Gently Down The Lake In Yercaud

Dappled sunlight by the lake
Dappled sunlight by the lake, Yercaud

6th April 2017

Which Tamil Nadu hill-station gets its name from the lake at the centre of town? Yercaud, of course! This little hill town was called Eri-Kadu because of the forests around the lake. Eri-lake and kadu-forest. We locals still say Yerkadu when we speak of this laid- back hill town near Salem.

Yercaud Lake (2)

  • The lake is the first sight that greets you once you have negotiated 20 hair-pin bends on the lovely drive on the oh-so-beautiful hill roads and enter the hill town.
  • Once you have arrived in Yercaud, the lakeside is a good place to spend time.
  • Go boating on the lake, relax on the lawns by the lakeside, enjoy the cool breeze and the beautiful scenery, and try out the tasty street food in the many eateries near the boat-house.
  • TTDC run boat-house opens at  nine in the morning and closes at five- thirty in the evening. It is the most popular place for tourists coming to Yercaud and can be quite crowded in summer.
  • You have a choice of pedal-boats, motor- boats and row-boats.
Boat-house, Yercaud
Boat-house, Yercaud

Boat-house, Yercaud

Safety Rules for boating enthusiasts outside the boat-house in Yercaud
Safety Rules for boating enthusiasts outside the boat-house in Yercaud

Yercaud lake is the only natural lake where you can go boating among all the lakes found in hill-stations in Tamil Nadu.

Dappled sunlight by the lake in Yercaud
Morning sunlight brightens up a placid lake scene in Yercaud

Gently down the lake!

A word of caution- the lake is really deep, so just sit back in your boat and enjoy yourself (let life pass by, literally)!

The row- boats come with the mandatory boatman which is good from the safety perspective. Personally I prefer the row- boat even if there is some waiting for the allotted boat. There is something very therapeutic about the splash of oars striking water, trailing your hand in the cool lake , taking in the panoramic views as the boat moves down the lake and a chat with a friendly boatman!

Late in the evening, when the boat-house has closed and the crowds have left, take a walk on the road by the lake. It’s very peaceful and across the lake, big stars hang low in the black sky over the dark silhouette of a hill. See the stars reflected in the mirror-like water. Feel the cool pure mountain-air, breathe deeply and watch your cares fall away.

The healing beauty of nature is part of the magic that is Yercaud.

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RED BERRIES, POINSETTIAS AND more…

20th December,2016

Making B(m)erry!

Nature’s palette this December in Yercaud is light and dark shades of green and vivid splashes of red and orange.

This is a busy time in the coffee plantations in Yercaud. The coffee plants are full of red berries. Plantation workers pick the ripe berries by hand leaving the green unripe ones on the plants.

Ruby red coffee berries
Ruby red coffee berries

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The coffee berries are a beautiful shade of red and shine like rubies amidst the shiny dark green leaves of the coffee plant. Myself, I love coffee and can’t do without my morning cuppa and another in the evening. Filter coffee is always a treat, and Kumbakonam degree kaapi makes one drool. But it all starts here in the hills from the coffee berries that ripen in December. In Salem, we are proud of our very own Narasu’s coffee..who can forget the famous ad?!!

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Marigolds and red coffee berries add beauty to the fencing
Marigolds and red coffee berries add beauty to the fencing

Plantation yards are a hive of activity, as the picked berries are weighed, the seeds separated from the berries in machines and then sun-dried. For many days, as the berries ripen slowly on the plants this process continues. From berry to brew is a lengthy process which starts with the picking.

Workers in a plantation,Yercaud
Workers in a plantation,Yercaud
Weighing the berries, a December plantation scene, Yercaud
Weighing the berries, a December plantation scene, Yercaud
Weighing the coffee berries in Yercaud
Weighing the coffee berries in Yercaud

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Coffee seed are sun-dried in heaps on a row

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Christmas Cheer

Elsewhere in the hills, bright red Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) bring Christmas cheer.

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Cheery reds of Poinsettias in winter
Cheery reds of Poinsettias in winter
Red Poinsettias brighten up a grey cement wall
Red Poinsettias brighten up a grey cement wall

The little ‘crown of thorns’ plants are not to be outdone. They are full of little red flowers making lovely thorny borders on roadsides and estates.

Crown of thorns flowers
Crown of thorns flowers

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A Merry Christmas to all my readers!

Sri Rama Temple at Pagoda Point

Sri Rama temple,Pagoda point

Sri Rama Temple, Stone Cairns and a View-point

Up in the hills, temples are sturdy landmarks in the lush surroundings, quite often built in chosen locations.

Sri Rama temple at Pagoda Point in Thalai cholai village is just such a place.

Pagoda point, Yercaud
Sri Rama Temple, Pagoda Point 
Sri rama temple -Pagoda point
Sri Rama and Sita, Pagoda point

 

Hanuman at Sri rama temple -Pagoda point
Hanuman

At four in the afternoon, it is cold up here. The temple is open, the oil lamps are lit but there is no priest. The idols of Rama and Sita are beautiful. There is a small idol of Hanuman in front facing the sanctum. The outer structure is modern and very clean.

The woman in the shop next to the temple says the temple is quite old, no one knows how old. It is one of many Rama temples in the Shevaroy hills. Her kula-deivam on her father’s side is Sri Rama she says, waving a hand in the direction of the temple.

Stone Cairns

Pagoda point is a view-point in the hills, a short distance from Yercaud Lake. Named after the stone cairns that are found here which are built in the shape of a pyramid or a pagoda, it is sometimes mispronounced as pakoda point! It is these stone cairns and the view-point that are the main tourist attractions. These cairns are 5 to 7 feet high. The lady shop-keeper says they are used to light the ceremonial lamps during the festival in the month of Karthigai.“Karthigai Maasam vaanga. Romba nalla irrukum,” she invites in Tamil, meaning, ‘You should come here in the month of Karthigai(for the festival). It is very nice then’. Her husband is also the caretaker of the temple. “We come here around 12 noon,” she says, “There are crowds of tourists on week-ends and holidays. On other days we just sit here”, she smiles.

Pagoda point,Yercaud
One of the stone cairns near the temple

 

A stone cairn, Pagoda point, Yercaud
Stone cairn,Pagoda point
Pagoda point, Yercaud (3)
View from Pagoda point, Yercaud

The view-point overlooks the valley. Wispy clouds float across the valley at eye-level! Fog surrounds you and moves away minutes later! Down below you can see a tribal village and another temple. It is a lovely place for a visit.

View from Pagoda point, yercaud
Clear view of the valley,Pagoda point
Clouds descend over the valley
This photo showing mist descending on the valley,was taken about 30 minutes after the first photo

The pictures below show how the fog brought road-visibility to near zero on our way back from the temple.Signpost in the fog

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Fog is thicker. You can see a school boy making his way home.

Thick fog obscures the signpost

Thick fog obscures the signpost

Location

Pagoda point is roughly 4 km from Yercaud Lake in Thalai cholai village.

 

SERVARAYA PERUMAL-GOD OF THE SHEVAROYS

6th May, 2016

SERVARAYAN TEMPLE, YERCAUD

The god of the Servarayan ranges and of the 67 odd villages in these hills, Servaraya Perumal is the guardian of the Shevaroys, and his temple is no grand monument filled with amazing sculptures. I would call it a temple of surprises and wonders, as old as these ancient hills themselves, probably dating back 2000 years or more.

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A view of the Servarayan temple, Manjakuttai, Yercaud

The steep mountain road to the highest point of the Shevaroys makes for a very enjoyable drive. The temple is on a flat hilltop.

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Sunset over the Servarayan temple, Yercaud

A modern outer façade leads to the entrance of the cave. Here you have to stoop to enter and bend down for a few feet into the cave. The cave is wider inside and you can stand up straight. This is where you see the idols of Servaraya Perumal and KaveriAmman on a rocky platform

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TEMPLE OF SURPRISES

You wouldn’t expect a cave temple at this height– 5,326 feet above sea level (1,623 metres ASL)!

The goddess is Kaveri Amman. Yes, you’re right – the goddess of river Kaveri is worshipped at this highest point of the Shevaroy hills!

The idols of Servaraya Perumal and Kaveri amman are small -11/2  feet tall but adorable!

Servaraya Perumal holds the conch and discus in his hands while goddess Kaveri holds a lotus flower in her hand.

The roof above the deities is moist and drops of water fall at intervals on the idols. This flow of water dries up during the dry summer months.

In the dark recess behind the god and goddess the cave goes on. Visitors are not permitted to go beyond this point. A story is told by the local tribal people that the cave goes all the way to Thalakaveri in the state of Karnataka, which is the origin of the Kaveri river. No one knows for sure, but it is a tale that has been told for generations. Surely there must be a reason why there is a temple for goddess Kaveri at these heights but it is a reason that has been lost to us, lost in the mists of time.

There is a great tree at the entrance, its vast trunk covered with small bags of prayer offerings.

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Faith and Promise

 

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Steps leading from the temple to the hilltop above

There are just a few houses some distance away from the temple.

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A house on the hill top

Across the road, there is a wishing well where you throw pebbles and make a wish.

Breathe in the exhilarating, pure, cold mountain air. The vast flat hilltop above the temple is a great place to relax, to have a picnic with your family, or just enjoy the spectacular 360 degrees views and the play of clouds in a sky that is so close that you feel you can almost touch it!

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From this high vantage point you get a breathtaking view of the hills that stretch in rows upon overlapping rows into the distance. You can also see bauxite mines on the hills.

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The sky on fire? Sunset on the hills.

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The festival in May is an important one for the tribal people called as Malayaalees -the people of the hills, when they gather here in their hundreds.

LOCATION

 7 kms from Yercaud lake. You can go by car or take a taxi. Alternately you can hire an auto near the boathouse to take you to the temple.

TIMINGS

The temple is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

SUMMER GOLD

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Nature’s Gold Chandeliers!

2nd May, 2016

KONRAI

Perhaps there is nothing quite as beautiful as a Konrai tree in full bloom. In the hills of Yercaud, the Jacaranda trees have shed most of their purple blooms and stand mute witness to the blatant show put on by the Konrai trees.

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Aptly called the Golden Shower Tree, the Konrai or Indian Labernum is in full bloom on the hill road to Yercaud

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Ancient Tamil literature celebrates these spectacular blossoms as flowers that are dear to Lord Siva. The timeless hymns speak of Siva as wearing a garland of these golden blooms in his Jada- mudi (Tamil for flowing matted locks).

The Tamil poetess Avvaiyar who lived in the Sangam period – 1st and 2nd century CE, named one of her brilliant poetical compositions as Konrai Vèndhan. To this day it is recited by children in the primary schools of Tamil Nadu.DSC01655

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BAMBOO BLOSSOM

April 2,2016

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The hill road to Yercaud has a particularly beautiful stretch that comprises almost entirely of green bamboo forests  on both sides of the road. This lovely landscape no longer has myriad shades of green because a unique phenomenon is taking place.The stately Bamboo is in bloom.

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Forests of Bamboo are copious with bloom on the hill sides

PHENOMENON

This flowering is a phenomenon because the bamboo’s flowering intervals are decades long and all bamboos of a species bloom at the same time irrespective of geography and climatic conditions.

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The long flowering intervals and the mass flowering of a species are mysteries that defy botanists to this day.

phenomena in National Geographic

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The flowers are less than spectacular and are structured for wind pollination.

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BAMBOO BLOSSOMS

The seeds which are called bamboo-rice attract a large number of birds.

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STRIPPED AND BARE AGAINST THE SKY
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PRETTY AS A PAINTING- FLOWER LADEN BAMBOO PLANTS AGAINST THE SKY

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When a Bamboo flowers it expends tremendous energy in producing flowers and seeds and there is a total lack of leaf production.The mass flowering stresses the bamboo to such an extent that it dies.

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FROM GREEN TO YELLOW TO BROWN
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DEAD BAMBOO CANES COLLAPSE UPON THEMSELVES AND CAN LOOK QUITE DREADFUL!

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It is sometimes said that the mother bamboo dies to give way to young seedlings.

A PEEK INTO THE PAST

March 30, 2016

A Brief Glimpse of British Colonial Yercaud

A colonial outpost of the British in India, Yercaud was ‘discovered’ in 1820 by David Cockburn, (M D Cockburn) the Scottish Collector of Salem District between 1820 to 1829.He is remembered as the Father of Yercaud as he initiated the development of these hills. In 1820 he visited Yercaud and introduced the cultivation of Arabica coffee procured from Africa along with fruit trees like pears and apples.

Plantation life first started in Yercaud before it was taken up in the Nilgiris.

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A chronological series of remarkable events in Yercaud in the British era.

1820 – David Cockburn, the Scottish collector of Salem known as the Father of Yercaud introduced coffee, pears and apples.

1827 – First survey of the Shervaroyan hills was completed.

1836 – Mr.G.F. Fisher, a German purchased the Salem Zamin. He was the first and only Zamindar in Madras Presidency. The area of his zamin was 1, 25, 000 acres.

1866 – David Arbuthnot, collector of Salem granted land for coffee cultivation to a large number of Englishmen.

1872 – Ghat road (from Salem) work was started.

1903 – Ghat road (from Salem) work was completed.

1917 – Montfort school was established.

1918 – First motorcycle to reach the Shevaroys. It was owned by Fr. Capell.

1920 – Ghat road became motorable and the first (steam engine) bus service was operated by NS.

1925 – The first commercial transportation was the Sydney Dyer Lorry Service introduced in 1925. The fare was Rs. 6 per adult uphill, Rs. 5 downhill and Rs. 3 for children.

1926 – The first gramophone and 35 mm hand driven magneto projector to reach Yercaud.

1928 – The first wireless radio imported by Bro.Octavian on December 17th 1928

1928 – The first wind and aero pump was installed in Montfort school.Similar wind driven pumps also worked at the Ornamental Lake and Emerald Lake.

1930 – Electricity became available after the completion of the Stanley Reservoir at Mettur in 1929.The first electricity connection in Yercaud was subscribed by the Montfort school.

1930 – A cinema hall called the White and Green Palace started functioning behind Western Stores

1931 – The first motor car in Yercaud was owned by Mr. C.D.Rile and reportedly burnt down by angry locals at Grassy Banks Bungalow, Yercaud.

The second car was owned by Mr. Medra and the third by Mr. Sydney Dyer.

The photos show the periphery map of the Shevaroys and a map of Yercaud. They can be seen outside the Anna Park near the Big Lake.

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Bougainvilla  covered much of these tall trees and shone in the evening sun.I could’nt resist taking these pictures.Perhaps they would have looked different without the sun on them.Hope you like them.

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Towering Grandeur

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THE SUN SETS BEHIND YERCAUD LAKE