Yelagiri Hills is for easy-paced, relaxed weekends; an ideal getaway from the hustle, bustle and madness of the city. No Internet, no mobile phones and no deadlines. Just relax! Put your feet up; catch up on some reading in this quiet environment, where the only sound you'll hear is the chirping of birds. You are the master of all that you survey.
At Yelagiri, you can do just about anything you want. For instance, you could trek up those rugged hillocks or go on long walks through narrow roads, explore the green surroundings of this rural retreat. Or perhaps you'd like to head towards the lake nearby for some leisure boating or just squat on a bench in the adjoining children's park and watch the kids play away to glory.
Yelagiri Hills encompasses a total area of just 30 sqkms and an altitude of approximately 3500 feet. Therefore, the climate is rather moderate, and an evening breeze that can get a bit chilly (especially after a few showers), considering that the hills have a fair amount of forest cover.
An advantage is that Yelagiri Hills isn't infested by touristy-types, who prefer hill stations with swanky shopping malls, plush restaurants and stuff like that. It's peaceful and quiet out here in these remote surroundings. Chances of bumping into your neighbour are perhaps one in a million.
What makes Yelagiri Hills an ideal weekend getaway is it's proximity from Bangalore or Chennai; just about 3-4 hours. So, an early morning start can get you to Yelagiri by about 10 in the morning and if you leave the next day just after lunch, your home by nightfall.
The main town of Yelagiri Hills is called Athanur - the nerve-centre of sorts - which is just one long, winding road through the hills, pocketed by isolated villages and thatched dwellings on either side. This is in fact, agriculture country. The tribal who live around these parts make their livelihood from the proceeds of agricultural products such as jackfruit and honey.
Tourism is a far cry presently; but there is evidence that Yelagiri Hills is getting popular. There's a flip-side too. So long as commercialization doesn't happen, Yelagiri Hills will remain a serene retreat for weekend getaways.
Places Of Interest
Punganoor Artificial Lake-cum-Park
Perhaps the most popular landmark of Yelagiri Hills is the lake. Ask anyone, and they'll tell you where it's located. For want of anything else to do, most visitors to the Hills tend to take the short walk from their lodgings and perhaps, go on a boat ride. The park adjoins the lake and is an ideal outing for kids to play around.
Picnicking isn't allowed inside the premises. Also, there's an entry fee to be paid to enter the lake and park. Worth it, simply because it helps pass time and kids can have fun too.
The River Attaaru, runs through the valleys of Yelagiri Hills, and at the village of Jadaiyanoor, flows over to form the waterfall. It's perhaps the only distant spot from the main town (over 30 kilometres) and fairly frequented by visitors to the Hills. Larger groups picnic out here, but because of its isolation don't expect too many facilities. Jalagamparai Waterfalls is also an ideal place to go on a day long trek and if you do decide to go there, just make sure you're well-stocked with water and food.
A word of caution: the waterfalls are dependent on the river being full and the river is dependent on substantial rainfall. Yelagiri Hills hasn't any monsoon season of its own; rainfall here is mainly a 'spill-over' of rainfall in nearby Bangalore or Chennai regions. Unless there is rain here, Yelagiri Hills can largely be dry.
Possibly the highest peak around and the best place to go on a lovely trek is Swamimalai. It's an easy trek along a muddy path starting from the eastern side of the lake, which is about 3 kilometres long and pretty scenic too. Most visitors to Yelagiri Hills, who have trekking in mind, often climb up Swamimalai.
Make sure you have enough water and light snacks before you set-off up the hillock.
If perchance the need arises to seek divine intervention drop by at the Murugan temple to offer prayers and invoke blessings from the deity. For whatever its worth, a trip or even a trek to the holy spot is bound to invigorate energy, health and peace of mind.
You come across this when you're driving up the Hills. It's supposed to be open on weekends, but one has always seen a huge padlock at all times. They say there's a telescope housed inside and from where one can get a good view of places in the distance. But from the naked-eye one can easily get a view of Thirupathur Town or Jolarpet down below; no need for telescopes, really. Besides, it's a waste of time and petrol to drive 2 kilometers to find a padlock at the gates.
May and June each year is the time for a Summer festival at Yelagiri Hills. Main attendees are local village folk and like-minded people from nearby areas of Vellore District. The government-sponsored event aims to showcase the customs, culture and traditions of the tribal belonging to the areas that fall under Yelagiri Hills. Invitees include state ministers, government officials, members of various panchayat unions and local headmen.
What actually happens is that there are a lot of cultural programmes, music blaring out of loud speakers all across town and a general destruction of peace and quiet. Many welfare measures are announced amidst all the merry-making, but like its every where else, nothings ever achieved