Exploring Valparai : an offbeat gem of Tamil Nadu

As the bus takes a turn around the sharp winding curve, I stick my head out of the window, awed. The breeze hits my face and my hair are in a complete disarray. No stress. Because nothing matters now. The view ahead of me is spectacular. We are en route Valparai in Tamil Nadu and it wouldn’t be wrong to call the journey, a stairway to heaven. With 40 Hair pin bends, at each bend nature unfolds a new surprise.

Valparai hair pin bends Tamil Nadu

The Aliyar Dam, the islands, the hills and the clouds stooping down to kiss all of this.




At one bend, I see sprawling acres of tea gardens, at another, the serene Challakudy river flowing in calm glory and at another the sight of a gushing waterfall.



Someone in the background is talking about airplane journeys and how one misses out on sights like these when on an airplane.I can’t disagree.


I have a thing for winding roads.

Tea gardens of Valparai in Tamil Nadu

The sheer excitement of the unknown at the next bend.

Mist over Valparai in Tamil Nadu

Valparai, 100 Kms from Coimbatore is a small hill station  in Tamil Nadu, known for its tea estates. A little ahead is the Sholayur Dam and some breathtaking views of the Challakudy river.


Valparai in Tamil Nadu Travel guide

We have checked in a bungalow,surrounded by tea estates and checked out of mobile networks.

The evening sky offers a palate of amazing hues.

Sunset in Valparai in Tamil Nadu

As we wander amidst the tea gardens, watching the sun set, the fluttering tea leaves against the backdrop of the orange-blue sky is a sight to behold.

Tea gardens in Valparai in Tamil Nadu
The tea leaf (Hand Courtesy : Malini 🙂

The chirping of birds is incessant. Janhvi rattles off names of birds, as and when she spots them.


Tea estate workers have now begun their journey back home. The fragrance of freshly cooked Avial and Rasam is wafting in the air.

Its time to call it a day.

Tea gardens in Valparai in Tamil Nadu

Its not everyday that you wake to the sun breaking over tea gardens.

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At the breakfast table, I rant that its been a while I have had Medhu Wadas. After breakfast (read sumptuous South Indian breakfast) we are off to explore the dense, evergreen forests of Valparai.


Valparai, is a part of the Annamalai range of the Western ghats. The area is known for wild elephants, Sambhar deer, barking deer and also leopards, along with a host of birds.

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Night Heron

After an hour, we are being led by Mr. Philip to one of the best experiences a Nature lover can ever have in Valparai. The drive is bumpy and the sights are breathtaking. Coffee plantations on one side, with bright red coffee pods sparkling in the sun.

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Peppercorns hanging from trees, protected in green pods.

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Nature’s motherly way of nurturing its creations. The drive had it all: deep gorges with flower beds, tall trees with honey combs, the sighting of a barking deer and a point beyond which cars couldn’t go.


Picture this: Breathing in the fragrance of orange orchards mixed with the scent of coffee, watching a magnificent waterfall gush in full glory and eating freshly plucked oranges.

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Could it get any better?

My question is answered exactly 15 minutes later.

We reach a perfectly hidden, nestled in the hills, pristine waterfall.

Waterfalls of Valparai in Tamil Nadu

What a find! I am now peacefully sitting on the rock, feet dipped in the cold water, listening to the song of the nature.

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On our way back, Mr.Philip stops at a bungalow. While I get lost in the beauty of the flowers all around, suddenly a very very pleasant sight welcomes me: The sight of piping hot Medhu Wadas and lemon honey green tea. Breakfast rants aren’t bad at all!

At lunch I wonder what to rant about next.

We are now gearing up for a fast jungle trek in the Manamboli forest to spot the lion tailed Macaque. Another scenic journey to the lush green forests and the exciting possibility of sighting the Great Indian Hornbill.

But nature had other plans.

We lost our way.

Could it get worse?

My question is answered exactly 15 minutes later.

That awesome feeling when you stumble upon something by chance.Totally unplanned.

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It was a scene ripped out of an Enid Blyton book. Surreal views of rocks in green waters, hidden clusters of trees, some logs submerged in the waters, white sands and pebbles. A perfect hide out for the famous five.

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I try frantically to click pictures and capture this beautiful phenomena in my lens.

Pictures, Alas weren’t doing any justice to its beauty.


I decide to put my camera aside and enjoy this moment. Losing ways couldn’t be more beautiful.

The next morning, I know I have just a few more hours before returning to the concrete jungle.


I wander around the tea estates, watching the sun rise over the river. It is an unusual feeling. An unusual sadness of leaving a place. Of knowing fully well that the next morning I will be welcomed not with the sound of the whistling thrush , but the honking of the cars.

The adventure still hasn’t ended. We are once again on the hairpin bends. Remember me talking about the excitement of whats on the next bend?

Seek and you shall find.

And we found the rare Nilgiri Tahr, the state animal of Tamil Nadu, patiently giving us time to click it as it grazed.

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An hour later as we approach Pollachi, the phones started beeping again. I sigh as I stick out my head out of the window.

The breeze hits my face and my hair are in a complete disarray. No stress. Because nothing matters now.

The fragrance of the tea gardens is going to be with me for a long long time.

Valparai tea gardens Tamil Nadu
Pic courtesy: Firoza

How to reach Valparai:

Nearest Airport: Coimbatore.

Nearest rail head: Coimbatore.

Regular buses from Pollachi, 65 Kms away.

Where to stay at Valparai: STM Tea estates Bungalow.

For extremely clean rooms, a comfortable stay, homely meals and spectacular views.

valparai cell

Address: 17, Sholaiyar Nagar, Upper Sholayar Dam, Valparai,Tamil Nadu-642125

I have a few thank yous to dish out:

A big thank you to Mr. Philip and the entire staff of STM bungalow for their warm hospitality.

To Pravin, the local who helped us find our way to something so stellar.

Doreen and the entire gang for being such a wonderful company. Of carols and crazy song sessions around the bonfire.

Janhvi for letting me see birds with binocs and not through my lens.

Sudha for a glorious video at the falls and Firoza for capturing me at the tea estates.

61 thoughts on “Exploring Valparai : an offbeat gem of Tamil Nadu

  1. I have been to Valparai, but not to explore. Definitely it’s in my mind. It’s close to my place as well. So sometime in the near future, I’ll go there.

    Amazing pics 🙂

    Happy new year!!!

  2. Such a pretty place! And the pictures…the place looks so serene and peaceful, away from the crazy world types. You sure had fun Divsi!!

  3. Divyakshi….superlative! What more can I say for the beautiful pictures and words that bring them to life. The same scenes on my iphone, won’t get any awards!
    Thanks for sharing, being so caring and your wonderful company 🙂

  4. You have the ability to see beyond the ordinary, as your name suggests, and capture them
    and put them in matching beautiful words. Hat’s off.

  5. Wow………

    Stunning images !!!

    I have heard about this place and many of my friends had taken this route, but I haven’t seen images like these before 🙂

    You have a great eye to capture the nature and it’s pristine beauty, Divya 🙂

    I need to plan a drive through this scenic place as early as possible 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  6. This post is a perfect example of how our thoughts match – those of unknown at the bends, nature lovers, finding exotic locations and many more 🙂

    Some incredible pics you have here…a great find!

  7. Such wonderful scenic sights! Indeed a beautiful place. I am dreaming of visiting it now.
    (Just as I was reading your post, seeing your tweet on my post, thank you so much dear. 🙂

  8. You have captured the true beauty of Valparai through words and photos. Thank you so much Divyakshi.
    I was looking to see a small write up on our night safari as you have sambars and even leopards in the tea estate. We were lucky to see the palm civet which is a nocturnal creature and quite rare to spot. Have you shared the post with the rest of our group?
    Will email it to the others who didn’t make it and possibly introduce it on my next year’s schedule

  9. I am very poor at writing travelogues and write ups like these give me goosebumps … Simple, picturesque yet informative and tickling the travelling bone in the reader

  10. From Night Heron to Nilgiri, from the smell of oranges and coffee to eating medhu wadas, from lush green tea estates to scenic secret finds – what a wonderful place! Lovely photos and a great post!

  11. What a beauty! These photos have made me fall in love with the nature again. Valparai is definitely on my list, thank you for sharing this amazing destination with the photos. Waiting to explore it soon!

  12. Oh I had heard of this place previously but never knew that it was just 100kms from Coimbatore. Having been to Conoor, Ooty among others, I am wondering on how I missed it while I was doing my engineering in Vellore :(. Looks really amazing. Truly fantastic pics :D. And honestly seems way better than Ooty which has become quite dirty these days :/.

  13. Valparai is every South Indian’s summer destination. When I went there, I didn’t want to get back!! The coolness and the greenery is just so mesmerizing! And the tea plantaions is just a visual delight!
    What?????? You found the Nilgiri Tahr on the road???!!! Whoa! Lucky you!

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