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Yercaud – a most economical enchanting picturesque hillstation!

IMG-20160309city kemp IMG-20160309-city kempDriving through 10-12 kms of Salem city leads you to the foothills of this consistent weather 29 Degree Celsius hill station – Yercaud in Tamilnadu. 222 kms from Bangalore the toll paying roads are beautiful & safe to drive and just takes less than 3 hours by road in your own vehicle. From the foothills, past the Salem town up 28 kms, negotiating 20 hair-pin bends another 40 minutes drive puts you on top of Yercaud hills. . . 5326 feet (1623 meters) above sea level. Early 20th Century saw metal roads from Salem to Yercaud hilltop.
Yercaud has a population of about 40,000 people. More than half the population are Scheduled Tribes. Malayalis or (not to be confused to Keralaites) ‘Hillman’ or Vellalas form a major part of the population – these people have migrated from Kanchipuram – Tamilnadu 500-600 years ago.
Yercaud gets its name from two Tamil words – ‘Yeri’ meaning ‘lake’ and ‘Kadu’ meaning ‘Forest’. Hence ‘Erikadu’ meaning forest full of lakes -big & small! Yercaud is well connected with Salem town acting as base by Road, Railways and Planes! There’s a small airport too! There are numerous buses, taxis plying from Salem to Yercaud. A lot of bikers hog the roads out here from Bangalore.
Yercaud is part of the Shevory Range of hills. Yercaud taluk is around 382 sq. Kms in size. Winters are fairly mild, starting from December to February – hills clouded with mist of temperature 12 to 24 degree centigrade. Summers are 16 to 30 degrees! Yercaud is an all time – anytime good cool destination. Temperature here is never below 13 degrees or above 29 degree celsius. Never biting winters or scorching summers. The UV rays are heavy during the day and it’s advised to wear dark glasses to protect your eyes.
It’s called ‘Poor man’s Ooty’ or ‘Jewel of ‘South Indian Hill Stations!’ Yercaud has primarily 3 seasons –
Peak season: March to June,
Low Season: Feb to March & July to September &
2nd Season: October to February.
Rainfall is around min of 1500mm to a max of 2000mm. There are numerous hotels and resorts to suit everyone’s pocket & budget. A two night stay is enough to rejuvenate & rest here. This area has got major trekking routes, enquiry to Chennai Trekking Association will help avid trekkers & hikers. This place will be of interest to photographers for its amazing breath taking landscapes and botanists for it’s flora & fauna, nurseries green houses farms will entrall them. Natural Orchidarium established in 1963 has 3000 trees & 1800 shrubs. Wild life enthusiasts and bird watchers could have an interesting time. Wild animals are restricted to bison, deers, foxes, jackals, squirrels of the kind. Reptiles like python and varieties of stakes can be spotted. Trees of Teak, Sandal wood, Silver Oak are seen in plenty. ‘Heavens Ledge’ a cliff in the private property of Gowri Estate faces west and is a place for amazing sunsets, it lies 15 kms from Yercaud town.
Families & children can have a gale of a time with pedal boating & row boats in the emerald lake, which is the center of town. Up the hills amusement parks for kids, off-road quad bikes, ATVs will keep the youngsters amused!
The cool climate attracted Christian Missionaries to establish educational institutions for boys & girls. . . Montford, Sacred Hearts, Nazareth, Holy Cross etc.
Yercaud hilltop has got 10 schools and 4 colleges. Yercaud also has The Retreat (Established in 1945), Don Bosco’s – Novitiate House, they are for the Students of Religious Order. A mosque too exists for the Muslim population.
Yercaud has a lot of temples, the main one being the deity of Yercaud – Servarayan on the highest peak. It’s a Vishnu avatar deity with Goddess Kaveri at its altar. There’s a Raja Rajeshwari Temple established in 1983 by Sri Gnanda Giri Swamigal. The goddess is flanked by two other goddess of wealth & learning – Lakshmi & Saraswati and is seated on a throne whose legs are Vishnu, Bramha, Rudra & Eshwara with the Sree Yantra embeded on the roof. This temple is on the way to Shevory hills. Further on this road at Nagalur -7 kms from Yercaud is the famous ‘Sri Lalitha Thripura Sundari’ amman temple which has the worlds biggest ‘Lakshmi Shri Yantra’ as the gopura of the temple. This place is known as – Sri Chakra Maha Meru Temple and it’s got a serene and calm atmosphere. The Bears cave has a Murugan temple.
The Holy Trinity Church was established in 1853 and there are two other churches here – Sacred Hearts Church and the Retreat Church. The population out here are simple folks, hard working and all faiths live in peace and harmony.
David Cockburn – the Scottish Collector is called the ‘Father of Yercaud’. He helped build and developed Yercaud from 1820 to 1829! He brought in coffee, pears, star apples, oranges, guavas, spices, black pepper, cardamom from South Africa to this place and also built ‘The Grange’. The famous ‘Fairholme Bungalow’ exists here. Robert Clive of East India Company made this his summer retreat.
This place was a fortress to the British population during the formidable sepoy mutiny of 1857. Cannons were placed on the fortress walls to defend themselves.
The first survey of the Shevory Hills were undertaken in 1827. The first European House was built in 1840! A lot of coffee was cultivated here. Growing tea was also introduced by Dr. Wallace on the property of G.F.Fischer in 1840s! During the same period Trees of Cinnamon was introduced by Mr. Richardson.
G.F. Fischer a European of German origin purchased the Salem Zamindar in 1836. He was the only European Zamindar in the British Presidency and owned 510 Sq. Kms or 1,25,000 acres! Sir Thomas Munroe the erstwhile Governor of Madras Presidency in 1824 is credited with finding Yercaud in 1842. The first Indian coffee planter was Mr. MSP Rajesh settled at Cauvery rock. Even to this day one can see MSP plantations at Yercaud.
The tourist map at Yercaud is as follows:
*Yercaud Emerald Lake
*Lady’s seat –  also know as suicide point for the reputation of young dejected lover’s jumping off the steep cliff. It was also a place where the ladies of the Raj would bask themselves in the sun and watch the valley below with their binoculars!
*Killiyur falls – 90 meters water fall, be prepared for a long steep climb.
*Pagoda point.
*Bears Cave – Murugan temple.
*Servarayan Temple – Deity of Yercaud. Vishnu & Cauvery Amma. Amusement park & play area for kids. Good sunset point.
*Anna Park – Garden attached to lake. Relish street snacks, especially Chilli Bajjis.
*Lake Forest – Heritage property.
*Montfort schools.
*Sacred Heart Convent.
*The Retreat.
*Horticulture Research Station.
*Green House Orchard cum Nursery. Orchiderium
*Mettur view – on Nagalur road. Valley.
*Cauvery Peak.
*Salem View – 16 & 17 hair pin bend.
*Silk Farm.
One could buy aromatic oils & plants. Staying at Yercaud is cooler than staying at the foothill town Salem. Good Vegetarian South Indian food is Sarvana Bhavan near the lake circle. Non-Vegetarian food please resort yourself to street food stalls or high-end hotels and resorts. There are no bars, except high end hotels & resorts – it’s expensive. Liquor of no choice & selection is available at TASMAC outlets.
One could never find a more economical hill resort to have a holiday of rest & relaxation or have an action packed tourism agenda or a energy burning trek. Worth a weekend trip. Ideal for corporate workshops and honeymooners memorable trip.

-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography
[email protected]

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