A road trip from Chennai to the South Indian jewel of Yercaud is filled with thrilling hairpin bends and abundance of flora and fauna. This is just the kind of adventure-filled vacation you need post lockdown. By Smrithi Suresh 

 

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Yercaud, a beautiful hill town nestled in the Shevaroy hills, at a distance of 30 kilometres from the city of Salem in Tamil Nadu, is often chosen by travellers for budget-friendly road trips. This place is fairly lesser-known when compared to the Nilgiris, and that’s what makes this place less crowded with tourists, thereby, qualifying for a perfect detox getaway. 

From Chennai, if you take the National Highways 48, you can easily reach Yercaud in approximately eight hours. Throughout your journey, you’ll be crossing eight toll gates, costing a total of INR 450 for a single trip. For a road trip full of scenic views, you can take the Chennai – Vellore – Krishnagiri – Salem – Yercaud route. 

If you hit the road in the wee hours of the morning, you can reach Manjakuttai View Point or Pagoda point in Yercaud and catch the first blush of the rising sun. 

 

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In this 367 kilometres-long highway drive, there are two places where you can take a pit stop in — Ambur, a city just 188 kilometres from Chennai; it has amazing eateries that serve the famous Arcot-style biryani. If you are a sucker for non-vegetarian delicacies, we suggest you stop at Ambur Star Biryani. 

Another place worth making a stop at is the Krishnagiri district, which is around 250 kilometres from Chennai. Hotel Saravana Bhavan Classic along the national highway provides authentic South Indian delicacies here. 

From Salem, when you reach the Ghat road to Yercaud, you can enjoy the picturesque view of teak forests. Moist air, lush green trees and a strong scent of citrus will welcome you to the uphill journey. You need to be careful throughout the terrific Ghat road as it has 20 hairpin bends. The well-maintained curvy roads make it a perfect adventure road trip. 

 

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The spectacular blanket of greenery in Yercaud makes it one of the major attractions here. Most of the roads here are surrounded by pepper climbers and coffee plantations. One of the most popular places to stay in is the Great Trails Yercaud by GRT Hotels. Situated right after the 20th hairpin bend, the hotel offers a tranquil ambience and breathtaking views of the valleys. 

There is also a 32-kilometre-long Loop Road, starting from the Yercaud Lake that covers villages like Nagalur and Manjakuttai. You can enjoy this hidden route with views of coffee plantations, silver oak trees, and experience the rich essence of heritage and a variety of flora. 

Where to stay: Sterling Resorts, Club Mahindra, Grange Resorts 

Where to eat: Sky Rocca Diner 

Best time to visit: October to February 

Things to do: Go for boating at Yercaud lake; stroll through the Rose and Botanical Gardens — Neelakurinji, one of the world’s rarest flower blooms here once in 12 years; head to Anna Park, which is just two kilometres away from Yerkaud lake; go on a trek at the White Elephant tooth, a place with rocks made of white quartz; visit the Bear’s Cave, and enjoy birds-eye-view of the city of Salem from Pagoda point and Tipperary Viewpoint. Other places to visit include Kiliyur Falls, Lady’s/Gent’s and Children’s Seat, Shevarayan temple, Lake View Point and Silk Farm.

Related: #TnlRoadTrips: These Adventurous Road Trips From Chennai Will Put Your Driving Skills To Test