Popularly known as the ‘Fort City’, Vellore is a princely city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Ruled by many prosperous dynasties like the Cholas, the Pallavas, and the Vijayanagar empire, Vellore has a splendid past with a fusion of rich culture and heritage.
At present day, it is growing as an important commercial, educational and medical hub. The Christian Medical College (CMC) at Vellore, renowned for its specialized and advanced medical services, serves thousands of patients daily. With massive forts, holy temples, zoological parks, and hill stations, Vellore is one of the most sought after tourist destination in Tamil Nadu.
How to reach:
By air: Chennai Airport is the nearest airport to Vellore, at a distance of 119 km.
By rail: Vellore Cantt. is the major railway station in the city. Regular trains connect Vellore to the major cities across the country.
By road: Vellore Bus Stand and Vellore By-Pass are two important bus stands, connecting Vellore to the rest of the major cities in South India with express highways.
Situated in the heart of the city, Vellore Fort was built during the 16th century by Vijayanagara Kings. One of the prominent places of interest in Vellore, this massive fort holds a historic significance. The Vellore Fort’s ownership passed on through many ruling dynasties of the medieval times; Vijayanagara Kings to the Bijapur Sultans, to Marathas, to the Carnatic Nawabs and finally to the British. Known for its wide moats, massive ramparts, and robust masonry, the fort also had Tipu Sultan’s family and Sri Lanka’s last king as prisoners. The fort complex also houses a temple, a mosque and a church within its boundaries.
Srilakshmi Golden Temple
Seated at the green foothills of Malaikodi village, the Srilakshmi Golden Temple is spread over an area of 100 acres inside the Sripuram spiritual park. The entire temple complex is gilded by nearly 1500 kg of pure gold sheets, which is double times that of Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab. The temple features intricate work done by artisans specializing in temple art using gold. Every single detail was manually created and has significance from the holy Vedas texts. Sripuram is at a distance of 8 km from Vellore.
Vainu Bappu Observatory
Home to the largest telescope in Asia, Vaina Bappu Observatory is located in the Javadi Hills, around 70km from Vellore. Called as ‘telescope city’, the astronomical observatory is set up amidst 100-acre forest land near the equator to cover both the hemispheres equally with ease and away from the city lights. The Vaina Bappu Observatory is well known for its unique discoveries and scientific research in the field of astronomy. Gazing at the clear night sky is a sheer delight at the observatory. It is usually opened to visitors on Saturday nights for sky observation.
Encompassed by orchards, flowery meadows, and tea estates, Yelagiri is a scenic hill station. At a distance of 94 km from Vellore, Yelagiri is a cluster of 14 hamlets lying between four mountains, at an altitude of 1110 m. Home to beautiful lakes, holy temples, and cascading waterfalls, Yelagiri is popular among adventurers. It has numerous trekking trails cutting a way through thick forests of Javadi Hills and Palamathi Hills. Standing tall at 1322 m, Swamimalai Hills offers a spectacular view of the entire region.
Forest camping and paragliding are popular activities in Yelagiri. The Panganur Lake, Velavan Temple, Jalagamparai Falls, and Nature Park are the major attractions in Yelagiri. The state tourism department hosts the Yelagiri Summer festival at the end of May annually, conducting flower shows, dog shows featuring a variety of breeds and various other cultural programs.
Amirthi Zoological Park
At a distance of 25 km south of Vellore, Amirthi Zoological Park is situated across the Amirthi River. Spread over an area of 25 hectares, one half of the jungle is cleared to serve as a tourist spot while the other is developed as a wildlife sanctuary. It is home to a variety of wildlife species. The commonly sighted ones are spotted deer, red-headed parrots, pythons, reason monkeys, mongoose, foxes, tortoises, and eagles. Nearly 1 km trek into the park leads to a beautiful view of the seasonal waterfall. The lush green forests and calm ambiance draws a lot of visitors looking for a getaway from the hustle of daily life. It becomes a popular picnic spot during the weekends.