August 2017


Eco Adventures in Coimbatore
August 2017




The verdant plains of Coimbatore

Coimbatore is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, the nerve centre of the textile manufacturing, industry and commerce and home to some of the best universities. And yet despite its explosive urban growth, Coimbatore remains refreshingly green.


Words: Kamala Thiagarajan


A gentle breeze fans my cheek the minute we set foot in Coimbatore. Despite the intense heat of Tamil Nadu's relentless summers, the city's mild climate is such a pleasant surprise. Nestled as it is in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats, (those glorious mountains wreathed in mists and carpeted in a rich, shade of olive green), a great deal of verdant land in and around Coimbatore is rife for exploration. This explains why many people consider the city an ideal base for seeking eco tourism adventures.


Plan an Eco Break

If you enjoy a tranquil holiday within the heart of nature, the Western Catchment in nearby Ooty will provide stunning views of lush green valleys encircled by billowing clouds. Found here are 68 species of orchids as well as an unimaginable plethora of wildlife - including panthers, barking deer and sloth bears, rare birds and unusual reptiles.


Wild streams along with sloping tea gardens accompany one on the journey to Upper Bhavani Lake (also in Ooty). The lake offers incredibly scenic vistas of a sparkling expanse of glittering blue waters shrouded in mist and encircled by shola trees. The stunted Nilgiri Rhododendron are stunning too. Plunged into sheer isolation, the natural beauty here seems vivid and untouched. You can enjoy a leisurely boat ride across the lake and soak in the solitude. Both the Western Catchments and Upper Bhavani are a three and a half hour drive from Coimbatore.


VOC Park

If you'd rather find a green haunt well within the city, VOC Park is ideal for a stroll with the family. Named after the legendary Tamilian freedom fighter - V O Chidambaram Pillai, the park has an interesting mini zoo. Here you can spot peacocks, camels, pelicans and rabbits. Children will enjoy a miniature replica of the Charminar. A toy train ploughs through the property.


Siruvani Waterfalls

Nearly 40kms west of Coimbatore is the lush Siruvani dam and waterfalls. The city receives much of its water supply from the dam (many residents will swear by the fact that the waters contain a sweet taste and healthful minerals). The Siruvani river is a charming picnic spot.


Aliyar Park and Dam

Located at the foothills of the Valparai mountains, 60kms from Coimbatore, is an incredibly beautiful getaway for family picnics. You can go boating in the Aliyar lake and explore the well-tended gardens and park found here. The thin curtain of mist that constantly hangs in the air is refreshing.


Marudhamalai Hill temple

Marudhamalai is believed to be a mountain, rich with rare herbs that contain extraordinary power to heal and cure. Situated 12kms from the city, Hindu believers worship the warrior God Muruga in this scenic setting. Surrounded by mountains, one must climb 50 steps to reach the shrine, but the ascent is worth it. The panoramic view of the city of Coimbatore stretches out before you at the summit. Historical records say that this temple dates back to the 12th century.

Located 5kms from the city, Kovai Kutralam is a famed tourist attraction. Here, you can bathe in the icy waters of various perennial waterfalls.


The festivals of Thai Poosam (in January - February) and Thirukarthigai (November - December) are usually celebrated with great gaiety here.In ancient India, siddhars were considered mystical saints endowed with healing powers. Pampatti Sidhar was one of the 18 renowned sidhars and was believed to have lived here
in these mountains.


Pillur Dam


You will enjoy spotting the imprint of a wild elephant's foot near Pillur Dam. Round and deep, those perfect circles punctuate the territory here. The Pillur dam is surrounded by thick forests and is set amidst the wild beauty of the Karaimadai mountain ranges, nearly a three hour drive from Coimbatore, is one of the best places for coracle rides. These round saucer shaped boats are painted in bright colours and will whisk you around the flowing waters of the dam.


Vanabhadra Kaliaman Temple

This ancient Kaliaman temple is believed to be at least a thousand years old and has a rich legacy. The Hindu architecture is striking and the colours are deep and rich. It is believed the mother Goddess Kali appeared from the forests (vanam) to offer penance to Lord Shiva.


Eachanari Temple

The temple dates back to the 16th century and is renowned for the biggest idols of Lord Vinayagar, the popular Hindu elephant head God, in South India. This huge idol, called Echanari Vinayagar is massive - over six feet in length and is stunning in its sculptural beauty.


Kovai Kutralam

Located 5kms from the city, Kovai Kutralam is a famed tourist attraction. Here, you can bathe in the icy waters of various perennial waterfalls. There are exciting tree houses perched on sturdy branches, that look like they are straight out of a children's story book. Indulge in some rope climbing and trekking. Night can fall quickly in these parts and visitors are not allowed to visit after 5pm.


Ana Malai Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Top Slip, at an altitude of 1,400m in the Western Ghats, the Ana Malai wildlife sanctuary is a protected tiger reserve. Wild cats are said to roam in the heart of the jungle therefore tourism is restricted. The forest is full of teak and bamboo trees. If you're lucky, you'll be able to spot gentler wildlife along the fringes of the forest - spotted deer, flying squirrels, elephants, porcupines and peacocks. Keep an eye open for the rare and endangered species of the Nilgiri Langur native to this area. Transport to visit the sanctuary can be arranged by the forest department.


The city of Coimbatore is unique for both its cosmopolitan identity and its quick access to the rugged beauties of nature. Exploring it could often mean a journey of self-discovery, putting you back in touch with the simpler and finer things in life.

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    Enjoy stunning vistas from the Needle Rock View Point

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    Panoramic view of the beautiful landscape at Mudumalai National Park

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    Aliyar Park and Dam
    ©Kamala Thiagarajan

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    A view of the tree houses in Kovai Kutralam
    ©Kamala Thiagarajan

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