Yercaud is a lesser-known hill station when compared to Ooty and Kodaikanal. Yercaud is situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres (4,920 feet), on the Shevaroy hills of the Eastern Ghats. The lofty hills are of extraordinary scenic beauty endowed with a salubrious climate. Although close (33-km) to the bustling industrial town of Salem, Yercaud has a spirited charm of its own.
Yercaud is also called "Ooty of the Poor " and is known for Coffee Plantations and Orange Groves. Yercaud is still comparatively more peaceful and cheaper than the major southern resorts of Ooty and Kodaikanal, but every year the influx from the plains is growing larger. The highest point in Yercaud is Shevaroy temple, which is situated at a height of 5,326.
History of Yercaud
Yercaud got its name from the Tamil words, yeri and kaadu, meaning lake and forest respectively. The British discovered it in the early 19th century. There are accounts of coffee plantations being introduced by a British officer in the area in the second decade of the 19th century. Though first house was built in 1840, the first metalled roads were laid only in the early 20th century. The cool climate attracted Christian missionaries and they established the Sacred Heart Convent for girls and Montfort School for boys. Schools like the Holy Cross Novitiate House, started by the Brothers of Don Bosco, followed these.
The Yercaud Lake with a picturesque pool surrounded by gardens and well-wooded trees are the first things that attract a visitor. The garden surrounding the lake is well groomed and best seen during the month of May when the Summer Festival is organised.
One can avail the boating facilities available here. Boats come in two options. Paddling ones for a couple or four and the other type where there is a guy rowing it for you as you relax. Boating in the cold water of the lake is enhancing as well as refreshing.
Anna Park situated near the Yercaud Lake is very beautiful. Nearby, there are few other parks like Lake Park, Gandhi Park, and Children Park, which are worth visiting.
Lady's seat is one of the best views that Yercaud promises. Tourists can get a panoramic view of the ghats and all the distant vehicles dwindling their way in and out of trees along the winding ghat road. It surely is a breath-taking view. The view is spectacular particularly in the night with the twinkling lights of Salem town in sight. Tourists can have a panoramic view of the plains below with the help of the telescope mounted at the Lady's Seat.
Towards the extreme right in a distance one can see the Mettur Dam that generates power out of the river Kaveri. The best time to spot the river is from 3:00 p.m. onwards when the sunrays reflect off the river waters.
Pagoda Point is also another viewpoint, which is worth visiting.
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church is a century old and is beautifully maintained. Other churches include the 100-year-old Trinity Church, the Sacred Heart, Lutheran, St Joseph's and The Retreat.
National Orchidarium is located 2-km away from the lake, with India's third largest orchid house (after the ones in Calcutta and Shillong). It has over a hundred species of orchids, including nearly 30 very rare ones. These include Vernonia Shevarayensis, Paphiopedilum Deuryi (lady's slipper orchid), the intriguing insect-eating pitcher plant (Nepenthes Khasiana), etc.
Killiyur falls, 300 feet high waterfalls are situated amidst picturesque surroundings. The water comes via a stream all the way from the Big Lake. It is quite distant and worth the walk through the woods.
The Servaroyan Temple
The Servaroyan temple is situated atop Servaroyan hill. This temple is of great prominence and the tribals living in these hills celebrate their annual festival in May every year.
Small Lake is situated very close to town, which is famous for being fed by seven wells. A road bound the lake and towards one end of the lake is Montfort School and towards the other end is the town.
The summer festival has a 7-day set-up of flower shows, dog shows, boating races and a fair. Crowds flock to Yercaud during this season and hang around evening when the fair is rolling until 11:00 p.m. at night.
The hill station is most favoured by visitors from southern states during the summer and again during autumn. The coffee bushes blossom in April and offer a spectacular view. The climate is also particularly pleasant; residents say with pride that they never need to use a fan.
The climate of Yercaud is a moderate one. Winters are fairly mild, which starts in the month of September and ends in December. During winter, the hills are covered by mist and it looks beautiful.
Best time to visit
The most popular seasons are February - June and September-November, while late November and December tend to be cold and misty. Around April there are the pleasant showers, which bring the coffee bushes into blossom. The monsoon season (June-August) is not the best time to visit as it rains heavily, hampering movement.