About the Park
Valparai is a mid-elevation hill station in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, India. Located 3,500 feet above sea level on the Anaimalai Hills range of the Western Ghats. The name Anaimalai translates to Elephant Hill after the elephants that roam in large herds in the protected areas of the region. Valparai is 100 kilometres from Coimbatore and once you reach Azhiyar, there are 40 hairpin bends to navigate until Valparai. All this makes for an interesting and scenic drive.
According to some of the earliest records found on the region, in 1846 a man named Ramasamy Mudaliyar started a coffee plantation here. Then in 1890, Britishers Wintil and Nordan bought land from the Madras State Government and planted tea and coffee. Carwer Marsh who had experience in tea and coffee farming assisted them in their endeavour. Carwer Marsh interacted and built a close relationship with the local people and was later known as The Father of Anaimalai. His statue was erected on the Kavarkal Estate to honour his devotion to the people of the region.
Private tea companies own large parts of the land in the region and a visit to one of the estates is sure to refresh any tea enthusiast. For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, the nearby Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, Eravikulam National Park, and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary provide hours of viewing pleasure. Besides being a rich elephant tract, the area is also home to numerous leopards. It is not uncommon to spot one of the many resident species as you drive through the evergreen forests. Keep your eyes open for lion-tailed macaques, boars, gaur, sambar, great hornbills, and giant squirrels.
Valparai is also the habitat of the Nilgiri tahr, an endemic wild goat. These mountain goats can be found in the higher altitudes in the range of 1,200 to 2,600 metres above sea level in the southern Western Ghats. It is fascinating to watch these adept climbers navigate steep slopes with ease.
There are many interesting places to visit in Valparai. Sholayar dam, one of the largest reservoirs in South India is close by. Monkey Falls, Athirapally waterfalls, Koolangal River, and Aaliyar and Nirar dams are other scenic water bodies in its vicinity. The Amaravathy reservoir has many crocodiles that can be seen basking on the banks. The Balaji Temple and Karamalai Annai Velankanni Church attract many pilgrims as well.
Valparai remains pleasant throughout the year with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius in the day but can go as low as 18 degrees in the winter months of December through March. June until August is the monsoon season when the hills are covered in all shades of green. The summer months of March through May could get hot with temperatures going up to 36 degrees in the daytime, but surrounded by lush forests, the cool breeze helps to cool you down.
Pancha Mugha Vinayakar Temple
Karamalai Annai Velankanni Church
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Largely tea and coffee plantations interspersed with protected areas, of late, leopard and wild dog sightings have increased hugely. The elephant migration season was particularly good, with a minimal number of the man-elephant conflicts that can exist. Birding is gaining popularity in the region and is usually a pursuit that viistors indulge in after a cool dip in one of the numerous rivers of this steep and hilly regions. Among the avian guests to Valparai was a visitor all the way from the Himalayas — the Indian pitta.
Stanmore Garden Bungalow (Quality PUG Eco Rating)
New in 2016: Mr. Sachin has joined Stanmore Garden as resident naturalist. He accompanies guests on walks through the plantations, teaching them about the local bird and animal life. The property has added an adventure zone that boasts a zip line, a tire walk, a commando net and a multi vine. More activities are planned. With no TVs in rooms, to meet the entertainment quotient, Stanmore is planning indoor games like table tennis, board games, pool, billiards and tennis.
In its endeavour to contribute to the environment, Stanmore has an ongoing project to keep the Koolangal River free of plastic and litter. It also participates in programmes aimed at the safety and security of the lion-tailed macaques. On its premises, Stanmore has a chlorine-free, eco-friendly swimming pool for guests. Solar-backed lighting is also on the cards. Work on central water heating is on. Fallen branches and twigs are collected from in and around the property for heating.