We graduated out of PSG Tech, Coimbatore in 1996 and moved on to pursue our own ambitions to different parts of the world. Except for some occasional meetings within respective hometowns, we hadn't gathered together in past 18 years. Only after social revolution in past 3 - 4 years, we reconnected again through facebook and more recently on Whatsapp.
One of our friends was planning to visit Coimbatore / Pollachi from Singapore for a wedding, which triggered this mini get together plan and what started very small, turned out to be a decent participation with 11 people making it for the trip. We deliberated quite a few places nearby and narrowed down on Valparai because all we wanted was a place which is disconnected from the mad rush, offers decent comfort and preferably no one else around.
Dates were finalized as 7th and 8th June and we booked an estate bungalow called Briar estates, which is around 10kms from Valparai. Since we didn't want to do anything there we opted not to have a plan except for arrival to and departure from Coimbatore. For the drive, we had quite a few options with friends driving down in respective vehicles from Karur and Chennai. We decided to take following vehicles:
1. My Ertiga
2. Brand new Terrano of one of our friends
3. 1Lakh Km young Fiesta of another friend Pre-trip
: Friends started arriving on 6th June itself from Singapore, Chennai, Karur, Tuticorin and some arrived only on 7th morning. Since we had limited time, we planned to start as early as possible from Coimbatore & Pollachi was first target for breakfast. Start
: There were no surprise at the start and we managed to gather everyone and leave city on 7th June before 8AM & as planned reached Amuthasurabi restaurant at Pollachi, which is our de facto starting point for many trips. As always, food was excellent complimented by strong filter coffee in the end. After breakfast, another half an hour was spent around there buying some stuff like playing cards, snacks, beverages etc. Drive
: Around 930AM we started again from pollachi and drove via Aliyar, Monkey falls and scenic ghat road to reach first small village on the route, Attakatti. We didn't stop there since we wanted to take tea break in natural surroundings and continued driving to reach a very good 'tea shop' at Waterfall estates. Tea was simply amazing there and we had multiple choices like regular tea, lemon tea and green tea as well. Decided to make a stop on the return as well. Took some photographs and continued our journey.
We had some anxious moments since the Terrano, which showed 200+ kms at foothills started flashing 'low fuel' warning lights & range as 0kms. Though we were confident that sufficient fuel will be left for 20+ kms before reaching Valparai, there was an element of doubt in back of minds (fuel leak due to fuel tank damage or in the fuel line etc). But since we had a 3 vehicle convoy continued the journey and safely reach Valparai. Needless to say, first things we did was to refuel the Terrano. Looks like a technical glitch.
The road condition all through is in amazing condition & took us by surprise. Not even a single bad patch of road in the entire stretch. And the views on either side of the road were also amazing right from the foothills. This was in sharp contrast to drive to Munnar from Udumalpet, where first ~25kms is not that enjoyable both because of road conditions and also drier terrain. Though Munnar is also one of my favorite places, I would personally rank Valparai above Munnar on many additional factors as well like still being pristine and away from tourist rush.
Coming back, all 3 cars did very well in the uphill climb and we also opted to drive at a very relaxed pace & being gentle on our cars. With 4 people on board Ertiga did very well except for some steep stretches where I had to downshift to 2nd gear. ERTIGA MADE ME REALLY PROUD
in this trip since people were literally fighting for a seat in LUV. Even friends who were in Terrano for sometime preferred LUV for the space & comfort. Terrano might have been more solid on uneven roads. But heard back seat is cramped. In the end Ertiga beat both the cars black and blue. It was truly a happy & proud moment.
There was no signal in mobile (even bsnl) in most part of the journey until we reached Valparai. We called up resort and took directions from them and restarted the journey. After all the breaks & relaxed reached the estate bungalow before 1PM. Stay
: The facility was perfect for us with just 4 bed rooms and spacious dining and living rooms, long verandahs and surrounded on 4 sides by lush green tea estates. Since it was remote we had booked all meals at the estate itself since we didn't moving around except for casual strolls nearby. The rooms were very comfortable and meals were very hygienic and home-style though not very tasty. We spent next 24 hours at the resort chatting, playing cards, pulling each other and what not.. Return
: After lunch started from the resort at 230 PM, started climbing down in same relaxed pace. There was light drizzle through out the descent. Like we did during the ascent, stopped by at the Waterfall estate tea shop had tea, bought some tea leaves & tea bags for home and started. With 100m from there we saw a wonderful rainbow waving us good bye. Stopped for 10 minutes and took lot of pictures and selfies.
Our next stop was just before pollachi to reorganize people in to respective vehicles & final good byes exchanged. It was memorable trip and a wonderful drive. I would recommend Valparai to all friends with similar interests looking for a good drive for similar get-togethers who prefer to be indoors. Will let pictures do rest of the talking.
More photographs in Ram's thread: Octy's Day Out To Valparai and Sholayar Dam