In the far south, in Tirunelveli district, in a deep recess of the Western Ghats lies Courtallam, The Spa in the South. Courtallam is famous for its season, which lasts from June to September, the hottest period of the plains. Thick clouds gather and streaks of lighting flash across the sky. It is a rare and pleasant experience to stroll in the 'Charal' (drizzle) becoming neither wet nor dry. Courtallam is visited annually by thousands of tourists, for the several falls, which clot the town.
The most popular and frequented waterfalls are the Main falls. Not only during the season, but also during the period November to January, the crest receives the Northeastern monsoon emptying itself on the slopes to swell the falls and the Chittar River. From a height of 300 ft., the Chittar River makes its last descent to the plains.
As one approaches the falls, the meandering river comes into view first to be followed by a rumbling noise, which develops into a roar on a closer look. It is not straight and steep but of three folds with a height of only 10 ft on the last lap. Iron bars have been provided for the safety of bathers and when one dips oneself into the rushing water, a shock precedes a pleasantest experience.
The water falls first into a deep trough aptly called "Pongumam Kadal", and then falls out in a beautiful cascade under which the visitors bathe. Innumerable Shivalingas have been carved on the rock surface, and hence it is believed that the water acquires special sanctity and is deemed to be the water after ablutions. The force of the water over the body tones up the muscles and nerves and is invigorating.
Chittaruvi or Small Falls
Adjacent to the Main falls is a small cascade called Chittaruvi. Women and timid persons resort these falls.
A mile away from the Main falls is the Shenbagadevi falls, so called because of its location near to the temple of Shenbagadevi. During full moon days large crowds visit this temple.
About 3 miles from the Main falls on the upper crusts of the rocks is the Honey falls. It is so called because of beehives on the promontory. It is a romantic place of solitude and those who seek seclusion come here to meditate on reality.
The falls are the exact opposite of the neighbourhood. The stillness is broken by the violence of the spray that dash because of the swirling waters. The gushing water makes a somersault when dashing making a deafening noise.
Connected by a good road about 3 miles from the Main falls are the Five falls, so named as the cascade spreads in five heads like a hooded cobra. This spot is venerated highly as it presents an image of Adisesha with several hoods.
About 6 furlongs from the Main falls is the Tiger falls with a temple for Sastha nearby. Bathing ghats have been provided for pilgrims.
Perched at an elevation of 1,000 ft, and one and half miles from the Main falls is the New falls amidst a sylvan landscape of wild forest. The panoramic view from this ledge is beautiful affording a sight of the entire town below.
About 4 miles from the Main falls is the Old falls, rarely frequented. Apart from all these falls the place is also famous for the Shiva shrine, "Thirukootachala Nathar", meaning- Lord of three peaks.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Madurai, at a distance of
Rail: Tenkasi and Sengottai are the nearby railway stations. Several trains from Chennai pull into Tirunelveli daily including the Bombay-Nagercoil Express. It is also possible to reach Courtallam from Quilon/Madurai via Sengottai. Sengottai, from where it is possible to get fast buses to the falls, is on the Quilon-Madurai train line. The Quilon Mail and the Quilon-Nagore Express stop at Sengottai.
Road: The Courtallam falls is just 1 1/2 hours away from Tirunelveli. By road, Courtallam is also easily accessible from Trivandrum (approximately 185-km away).
Accommodation is available at the economy class and small budgeted hotels in Courtallam.