Yercaud

Yercaud is a hill station in Salem, Tamil Nadu. It located in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats; the Yercaud hill area is called the Shevaroy Hills. It is situated at an altitude of 1515 metres (4970 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in Yercaud is the Servarayan temple, at 5,326 feet (1,623 m). It is so named owing to the abundance of trees categorised as a forest near the lake, the name signifying Lake Forest. As a popular tourist destination, Yercaud is also called as Jewel of the South. Yarcaud is connected to city of Salem, Tamil Nadu through Highway of 8 km. The temperature never rises above 29 C (84 F) or goes below 13 C (55 F). Coffee and citrus fruits, most notably oranges, are grown in abundance apart from bananas, pears and jackfruit. Scenically, Yercaud is as enchanting and picturesque as the hill stations on the Western ghats and trekking here can be one of the most pleasurable ways to pass time.

The total extent of Yercaud Taluk is 382.67 sq km, including Reserve Forest. The entire County is administered as a Township. Yercaud also has a Village council.

A sum of Rs. 3.30 crore has been sanctioned from both State and Central governments for tourism development in Salem district especially Yercaud in May, 2011.

History of Yercaud
Stone-age implements have been found from the ancient shrine located near Shevaroy Hills ( also known as Shevarayan Hills), which is about 5 km from the Yercaud lake.Ancient History is relatively unknown and never explored. The first human settlement in the hills came from Kanchipuram, during the Telugu Kings capture the Tamil Thondai country. Tamil refugees from the plains migrated to hills and settled here.

Sir Thomas Muroe, erstwhile governor of Madras Presidency in 1842 found this place. David CockBurn, the Scottish collector of Salem district, between 1820 & 1829, was called the 'Father of Yercaud' because he helped in the development of the resources of the Shevaroy and for introducing the cultivation of coffee, pears and apple. The first survey of the Shevaroy hills was undertaken in 1827. Though the first European house was built in 1840. The attention of planters on the Shevaroys has been confined solely to coffee plantations. Tea plantaion has been introduced in 1840s by Dr.Wallich on the property of G.F.Fischer. Trees of cinnamon has been introduced in Yercaud by Mr.Richardson during the same period. The cool climate attracted Christian missionaries, who established the Sacred Heart Convent for girls, the Nazareth Girls' Hr. Sec. School for Girls, and the Montfort School for boys. Schools such as the Holy Cross Novitiate House, started by the Brothers of Don Bosco, followed these.

Mr. G.F. Fisher a European of German origin purchased the Salem Zamindar in 1836. He was the first and only European Zamindar in the Presidency. The area of his zamin was 125,000 acres (510 sq km).

Flora and Fauna
The National Orchidarium and Botanical garden is situated in Yercaud, it is maintained by southern circle of Botanical Survey of India. The National Orchidarium established in the year 1963. The total area of orchidarium is 18.4 hectares. There are 3000 tress and 1800 shrubs grown in Orchidarium. Some of the original forests still exist in the Yercaud hills and contain several endemic species of plants and fauna. The Yercaud hills have many faunal and floral similarities to the Western Ghats. Coffee and citrus fruits, most notably oranges, are grown in abundance, as well as bananas, pears and jackfruit.

The local wildlife includes bison, deer, ant-eater, rabbits, hares, foxes, mongoose, squirrels, partridges, snakes, bulbuls, kites, sparrows, swallows and paradise flycatchers.

Tourist Spots in Yercaud
Yercaud Lake: a pool surrounded by gardens and well-wooded trees. Lady's Seat: Tourists can have a panoramic view of the plains below through the telescope mounted at the Lady's seat.

Killiyur Falls: a 90-foot (27 m)-high waterfall. This exciting and amazing waterfall is about three km from the Yercaud Lake and is at its best when visited after the South West monsoon or the North East monsoon.

The excess water of the Yercaud Lake as well as the water from the Shevaroy Hills fall deep into the Killiyur valley from a height of 300 ft and its view from the top to the bottom is breathtaking and pleasing for the eyes. A hardcore trekker can trek through the heavily woody forests from the lake to the bottom of the falls in about an hour.

The Servaroyan Temple: Situated atop Servaroyan hill, the annual festival of Lord Servaroyan is celebrated in May every year. The temple is a narrow and dark cave having the God Servarayan and the Goddess Kaveri inside, which are believed as the deities of the Shevaroy Hills and Cauvery River.

Bear's Cave: Situated near the Norton's Bungalow, Bear's Cave is considered as one of the abodes of Lord Murugan.

Green House: The greenhouse cultivates many varieties of flowers and spices. The Grange: The Grange is one of the oldest buildings in Yercaud, built in 1820's by the then District Collector of Salem, M.D. Cockburn who first introduced Coffee from Arabia and Apples and other fruits from South Africa between 1820 and 1829. It is believed to have been the summer resort of Robert Clive, general of the East India Company in the late 19th century.

Pagoda Point: Another vantage view point; once adorned with stone built pagodas, it is now home to a large temple.

Silk Farm and Rose Garden: Situated very close to Lady's Seat, Silkworms are reared here. Located 2 km from Yercaud town, tourists can see the cultivation of mulberries, growing of silk worms, and methods of silk-spinning. The rose garden has a collection of varieties of roses. There is a nursery in this garden which sells plants.

Trekking in Yercaud: Yercaud has developed into a major trekking destination in the region. Many treks are organized here. Chennai Trekking Club organizes treks in Yercaud.

Fairholme Bungalow: Fairholme Bungalow is one of the old heritage colonial bungalows on Tipperary road. A Miss Pope sold it to the present owners, who converted it into a heritage hotel. It is furnished with antique furniture and fireplaces. Heaven's Ledge: A Scenic west-facing cliff situated in Gowri Estate in Yercaud.It has been converted into a campsite to encourage sustainable tourism. It is 15 kms away from the main town area.

Weather in Yercaud
Yercaud has an enjoyable climate all through the year. Summers (March to June) temperature varies from 16 C to 30 C. Winters (November to February) are cool and temperature ranges from 13 C to 25 C. Monsoons (July to September) receives an average rainfall.

Pongal (January) and Deepavali during October are two important festivals celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm.

Best season to visit Yercaud is from October to June, may avoid heavy rainy monsoon days.