Situated 1,515 metres high in the Shevaroy Hills, in the state of Tamil Nadu, the peaceful hill station of Yercaud nestles among coffee plantations and thickly forested slopes and is a good place for trekking and boating.
Some people believe that these hills were part of the ancient megalith-builders’ domain which stretched from Cornwall through Brittany and Iberia to India. Clearly visitors have been streaming into Yercaud from well before recorded history.
Before getting into this coffee-plantation hamlet, you have to drive through the textile town of Salem. If you browse around the shops, you might pick up bright handloom fabrics at half the price you would pay elsewhere.
Just before the road begins to climb up the mountains to Yercaud, do look out for an interesting group of brightly coloured idols to the left of the road. These guardian deities, found only in Tamil Nadu, are worshipped as protectors of villages and are often known as Aiyanars.
On the way up the winding hill road with its 20 hairpin bends, stop at a thatched wayside stall selling ‘Fresh Garden Produce’: packets of cloves and pepper. Then come the coffee plantations before entering cottage-dotted Yercaud.
You can amble around leisurely, or do a tandem tour of the lake in a pedal boat, or hire a taxi to ‘do’ the sights. 3 km away is the rocky escarpment overlooking the plains. It is known as Lady’s Seat and some wag has named another viewpoint as Gent’s Seat.
Pyramid point, 3 km away, has cairns of stones and was once a Stone Age fortress shrine before the new temple was built. 7 km from the lake is the Servaroyan Temple with a modern, striped, facade leading to an old cave temple.
Once you get into this soothing, lake-centred, quiet and undisturbed green place, you don’t have to do anything but unwind.
How to get there
Air: Nearest airport is Madras
Train: Salem railhead is 30 km away.
Road: Tourist taxis and buses are available from Salem