Saturday, September 24, 2005

Coutrallam Part 2

Continuing from here,even though the coutrallam season is over and even purattasi is almost half way through.

The description and the trivia of the falls are best when it is from the local folks. Krishna, waiting to hear from the horse’s mouth.

Now, let us continue from the halwa shop towards the Main falls. The sannadhi veedhi is lined on both the sides by seasonal shops selling everything from hair bands to jaadikai oorugai and masala to freshly made banana chips. The banana chips making process needs to be described. The chips master picks up about ten peeled raw bananas and puts it in the hand slicer and slices it into a huge pan of boiling coconut oil. Once he has started, he keeps moving the peeler higher and farther from the pan, to a level where it is an artistic skill. The angle in which the slicer is held, and the pressure on the bananas are so accurate that, the slices fly from abt 5 feet distance into the pan forming a nice trajectory. :)

Further towards the falls, on the left is a small pillayar in an arasa marathadi. He is truly in a Maniratnam like surrounding, with the shrill of the falls encompassing him. After a hello to him, and proceeding further, is when the first view of the falls opens widely. The cataract reveals so beautifully with a rhythm that kick starts fresh blood into the arteries.
A nice gingili oil massage to the head is imperative before trying the waters. The smell of freshly ground oil, hmm.. I love it.!!

Then it is time to bid bye to our women folks as they tread towards their side of the falls, which is on the other bank of the stream. Invariably the side of the falls where water force is lesser is made the women’s section, amidst lots of cries of foul play from them. :)

If it happens to be a weekend, there is a queue for entering the falls. The queue takes from 5 mins to even 30 mins. The closer you go, the more exciting it becomes. At the first drizzle of water kissing the body, a shiver is sent through the spine. The chillness is scary, initially. Just over come this and walk into the falls, and that is where words and adjectives stop.

In crowded days, there might be some pushing and pulling on the periphery of the water flow, mostly by the hydro starved chennaites who would take a mug and bathe with it in Coutrallam. Manage to penetrate and move in, and its you you you and only you, along with some other seasoned folks who enjoy just standing, without the push pull, shouting that happens on the periphery.

Stand there, facing the Vimanam of Kutraleeswarar a.k.a. Tirukutralanathar. Recite Sivapuranam, Rudram, Chamakarm, Purushasooktham, Shiva manasa stotram, shiva panchakshara stotram, lingasthakam, bilvashtakam, all while being pounded by gallons and gallons of water at incredible speed. Liberation Happens!!. The experience is heavenly.

Walk out of the waters, when contentment is attained. No police man or crowd controller will bother to hurry us up, as long as we move into the waters, and not do Kaka kuliyal, where the crowd is! All the oil applied on the head is gone!! Not even a drop of shampoo or seeyakkai podi.

After floating out, 2 things need to be done, first is to check the money that was secured in 10 Padma Coffee plastic bags, pinned to the inside of the shorts or tied to the veshti is intact, and second is to maintain a safe distance from all those folks moving towards the falls, else there is a high probability that we would again end up with oil all over the body.

The waters from the falls are supposed to be herbal nature, since they run through the herb rich podigai malai, and do not cause cold or other general complaints that arise due to prolonged indulgence in water.

No changing of dress or anything, jus keep walking with the wet clothes on! Even otherwise it is bound to get wet, because of the constant drizzle [malai chaaral]. Head straight towards the restaurant, for what would be an excellent meal.

One the way, hot hot molagai bajji and masala vadai, from the nadar kadai server as the much needed starters, in the chilly weather.The limited vegetarian meal served at the xyz Vilas Brahmanaall hotel, is really tasty and will be doubled by the appetite generated by the Falls bath. It is again time for dessert, the Velu kadai tirunelveli halwa. Go to the hotel room, change to dry dresses and fall sleep for the afternoon.[The only place where I sleep in afternoons is coutrallam, couldn’t control that mate :P]

The evening starts with visit to the Shree VenuVaakVaadhini sametha Shree Kutralanatha Swamy darshan. VVV is known as Kuzhal Vaai Mozhi amman in Tamil. The temple is of the nayakar architecture and has an excellent ambience. Lots of small stories involved with the temple.

FYI, during the floods in early 90s, whole of coutrallam was devastated, the temple was in 10 feet water. The boulders rolling over had destroyed the falls.

The temple trip is followed by another round of bathing-eating-sleeping cycle, with the addition of hot Masala milk for the night. :)

This routine is repeated for the next 2 days with the name of the falls are find-and-replace by Five Falls, Old Falls, Sitraruvi, Pazha thotta aruvi etc…

Visiting Coutrallam is one, which I would recommend people to have it in the plan-to-do-before-I-die list.


At Sat Sep 24, 08:44:00 PM CDT, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

I really feel nostalgic after seeing u'r post. Good narration

At Sun Sep 25, 01:08:00 AM CDT, Blogger krishna said...

Awesome drenched in the saaral:)..yenne inbam let our body and minds to get cleansed by the soft saarals and the podhigai malai thendral watching the smart monkeys that are always on the look out for a pack of food and enjoying the scenic aruvis, the thirukutraalanaathar..

On the way to courtallam in melagaram is my chittappas house . It's such a wondeful spot to have ones home constantly swathed by the thendral..the impressions of the lush greeen fields on the way to courallam still seem to be afresh in my mind..

one more thing that comes to my mind is the abundance of jackfruit or pala pazham, indicative of its nearness to kerala(where i long to go).. my dad used to buy at least one full fruit.:) its a nice feast esp when dipped in honey..slurp slurp..

courtallam definitely is one of those place one should visit b4 one should die..

Courtallam is the spa on the west of tenkasi (vadakaala), on the east (thekkaala) there is another wondeful plz tho not as popular as courtallam. I will write about it pretty shorty in my blog..

Thanks tj for bringing back the memories of those wonderful days..

anyways,talkin abt the thendral, no one would do justice as that of Kannadaasan who says

"podhigai malai uchchiyiley purappadum thendral
aadai pootti vaiththa mEniyilum thavazhndhidum thendral
padhi madhurai veedhiyiley valam varum thendral
indha paandiyanaar paingiliyai theendidum thendral "

At Sun Sep 25, 09:27:00 AM CDT, Blogger mysorean said...

Coutrallam is on my must-see list!

Now after your post, I am hurrying it up the list to the top! :)

Good one TJ!

At Sun Sep 25, 10:06:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Dubukku said...

I come from a very near by place. And my college was near to Tenkasi and Coutrallam.
You might be surprised that locals now a days dont prefer this much bcos of the crowd and commercialisation.

You must got to Agasthiar Falls in Papanasam. Unlike courtrallam this falls does not have any particular season and is consistent through out the year. This is not very popular yet (and the falls is dwarf compared to coutrallam) but is a preferred one for locals. No crowd ,no police and beautiful falls with lots of herbs. hmmmm feeling very nostalgic.

At Sun Sep 25, 10:24:00 AM CDT, Anonymous lxsn said...

lovely narration TJ.
u took me to the falls once more ;)
made me feel really nostalgic abt my first ever trip there with my "would-be" closest ;) people.

At Sun Sep 25, 12:21:00 PM CDT, Blogger Ramana Siddharth said...

lovely one tj!!btw have u bathed in any falls in uk?

At Mon Sep 26, 04:57:00 AM CDT, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

TJ - Very good post - he he he I really read ur post - awesome man! - Ur blog is proving to be the English version of Subha's Thinnai Araatai! Very good narration!

I am wondering how the oil will go without even a drop of shampoo! That's amazing! And the masala vadai fried with coconut oil! Yumyum!

I didnt know my friend Krishna was from Coutrallam! If u give him a call which usually ends up in his mail box - u hear his voice which sounds like some hollywood actor talking :))..

At Mon Sep 26, 05:03:00 AM CDT, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

When u said Coutrallam - I am reminded of Ambasamudram - there is a hill which is the backside of Coutrallam! When I was young I went to the hill which is a forest actually - there was a saint and we met him. The saint looks after the ashram of Arthiri Maharishi. In that place - u can see sacred waters coming out - and I bathed in it - It was awesome! I also could feel the coutrallam saaral falling on us - It was heavenly - and I wuld say that this place is the best on earth! Unfortunately I heard the ashram got wiped out during the floods that happened a few years ago - but I wuld luv to visit and see the place again! There is a shivan temple on the foothills - and the lingam has a kudumbi! :)

Awesome place! I remember eating small masalavadais with nice chutney in a tea kadai and that was awesome! Man - what is the use of living in a bungalow and driving porsche cars! I would prefer to live in these heavenly places!

At Mon Sep 26, 08:39:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Dubukku said...

Arjuna - spot on...I am from Ambasamudram !!!! heeeeyyy glad that someone mentioned my hometown :)
And Agasthiyar falls is very near Ambasamudram in a place called papanasam.
Papanasam Hills are awesome!!!

At Mon Sep 26, 06:20:00 PM CDT, Blogger thennavan said...

Tj, that was a good account about Coutrallam (Part deux :-)). Reg. the banana thing you mentioned, I have seen that on way to Sabarimalai. The efficiency with which the bananas are sliced (several at once) to form neat little chips is seen to be believed.

At Tue Sep 27, 03:04:00 AM CDT, Blogger WA said...

Tj - that was one amazing post, loved every bit of it. Lovely writing. Never been there though, will try to do so next time. Thanks

At Tue Sep 27, 05:30:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Thanks Kasthuri,
I missed going for the season, this time after abt 15 years. :(

Supero super kalakipottenga!!
The palapazham, other fruits, the ramtan, mangustan, ellame gr8.

Ensai Kkutraalam ;)

ambasamudrama.. kalakkunga. I have a lot of relatives in Ambai. My paati is from Perungulam.[one of navatirupatis]. As u said, agasthiar falls, is a peaceful place!! Not spoilt by tourism. Will definitely need to visit there in the near future.

Sari sari, falls la poi kavundhuteenganu sollunga :D

Had been to an nice falls in north wales, Swallow Falls. But it was in the christmas weekend, when the temperature there was sub zero, so no chance of bathing :D

At Tue Sep 27, 05:59:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Arjuna, ogay ogay!!
Not so good news that the ashram got wiped off in floods :(. All the places in the podhigai malai has got divince peace associated with it.
And abt the masala vadai. Namba gate Anna kadai vadai maadhiri varuma!!

Siththiramum kai pazhakkam ngara maadhiri, the skill they have developed had amazed me as well. That could have just be done as a boring cut and fry job as well.

At Tue Sep 27, 06:23:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Thanks, adutha murai poi kalakkitu vaanga!!

At Tue Sep 27, 09:41:00 AM CDT, Blogger Lavanya said...

I want to visit Coutrallam sometime. Thanks for the info. :)

At Thu Sep 29, 09:34:00 AM CDT, Anonymous said...

I read the part 2 and was delighted by the language. I wish to visit Coutrallam on 3,4 & 5th oct. Can I have the address (approx. location ) of the XYZ Brahmanal hotel at Coutrallam. I will be staying near bus stand.

At Sat Oct 01, 04:14:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Definitely do pay a visit and enjoy it for urself.

That hotel is on the Sannadhi theru!! You shud be able to spot it easily. Enjoy ur trip ;)

At Wed Oct 31, 01:43:00 PM CDT, Blogger subu said...

TJ- that was lovely... i am actually from courtallam, i love my place and you have exactly narrated it the way it looks... hats off my friend.
another thing, i was looking at ur profile., are you with pepsico by any chance ??
do drop me a mail...

At Thu May 29, 12:28:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, if you visit Coutrallam or not abl;e to make it, another choice for you is agasthiar falls which is near Ambasamudram / Tirunelveli:


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