Sunday, May 29, 2016


It's a shame this place is so near to my hometown, and I never visited thinking it could be just another waterfall. And I am not someone who needs to backpack to a place far away to relieve my stress. The rain or the sight of a big mango tree would often do me the trick. So I never felt the big-time missing. But boy ! For someone who expected just a waterfall, could a wild forest and a series of majestic waterfalls inside be anymore surprising?.

After we drove upto the Thommankuthu stop and I got out from the car, I was not very thrilled to be honest. Because up until we stopped, there were houses and buildings along side the roads which barely gave any hint of what was coming. Ofcourse there were sign boards. But the roads don't hint for the big jungle or the waterfalls.

And then when I saw the big entry to this reserve forest area, there was a rush of excitement and I couldn't help but run inside. A true jungle with huge trees that block the sunlight. And the roads seem like taking you to an endless journey. And yes, the forest is literally never-ending if you don't stop where the guides tell you to. I looked around and the wilderness couldn't let me decide what to aim for first. Give the gigantic trees a bear hug or peek at the river that look like white spots through the leaves.? And here's the winner. The tree hangings.:D. I had never had them up close before. I pulled one string and that was so springy. And the roots towards the tips kept me wondering. I kept looking up for a while at the canopy.

I moved forward and could not contain my excitement.
Just a bit ahead of the entry, there is an interpretation room that has the eponym explained and other information about this eco-tourism project.
So, this spot is apparently named after a tribal "Thumben" who died while cutting across the river during the floods. And ofcourse 'kuthu' stands for waterfalls. And there you have it 'Thommakuthu'.

I stepped out from the room and continued walking. Roads are cut out for tourists (till the stop, upto where they can walk without a guide. After that you need a guide and a 1000 bucks to cover the remaining 8 kms or so).
I had the river buzzing in my ears all the while. The trees and the varities of them get you excited. From Rosewood to Jangli to what not. And the trees have name boards which made it easy. I was pretty excited to spot the Devil tree (onto which we nail the possessed in our folklores remember?).
Spot any similarity in the patterns?.No right, And there are tons like these imagine!
Infact there was one tree that had a weird shape with wedges and deep cuts in the trunk. Cuts big enough to hold a person. From the top view, it should look like a star I guess. My cousin suggested- should there be a flash flood, we better hide in there and walk out as cool as ever once it subsides. And that triggered a laugh.There was another one with big branches circling around the main trunk. That was apparently an anaconda fossil.:P
Amazing resemblance to an anaconda don't you think?
Through out the walk, you should be careful not to trip over branches like these that crawl through the ground. You often hear people say they spot elephants and snakes here. Even tigers sometimes. The irony is- though I'm very scared of snakes , with so much hype over snakes and elephants I was disappointed not to have spotted a snake at least.

My father was very excited to talk to guides, especially the ones who were really old. They talked in length about bamboos and barks and medicinal values and so on and so forth. My Dad mentioned, "With so much come and gone in  my life, my childhood memories of hanging out among trees like these were gone. I am thankful they revisited." He was happy to imitate teachers during his days and the way they hang their umbrellas.

Doesn't he look happy?
He told me that I came here with him when I was a kid. And my mom told the story about how that day a guy kept climbing up one of these steep mountains, like that was a suicidal attempt, and how people kept staring. She doesn't know how the story ended though. They were pressed for time that day, she guessed.

We kept walking. In between , we found bamboo chairs , tree houses and resting places. But no food or water stalls inside. And I guess that keeps the area cleaner than the other tourist places in Kerala I have been to. The water is also very clean. Each 'kuthu' is named differently. There are seven of them. I don't remember the names exactly. But I do remember boards mentioning the known death counts at each kuthu. Ranging from 7 to 24. And a warning saying 'you could be next' :/. The warning good though, because there are many shallow spots where we get so tempted to dive in. But there are slippery weeds that could easily let you join the deeper area. Wait, if you are lucky enough, you may hit a rock on the way and have your face hung on the wall forever. :D.. Or the hidden caves underneath that can drown you and devour you. So you know, you have a variety of options for death too if you are not careful ..:D..

One of the many waterfalls:
Also see the clouds swarming up into a darker version?. Because it drizzled on the way back. I know :)
We hung out here for a while. Of course at the watch of the guides. Just the sensation of dipping the feet in water can take you out of the world. The water is cold and gives you chill. You may choose any rock that suits you and stay there with your feet in water. I spotted many beautiful butterflies here. Bigger that we spot at homes.
Like these :
See what I see?
You will realise how the touch of the water can take away your fatigue and pump you up for the backward journey.

We saw the barricade beyond which there is no permission to travel without a guide. I heard from the guide that from there on , we have to walk by the river cutting through the bamboos which I thought was more exciting and jungly. But for we did not anticipate this and did not have any food or water and of course we were super tired , decided to stop. For those who want, they can go with guides with food and other stock.  I said to myself , "Some other day then.."..And that was a day well-spent. :)

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