Last weekend (28-30 July) I excused myself from work for a much wanted (long promised) short vacation with my wife (of course!) and our 3-year-old son. One of my colleagues at the office has been recommending Yelagiri to me for almost a year now (Thanks, Akhila Arun for the recommendation). Decided to go for it, I booked the room at Taj Gardens in advance – the resort I was told tends to get filled up during the weekends due to high bookings from IT folks from Bangalore and Chennai.

Zeenat Taj Gardens is a family-run farmhouse owned by one Mr Rahman (who is a retired Leather Businessman). Fortunately, when we stayed there we were the only outside guests, so we had the luxury of the entire staffs’ hospitality shown towards us. The rooms are decent barebone accommodation – No TV, No In-Room Phone and Mobile Signal is also (thankfully) weak in the rooms. The resort area, of course, is large, with a huge playground, park, plantations, rose garden, etc. The best part during the stay for us was that the menu for Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner were decided by them – no need to strain your brains in ordering; the food is delicious/non-spicy home-cooked food.

Zeenat Taj Garden Main Entrance in 2006

Zeenat Taj Garden Dining Area in 2006

Journey to Yelagiri

Yelagiri (thankfully again) has literally no major sightseeing spots. The complaint I have with popular tourists destinations is that you go on vacation and end up being more tired and stressed – as you have to get up early, plan and stick to a timetable as everyone around you wants to see the entire place. And you don’t get the much-needed rest that you actually went in there for. For me and my wife, we both enjoy the rest, peace and quiet – but our son ensures we don’t get it and keeps us on our toes all the time :-)

The only place to see in Yelagiri is a Tamilnadu Govt. The herbal farm has a Garden, Park and a small lake (boating included) inside. Next to the Farm is a small Lord Murugan Temple.

If you are in Chennai or Bangalore and want to go for a short weekend getaway – I highly recommend Yelagiri.

Yelagiri is 240 Kms (220Kms from T.Nagar to be precise) from Chennai. You take the Bangalore Highway (NH 4); keep heading towards Bangalore, just after Vanniyambadi you have to take a diversion to your left from the main highway. This small road goes up to Jollarpetai Railway Station, but we go only up to a small village in the plains called “Ponneri” and then in the marketplace take a left into the Yelagiri hills.  The route up to Hilltop is easy with just 14 Hairpin bends – the road is narrow, but not difficult to climb up. We started from Chennai on Friday evening at 5 PM (though initially slotted for 3 PM) in my Car and reached the Hilltop by 9 PM. On the return journey to Chennai on Sunday, we clocked a little slower – bcos we stopped in between at Vellore Hotel Saravana Bhavan for a scrumptious lunch.

Bangalore Highway (NH 4) is part of the golden quadrilateral project of the Government of India initially envisioned and started by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and was continued (though a bit slow) by present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Thanks to Vajpayee’s initial thrust the country now boasts near world-class road infrastructure. What impressed me were the overhead bridges for nearly every passing town, so that you don’t get bogged down by local township traffic. There is, however, work pending as you near the Chennai end (you can see the status on the NHAI website).

I am not a big fan of driving on the highways; But on the hills, I enjoyed the drive.

Update 2010:

Yelagiri hills trek, a 4km walk inside the nature walk.

Trek path in Yelagiri

Trek path in Yelagiri

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