Valparai – The Hidden bliss

Valparai is a small hill station in Tamil Nadu which is known for their tea plantation.  I had this place in mind for ages and finally this year I decide to make a short trip to this green paradise. It is located 80 kms away from Coimbatore and it takes 4 hour drive on some sharp hair pin bends to get there. I set of with my family at 7 am in the morning along with a nice picnic bag.  En route a stopover at Aliyar Dam which is reservoir located just outside the Pollachi town at the foot hills of Valparai and at monkey falls for a quick fresh water shower might be a great idea despite the dearth of changing facilities at monkey falls.
Soon after I was invited by a series of hair pin bends. There are in total 42 hair pin bends that led me to the hills of Valparai. As I approached the 9th hair pin bend a breath taking view of the Aliyar reservoir awed me.

A view from the 9th Hairpin bend

Further up until we reached the main town each bend offered a beautiful scenic view.After a long twisting journey I finally reached Valparai around 1 pm. The main street of the town hardly lasted for a km; a stretch that starts with the market area and ends with the bus station. Small stalls selling fresh vegetable, fruits and tea shops, restaurants and bakery, bustling people, filled the streets with life. I realised how simple and yet beautiful this place was.

This being such a small town, there were hardly any good hotels to stay, I only found a couple of lodges with a fair review and so I decided to choose The Green Hills Hotel (or rather Lodge). The Rooms were just about decent enough to spend the night. They had a room service facility to request for Tea & coffee. They also had like a mini restaurant, but I wouldn’t recommend having a meal there.  Thanks to my parents brains, out picnic bag served as an amazing lunch; atleast we dint have to hunt for food in a new place.

Street in Valparai Market

In the evening as I strolled down the road I could see the horizon of the tea estates meeting the sky. I heard the gushing sound from the stream of river that flowed between the hills, a view of sunset amongst the green bushes. It was a perfect evening that I could have asked for my holiday. Soon after me and my cousin set of on a journey to hunt food, as we  were vegetarians our choices were even limited. On the streets were some traditional street foods like  lady selling hot idlies in a cart, another cart with eggparatha and egg dosa. The only other decent restaurant we found was the Lakshmi Mess, we decided to settle with idlies and paratas for dinner.

Through the Tea Estates

Through the Tea Estates

The next morning I found a perfect way to start my day with an early walks into the Tea Garden. Stepping out of my hotel just before sunrise, I jogged through the streets of Valparai, fresh misty wind, green estates and golden rays rising above me made my trip. Although I never wanted to leave, the sun goddess with her strong ray forced me to do so. On my way back to the hotel, I stopped over for an amazing South Indian breakfast at Lakshmi Mess.

The TAN TEA Factory

No holiday to tea or coffee county is complete without a trip to the Tea Factory and so I headed straight to the Tan Tea Factory (or Ryan Factory) to see the process of Tea Making.  The machinery and the building was old seemed more like antique and so was the tea making process.  The manager kindly showed around the whole factory and explained CTC the process of tea making.
Fresh leaves are withering by laying them on a wire mesh and drying them with huge fans. This process removes 70% of the moisture in a uniform way. Once dried the leaves are cut, torn and curled by metal rollers (CTC). Then they are fermented by exposing the leaves in air and are oxidized to add flavour and colour to the tea.  After which the flavoured leaves are dried through a drier and sent for segregation.

Tea Leaves

The final product segregates the tea into four different categories, which is then batched, labelled, packed and sold.  It was interesting to note that in this whole process no part of a tea leaf gets wasted. They are all used in some way or the other. On my way back, I spent a few minutes chatting with the factory workers and got a gist of their lifestyle.

A blissful hill hidden amongst the borders of Kerala and Tamil Nadu; small yet serene in its own way felt like a perfect weekend getaway. If you’d like to venture more then you could extend you trip to view the Athirampally falls or even visit the Indira Gandhi wildlife sanctuary at Topslip.


22 Comments

  • Dear Srividya,

    First of all Congratulation to you on completing your old wish.

    If I am not wrong this one is the shortest post of Ghumakkar , but its was a sweet post.

    How far it is from Chennai?

    It would be the nice if the photograph could be in bigger in size.

  • GAM says:

    Interesting report.

    Please give some details of hotels and pricing.

  • nandanjha says:

    Seems like a interesting off beat place to relax and unwind. Thanks Srividya.

  • Srividya says:

    Hi All, I have ammended the blog with few updates on the accomodation details & the pics

    @Mahes – thanks for your comment. I have edited the pics, from chennai you need to get to coimbatore which is an overnight journey and then head to Valparai via pollachi. If you ever plan a trip a good 3 or a 4 days trip will be a nice idea, you can also plan a visit to athrimpally falls (punnagi mannan was shot there), Top Slip and the Indira Gandhi Wildlife.

    @GAM – This place hardly has any good hotels to stay. The one that i stayed in hardly costed 500 Rs per night per room. You can also look for private bunglows, I found this quite intresting. http://www.teabungalows.com/stanmore.htm One can actually have a tea tasting sessions here. But obviously they were around the prices of Indian 2000 -5000 Rs per night

    @ Nandan Jha – Thanks :) It surely is one place, where u do nothing other than sitback and relax.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Looks quite like a mini Munnar ! Morning walk in the tea garden is such a soothing effect is a complete bliss.

  • vibha says:

    Nice…There is so much to explore within India.

    This is the first time I have heard of this place. looks laid back and serene…the blue in the first pic is awesome.

  • GAM says:

    Stanmore is way too expensive. Any contact details for Green Hills? There is also a Krishna Hotel if Im not mistaken. Thanks.

  • Vidya says:

    @ GAM: – :) Contact details –

    Hotel Green Hill: 04253 222262
    Also try Krishna Lodge: 04253 222234

    If you are pernonally travelling there, then I would suggest you to try TAN TEA bunglows for staying… I am not sure if they actually publicise about it but then when I visited the manager mentioned that we could stay there. You can ring them and fix an offical visit to the factory and also ask them if they have any buglows for accomodation http://tantea.co.in/cotact.html

  • GAM says:

    Thanks so much Vidya. Tantea sounds marvellous and Im sure the rates would be a lot more sensible than Stanmore. I have bookmarked this post. Thanks again.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Interesting post to go through Vidya. The details about the tea making process were quite new for me. You didn’t posted any photos of that!

    I agree with Vibha that the blues in first picture are quite inviting. BTW you mentioned it was from 9th bend and there were 22 bends. Were you counting them ? The kid in me is curious :-)

  • Vidya says:

    @ Manish: – nope I wasn’t counting, its numbered as cross each bend. I coudn’t take photos of the tea making process as it wasn’t permitted. May be they would have if I told them that i would be writing an article on them :P

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    nope I wasnt counting, its numbered as cross each bend.
    ————————-
    :-( and I thought that Vidya still has that little kid in her :-)

    Just kidding.

  • Phoenix says:

    Is Green Hills hotel safe for women and do they have basic facilities?

  • Vidya says:

    @Phoenix – Oh yeah totally. The hotel and the place is decent, all rooms have attached bathrooms with hotwater facility. Try to get one of the superior rooms, they are better than the normal once. Just that its not a fancy hotel with luxuries attached.

  • Benny says:

    Excellent article. If you are looking for decent, neat, modern well furnished rooms with 24 hours hot water facility, around the clock attendants, hygienic food, travel desk that would assist you with booking cabs, organize tour packages, book tickets and take care of all your travel needs etc. please get in touch with me. – Frank :9488876568. You can check out pics of Misty Creek Homestay, Valparai in Facebook at ID: Mistycreekhomestay Valparai. Email me at mistycreekvalparai@gmail.com

  • Manivannan says:

    Hi I haven’t been to Valparai. I booked guest house in Misty Creek by paying some advance. Due to some personal reason myself and my friends couldn’t able to visit the place. I called and informed Mr. Frank in last minute regarding our cancellation. He was so adjustable and understanding, he immediately returned the advance amount even without forfeiting any penalty. Now a days several big resorts hesitate to do this but a person like Frank are still there. Believe me I haven’t even seen his face. Everything was done orally and amount was transfered through online.

    Hats-off to him and now i want to visit the place when i get a chance and personally want to thank him.

    Regards
    P.Mani

  • vaishaliny karthik says:

    very interesting info… tnx..

  • Col NN Bhatia (Retd) says:

    Very nice narrative & tempting offer to visit beautiful hill stations in Southern India. Our country ha such lovely places from the northeast to J&K, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, MP ,AP, Odisha, TN ,Kerala, Andaman, Nicobar & Lakshadweep islands & much much more.

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