Friday, December 4, 2009

Yercaud - The Drive

Per Wikipedia,
Yercaud (Tamil: ஏற்காடு) is a hill station near Salem, Tamil Nadu, India in the Servarayan range of hills (anglicized as Shevaroys) in the Eastern Ghats. It is at an altitude of 1515 metres (4969 feet) above the mean sea level. The highest point in Yercaud is the Servarayan temple. Hence the Yercaud hill area is called Shevaroy Hills.

View Larger Map - Overview map showing Yercaud
Yercaud is some 230 kms from Bangalore. Specifically, as measured from the Silk Board Junction on Hosur Road. If you start early enough, to avoid the traffic, you can make it in 4 hours or less.
An early start, a slowly burning fog on Hosur Road, which is also NH7 (Wikipedia page on NH7, tag search), just past Electronic City. This is not yet a tolled road, since two flyovers are still in the last stages of completion.

At the first toll booth, I spotted a new Toyota Fortuner, the driver raring to open its throttle on the open highway. I think this vehicle quickly sped to 130kph (80mph), and was soon out of sight.

A little past the A2B restaurant on NH7, just past Shoolagiri, you had at least a dozen of trailer trucks carrying these very, very weird looking contraptions. If I were to hazard a guess, these looked like parts of a plane. These were long, very, very long. Close to a 100 feet.

This is a shot of NH7 going northwards. There are long stretches of absolutely plain, straight, open roads that are a pleasure to drive on. Sustained speeds of 100kph or more are possible. Safely? Mostly so. You have to keep your eyes peeled for the odd truck, driven by the dumbest idiot in his tehsil or taluk, who decides to drive on the WRONG way, just to shave a few hundred feet and save himself the bother of having to make a U-turn.

This is also a shot taken facing NH7 northwards, approaching Krishnagiri.

View Larger Map - Closeup of the haripin bends on the drive up to Yercaud

After you enter Salem, you have to take a left at a large intersection, usually referred to as the "5 signals" intersection, and keep to the left. After 10 minutes or so, you exit the town of Salem, and after driving a few kilometers, the drive up to Yercaud begins. Beautiful is one word to describe the scenery.

There are a total of 20 hairpin bends to be navigated. And yes, these are really hairpin bends, requiring a 350 degree turn, and therefore, be on the lookout for buses or trucks, since these typically veer to the other side of the road and then make the turn.
Each hairping bend is marked and numbered, lest you lose count. This is also helpful since the large sign also makes you aware of the sharp turn ahead, thereby allowing you to slow down in advance.

This is the view of Tamil Nadu SH 188, looking downhill. The 20th hairpin bend is straight ahead, and also as marked by the traffic sign. On the left is the GRT Nature Trail hotel.

The view from the drive up hill.

I think this below is a shot of the 14th hairpin bend. As I mentioned earlier, you don't want to approach these bends in a hurry. Take your time, and wouldn't hurt to use the aural amulet present on your vehicle.

As you can see, the road is in pretty good shape.

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.