Not one or two, but nine waterfalls would enthral you if you were to step into Kuttalam in Tamil Nadu.
It is a sheer thrill to watch as the water cascades down, crashing on to the boulders below. You can also play and bathe in the water as much as you want.
But it’s not just the sight of waterfalls that is alluring in Kuttalam. If you want to make the most of your vacation, then hop on to the train to Sengottai from Punalur in Kerala's Kollam district.
A train journey from one state to the other, across the river, forest, hills, tunnels, and even a heritage 13-arch bridge.
The Punalur-Sengottai route was once a heritage railway line, akin to the one in Ooty.
Though the metre gauge has given way to broad gauge, the natural beauty possessed by the region remains mesmerising as ever.
Heritage rail of Kerala
You can board the train from Punalur railway station. The train would be fitted with engines both at the front and rear ends. As the train moves along the bridge across the Kalladayar, you will also get a glimpse of the Punalur hanging bridge. The trains move at slow pace till Sengottai, giving you ample time for sight-seeing.
You would pass by the rubber plantations before then reach the forests. As you watch the seemingly easy manner in which the National Highway criss-crosses both above and below the tracks, you cannot help but give some credit to the construction of the railway line.
As the train enters the first tunnel, you would be chiding yourself for not switching on the light in advance. The towers and power lines of the recently commissioned Edamon-Kochi power highway and Kudankulam can be seen running above the green canopy.
After the Thenmala station, it is just the forest and never-ending stretches of hills. The weather might also see a sudden change.
There are five tunnels in total and more than 200 bridges. The iconic 13-arch bridge would make your trip all the more memorable.
The train would exit the Aryankavu station, only to enter one long, dark passage of a tunnel. By the time the light is back on in the compartment, you would have reached Tamil Nadu. Then it’s just long stretches of paddy fields. The windmills too would be standing proudly behind the fields of mangoes and gooseberries.
On the name board at Bhagavathipuram station, Malayalam gives way for Tamil. Even as you appreciate the beauty of Tamil villages, you would have reached Sengottai station. You can either get down here or at the next station of Tenkasi to head to Kuttalam, the land of waterfalls.
How to reach Kuttalam
Either take an autorickshaw or a taxi to go to Kuttalam, which is at a distance of 9km. It is advisable to start the journey, by fixing the fare in advance. Or you can take the bus from the bus stand too.
In between, you would come across a place called as Border. The popular Border chicken and Kochu Porotta are available at the Rehmath Porotta stall. The delicacies would be served on a plantain leaf.
As it is the monsoon season in Tamil Nadu, you would get to enjoy the waterfalls in all its beauty.
The major attractions at Kuttalam are Peraruvi (main falls) and Ayntharuvi (five falls), and Pazhayaruvi (old falls). Peraruvi lives up to its name and is the most majestic and beautiful of all the waterfalls at Kuttalam. The beauty of five waterfalls joins to give you Ayntharuvi, while water gushes down into huge boulders at Pazhayaruvi.
Arrangements are in place for both men and women to bath at all three waterfalls.
Puliyaruvi, Chembakadeviyaruvi, Chithiraruvi, Thenaruvi, Puthuaruvi,and Pazhathottaruvi are the other falls in the region.
All waterfalls have to be visited separately. There are some restrictions in certain areas.
It is better to seek accommodation at Tenkasi.
Punalur-Sengottai train timing
Kollam-Sengottai passenger (11:50am, 2:30pm)
Kollam-Chennai Egmore Express (12:50am, 3:05pm)
Ernakulam-Velankanni Special (Only on Saturdays – 4:25pm and 6:35pm)
Palakkad-Thirunelveli Palaruvi Express (12:35am, 3:27 am)
Sengottai-Punalur train timings
Palaruvi Express (12:40pm, 3:13pm)
Egmore-Kollam Express (5am, 7:10am)
Velankanni-Ernakulam Special (Only on Mondays – 5:45am, 8:25am)
Sengottai -Kollam Passenger (11:40am, 2:08pm)