Monday, May 2, 2011

Summer mela planned in TN's Cherrapunji - Valparai

COIMBATORE: Rolling green carpet beneath misty mountains, balmy air blended with scent of tea leaves and cardamom, gurgling lakes, massive reservoirs and a tantalising chance of spotting a big cat lurking in the bushes. Tranquil Valparai plateau, hailed as Tamil Nadu's Cherrapunji, beckons tourists again this summer.
The Coimbatore district administration is planning to hold a summer festival in the tea plantation town by May end or the first week of June to attract tourists from across Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country. "We cannot conduct the festival in the first two weeks of May because of the model code of conduct. After the election results are announced, we will consider holding the summer festival in Valparai by May end or first week of June," the Coimbatore district Collector P Umanath told TOI.
A three-day summer festival was first held in Valparai in 2008 with a flower show, vegetable exhibition and a tableau of the forest department. But for the last two years because of the labour unrest over wages, the mela was called off. However, this year, the traders have urged the district administration to hold the festival and promote tourism in Valparai.

Perched amid the rolling Anamalai hills, Valparai is a tea plantation retreat, with 25,300 acres of private tea estates dotted with 4,500 acres of coffee plantations and 3,000 acres of cardamom estates.
The Valparai town is already besieged by tourists from various parts of Tamil Nadu and other southern states especially neighbouring Kerala. Almost all the cottages of the private tea estates and a few hotels in the town are full.
With soft drizzles in the evenings and a pleasant cool clime during the daytime, picturesque Valparai is turning out to be an ideal retreat to beat the summer heat. However, lack of infrastructure and hotel facilities are sore points. As corporate tea estates from Tatas to Parrys Agro occupy most part of Valparai, there is not much private land for developing hotels, say district officials. Also, as Valparai is part of the Anamalai tiger reserve, tourism has to be regulated, say environmentalists.