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Waterfall showers & spices

Ask any South Indian about Courtallam & the first thing you'll hear is getting soaked under a waterfall. Yes, growing up, the teenage years brought forth raised eyebrows & wisps of condescension about a crowd of people getting drenched under falling water fully clothed, but then one really has to experience it to form a truthful opinion, and chances are that it would be a positive one.
The day trip to Courtallam was a reward for the young 'uns for patiently bearing with us for the previous days temple visits. (which is material for a separate post, coming up in the next couple of weeks).
Packed a brunch for the kids, while setting off early morning from Tirunelveli , risking the possibility of venturing into unknown street food territory in an unfamiliar little town. Boy, did that end up almost  being the highlight of the trip!
The village of Courtallam lies nestled in the shadow of the Deccan plateau range on the border between the Southern Indian states of Kerala & Tamil Nadu. The main attraction is the multitude of gorgeous waterfalls that cascade down from the mountains, In fact the name Courtallam is synonymous with the waterfalls. We picked the one named 'five falls' to let the kids loose & it was delightful. Pure, clean, crystal clear rainwater cascading over rocks & onto ones head... Jacuzzis can take a HIKE. It did not take much persuasion to hand over the DSLR to the car driver & dive in... Fully attired (which seemed to be the dress code, In fact, my 2 yr old drew plenty of attention to herself outfitted in swim diapers & a tiny swimsuit, stuck out like the proverbial Yankee tourists!). It is mandatory to scream at the top of ones lungs, simply because that is the only way to breathe. The cascading water is pretty forceful!

The only negative aspect about the otherwise delightful experience is the tendency of the  visitors to use this landmark as a communal shower!, They come armed to the teeth with massage oil, shampoo & soap (despite plenty of signs posted to refrain from doing so)! net result, the downstream turns into a murky disappointing sight.
As with most tourist sites there are a profusion of shops selling deep fried goodies & plenty of fruit vendors. One of the most delightful (& healthy) brunches that I've ever enjoyed. A true picnic...

Freshly Pickled & 'porcupined' mango

Toddy palm kernels (served in an eco friendly boat made from palm fronds), Add a cup of the fruity, floral & sweet toddy palm sap, & you're set for the day. fabulous start to a unique breakfast!

Thats the entire shop...a huge basket with a large pot of toddy palm nectar known as Neera
huge bunches of toddy palm fruit & an evil looking sickle to cut them open, all loaded onto a motorbike..

Weighing out 1/2 a pound of fresh Rambutan!

The sweet sour & extremely tannic wild  rose apple..resulting in a  purple stained tongue at the end of the pigging out session. thats the pit of the wild fruit on my palm.

Hungarian wax pepper... before (above)

and after (below),
Now that would have been a great contribution to Food52's chili pepper themed contest!

Deep fried lentil vada

Pickled Malay gooseberries..(as puckeringly tart as it gets, the salt & chilli pepper do nothing to stop the extreme face scrunching induced by biting one of these!)

Pickled mango (Above) & the non stinky cousin to the durian.. the Jack fruit

 & the star attraction... The ever present, thieving Coutallam monkeys!!

Coming up... The spice market!


  1. I just love the article you have written, so much information that I learnt! Beautiful photos as always, which makes reading this v interesting!! Keep it coming...!


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