Thiruvananthapuram

25°C

Haze

Enter word or phrase

Look for articles in

Last Updated Tuesday January 17 2017 02:31 PM IST

Escaping into the wilderness of Thommankuthu

Follow Twitter
Follow Facebook
Text Size
Your form is submitted successfully.

Recipient's Mail:*

( For more than one recipient, type addresses seperated by comma )

Your Name:*

Your E-mail ID:*

Your Comment:

Enter the letters from image :

Your form is submitted successfully.

Recipient's Mail:*

( For more than one recipient, type addresses seperated by comma )

Your Name:*

Your E-mail ID:*

Your Comment:

Enter the letters from image :

Start :
End :
Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu Thommankuthu Waterfalls. Photo: Seena Joy

Once upon a time, a tribal huntsman named Thomman (transliteration of Thomban), was passing through the dense, dark forests of his forefathers. He slipped and fell into a waterfall in the river that he was trying to cross, and was drowned. The waterfalls, after this mishap, came to be known as Thommankuthu - literally meaning 'Thomman's Waterfall' where kuthu means waterfall.

There is another story too. Some say that another man, also named Thomman died here, while crossing over the river to pluck fruits on the other side. This was much later, they add. Myths say that nymphs used to bathe in this waterfall, and the herbs growing here have healing abilities. Whatever be the story of Thommankuthu, this place in the wilderness steeped in legends and myths is an abode of tribal life and culture.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu The seven step cascading waterfalls at Thommankuthu. Photo: Seena Joy

Thommankuthu is a seven step cascading waterfall, with deep pools and gushing rapids, located inside the Kaliyar Forest Range of the Kerala Forestry Department. Situated a few miles from Thodupuzha town in the Idukki District of Kerala, it is a part of the Kannadiyaar river in the Thodupuzha Reserve Forest under Kothamangalam Division. This less explored tourist spot, in the middle of a pristine forest with its mesmerizing waterfalls, meandering mystical rivers gracefully winding across the overwhelming dark woods, and the mysterious spectral caves, will enthrall anyone coming here. Deeper inside the forests, there are a number of tribal settlements.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu The rapids at Thommankuthu. Photo: Seena Joy

A hike of about a kilometer along the banks of Kannadiyaar river, is all it takes for you to reach the biggest and most beautiful of the falls of Thommankuthu - the Ezhunilakuthu (also called as the Thommankuthu falls). If you trek up the rocky terrain for another 14 kms, you reach the other waterfalls and the caves in the series. The other cascades of Thommankuthu - Thenkuzhikuth, Chekuthankuth, Palungankuthu, Kudachiyarkuthu, Thekkanthonikuthu, Koovamalakuthu, etc. are all equally enchanting.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu The Kannadiyaar river. Photo: Seena Joy

Normally, a tourist can go only till Ezhunilakuthu. You need prior sanctions and permissions of the forest warden in advance to go beyond this point, and a guide will accompany you on the tough uphill trek. Falling from a height of 1500 meters, the picturesque Ezhunilakuthu, forms a pool at the bottom of each step. Few interesting caves - Plapothu Cave, Palunkan Cave, Maakkal Cave, Narakan Cave, etc. are scattered around the different waterfalls.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu Into the belly of the forest. Photo: Seena Joy

Monsoons are a special treat to the visitors of Thommankuthu. The ceaselessly flowing river with its own symphonies, the magnificent roars of the majestic waterfalls, and the distant cuckoos of the 'I-don't-know-its-name' birds, creates an orchestra in the nature's opera. Sometimes, during unexpected downpours, the music is taken to a whole new level. During those times, taking refuge in the rustic huts built all over the place, and silently watching the performance - the stillness as well as the fieriness in it, resonates with the purest and still part of one's heart.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu The rustic huts of 'Thommankuthu'. Photo: Seena Joy

Hiking along the river banks through the deep woods and the rocky boulders on the way to the Thommankuthu falls, is an intriguing journey. Many rare kinds of foliage can be found in Thommankuthu, of which some of them are marked and named. Amusingly shaped trees and branches are a major attraction here. People try to climb the trees and of course, take a lot of selfies at various scenic places. The tree houses, the rural huts scattered around, the wooden bridges across the streams, the perpetual river flowing through every crack and crevices, the lush verdant greens- these fine strokes, simply turns Thommankuthu into a masterpiece painting.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu A tree house and an oddly shaped tree at Thommankuthu. Photo: Seena Joy

This eco-tourism area has many guides around, both men and women. If you take a moment to talk with them, they tell about the fiery nature of this seemingly calm but dangerous waterfall. You get their version of the many deaths that had happened here. Interestingly, one can find boards all around, which records the number of deaths that had happened at each view point.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu A morbid reminder- the 'real time' counter of those who have drowned. Photo: Seena Joy

Though it's oddly amusing, the truth to be told, the numerous 'caution' boards or the fences set up, or the instructions of the guides, never seems to bother the reckless tourist. For every visitor coming to Thommankuthu, the friendly and helpful guides accurately and responsibly make sure that the ones who went uphill, comes down too.

Escaping into the wilderness of the legendary Thommankuthu The offbeat road to Thommankuthu. Photo: Seena Joy

The Thommankuthu can be quite tricky at times, so please check with the guides before entering the water. Visitors are advised to pay caution and follow the instructions of the guides, at all times. Best time to visit Thommankuthu is just after the monsoons, when the falls are at its best, though trekking into the deep insides of the forest wouldn't start until December. During the rainy season, trekking into the forest will be completely stopped. Although ideally the best times to visit Thommankuthu is from September to March, if you love the rains and wouldn't mind the dirt and rubbles around, Thommankuthu is great to visit in monsoons too, with a starkly different beauty then.

Reaching Thommankuthu

Thommankuthu is located near to a friendly little town of Karimanoor which is about 20 kms from Thodupuzha. One needs to take a turn from Karimanoor junction. Thommankuthu is 10 kms from Karimanoor town. Opening timings are from 8am-6pm.  Regular bus services ply from Thodupuzha to the waterfalls. 
If coming from Muvattupuzha side, which is 35 kms from Thommankuthu, it is easier to  take the route through Vannappuram town. Thommankuthu is about 8 kms from Vannappuram. 

Permissions

For trekking the whole of the waterfalls and into the deeper parts of the forest, one needs to get the permission of the forest warden in advance. 


Useful information

Opening timings are from 8am-6pm.

Trek level - Moderate to difficult

There are a few food options in Thommankuthu village.

Thodupuzha will be the best place for stay.

District Tourism Promotion Council Office, Idukki - Ph: 0486-2232248.

Divisional Forest Office, Kothamangalam - Ph: 0485-2822317.

Forest Range Officer, Kaliyar - Ph: 0486-2247591.


About the author

The author is a freelance writer and a travel blogger, and authors the blog, 'The Road Less Travelled'

Your Rating:
Your form is submitted successfully.

Recipient's Mail:*

( For more than one recipient, type addresses seperated by comma )

Your Name:*

Your E-mail ID:*

Your Comment:

Enter the letters from image :

Your form is submitted successfully.

Recipient's Mail:*

( For more than one recipient, type addresses seperated by comma )

Your Name:*

Your E-mail ID:*

Your Comment:

Enter the letters from image :