Velliangiri Hills Trekking & night in a cave @1800 MASL, Coimbatore
Vellingiri hills (Velliangiri Hills), a part of the Western Ghats 40 kilometers west of Coimbatore is one of the four hills surrounding Attapady plateau. Seen predominantly from Attappady and Coimbatore as a hill with a pinnacle on top, at an altitude of 1778 meters above sea level, it is considered holy and worshiped by the people of Attappady.
llingiri hill / Vellaingi Hills seen from Attappady, Kerala. Vellingiri is considered by the people of Attappady and can be seen from most of Attappady
There is a Siva temple at the top, and a large cave which can accommodate a dozen of people under the pinnacle rock. Pooja is performed during the festive season. Views from the top is amazing: the vast span of the plateau of Tamil Nadu, the lovely barren hills of Attappady to Ooty and the Survani Dam backwater can be seen from the peak. During night, the city lights of Coimbatore and Tiripur can be seen scattered down the valley.
View of Western Ghats and Vellingiri hills from Peelamedu, Coimbatore. The hill with a pinnacle seen on the extreme right is Vellingiri Hill. Beyond these hills is Attappady in Kerala.
Our Trip To Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hills
A devotee performers his morning rituals at the first temple on the way to Velliangiri (Vellingiri).
It was Friday afternoon, a weekend and we, Zachariah Mathews my classmate and I was looking for some new place for a week end getaway. While talking about this, my eyes got stuck at the tall pinnacle over a big hill seen to the west to our Hostel near airport. “What about his hill?”.
We had no clue about the location of the hill. We asked a few local people, who convinced us that the hill is a few hundred Kilometers away and a few others were very sure that “It is a part of Ooty” ( A hill station in Tamilnadu 90 Kms North West). Thanks to the NASA`s World Winds through which I could track it and feed it into my Garmin Geko which said it was only 17 kilometers away from us.
Next day morning we packed up and started heading West by 7 AM heading north west on our bike along Perur Road. By, half past 9 AM, traveling about 30 Kms, we reached Perur, a small village near a temple, surrounded by hills. The pinnacle hill was clearly visible to our west.
We continued further along the same road called Siruvani Main Road crossing Alandurai and reached Iruttupalayam. We took a right from the junction and continued along the main road called Pondy road, crossing Semmedu and a few towns, ignoring the intersection of small roads heading the hill seen to the front.
Finally we reached a temple called Pondy, at the foot of Velliangiri (Vellingiri) after traveling for an hour form Perur. About 50 meter before Pondy, an elephant crossed the road in front of the bike, and all the people at the temple were looking at us with astonishment :to our astonishment until we knew, it was a wild elephant and not a temple elephant. The elephant was followed by a muster of peacocks dancing across the road.
Trekking the Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hills
That was the end of motor-able road and now we had to trek up along the trail. We parked our bikes near the temple and took a break and had a few doshas at one of the tea shop in front of Pondy temple.
That was the beginning of the trek. We walked along the road behind / north the temple. There was an entrance and we must cross it barefooted. Tradition calls to do the entire Velliangiri (Vellingiri) trek barefooted. The track was wide enough and the climb was made easy by the steps. Thanks to thick canopy of the tall trees balancing with very few roots holding over the huge rocked wrapped with weeds and creepers, for saving our thin skulls from the infrared radiations from the sun.The weeds ran across branches to branches sometimes killing the huge and the old frees and hiding the sun light from reaching the fresh streams of water flowing over the cool rocks fissures.
The dense evergreen forests en Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Trail below an altitude of 1200 Meters above sea level.
A few macaques were following us encouraging our trek with claps and cries. At times they ask food.. by which we were not happy. There were steps laid using stones until a height of 1200 MASL. At some places, the rocks were cut to form stairs. There were streams giving out fresh water near the small temples. Many old religious devotees were trekking the hill barefooted.
The environment completely changed as we reached an altitude of 1200 MASL.The track was pretty much flat and the forest changed to grassland-sholas. There were no big trees and the hills in front of us was wrapped with Neela Kurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) plants spotted with its small beautiful blue blowers. The hill was open and the winds was strong. we could see the places around and down the hill clearly : occasionally hidden by mist.
Neela Kurinji is a plant endemic to Western Ghats and most of it blooms only once in 12 years (next bloom in 2018). There a few species which blooms once in a year or sometimes once in three years. Nilakurinji is found along the high altitude slopes of Munnar in Kerala (Eravikulam National Park) and Palany Hills in Tamilnadu.
After trekking for another two hours we reached Sitamala: We could see the Coimbatore City to our east, down the hill. We were also able to get a birds eye view of Survani Dam to our South West, half way down the hill. Survani Dam, is the source of fresh water to Coimbatore City.
We had our lunch and slept for some time enjoying the cool breeze and the nature`s music. We were refreshed by the fresh cool mountain water from the stream nearby. We could see the pinnacle a few hundred meters away but it another hour to reach at the top trekking along the very steep track.
Sights At The Top
By 4 PM we reached the food of the pinnacle: a hug rock which is about 20 meter high and 10 meters in diameter. It was a huge rock, with two other rocks, almost half the size of ir. One of the rocks resembled the head of a king with crown and there was another resembled the head of a dog which was separated by a big cave of about 20 meters in diameter.
Zachariah Mathews, well known to anybody in Adoor, Kerala, inside the cave. He was a 100 times better in adjusting to live inside the cave
We kept our bags inside the cave and explored the area around. The view of the Attapady plateau and the Nilgiri hills were spectacular, wrapped with thick forests, rolled up with floral patterns of green, red and yellow.
It was getting late and chill; the beauty of the hill forced us to stay at the hill top, inside the cave very much interested in staying in the cave for the night. We collected a bunch of firewood to keep ourselves warm during the night. By 8 PM, we had our frozen food sitting near the fireplace and slowly crawled into our sleeping bags. During nigh, we could see the city lights of Coimbatore and Tiripur down hill and the street light of the roads connecting the cities.
Our early morning wake up was blessed with the view the spectacular sunrise. It seemed to me like looking down from heaven, with cloud base below us (Inversion) and the sun crawling up like a big orange thrown out from a huge ocean of milk. The scene lasted for about half an hour until the heat of the sun accelerated the clouds to ascent to the atmosphere.
Then we had a good chat with the Adivasis from Attappady, working in at the temple, learning several things about Attapady and returned back by noon reaching Coimbatore by evening 6.
The trail to Velliangiri in 2010, when i trekked with my friends Sambath and Surendar. The width of the trail has increase three folds than what it was in 2007
PN: Women below 45 are not allowed to climb Velliangiri (Vellingiri) Hill as per religious rules. Please keep the ghats clean and carry back home all the trash. Feb to May is ideal to visit and try trekking at night, to escape from hot sun. Ascent is steep and take sufficient breaks.. Carry torch and warm clothing and sufficient food. Fresh water springs are there at the end of 2nd (Paambaati) hill, end of 3rd (Kaithatti) hill and end of 6th (Haandi). Never harm or feed wild animals and feed on plants on way.
Me, George Thengummoottil with the swamys of Velliangiri (Vellingiri). They live in one of the caves under the pinnacle rock.
How to Reach : You can take a taxi or public bus (Number 14D) from Gandhipuram, Coimbatore to Isha Foundation (1 hour / 38 kms). Poodi/ Vellingiri foot is just 2 km by walk before Isha Foundation(direct Coimbatore-Poodi buses is available every two hours usually during festive seasons).
View of Pinnacle of Velliangiri (Vellingiri) from West (The other side of the trail) in the morning.