Incredible Journey to an Unnamed Waterfall near Kandalur! Tata Tiago
Car: Tata Tiago Petrol | Travel distance: about 275 km | Mileage: 22 km
Bro! We are yet to experience a ‘Great Escape’ with a Tiago. I know that you have covered the Lakkam falls near Marayur in a Ford Endeavour; Thoovanam forest in a Honda Amaze. But you’ve missed a great spot close by. Our favorite vacation place, an unexplored waterfall! My daddy takes me there all the time. Do you want to come, explore the place with us?”, asked 11-year-old Ashwath.
How could I say no to this request!
I was glad to accept. We hit the road early in the morning with Ashwath as our tour guide. We crossed Udumalai and were creeping on the forest road
to Munnar via Marayur as nature unraveled in front of our eyes! What made the experience more blissful is the symphony of waterfalls echoing from all directions. Unwilling to hold his excitement, our guide, Ashwath kept adding what he liked about the place and of course the Tiago. “A few features are missing. Otherwise, it’s a great car”, he added.
Ashwath’s father Sundaramani is a school teacher in a Government School. His wife Nagajothi is a teacher too. We took the day off to visit this exotic place once again! Shall we go? While Sundaramani exclaimed, his wife Jothi, and their twins-- Ashwath and Ashmitha -- took their seats in the car! And, there started our journey in Tiago to our unnamed waterfall!
It was 06:59, a minute earlier than our scheduled time, when we powered the engine and enabled the automatic climate control. “This is still my sleep time. I woke early because I want the maximum out of this trip!”, said the exuberant Ashwath as we took off from Tirupur.
Mr. Sundaramani, his wife Mrs. Nagajothi, and the twins - Ashwath & Ashmitha
We crossed Pollachi and stopped for breakfast in Arya Bhavan. Then we arrived at Marayur Checkpost in no time.
Before reaching Marayur, one needs to check out the Thirumoorthy Dam and Falls at Pollachi. It is a good spot for a photoshoot. There we wondered whether we had arrived at the holy place, Pazhani! Barring us, all we could see were devotees in saffron. They were probably on a pilgrimage.
We entered the place and were warned by the ticketer: “Be careful of monkeys! They’ll even snatch your handbags.” And, it did happen just like how he’d foretold. A monkey featuring mohawk style hair was quick enough to grab the handbag of a lady. What we saw next was even more bizarre. Our four-legged thief threw the bag after carefully taking out all the money in it.
“You didn’t tell me that monkeys could steal money, daddy”, shouted Ashmita in awe.
Thirumoorthy Falls was filled with devotees, who couldn’t find time to relish the melody of the falls and the adventurous trek. But we did. All the time in the world to halt wherever we found a nice background, and clicked hundreds of memories.
With Ashwath and Ashmita, we went for traditional snacks like Ilandha Vadai, Maanga Badhai, and Goli Soda before setting off for Marayur. The route had 4 check posts with Tamil Nadu and Kerala equally dividing them. In both the Tamil Nadu check posts, we were charged Rs. 50, whereas the Kerala check-post officers said “No toll, but… avoid plastics please”.
A few meters past the check post, we were reminded of the Elephant - as big as an Endeavour - that crossed our path last time we were there. “Bro! This is the spot where you spotted a leopard right?” Ashwath took us down memory lane!
We approached yet another check post. But no sign of a waterfall yet. Driving past the check post, I could hear water gushing down the rocks. I stopped the car and saw a board which said “Erumachaadi Waterfalls”. Hardly any crowd. After a quick shower and a few cups of lemon tea, it was time for another photoshoot at Erumachaaadi.
Ooh… I forget to mention the Thoovanam Falls located enroute. The adventurous trek, a stay in the forest and a brisk shower at the falls is certainly one of a kind experience.
We finally crossed Marayur and reached Kanthalloor. This is the place where you can spot Kurinji flowers, which bloom once every twelve years! It’ll take another 12 years before Motor Vikatan can capture both Kurinji flowers and cars in the same frame!
It certainly is an amazing experience to stay at places like Kanthalloor and Marayur. You open your room windows to see water spray into your room. The place is filled with a host of waterfalls. Watch out for the rainy season as the uproar of the waterfalls can be intense. You could stay at the Govt. Forest House at Thoovanam. Else, you can choose between plenty of homestays available in the locality. Finding a cottage in close proximity to the falls is the real deal!
How’s Tiago? A superb option for a middle-class budget. “With the XM.3 cylinder in my car, you can’t expect great performance from the Revotron engine. But you get 84 bhp power output! This is a car for the highways. I am quite satisfied with the 22 km mileage I am getting. With eco mode, you get even more, but I prefer the city mode”, said Mr. Sundaramani. He added, “I have become a fan of Tata’s new designs. I absolutely love the aerodynamics in my Tiago. Though I would like to see a few more features -- like side mirror adjuster, rear A.C vent, and better fit & finish in some spots -- added, this perhaps is a very good choice for a family like ours.”Mr. Sundaramani
Marayur isn’t all just about the waterfalls. There’s something else to look out for. Naturally extracted jaggery from sugarcane is a signature product of Marayur. As the smell of freshly brewing jaggery teased our olfactory senses, we couldn’t resist buying a few packets of fresh jaggery.
The way to Kanthalloor wasn’t easy. The occasional hairpin bends test your driving skills. Driving amongst heavily loaded vehicles carrying huge piles of wood, is by no means easy. I can only imagine how difficult this can be for lorry drivers.
We were greeted by the scent of sandalwood along the way. Imagine driving in the midst of 65,000 sandalwood trees. “They would have certainly cut all of these if it were our place”, said Jothi in a concerned tone. “But not a chance here. Every tree is embedded with a chip which alerts forest officers when any damage happens to the tree. The guilty will be penalized”, she added.
“This is the way to go,” said Mr. Sundaramani. We stopped at a place with no signboards of any sort. Walking down the road, we could see traces of a waterfall. We had a thrilling trek ahead of us. Though there was no danger of animals crossing our path, the very seclusion of the place made it adventurous.
Down the hill we continued trekking and after 500 odd meters, we arrived at the Unnamed Waterfall. And, it was stunning. One could even argue that this place is as good as Athirapally for the magnanimous uproar of the surging water that hit the land. Ashwath jumped right in and posed for the camera with a sense of accomplishment.
“Why don’t you give a name to this place?” The natives of the village were amazed as to how we found the spot. Even they didn’t have a clue about its name! We exchanged pleasantries with the locals as they let us proceed with a friendly warning to be cautious. “Can we name this Asmitha-Ashwath Falls?” asked the naughty Asmitha who otherwise kept to herself throughout the journey.
In the Udumalpet to Munnar route, don’t miss exploring Chinnar WildLife Sanctuary. A great trekking spot. Kerala govt has made all arrangements for the trek. One has to cross 5 check posts to reach Marayur. Once you set foot on this fairyland, you could spot a waterfall in whichever direction you look. Quite the place for travel enthusiasts. Find a cottage in close proximity to the falls. Trekking lovers take note: get permission from Kerala govt for stay at Thoovanam Falls (09188398047) for a life-time experience. If you missed out on this, you have decent homestays available close by. Cascades and waterfalls all around the place and the presence of Kurinji flowers (once in twelve years though) make this a great tourist spot. Avoid travelling to this place at night. The next time you set off to Munnar, don’t forget to add Marayur-Kanthalloor as your pit-stop!
The beauty of the place is elevated by the presence of tiny cascades which looked as cute as a baby elephant. This place is a selfie lover’s paradise: a picture with this scenic background is surely the recipe for a great Insta pic!
One final shower in the falls before we departed to Tirupur. “Uncle! I heard that Kia Motors is launching their Carnival soon. I’ll ask my Daddy to buy it. I’m sure by the time he buys it, I’ll be old enough to get a driver’s license” giggled Ashwath. “Get ready for yet another Great Escape with the Carnival” he added
What’s around? (From Marayur)
Thoovanam Falls (5 km) - You need a guide’s support to trek closer to the falls. Lucky folks would spot a few animals along the way.
Anamudi Chozha National Park (19 km) - Jeep Safari Available. Nilgiris Thar can be spotted.
Munnar Falls (39 km) - Amazing hill station. Along with boating, trekking, one could enjoy the pleasant climate.
Lakkam Falls (13 km) - Arguably the best spot at Marayur.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (9 km) - Kerala govt provides all the facilities for trekking there. With jeep rides, you can spot a variety of animals!
Sandalwood Forest (2 km) - Imagine the scent of 65,000 odd Sandalwood trees in one spot!
Muniyara Dolmens (2 km) - They say this place belonged to the Pandavas. The place has burial chambers built with large stone slabs.
Kanthallur (14 km) - Where you can spot Kurinji flowers once in 12 years. You also get jeep rides. With a host of viewpoints, you can relish the scenic beauty of Kerala.
- SivaguruNathan | Dhanasekaran