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Monsoon getaway

Courtallam Falls — the spa of south India

Soak in mineral-rich waters at this monsoon getaway in the Western Ghats

Rangan Datta | Published 10.08.22, 05:38 PM
In the monsoon months, the waterfalls at Courtallam are a tourist hotspot

In the monsoon months, the waterfalls at Courtallam are a tourist hotspot

All images by Rangan Datta

Courtallam (or Kutralam) is a small town at the southern end of the Western Ghats, on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. It is also a tourist hotspot for the three months of monsoon. Its location in the Western Ghats, nestled among lush hills, makes it among the wettest places in the state — the Southwest and Northeast monsoons both contribute to the rainfall received. The little town boasts of as many as nine waterfalls, and during the ‘Courtallam season,’ which usually lasts from June to September, the falls become walls of cascading water.

Courtallam doesn’t feature prominently on the national travel map, but has always had a steady flow of local tourists, especially as a weekend retreat. The rainy months see thousands visit over the weekend, some from as far as Chenani (about 700km away), so much so that local authorities often have a tough time handling the crowd.

The other reason Courtallam is famous is because the mineral-rich waters of the falls are believed to have magical healing powers — it is often called the ‘spa of south India.’ Several temples are spread across the town, also making it a well-known pilgrimage spot. 

Among the nine falls, the three bigger ones are accessible and if you have only a few hours to spare, these are the three falls to visit when in Courtallam. 

Courtallam Main Falls

This is located next to the Courtallam Temple, which is said to have a connection with the famous sage Agastya Muni. The Shiva temple is a shrine for the town’s guardian deity. This one is a bigger waterfall with an upper and lower part, and the cascades separate to several streams at the lower end. The car stops a few yards before the waterfall and a winding road leads straight into the water of the falls. Two bridges across the pool lead to the temple.

Five Falls

Five separate smaller falls make up this waterfall on the western end of Courtallam town, giving it the name Five Falls. A small temple marks the entry to the waterfalls, with two sets of stairs on either side descending into the water and railings extending all the way to the base of the falls. These railings are also used to control the crowd during the peak tourist season. The water from the short falls form a shallow pool.

(There are provisions for women’s changing rooms here.)

Courtallam Old Falls

On the eastern side of town, this waterfall with multiple cascades and a large natural pool is also approached by a long trail. Another temple stands right next to it. One side of the trail is lined with shops selling articles for worship and the other side has shallow pools. Water from the falls is channelled into these pools so visitors can indulge in a mineral-rick soak.

Rangan Datta is a mathematics and management teacher by profession and a travel writer and photographer by passion. He has been addicted to discovering off-beat places since his undergraduate days at St. Xavier's College. Blogging and contributing to Wikipedia are his other passions.

Last updated on 10.08.22, 06:10 PM
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