Old Courtallam Falls

Courtallam, Tamil Nadu, India

About Old Courtallam Falls

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2009-11-19
Date last visited: 2009-11-19

Waterfall Latitude: 8.90024
Waterfall Longitude: 77.29581

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Old Courtallam Falls (or Old Kutralam Falls) offered us a much quieter experience compared to the other Courtallam Waterfalls like Kutralam Main Falls and Kutralam Five Falls as there were far fewer people.

So that allowed us to visit the falls and pay more attention to the scenery as well as seeing how the locals enjoyed the Ayurvedic healing properties of the water.

Old_Courtallam_Falls_019_11192009 - The Old Courtallam Falls
The Old Courtallam Falls

The Ayurvedic characteristic was said to be the result of the waterfall’s feeding streams passing through groves of naturally growing herbs with medicinal qualities.

In addition to keeping the name of the nearby town Courtallam (or Kutralam), I’ve also seen this waterfall referred to by the more straightforward name of Old Falls.

Julie and I noticed that Old Courtallam Falls consisted of a somewhat naturally stairstepping upper tier before continuing on in a lower man-modified tier.

The man-modified characteristic of the lower tiers appeared to be brought about because they artificially dammed the plunge pool between the upper and lower falls so there were shallow pools that were more like swimming or bathing pools.

Old_Courtallam_Falls_009_11192009 - Full contextual view of the upper and lower tiers of the Old Courtallam Falls
Full contextual view of the upper and lower tiers of the Old Courtallam Falls

These pools were lined with concrete along with stairs and railings in much the same way that we would think of public swimming pools.

There was also the option of walking past the pools and getting directly underneath the waterfall itself for a drenching.

During our visit, we spotted some peacocks (the national bird) as well as monkeys.

There were literally dozens (maybe hundreds) of monkeys looking for handouts as they were obviously accustomed to being fed.

When we were done with our visit, we saw this in action as there were piles of rice or something perishable that someone had put out to feed them, which literally brought the monkeys out in waves.

Old_Courtallam_Falls_004_11192009 - One of many monkeys that we saw looking for handouts around the Old Courtallam Falls
One of many monkeys that we saw looking for handouts around the Old Courtallam Falls

In addition to trying not to mind the abuse the monkeys were getting by making them dependent on human food, we also saw quite a bit of litter in the area, which was quite a disconcerting sight.

All in all, we spent less than 30 minutes at this waterfall though we very easily could have spent much more time here bathing and toweling off.

I didn’t recall if we had to pay an entrance fee or not.

However, there did seem to be some empty stands around the general bathing area, which suggested that there might be a small marketplace here if enough people would visit.


Old Courtallam Falls resides in Kuttalam (Courtallam) in the Tenkasi District (formerly in Tirunelveli District) of Tamil Nadu State, India. It is administered by the Tenkasi District Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can visit their website.

Old_Courtallam_Falls_001_11192009 - Peacock grazing in a grassy area on the way to Old Courtallam Falls
Old_Courtallam_Falls_002_11192009 - Julie approaching the Old Courtallam Falls from the car park and non-functioning marketplace
Old_Courtallam_Falls_013_11192009 - Looking over some barricade towards what appeared to be a controlled swimming and bathing area beneath the more natural upper tiers of Old Courtallam Falls
Old_Courtallam_Falls_015_11192009 - Closer look at the dam responsible for having a pool between the upper and lower tiers of Old Courtallam Falls
Old_Courtallam_Falls_017_11192009 - Another look at the upper drop of the Old Courtallam Falls
Old_Courtallam_Falls_027_11192009 - Some kids enjoying themselves beneath the Old Courtallam Falls' upper drop

It was about a 10-minute drive from Courtallam Main Falls to the Old Courtallam Falls.

The drive skirted along the outskirts of Courtallam town passing through a somewhat idyllic agricultural area with rice paddies and palm trees fronting the foothills of the Western Ghats.

For some reason, this landscape kind of reminded me of Kaua’i.

For additional context, Courtallam was about 115km from Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum for short) where we ended our 2009 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 Tamil Nadu, I believe).

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Bottom up sweep of the full falls from further downstream

Bottom up sweep of just the plunge pool and the upper falls

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Tagged with: courtallam, kutralam, tirunelveli, tamil nadu, ayurvedic, india, waterfall, bathing, courtallam falls, kutralam falls

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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