The itch to travel started a little too soon this time.
Eyebrows were raised when we announced we were going away for the weekend ,yet again.
Anyway, this time we were joined by my dear sis. We boarded a train at Chennai and five hours later we were at Salem. From Salem to Yercaud you can either travel by a bus or a car.The skies darkened as we ascended the Shervaroy hills and Salem city twinkled merrily in the distance.
We were shivering by the time we reached our room at TGI star holiday resort.The resort was situated down slope from the main road and about ten minutes away from the Yercaud lake.
We checked in and dragged our trolleys up slope to our rooms,we passed by a campfire and an open air theater they had in the common area of the resort.People huddled around the fire and watched keenly as they played Bahubali 2 .We spent some time at the campfire,walked around a bit and fell asleep exhausted from all the travel.
We were up by 5:30 am the next day and walked to the lake which was also called the Emerald lake owing to its green color.Since it was so early we were the only ones around the lake and we watched the sun rise from the mountains behind the lake.The tea shops and tiffin centres started opening serving hot food which beckoned to us invitingly.
We made arrangements to go sightseeing that day with a cab driver we had met when we arrived in Yercaud.
Our first stop he informed us,was the Shervarayan temple; the locals placed idols of their god Shervarayan and goddess Kaveri in this cave temple and people from all the 67 villages surrounding the hill, came to worship here. The cave was rumored to extend all the way to Coorg. We arrived at the temple before anyone else did and had to stoop to be able to enter.once inside there was enough room to stand up.There were two small idols adorned with flowers and a small lamp and incense stick burned next to them. The mouth of the cave is enclosed in a frame and adorned with bells. A few feet away from the temple is a raised viewing platform from where you can see the mist rising up from the valley below.
Along the same road is Bear’s cave which we couldn’t see since it requires special permission to visit as it is located in Norton’s estate.The cave is said to have been used by Tipu Sultan during war time as a hideout.
2.Sri Chakra Maha Meru temple:
Next we stopped at the Sri Chakra Maha Meru temple which had been built recently. This temple has the largest Sri chakra in the world. The presiding deity in this temple is Sri Lalitha Thripoora Sundari. The temple is serene yet vibrant, sitting amidst coffee plantations and pepper plants.
Read in detail about this temple here: Sri chakra maha meru temple
3.Sri Rajarajeswari temple: The Rajarajeswari temple was dedicated to a beautiful powerful goddess as well.
Karadiyur literally means bear town,since it used to be the home to many sloth bears.However now it is a hamlet and We had to walk through a dirt road to reach this viewpoint. It is actually a short walk of maybe 10-15 minutes, however the three of us kept stopping to look at butterflies ,at jamun trees, at centipedes and so it took us a while to get there. Since it was a public holiday,it looked like most of the people from Salem had ventured out for a picnic. We can see Salem, and Mettur dam from this viewpoint. However the most memorable thing about this place was seeing an entire tree filled with butterflies ,whenever a breeze shook the tree they flitted out and hovered around the branches it was mesmerising to watch.
5. Pagoda point:
I was curious when the guide told us we would be visiting pakoda point next.We laughed when we realized that he was referring to the pagoda and not the indian snack pakoda! The pagoda point got its name because of the piles of stones placed there which look like pagodas;the British people used the pagodas as landmarks to identify the route from the plains to the hill top. Ayothiapattinum and Attur are visible from this viewpoint.The atmosphere there was similar to a fair/carnival with lots of rides,stalls and games to entertain tourists.
6. Retreat point:
The Retreat was founded in 1945 by the brothers of Don Bosco. The main building is a place for students of the religious order to stay and study. The public had access only to the football field.It was by far my favorite place since we were the only people there and we sat down and took in the beauty of the hills from the end of the world bench there. The sun suddenly shone on us and we were able to have a look and figure out how to work the sun dial on the grounds.
7. Ladies,Gent’s and childrens seat:
We visited lady’s , gents and children’s seat, I know the names are a bit strange! We were caught in the rain and they were overcrowded so I just couldn’t wait to get away from there.
Children’s seat had three different viewpoints located far enough from each other so everyone had their space. The rain stopped and we walked down from children’s seat through the horticultural farm to the rose garden. The horticultural farm was beautifully maintained and we came across some women warming themselves by a small bonfire they had started. We chatted with them for a while they told us about the local fruit that grew in abundance like the jack fruit, fig trees, avocado, pepper and aatu kaal kalangu loosely translated as goat hoof tuber since it looks like a goats hoof. Rose garden was full of rose trees as the name suggests.
The Yercaud lake is one of the main attractions of this small hill station.The boathouse opens only at 9 am. There are rowboats,peddle boats and motor boats available for rent for varying prices and time duration’s.The motorboat and rowboats are manned by people from the boathouse.So we opted for a peddleboat.
The ride around the lake itself was fun, and we even spotted a man line fishing we tried to get a closer look but backed off when it dawned on us that we might scare the fish away. Once we got off the back we went to where he was fishing and he showed us his catch and told us he used jamun as bait.
Since we had time to spare we checked out the deer park adjacent to the lake.
9. Handicraft/perfumery: We loved the handicraft store right opposite the lake.They had a delightful collection of wooden toys, pens, utensils, combs,agarbathi stands, wall hangings and every variety of tea and coffee imaginable. They had a lot of spices, perfumes and even sherbets. Always one to try new things K bought a hibiscus sherbet which ended up being really delicious when we added a dash of lime and ginger.
10. Explore the town on foot:
We enjoyed exploring the town on foot ans were lucky enough to come across a house where wedding celebrations were afoot.What struck me were the Eco friendly decorations that were used to adorn the doorways. They were all biodegradable and natural,so they were prettier than anything human hands could have designed.