The Christmas holidays had arrived, and we planned a trip to the picturesque hill station Yercaud, about 35kms from Salem. We- uncles, aunts and cousins, embarked on our sojourn from my uncle’s place in Coimbatore by car in the evening and reached Salem by nightfall, around 3 hours later. After a sumptuous supper, amidst excited chatter and GPS in smart phones switched on for ready reference, we continued the journey to our destination. Leaving behind the noisy roads of Salem, the first hairpin bend and a noticeable fall in temperature heralded the commencement of the winding road to the quaint hill town. As we continued our ascent, the hustle and bustle in the city of Salem, illuminated by lights of various hues and colours, presented a pleasing canvas for the eyes. The narrow road curved up constantly and 20 hairpin bends later, Yercaud town came into view. As it was 10pm, the roads were deserted and the shops closed; the resort where accommodation was arranged was situated 2kms away from the town.
The subsequent morning, we awoke at dawn and broke our fast at a restaurant in the town. A 2-day temple festival and an ongoing flower show saw the town bedecked with flowers, arches and statues and music of diverse genre blared from speakers. Tribal dancers in colourful attires were displaying their traditional dance forms on the street, to the accompaniment of drum beats, surrounded by a large throng of tourists and locals. We strolled leisurely around the Yercaud lake to the boat club. The boating in the pristine lake was a memorable experience. The vivid blue sky, the clear lake water and the lush greenery around the banks made a captivating scene.
Our next destination was the Killiyur waterfalls, about 3 kms from the lake. Munching fruits, we began descending the 300 steps leading to the waterfalls. The majestic hills capped with misty clouds and dense flora made it an enjoyable trek. We paused frequently, to drink in the scenery and to capture it in cameras. At the bottom, the clear water gushing down the steep rocks was a beautiful sight to behold. We clambered over the rocks carefully and ventured close to the water; the chill in the water was refreshing and pleasant. The beautiful scenery all around made the arduous ascent from the waterfalls less taxing.
After an elaborate buffet lunch, we relaxed for an hour, enjoying the view from a skywalk, watching the mists drift slowly across the hillocks. We then proceeded to visit the Shevarayon temple, situated 8kms from the town. It is a cave temple, built from the rocks and the deity is dedicated to the erstwhile ruler of the region. We had to bend almost double to reach the idol. The priest pointed out a tunnel, hewn into the rocks and extending nearly a kilometer into the darkness, behind the idol. The view from the Shevaroy hills surrounding the temple was panoramic, the cool breeze and the descending darkness signalling a long night. After gazing at the scenery from the highest point in Yercaud to our hearts’ content, we returned to the town and had a delicious dinner.
Early next morning, we began our return journey, bidding adieu to the tiny hill town. The swirling, thick fog obstructed clear vision and made driving precarious, for a while. As we left the ghat road and set out for Coimbatore, memories of the glorious trip lifted our spirits and we vowed to return to the charming town again.