A ride to the scenic Valparai; nothing thrills Malayali bikers more!

The roads that lead to Valparai, both through the Athirappilly-Vazhachal route or via Pollachi, offer an unforgettable experience. Photo: Shutterstock/Neil.Dsouza

The scenic Valparai is located in the Coimbatore district of neighbouring Tamil Nadu, and it's one of the most sought-after destinations for travel buffs from Kerala.

With rich wildlife, verdant tea plantations, and winding forest paths, it boasts of sceneries typical of most of the popular hill stations.

The roads that lead to Valparai, both through the Athirappilly-Vazhachal route or via Pollachi, offer an unforgettable experience.

For most tourism centers, the end destination remains more important than the roads that take to it. But in the case of Valparai, it’s the other way around. There are two main routes that lead to this hill station, and on the comparison, each can be found different and better than the other.

Through a long forest road
The first one takes the Athirappilly-Vazhachal-Malakkappara route, one of the longest forest roads in Kerala. The primary attractions along this route are the waterfalls at Athirappilly and Vazhachal.

Athirappilly is located some 25 kms away from Chalakudy. Visitors en route to Valparai may take a stopover here and enjoy a view of the waterfalls. It is important to note that you will need to spend at least two to three hours at this location to fully get engrossed by its beauty. 

Proceeding ahead from here, you will get to see a frothy stream of Vazhachal coursing downwards on one side of the road. Travellers and their vehicles will be subjected to strict inspections by the forest department at this point.

Note the rules
The passengers will have to give a count of the plastic bottles in their possession, as also those inside their vehicles, at the check post here. In return, a slip registering the number of plastic bottles and the time of departure will be handed to them.

Passengers will be imposed a fine at the Malakkappara check post upstream if the actual number of plastic bottles in their possession does not match the number as recorded in the slip.

The rationale behind recording the departure time at the Vazhachal check post is to ensure that the trip through the forest road to Malakkappara is completed within two hours. The road passes through clusters of lush, green bamboo and reed forests, which often tempt the travellers to take stops en route and take a closer look.

The Forest Department, however, has issued a strict warning against it as the location is prone to wildlife attacks, and venturing into the forests may invite trouble.

The registering of departure time thus helps the department to know whether a vehicle has stopped in the forest areas or not. If a vehicle takes more than two hours to reach Malakkappara, it will be regarded to have taken a stop-over inside the forest.

Ideally, travellers should drive their vehicles with the windows up at a regulated speed right from Athirappilly so as to enjoy the ride through the forests. Also, it’s advisable to drive your vehicle along with a group of other vehicles passing through the same route while covering the section.

Malakkappara, the final point of the road via Athirappilly, also serves as the gateway to the Valparai hill station. Visitors will be treated to an unending expanse of tea plantations from this point onwards. 

Wildlife sightings, including that of elephants and bison, are common here, even during the day hours. Travellers may opt for a stay at any of the resorts here before returning the next day morning after making a brief visit to the various local attractions such as Nallamudi viewpoint, Sholayar dam, the Balaji temple, etc.

A different route to return
Instead of returning via the same route, travellers can take the road that passes through Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, to reach Palakkad. The scenic road, with 40 hairpin bends, offers breathtaking views of the Aliyar dam from above at different points. The passengers also stand a chance to see the endangered Nilgiri Tahrs en route.

Valparai is a destination where one can go for a drive along with their friends or family to spend the vacation days. The long road through the forests, which leads to the destination, is a rarity even in Kerala. 

Whether it is to reach Valparai or to return from there, make sure that the journey starts before 3 pm. Though the forest route remains open to vehicles from 6 am to 6 pm, the likelihood of troubles remains higher during the evening hours. Ideally, one should take some rest by spending a night at Valparai to fully enjoy most of the scenic beauties peacefully.

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