Spa of South India

Land of waterfalls: Courtallam

Courtallam Main Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Courtallam, a town situated in the Tirunelveli District, is also called as the 'Spa of South India'. The name Courtallam is the anglicised version of Kuttralam which the localites continue to use. Situated along the Western Ghats, it is nestled between scenic mountains and agricultural lands. The place leaves an everlasting impression on the minds of the visitors. 

Although there are many places to visit in and around the town, it is well known for its waterfalls. The best time to visit is from July to November, but sometimes tourists can be restricted from entering the waterfall area during heavy rainfall. Some of the falls dry up during the summer and one cannot enjoy the charm of the water cascades. 

New Courtallam Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Cortallam is known for its nine waterfalls. It is also the place of origin of the Chittar river. The small town, on the whole, is a good spot for a weekend getaway and is around 585 Km from Bengaluru. It offers a diverse experience not only in terms of culture, history and heritage but also in terms of nature and local natural Ayurvedic spa treatments.

Three of the main waterfalls - the New and Old Courtallam Falls and the Five Falls - are reachable by road. The other lesser known falls - Shenbagadevi Falls and the Thenaruvi - can be reached by trekking.

Around most of the waterfalls, one can spot a variety of birds and snakes. One can also taste some of the seasonal edible forest fruits, which is another main attraction of this place.

Here are five waterfalls where one can rejoice and have a refreshing experience:

New Courtallam Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

1. New Courtallam falls or Main falls: 

The New Courtallam falls, also known as the 'Peraruvi' in the local language, cascades from a height of about 60m. The rapid water flow has formed a crater where tourists and pilgrims can bathe. The waterfall is known to possess Ayurvedic healing properties as its feeding streams and rivers pass through grooves of medicinal herbs.

The Peraruvi is situated in the Trikoodamalai, a point in the Western Ghats where three mountains converge. The falls further flow as the Chittar river and joins the Thamirabarani river before it merges into the Bay of Bengal.  

Many spas which offer Ayurvedic oil massages are located in and around the waterfall area, attracting large crowds. Apart from the usually crowded waterfalls, there is a busy market area and temple lane with small shops and roadside stalls where people can try out the local cuisine and also buy souvenirs. 

Courtallam Old Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

 2. Old Courtallam falls: 

The Old Courtallam falls offer a much quieter experience when compared to the New Courtallam falls as it attracts a lesser number of people. This lets people to take time to enjoy the scenery and rejoice. 

The waterfalls have a stair-stepping upper tier which is natural. The lower tier is man-made consisting of an artificially modified pool where people can take a swim. The upper tier has many rocks which curb the rapid flow of the water making it easier to stand under it and experience a natural back massage. The Old Courtallam falls is a good place for children to play. 

Five Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

3. Courtallam Five falls:

The Five falls is one of the nine falls in the Courtallam town. All the nine falls are collectively named as Courtallam falls leading to confusion among tourists.
The falls gets its name from the fact that the water flows down in 5 roughly parallel segments. It is also compared to the 5 headed cobra which is mentioned in Hindu mythology. The falls meet a point making a single pool of water. The falls attract thousands of people during tourist season. One can also visit the Ayyappa and Vinayaka temple which is located near the falls. 

Shenbagadevi Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

4. Shenbagadevi falls:

The Shenbagadevi falls is reachable through a well-known trekking route from the Main falls. The falls receives its name from the fact that the water flows through the Champak trees (Michelia champaca) in the area which is known as Shenbaga in Tamil as well as the Shenbaga Devi temple located in a nearby village.  

The source of this falls is originated from the Thenaruvi, which flows along as the Chitraru and continues as the Shenbagadevi falls. The waterfall is just around 3m high and one can easily take a plunge into the water pool below the fall. Tourists can enjoy the serene beauty of nature, with a lot of streams, rocks and water pools while trekking to the falls. 

Honey Falls. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

5. Thenaruvi (Honey falls):

An hour’s trek from the Shenbagadevi waterfalls leads to the Thenaruvi or the Honey falls. It is named so as one can witness many honeycombs along the rocks near the waterfalls. The water here is considered to taste sweeter than the honey itself by the localities. 

It is impossible to reach anywhere close to the waterfalls during monsoon but one can watch the enchanting view and listen to the thundering sound of the waterfalls hitting rocks below.

In case you decide to visit Courtallam do not forget to get a nice oil massage and a sunbath before you take a therapeutic bath in the waterfalls.

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