Lots of people have taken the four hour drive from Coimbatore to Ernakulam. Its a great road. But, thats not the route I am going to talk about. The route I am suggesting is way longer and much more beautiful. How about Coimbatore – Pollachi – Ambrampalayam – Valparai – Athirapilly – Ernakulam
The Route from Coimbatore to Pollachi is a busy road with lots of vehicles driving in every direction. Its difficult to figure out if you are to drive on the right side or the left side of the road. By the time you do figure it out you should have reached Ambrampalayam.
This where your adventure starts. You can take a slight detour and visit Parambikulam wildlife Sanctuary.
Please note, although Parambikulam wildlife Sanctuary is in Kerala the entrance is from Anaimalai Reserve forest in Tamilnadu. The gate opens at 6:30 am after the first transport bus enters the forest limits. There is an entry fee which has to be paid at the check post at Anaimalai. The road is not maintained well so you can expect pot holes as big as an elephant’s back side. Drive slow and no horn please.
Once you reach the Parambikulam checkpost you will have to register your self. Be prepared to have your car checked for plastics and alcohol. Entrance is allowed in groups. If you plan to stay over night in the forest you can book a tent or a tree house. This has to be done in advance.
The Valparai road takes you through beautiful tea estates, water fall, lakes and cloud catchment areas. There are times when you feel sad as there is no water and you can see the lake beds and then there are those times when you have water falls that look as if milk is falling from the sky. Keep your eyes peeled at the cliffs. You may see the mountain goats running up and down the cliffs. Try out the tea stalls as you drive by the Water Fall teas estate. They have a great seating space next to the stall were you can stretch your legs.
If you think Tirupathi is crowded, then visit the Balaji Temple in Valparai. The temple is small, not crowded and its got a view. You could also visit the Bison Valley near Valparai, or stop in town to pick up some honey. The local honey is good.
The route from Valparai to Athirapilly is open from sunrise to sunset. No vehicles are allowed on this road after 6:30 pm. You will find lots of places along this route where elephants have crossed the road. You will have to drive carefully as there may be trees on the road. If you find elephants on the road don’t blow the horn. Just let them pass. They have the right of way.
In Athirapilly you can visit the amazing waterfalls. You will find a couple on the road to Athirapilly.
From Athirapilly catch the Coimbatore – Ernakulam highway. There are a lots of places in Ernakulam you can see.
Don’t miss the Jew town in Kochi. you can find all the antiques here. Cross the backwaters in the barge and visit the chinese fishing nets. These are just some of the activities in Kochi.
Enjoy the ride…..