Tea and tranquillity in Valparai

Head to the hills in Tamil Nadu for some tea-liciously terrific adventures.
Valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
Birds’ eye view of the scenic tea plantations in Valparai. Image: Shutterstock/debarpita.

Valparai is a scenic hill station located in the Anaimalai Hills in Tamil Nadu. It is known for its lush tea estates, abundant forest cover, magnificent waterfalls, and warm hospitality. Here is TD’s handbook of five activities that can be experienced during spring…

High on tea

Learning to pluck the precious tea leaves like the professionals is a fun experience.
Learning to pluck the precious tea leaves like the professionals is a fun experience. Image: Shutterstock/AJP.

On our recent visit to Valparai, we spent our time going on tea trails at the pollution free, tranquil, and picturesque Parry Agro Tea plantations, where both organic and conventional tea is grown. Dressed in typical tea leaf plucking gear of a net basket tied to the waist and looped on the head, we tried our hand at tea leaf plucking in the organic tea plantation, post a quick impromptu tutorial from the local lady leaf pluckers.

Glorious greens of tea plantations and wild foliage. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
Glorious greens of tea plantations and wild foliage. Image: Shutterstock/Catalin Lazar.

Starting our adventure of two leaves and a bud, the next stop at the Iyerpadi Tea Factory was all about educating ourselves on how our daily cuppa of tea is manufactured. The processes of crushing, tearing, curling, and packaging, followed by distribution came to life while misty evenings were reserved for sipping hot tea sitting on benches admiring the vistas of the tea estate at our bungalow accommodation.

Monkeying around

Look forward to visits from lion-tailed macaques. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
Look forward to visits from Lion-tailed Macaques. Image: Shutterstock/RealityImages.

The tea plantations are home to many Lion-tailed Macaques. A baby Macaque peeking from a tree while an adult male swiftly climbed up another tree were sightings that we still cherish. On another early morning walk, the sight of a Great Indian Hornbill in flight awed us.   

Spotting the great indian hornbill in flight makes for major excitement. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
Spotting the Great Indian Hornbill in flight makes for major excitement. Image: Shutterstock/Sen S.

Bungalow life

Away from city chaos, surrounded by organic tea plantations, Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow provided us with what some much-needed rejuvenation. The bungalow is part of the RARE India community of conscious luxury hotels and experiences in India and the sub-continent.

The verdant gardens of sinna dorai’s bungalow. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
The verdant gardens of Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow. Image: Khursheed Dinshaw.

Choosing to stay here was definitely the highlight of our trip. The six-bedroom bungalow belonged to a former assistant manager of a tea estate and staying here took us back to the colonial era. Sitting in its verdant garden, the vibrant blooms of flowers, the myriad green of the tea plantations and the melodious bird calls, soothed and relaxed us.

Heritage feel inside sinna dorai’s bungalow. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
Heritage feel inside Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow. Image: Khursheed Dinshaw.

We experienced the typical hill station vibe, the peace that comes from being with Mother Nature and the simple yet essential joys of life that were missing in our urban hustle bustle. We savoured the opportunity of leisurely sitting and relishing freshly prepared plantation food and the restful sleep we got in the bungalow which had a classic heritage feel to it.

Spiritual pursuits

Drives to places of worship nearby offer a sense of calm and clarity. The journey through beautiful winding roads was accompanied by a drizzle that added to the charm of the misty tea plantations on either side. A herd of bison leisurely ambling by had us stop for a quick photo.

View from the alliyar dam, which is worth a visit. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
View from the Alliyar Dam, which is worth a visit. Image: Shutterstock/Pugalenthi Iniabarathi.
The imposing karamalai annai velankanni church. | valparai, tea, tamil nadu, spring
The imposing Karamalai Annai Velankanni Church. Image: Khursheed Dinshaw.

The 19-year-old Karamalai Annai Velankanni Churchis dedicated to Velankanni Matha who is Our Lady of Good Health. It is located near a gurgling stream while the Balaji Temple is surrounded by a private tea estate.  

Buy before bye

A trip to Valparai would be incomplete without shopping. And so, we drove from Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow to the market to buy spices like cloves, green cardamom and black pepper, indigenous red rice, and red bananas. Packets of banana chips, murukku and rose cookies accompanied us back to the Bungalow where we bought our supply of tea to remind us of our memorable time at Valparai.  

Fact Sheet 

Where: Valparai is about 115 kms from Coimbatore | How: It takes about three hours and 30 minutes from Coimbatore airport to get to the hill station. Private cabs can be hired and the last couple of kilometres are hair-pin bends. The drive is pleasant with scenic views and smooth roads | What: Book Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow and the various experiences at www.sinnadorai.com and www.rareindia.com.  

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