a car to enjoy the view except at some of the wider hairpin bends. Bikes won't have this problem though. By train If you are coming by train from Bangalore, Chennai or Coimbatore you have to get down at Jolarpettai Junction. Public transport If you prefer to take public transport, buses come from Thirupattur and Jolarpet. You can take a taxi also from these places. You can negotiate for about ₹1200 (2011) to drop you in Yelagiri Hills from Jolarpettai Junction. Things to remember Please note there are no petrol stations in Yelagiri, thus you have to fillup the tank at the last available petrol station in the plains (however, try to avoid HP petrol bunk in Poneri because they don't give pure petrol). Except for a few tire changers there are no vehicle repair shops in the hills. Also, please take your first-aid kit along with your regular medicines, if any, with you. There is a government primary health centre, and a private clinic (in which the doctor is from CMC vellore). The nearest health centre is in Tirupattur.


Things to do

1 Do 1.1 Trekking 1.2 Boating on Punganur Lake 1.3 Science / Educational 1.4 For Kids: 1.5 For Everyone: Trekking Swami Malai, (not to be confused with the town of Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam) the highest peak, soaring to 4,338 ft from Mangalam, a hamlet at its base, takes the cake. Its an easy climb of about an hour with infrequent breaks (about a 1000 foot climb). Smaller peaks like Javadu Hills, Palamathi Hills and others are an easier climb. Start early though and be back before 9AM, for once the sun climbs up it can get rather uncomfortable. Jalagamparai Waterfalls - Jalagamparai waterfalls are a 5 km trek from Yelagiri downhill. Its a tough trek, but the view from the sides of the mountain, of the valley, is truly rewarding. April probably is not a good time to visit the falls, as there is no water this time of the year. Recently (May 2007) there was no water in the falls. A tea shop owner said that there has been no water in this falls for the past 5 years. The tourist taxi operator may give you false information that recently there were some rain in this area and there may be water in the falls. His objective is to get money for the number of kilometers he runs the vehicle and not tourists' interest and pleasure. Just check this with somebody before you make a trip to this place. Otherwise it is a wasted trip. Especially if you go in the hot sun between 10AM to 12:30AM you will get headache. At the same time if one is interested in seeing the villages and the green pastures it may be fine. Next to the falls there is a temple at the top. Uphill for 4km can be fun when in groups. Don’t forget to carry water, you will not find a drop of water to drink once you reach the hilltop. You can see the clouds touching the lush green hills in early morning- an amazing sight. Make sure you wear sneakers as the trek can be a treacherous climb. You can hire locals from the village to help you as guide on your trek for around ₹300. It takes 2-3 hrs to climb the top of the hill, depending on your speed and agility. It is suggested to take frequent pit stops and enjoy the greenery. You can follow a radio tower beyond the Samaritan School on the hill top as you ascend- you can also follow the pathway laid by locals to guide your way up. Once you reach the top, you will see a small temple near the radio tower. Legend claims that the god in the temple saves people from being attacked by bears and evil spirits. You can climb a huge rock near the tower with the help of an iron ladder to take a breathtaking view of the valley beneath, nestled between the lush green forest and mountains- a true nature lover's paradise. You can find a few shortcuts routes downhill-- true trekkers can try out these. Boating on Punganur Lake This is an artificial lake, excavated in an area of 57 sq meters. The Elagiri Hills Development and Tourism Promotion Society runs the Boat Club, with pedaling and rowing boats. There is a newly laid flori cultural garden with a pathway along the bund with a panoramic view of the lake on one side and the garden on the other. A connecting bridge leads the pathway around the lake. The pathway around the lake is particularly good for birding. There is also a small watch tower constructed next to a tree which can be climbed. Even though the water is not clear, the lake is pretty clean. Science / Educational Vainu Bappu Solar Observatory (Elagiri): One of the largest solar observatories, it is situated in Kavalur, located 35 km from Thiruppathur, near Yelagiri. Prior permission is required to visit this observatory.thht Farm visits: Rose farms provide an interesting detour. For Kids: A well laid out park on a 6 acre land adjacent to the lake, is established with varieties of children's play areas installed within the park. There is also a small zoo. But no animals could be seen there in January 2006. For Everyone: There is a "KODAI VIZHA ground" which is a lovely ground with beautiful paths for walking. This is now be updated [May 08] to the Nature park . A lovely 10 acre campus with an artificial fall, an aquarium, musical fountain in the evenings and amazing landscaping. It has 2 shows in musical fountain 7PM and 8PM. Very nice with gallery like setup and playing some 4 songs each in Hindi & Tamil. The latest addition is the Nilavoor lake - more of a pond, with a few boats. Don't miss the ancient hero stines featured in the ancient temple - each of an archer pointing towards the 4 directions.