Took a week off from classes a while back to catch up with friends visiting Kerala. Due to yet another train line gauge upgrade though, the train to Kerala from Madurai runs out of track at Sengottai (*1).
So, it seemed like as good an excuse as any to visit the nearby Courtallam Falls.
Its a popular place – mostly on account of the beneficial effects of the water itself, but also as a place of pilgrimage. And yes, of course I took a dip – just ask any of the traumatised locals who bumped into me – I don’t think they get so many Irish bathers in these parts…
There are actually separate bathing spots for men and women, but it still gets hectic enough – especially during particularly auspicious times – that the police have to carry big sticks.
After the falls, it was a drive through the hills of the Western Ghats – which compared to the by times hot and dusty plains around Madurai was a nice break. Its a lot cooler and damper up here – making it ideal countryside for rubber and spice plantations which are all over the place.
Tamil Nadu/Kerala Border
Next stop Kerala!
*1 Also helpfully spelled as Shencottah, Shenkottai, Chengottai, Chenkottai and Senkottai – if there was ever a reason to learn Tamil, visiting செங்கோட்டை could be it.
Wikipedia article on the Western Ghats
Wikipedia on the Cardamom Hills
Wikipedia article on Courtallam and its falls
Wikipedia on Sengottai
Now that I’m a resident of sorts here in Madurai (albeit a very short-term one), next thing you know I’ll be blogging every trip I take down to the shops. Okay, maybe just this once…
First stop, the 400-odd year old Pudhu Mandapam arcade (just beside Madurai’s main temple – Meenakshi Temple). While it may be no Liffey Valley, its hard to beat when it comes to calendars, pots and pans, booksellers and tailors (and fantastic intricate stone carvings). There’s talk of the authorities throwing the shop-keepers out to restore it to its original ceremonial use – not expected to happen any time soon though.
After that, if it’s spices, fruit & veg, PVC pipework and gold & platinum you want, we might just need another blog post…
Btw, So I have been asked “Where am I?”, so here’s Madurai courtesy Wikipedia maps…
So, before I fall too far behind – a quick update… I’ve made it to Madurai, apartment share and language classes all sorted.
More about Madurai again, but as ancient temple cities go, there’s a lot to like here. In the meantime here’s a quick preview.
Meenakshi Temple Gopuram
And while I’m at it, you can never have too many pictures of cows can you?