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A serene retreat in the mountains

Swahilya

Yelagiri is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway



Vellai, a trekking guide at the Taj Gardens. — Photo: Swahilya

CHENNAI: If you are looking for a quite getaway to a hill station nearby, Yelagiri is a natural choice.

The quiet rural ambience of the mountains, just 14 km up from Jolarpet, is untouched by crowds and the attendant pollution of heavily patronised locales such as Udhagamandalam or Kodaikanal. More than anything, it takes just three hours to reach Jolarpet by any Bangalore-bound train and a half-an-hour drive into Yelagiri.

The 14-odd hairpin bends up the hill are named after leading Tamil personages — both ancient and recent. The smooth and well-maintained roads augur well for a peaceful stay with a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Yelagiri is one weekend getaway spot where one can book into a hotel, abandon mundane worries and simply walk through the chill as clouds float by. Visitors can also drive down to the Yelagiri lake and enjoy a boat ride through the circumference of the lake. The park around the lake has also a tree top viewpoint, which means one has to climb up a metal ladder to get to the top of a platform, that literally promises a bird's eye view of the surroundings.

Booking a room in one of the resorts or hotels in Yelagiri is an interesting experience in itself. In some places, the food is cooked specifically on orders from the visitors. It will be variety fare and yet retain that made-at-home flavour. Bonfire and music nights provide a magical ambience for people to bond.

For those trek-happy feet, there is the Swami Malai, which takes an hour and a half to climb. Young school boys also double up as travel guides and the lucky ones may get to go through the rocky, less frequented shortcuts to reach to the top.

With the Government planning to promote Yelagiri as a major family destination, owing to its proximity to Chennai, Rs.100.60 lakh has been sanctioned towards meeting the costs of development works for 2006-07.

Either by bus, train or car, Jolarpet is the first stop from where one has to drive to Yelagiri.

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