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Photo Courtesy : Ashwin Kumar

Yelagiri Trek

Trekking the silent hills

  • No traffic, no crowd, no pollution… just peace. Yelagiri, a charming rustic hill station near Bangalore, has an idyllic setting for those looking to get away from city life.
  • With only a temple and a lake, the hill is still untapped and free from the regular flow of tourists, who usually bombard hill stations.
  • To top it all, Yelagiri is pretty cool throughout the year as it stands at a height of 920 feet above sea level.
DIFFICULTY:

Moderate

TRAIL TYPE:

Well-marked trail with mud paths and stone steps

DURATION:

2 days

ROAD HEAD:

Thirupathur/Jolarpet

BASE CAMP:

Yelagiri

BEST SEASON:

November to February

Trails in Yelagiri

Yelagiri boasts of a number of trekking trails. One of the most popular trek routes is to the peak Swamimalai, which is at a height of 4,338 feet. Other trek worthy peaks are the Javadi and Palamathi hills in Yelagiri. Jalagamparai waterfalls and Perumadu waterfalls near Puthur also make for some amazing trek destinations. It is best to obtain permission from the District Forest Officer at Tirupattur /Yelagiri before you start the trek, especially if you plan to camp overnight.

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About Author:

USHA HARIPRASAD

Usha Hariprasad is a freelance writer and has worked with Citizen Matters, Alternative and Indus Ladies writing about travel and green living. She worked in the IT field for 5 years before deciding to follow her passion for writing. She is now part of the content and tech team at Indihahikes.

 

 

jag falls (600 x 338)
Enroute to Jalagamparai Falls

Yelagiri has a charm of its own.  Long winding roads, trails deep inside forest, cascading waterfalls, challenging ascents and descents – all these make Yelagiri perfect for trekkers. It is close to Chennai (220 km) and Bangalore (160 km). This makes it a suitable weekend trek from both these cities. Yelagiri comprises of 14 villages, each of them with their indigenous set of tribes. The tribal settlements are closely connected to nature, involving themselves in agriculture and forestry-related activities. Their unique customs, traditional tribal dwellings, roofed with lemon grass, summer festivals and hospitality will definitely leave a lasting impression on you.

How to reach Yelagiri

Yelagiri is around 160 km from Bangalore. There are plenty of buses from Bangalore towards Thirupathur/Jolarpet. From there, you can catch a local bus to Yelagiri. If you prefer travelling by train, the nearest rail head is Jolar Pettai Junction, i.e. around 25 km from the hill station. From there, you can take either a cab or bus to Yelagiri. If you are driving from Bangalore, then drive on the Hosur Road till Krishnagiri. From there take the road going toward Chennai. After an hour’s drive, take a right turn towards an underpass road, which joins the road to Thirapathur. Drive for a couple of kilometres here, until you spot a Tamil Nadu Tourism board. There, take a left turn and you will find the Yelagiri signboard. Follow the signboard to reach the hill station. The ghat road uphill to Yelagiri is refreshing and lined with eucalyptus trees.

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Lake in Yelagiri

Trails in Yelagiri

Yelagiri boasts of a number of trekking trails. One of the most popular trek routes is to the peak Swamimalai, which is at a height of 4,338 feet. Other trek worthy peaks are the Javadi and Palamathi hills in Yelagiri. Jalagamparai waterfalls and Perumadu waterfalls near Puthur also make for some amazing trek destinations. It is best to obtain permission from the District Forest Officer at Tirupattur /Yelagiri before you start the trek, especially if you plan to camp overnight.

Trek to Swamimalai:

  • Altitude: 4,338 feet
  • Times taken: 1 hour, 4 km
  • Grade: Easy

The starting point to Swamimalai is at a village called Mangalam, located at the base of the Swamimalai hill. It starts behind a cluster of houses in the village. Pass through the village fields until you can see the Swamimalai Peak in the distance. Follow the route that gradually ascends.

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Stairway to Swamimalai

The path is well-marked; stone steps lead the way for some time and then it is a muddy trail, until it again meets a flight of stone steps. The trail turns from broad to narrow, taking you deeper into the forest until you hit the final steep stretch. This is a short boulder climb, and takes you to a Shiva temple atop the hill. Swamimalai is a popular sunrise point. Generally, trekkers start at around 4 am and reach the peak in time for sunrise. Even if you’re not aiming at sunrise, start early because it can get very hot later in the day. Descent: To descend, take the same route back. You will reach the base of the mountain in 20-30 minutes. Note: You could also trek to Karadi Malai Peak from Mangalam. The climb starts near the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) accommodation in the village and is pretty steep. Carry water with you on this trek as there is no water en route. There is a small temple atop this peak.

Trek to Jalagamparai waterfall

  • Time taken: 2 hours, 5 km 
  • Grade: Easy

This waterfall is 5 km from Swamimalai peak. The trek is easy and suitable for beginners.

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Jalagamparai waterfall

The route is narrow and rapidly goes downhill. It is also a bit tedious. But the view of the mountains en-route more than make up for it. You will soon reach the waterfall, which is the river Attaru plunging from a height of 30 m. It’s best to visit this waterfall just after monsoon, because there won’t be any water in summer. You can also trek to Jalagamparai from the village Athanavur. From there, it takes around two hours. The route, initially, is on level ground, passing through thick shrubbery. Then you will come across a stream that leads to the waterfall. The level of water in this stream is generally low, except during monsoon, so you can cross the stream easily. After this, there is a steep decent until you reach the waterfall.

Trek from Puthur to Perumadu waterfall

  • Time taken: 2-3 hours, 3 km
  • Grade: Moderate

The trek starts from the village of Puthur. The route takes you through thick forests and muddy roads, interspersed with thorny bushes and stream crossings. These streams merge with the Perumuda waterfall. The trail starts off as a mud road. Walk on this wide road for half a kilometre. The route leads you deeper into the forest. As you move further, the jungle trail becomes narrow, with thick thorny bushes and evergreen trees. After another kilometre or so, you will be able to hear the sound of water gurgling down the rocks. A narrow path downhill takes you to the stream. After the stream, the route turns rocky and goes downhill for some time, and ascends again. Traverse the rocky pathway carefully, avoiding the thorny bushes around you. Beware, the rocky bends are slippery too. After around an hour and a half, you will soon hear the sound of the waterfall. A few twists later, you will see the waterfall. A descent of 30 feet will take you to the foot of the waterfall. Descent: To descend, take the same route back. You will reach the village in around 1-2 hours.

Food and Accommodation:

There are not many hotels in Yelagiri. But Athavnoor has a couple of decent hotels. You could also pitch tents at a suitable place atop the hill. During summer, there is not much water in the waterfall. So it is best to avoid going to this place in the summer. Other nearby attractions in this region are the Puganur  lake and Nilavoor lake, both popular for boating and the migratory birds that visit this place. Yelagiri also boasts of one of Asia’s largest telescopes at the Vainu Bappu Observatory. Yelagiri is also famous for its home-made honey.  All photos by Ashwin Kumar. Click here for more photos. 

Cardiovascular endurance

The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.

Flexibility

Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors


If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints,
here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.

backpack

No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.

What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.

How much should my bag weigh?

“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.

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Trekking hack

One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.

How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.

 

Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.

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Backpack essentials

Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.

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Usha Hariprasad

Usha Hariprasad

Usha Hariprasad is a freelance writer and has worked with Citizen Matters, Alternative and Indus Ladies writing about travel and green living. She worked in the IT field for 5 years before deciding to follow her passion for writing. She is now part of the content and tech team at Indihahikes.