Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spa of South this time!

Attending a marriage in Kovilpatti was on the cards and a day to spare before that meant something good to plan as five of us were game for the trip. Courtallam looked the best bet considering the peak season that prevails there in July.

After a tiresome journey from Bangalore to Tenkasi and we landed bit late to start our day. You can feel the winds from the Shencottah pass easily when you approach Podhigai hills and this time I had my own doubts on the season as I kept looking at the kms as we neared Tenkasi and only scorching morning sun was welcoming us all the way. We got into a Hotel next to the bus station and got ready for that days fun …I would not do justice to our trip if I miss to mention "Hygiene Mama" tag Kannan had aptly put up for Santhosh based on the earlier trips. And this time around we were in for a new addition, he wanted to take bath in the hotel before going to the Courtallam falls and was very adament on that. Hmmm, sila samayam appadi thaaan.

Morning view of the Pothigai Hills from our Hotel

We hired an auto for the day and enquired about flow level in the falls. We got different set of answers from people in Tenkasi whomever we asked. The typical kuttrala saral was also missing and we proceeded with our fingers crossed to the Old falls. Gosh !! to our horror the flow at Old falls was so poor that our hotel shower could have done more justice as there were enough people fighting for that small flow falling down. We decided to check out the main falls next as we were told by people that, flow of water was bit ok there.

Sorry pic of the Old Falls

We had some jack fruits and we decided to try out the pathini being sold. Pathini here was one of the best one I ever had and the best part was the tender palm fruit that was smashed along with the Pathini. This combo as per the vendor had the power to set right stomach ailments. These words kept ringing thro' my mind the whole day and i had 6 courses of it!

Pathini guy and the curious eyes

Main Falls with some decent flow

Crowds jostling for their share, spirit of India!

We proceeded to the main falls and were welcomed to some satisfactory flow. Me and Kannan had a quick Oil massage and dashed to the falls to jostle with the crowd for our rightful share of water.

Jagan also came by, but still Santhosh and Madhu were unconvinced with the flow of water and the mad crowds fighting their way. Police supervised bath is what you get in Courtallam if you land in the season and its better to take it as Spirit of India and jump into the crowd. Less water + huge crowds is the worst possible combo you should not encounter any day. Three of us braved our way two – three times into the crowd and ensured that at least the oil on our body had been done away with. Whatever small time we had, taking bath in the gushing waters was an experience in itself.

Five Falls, no comment on the crowd, its all to see.

Next we proceeded to the Five falls to try our luck and lady luck had decided to betray us totally this time. Some 100-150 people were standing in batches waiting for their turn.

Fruits on display, many of them forest ones.

Route we took to the Kundaru Dam

Serene waters of the dam

I felt very much guilty seeing Madhu and Santhosh yet to wet their feet having come to the Spa of the south.
We had good lunch and were contemplating our plans for the rest of the day and now I wanted to try the last astra I had on my hand. Called up Sathya who is a native of Tenkasi to see what else can be done to salvage the day. He heard my bad experience for the day and suggested “Kanni Puli Mettu” which he said was a wild stream near the Kundaru Dam. Promptly we decided to take a shot and directed our vehicle to the Dam. The path towards to the place was a welcome respite from the bustling crowds and looked so prefect a spot to just lie down and take rest for eternity.

We reached the Kundaru Dam and bit of a spill over crowd from Courtallam had made its way to here as well but looked manageable. Further enquires leads us to a stream which feeds the Kundaru Dam. We decided to explore it further upstream and it was indeed interesting as crowd diminished as we kept going further. Roughly were some 1 to 1.5 kms inside and stared enjoying the micro falls that were formed in the course of the stream. Water was very fresh and its flow was decent enough to make us all take a plunge. There were privately held estates on either sides of the stream. We kept exploring one spot or the other and never realized the three hours we spent there. Finally I escaped from the curse of two others who so far had not ventured into any of the regular falls.

We decided to call it a day and reached back to the hotel and got ready to visit the Tenkasi Kasi Viswanthar temple before starting our journey to Kovilpatti. Strong breeze welcomes you in the temple blowing in from the Western Ghats. After having a darshan I sat calmly with the locals near the gopura enjoying the breeze in lawn set along the exit. After twenty odd minutes of natural + man made wonder (read the below information board ) I proceeded to buy some halwa from the Purathan Krishna Lala Kadai (estd. 1904) for Sathya who rates this above the Iruttu Kadai one.

The gopura of Kasi Viswanathar Temple at Tenkasi

We attended the wedding at Kovilpatti and second half of the day at our disposal, two of us decided to make our way to the Nellai appar temple.

Iruttu Kadai - sadly closed

Reaching the spot we decided to try buy some halwa at the Iruttu kadai as we were in time join the queue that builds up before they open for the day, sorry “before they open for the evening”. Lady luck smiled the other way and we discovered that holiday had been declared that day for the shop. We proceeded to visit the Nellai Appar temple. This was the first time I was visiting this temple and the place had lot to offer to any person coming with devotion and inquisitive eyes. We had the Darshan of Nellai Appar (Shiva) and proceeded to have the darshan of Nellai Govindar. I am often intrigued by the Shivite - Vishnavite hostility stories and in contrast how these big Shiva temples have a Vishnu shrine just next to the main Shiva Shrine. A temple employee was giving a brief to the people once they complete the darshan of the main deity about the unique posture of Nellai Govindan wherein he is in sleeping posture rather than the usual Anantha Sayana. The following legend associated with this city was of great interest -

“a poor brahmin called Veda Sharma used to beg for paddy as his alms. The alms he gathered thus were put to dry in sunlight, after which he removed the husk. This was then cooked and this cooked rice called Havis was then offered to the Lord. One day, while he was drying the paddy, it suddenly started to rain heavily. Veda Sharma started praying to the Lord and the merciful Venu Vana Nathar took pity on him and protected the paddy not only from the rain by covering it, but by also standing around it like a fence. Hence, He is also called Nelliappar and the place was thus called Thiru (beautiful), Nel (paddy) and Veli (fence). The place earlier addressed as Venu Vanam was thus changed to Thirunelveli.”

Gopura of the Nellai Appar Temple

Pillared corridor of the Temple

Sculptures on the temple car

Had our darshan of Kanthimathi amman and spent some time exploring the temple which was not enough though. We proceeded next taking an auto to the Nellai Junction. The pep talks what you hear at times from locals is interesting and this time it was the autowallah who conveyed his grievance of the town not developing after 15 years it being declared a corporation. He showed us with pride the two tier Thiruvalluvar Bridge which is Asia’s second largest one. He not only dropped us but helped us identify our bus boarding point. Every time i visit towns and observe the lifestyle of people, there pops up my craving to move to one.

Having missed the Iruttu Kadi halwa, the other option left was Shanti sweets at the junction. Jostling with the crowd was a tough task and got the few kilos I had to buy for everyone as a customary measure. And there ends my yet another sojourn, though a casual one this time!


  1. Good job Subbu... beautifully narrated.

  2. Subbu,

    It’s worth reading I really appreciate your efforts in unfolding my Home town so wonderfully.
    Your blog’s helps us in getting educated about the historical monuments. Keep up the good work. Looking forward for more.
    You Rock!!!

  3. Gud One Subbu...
    Keep it up..... :)

    Pradeep Simon

  4. wonderful article subbu....I liked the narration and the snaps...! Good stuffs...! Keep writing subbu...!

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