Location: In Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Famous For: Its Season and The Waterfalls
Popular Festival: Saral Festival
Best Time To Visit: June to September
COURTALLAM - THE SPA IN THE SOUTH: In the far south, in Tirunelveli district, in
A deep recess of the Western Ghats lays Courtallam (also spelt Kutralam, Kurtalam), The Spa in the South. When the train enters this area, the landscape becomes alluring, with rivulets, fields, groves and mountains with mist peaks from Kalladai malai, Sivagiri and Kottaimalai rise up to pierce the sky to an elevation of about 6,000 ft.
The Western Ghats beds, towers, undulates, folds and soars like a man of whimsical moods, lowering itself in the Aryankavu Pass in the west, only to rise in the south at Five Falls to a height of 5000 ft., crosses the Courtallam and blends with Podigai where sage Agastya lived in the past. The tallest peak here is called "Panchanthangi".
The mountain abounds with forests of precious trees like teak and exotic fruit plants like Mangustan which are not only sweet but also of great medicinal value. Wild beasts roam at will. Sambhars, elephants and boars are in plenty.
It's Season: Courtallam is famous for its season, which lasts from June to September, the hottest period of the plains. Thick clouds gather and streaks of lighting flash across the sky. It is a rare and pleasant experience to stroll in the 'Charal' (meaning drizzle, also spelt as Saral) becoming neither wet nor dry. Thousands for the several falls, which clot the town, visit Courtallam annually.
Courtallam is not only a tourist spot but also a health resort. Courtallam is a well-known bathing place and bathing in these waterfalls is considered good for both mind and body as these waters are said to possess medicinal properties.
Main Falls: The most popular and frequented waterfalls are the Main falls. Not only during the season, but also during the period November to January, the crest receives the northeastern monsoon emptying itself on the slopes to swell the falls and the Chittar River. From a height of 300 ft., the Chittar River makes its last descent to the plains.
Chittaruvi or Small Falls: Adjacent to the Main falls is a small cascade called "Chittaruvi". Women and timid persons resort these falls.
Shenbagadevi Falls: A mile away from the Main falls is the Shenbagadevi falls, so called because of its location near to the temple of Shenbagadevi. During full moon days large crowds visit this temple.
Honey fall: About 3 miles from the Main falls on the upper crusts of the rocks is the Honey falls. It is so called because of beehives on the promontory. It is a romantic place of solitude and those who seek seclusion come here to meditate on reality.
Five Falls: Connected by a good road about 3 miles from the Main falls are the Five falls, so named as the cascade spreads in five heads like a hooded cobra. This spot is venerated highly as it presents an image of Adisesha with several hoods.
Tiger Falls: About 6 furlongs from the Main falls is the Tiger falls with a temple for Sastha nearby. Bathing Ghats have been provided for pilgrims.
New Falls: Perched at an elevation of 1000 ft, and one and half miles from the Main falls is the New falls amidst a sylvan landscape of wild forest. The panoramic view from this ledge is beautiful affording a sight of the entire town below.
Old Falls: About 4 miles from the Main falls are the Old falls, rarely frequented.
Apart from all these falls Courtallam is also famous for Thirukootachalanathar Temple, meaning- Lord of three peaks.
Thirukootachalanathar Temple: The temple is dedicated to Lord Thirukootachalanathar (Shiva). This temple contains many inscriptions about Chola and Pandya Kings. Less than a furlong from here is a small temple called "Chitra Sabha" (Hall of Pictures) dedicated to Lord Nataraja and decorated with paintings of rural deities and devotees, puranic stories and religious events. The Sabha is one of the five Sabhas where Lord Nataraja performed the cosmic dance.
Another interesting place is Thirumalai - 15-km from Courtallam, where there is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Muruga on the ranges of the Western Ghats.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is at Madurai, at a distance of 150-km.
Rail: Tenkasi and Sengottai are the nearby railway stations. Several trains from Chennai pull into Tirunelveli daily including the Bombay-Nagercoil Express. It is also possible to reach Courtallam from Quilon/Madurai via Sengottai. Sengottai, from where it is possible to get fast buses to the falls, is on the Quilon-Madurai train line. The Quilon Mail and the Quilon-Nagore Express stop at Sengottai.
Road: The Courtallam falls is just 1 1/2 hours away from Tirunelveli. By road, Courtallam is also easily accessible from Trivandrum (approximately 185-km away).
Saral Festival: Courtallam is famous for its season, which lasts from June to September, the hottest period of the plains. The monsoon brings happiness and at Courtallam water falls on rocks and tiny droplets that are sprinkled into the air, thus, giving a 'fog-like' appearance. The breeze carries this 'fog' far. The phenomenon is called ' Saral ' in Tamil.