The Kutralam Five Falls (or Coutrallam Five Falls) was one of the cluster of about nine waterfalls that Julie and I understood to be collectively known as the Courtallam Falls as they were all near the town of Courtallam (pronounced “kor-TAH-lum”; also known as Kutralam). The thing that all of these waterfalls had in common was that they apparently had Ayurvedic healing properties since their streams were said to pass through groves of naturally growing herbs with medicinal properties. In fact, I was told that some doctors even recommended bathing in these falls as treatment. And since we thought India was well-known for producing doctors, maybe they were onto something.
As for the Kutralam Five Falls itself, it was true to its name in that there really were five strands of segmented waterfalls coming down roughly in parallel. We noticed there was some infrastructure built around the base of these short waterfalls to support a public bathing environment. Railings were put in to segregate the gender types (i.e. there was a ladies only area to the left of the railing and a gentlemens only area to the right). Thus, the ladies got the two thinner waterfalls to the waterfall’s left side while the males got the three thicker waterfalls on the right (see photo at the top of this page).
There was a changing room for both sexes (with separate entrances for the different sexes of course) in a building opposite the face of the waterfalls.
Around the falls, we noticed that there was a tiny Hindu shrine near the changing area as well as plenty of food and souvenir stands to try to capitalize on the high amount of human traffic (mostly local Indians) to this area. We were told by our Keralan driver that we happened to be here when devout Hindu males had just begun fasting and abstaining for 40 days.
We weren’t sure exactly for what particular purpose the fasting and abstaining was for, but apparently the Ayurvedic properties of the waters here would cleanse them of impurities. Moreover, I thought our driver mentioned something about becoming worthy at the end of this trial then make a pilgrimage into some hills (I believe somewhere either in the Indian Himalayas or in Nepal or something) where there was some sacred temple that they can go into and pray.
There were easily thousands of people in the general area and hundreds at the waterfall bathing area. Since Julie and I were racially different from everyone, it did feel strange and uncomfortable to be stared at by almost everyone there. I guess that kind of attested to how few foreign tourists outside of India knew of these intriguing waterfalls let alone come here.
It didn’t take long for our visit as we only spent a merely 30 minutes or so here. However, I’d imagine that if we joined in with the rest of the folks here, we could’ve bathed and spent much more time here getting wet then toweling off. As it was, we were just content to soak in the atmosphere and stay dry.
We were a little bit disoriented as we were driven around the Courtallam area, but I think the Kutralam Five Falls was some 15 minutes drive from our hotel in the heart of the town of Courtallam (which itself was within walking distance from the main Courtallam Falls).
Courtallam was said to be about 115km from Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum for short) where we ended our India trip (I recalled it took at least 3.5 hours drive). As for other towns, Courtallam is also 40km from Tirunelveli and 640km from Chennai (major city of the state of Tamil Nadu, I believe).
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