August 16, 2015
It’s not often that one comes across a tourist spot that is about 180 years old but doesn’t have the jaded commercialized look of a sight-seeing destination. So, in a way, the very fact that Valparai is not keen on selling itself out is its greatest charm.
Constituted in 1835, the beautiful hill station of Valparai, with population of less than one lakh, doesn’t have a single cinema theatre. Also, one is not likely to find accommodations and hotels here, but that hasn’t stopped the tiny scenic town surrounded by wildlife sanctuaries, from attracting nearly four lakh domestic tourists annually, and quite a few overseas visitors, mainly from Europe. November to May is the best time to visit Valparai. Weekends could be jam-packed!
“There is plenty of money available for developing the tourist facilities, but nobody wants to sell their land,” is the grouse of the Valparai Municipality and the Tourism Department officials. Most of Valparai consists of tea estates and the private owners do not part with even an inch of land.
“There are only two standard lodges in Valparai,” says an official of the municipality. “Affluent tourists book their accommodations at the palatial bungalows owned by tea estates.”
In order to encourage more visitors, the department of tourism is trying to promote the `Bed and Breakfast’ concept, where local residents accommodate tourists.