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History of Kutralam

In the holy picnic town of Kutralam, there is a little, yet charming Sivan kovil, enshrining a big Sivalinga, going by the name of Kutralanathar.

welcome-img It has the proud privilege of receiving worship by almost all devout bhaktas and chance picnic tourists after bath, who visit the waterfalls for bath, presuming a dip in the water cures skin diseases. And soon after the bath, all, invariably direct their steps into the mandir for soulful worship, invoking the Lord to cure their malady - mental or physical.

And Lord Siva too is bestowing boons and lifting them in accordance with the merit of devotion. He never left piety cry in wilderness. The temple, though small contains all the Saivate gods. It is very near to Tirunelveli, the district head quarters town of the same name in Tamil Nadu.

Kutralam Falls is what I believe this waterfall is called though it also seems like it's called the Main Falls. Even though Julie and I thought this was one of the more memorable waterfalling experiences we've ever had (in more ways than just the aesthetics; read further below), I was a bit confused as to how it was named because the Main Falls is one of the cluster of nine waterfalls collectively known as the Kutralam Falls as they're all near the town of Kutralam (pronounced "kor-TAH-lum"), and they all apparently have Ayurvedic healing properties as their feeding streams pass through groves of naturally growing herbs.

From what I could tell, the individual waterfalls of Kutralam were: Main Falls (the one on this page), Old Falls, Five Falls, Shenbagadevi Falls, Honey Falls, Tiger Falls, Small Falls, Fruit Garden Falls, and Palaruvi Falls or Milk Falls (which was across the state border in Kerala).

Regarding the Ayurvedic healing properties, I've seen instances where some doctors even recommend or prescribe bathing in these falls. SinceIndia is well-known for producing doctors, maybe they're onto something.

welcome-imgSince they allow public bathing beneath the healing properties of the waterfall, I've seen the Kutralam Falls also referred to as the Spa of India. In addition to changing rooms, they've also designated a ladies only and gentlemen only section. The ladies were on the far right side of the falls while the males were on the left side.

A small stone arch bridge segregated the two sides beneath the falls though we didn't see anyone cross that bridge (access to the ladies side was via a walkway opposite the stream and plunge pool to the right of the bridge over the stream).Of all of the Ayurvedic waterfalls, the Main Falls was probably the most impressive one as far as we were concerned.

It was certainly by far the widest and probably the tallest of the waterfalls (we're guessing it was at least 30- to 40m tall) in the Kutralam area. And due to its relative grandeur, we also thought this was the most popular waterfall in the vicinity as evidenced by the mass of humanity we saw in and around the falls.

There was even a very large, busy, loud, and crowded, yet atmospheric marketplace fronting the bathing area. Embedded in this chaos apparently was a long Hindu temple (which might have been the source of the loud music we were hearing). Where else but India could you mix a waterfall with a marketplace, religious center, and happening social scene?

Even though this was a very busy waterfall, I don't think foreigners come here or even know a whole lot about it. The reason why we say this was because Julie and I were the only non-Indians during our visit. And it seemed as if we drew stares from the tens of thousands of people that were present regardless of whether we were walking through the marketplace or experiencing the waterfall itself.

When we were busy trying to photograph Kutralam Falls and to enjoy the scene, we were suddenly inundated with a large group of at least a couple dozen people curious about what we were doing. Some people even took

welcome-imgphotographs of us like the way paparazzi would take photos of celebrities (another indication that I guess we really stood out from the crowd since we were racially different). I can't say being the center of attention of so many people was a very comforting feeling, but it was definitely an adventure and learning experience to say the least.

I've also seen the spelling of Kutralam as Kuttralam, Kutralam, Kutrallam, as well as Courtralam among others (I'm sure there are other permutations). This was probably due to the inexact science of mapping from the local pronunciations (not sure if its name was Hindi or Tamil or some other local dialect) into English.

We were told by our Keralan driver that we happened to be here when devout Hindu males had just begun fasting for 40 days, and many of them liked to bathe at Kutralam Falls or one of the other Ayurvedic waterfalls in the area perhaps to wash away impurities or something like that. I didn't quite get what happened after the 40 days, but I thought he mentioned that these guys would then become worthy enough to make a pilgrimage into some temple in the hills (note sure whether he meant in the Indian Himalayas or in Nepal or just some local place nearby) to pray.