About Old Courtallam Falls
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 (as its feeding streams were said to pass 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 this 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. 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 to feed them, which literally brought them out in waves.
In addition to trying not to mind the abuse the monkeys were getting by making them dependent on human food, we also 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.
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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