When we think about hill stations in South India, the first names that pop up are usually the more popular ones – Ooty, Kodiakanal, Munnar etc. A recent addition to this list is Yercaud.
Yercaud is a shady little hill station town in the Salem district, in Tamil Nadu. The town, which looks like a miniature version of all the other major hill station towns, resides at the top of the Servarayan hills (Shevaroy hills). The towering Shevaroy is one of the major hill stations in Tamil Nadu and the Eastern Ghats.
Poor Man’s Ooty
Ever since Yercaud became visible to the tourists’ eyes, it has been awarded with the alias, ‘Poor Man’s Ooty.’ It’s quite an obvious nickname to be given for a place that came out as a scaled down version of Ooty. Probably the tourism in Yercaud also sells this tag inorder to gain more visitors.
Ooty used to be the ultimate tourist spot to build a permanent holiday getaway. Just a few years back, owning a home in Ooty was a common dream for almost everyone. Being only two and half hours away, it made a perfect setting for people, especially, from Chennai, Bangalore, and Mysore.
But, nowadays more and more people are considering an alternative for Ooty. This is mainly due to the fact that Ooty is, in fact, losing its charm. Its lower altitude areas such as Coonor, Katy Valley, Kotagiri, and Gudalur are heavily populated with more and more people building their holiday homes; as a part of the above mentioned “common dream”.
Is Yercaud a better alternative to Ooty?
Yercaud has attained its popularity only recently. It is 36km away from the hustle and bustle of the steamy hot Salem city. While climbing the 21km ascent to the town, a scenic fold of the city comes into view at the edge of each hairpin curve.
The Yercaud town looks similar to that of Ooty, with a main road that is narrow and crowded, and packed with homestays and restaurants on either side. If at all one is to make a comparison between both places, the very first thing that comes into notice is that Yercaud doesn’t have those fancy, big buildings like the ones you see in Ooty. There are not as many shops, either.
It is quite clear that commercialization had not hit Yercaud, YET! But, we all know how the story goes. A place gets famous, people start flocking over to that place, they eat, defecate, deposit garbage (plastic, supremely), and suck all the life out of it until they find a better place where they could move to and continue with all that they have learnt.
Currently, though, Yercaud is definitely a plausible alternative to Ooty.
Attractions in Yercaud
It’s the very first thing you see when you enter the town – The Emerald Lake. It is beautiful, and exceptionally clean, compared to the fact that it is actually right in the middle of this shady little town. It could be because of the fact that it is one of the most popular attractions in Yercaud, and a lot of small and medium businesses thrive because of the lake and its never ending crowd.
Lady’s Seat and Gent’s Seat
Just two and half kilometers from the main taxi stand is the next popular destination in Yercaud – The Lady’s Seat. It’s a natural seat on a rock on which two people can sit and lean back to rest, like in a park bench. It is at the edge of a cliff from where one could get a panoramic view of the plains, and Salem city. The Gent’s Seat is another similar point close to the former.
This is a 90 feet high waterfall that is 3km away from the town. The trek all the way down to the foot of the falls is a much fulfilling experience, although it can be quite foolish to expect the same while returning back up.
Known for the four pagodas that adorn the corners of the ridge, this point promises spectacular views of the Salem city. It is also a preferred picnic spot by families.
These are the main attractions in Yercaud. It’s a short list, but hey, we have already mentioned that it’s a miniature version of Ooty. It still has a reserve of untouched nature, but if you take a two hour tour across the whole place, you will be greeted with a number of real estate hoardings selling lands for resorts and homestays. It sure helps with tourism, but then what about the nature?