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Of Worship and Waterfalls

A unique corner of Tamil Nadu, the newly-formed district of Tenkasi is home to spectacular waterfalls and ancient temples. A visit to Tenkasi is balm for the soul. Part 7 of an Outlook special on unexplored tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.

Waterfalls and temples. Photographs and pilgrimages. Beauty and faith. Tenkasi, the largest town in Tenkasi District on the Madurai-Kollam highway, is a tourist’s delight. Nestled amidst the Western Ghats, with the River Chittar flowing through, Tenkasi is quaintly charming.

Tenkasi strikes everyone with a strange familiarity even if one has never been there, simply because the picturesque locales are a favourite with filmmakers. From waterfall scenes to temple backgrounds, Tenkasi offers it all. 

A temple town
Established by Pandyan kings, Tenkasi gets its name – ‘Kasi of the South’ - from the famous Kasi Viswanathar temple built by Parakrama Pandyan after Lord Viswanatha appeared in his dream. Restored in the 1990s, the temple remains a focal point of life and tourism. 

Tenkasi is home to another magnificent place of worship – the Kulasekharanathar Temple. The Kannimaramman Temple, with its adjoining pond, and the Anggalap Parameshwari Temple are other points of religious and historical significance.

Waterfall wonders
Apart from temples, numerous waterfalls dot the region, with the Courtallam or Kutralam Falls being the most famous. Stunningly beautiful, this is one of the must-visits of Tamil Nadu.

Here, the River Chittar cascades over a drop of 92 metres at varying volumes. Peraruvi, the biggest, falls from 60 metres and is right inside Courtallam town. The waters of Courtallam are believed to have medicinal properties as it flows through forests of herbs. The Kutralanathar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located near the falls and draws flocks of tourists.

The Chitraruvi Falls is a favoured bathing spot. Other falls such as Shenbagadevi and Thenaruvi are enticing for the more adventurous tourists as one has to hike through forest land to reach them. A temple to Shenbagadevi Amman stands near the Shenbagadevi falls and attracts devotees during the full moon. The Honey Falls or Thenaruvi, with its beautiful horseshoe shape, is considered the purest and can only be reached after a tough 30-minute trek. July to October is the best time to experience the waterfalls at their fullest. 

The Gundaru Dam is in the district, about 7 kilometres from Sengottai. Though small in size, this is a favoured picnic spot as it is surrounded by the lake and hills. Close by is also the Adavinainar Dam and Reservoir in Mekkarai village. Another picturesque spot, this is also a popular picnic destination. 

Sundarapandiapuram, a small village, is another tourist favourite with its picturesque sunflower fields that have been featured in several songs, movies, sitcoms and documentaries, including Mani Ratnam’s Roja. The Rukmani Sathyabama Sameda Sri Rajagopala Swamy temple, the oldest temple in Sundarapandiapuram, is said to be around 4000 years old. Legends say that the idol of Raja Gopala belonged to Sage Kanwar's ashram. Sri Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple and Sri Muppudathi Amman temple are the other famous temples of the town. 

On the food trail
Being a temple town, Tenkasi has a wondrous array of vegetarian food. But non-vegetarian food is also easily found with fresh fish catches being the tourist favourites.

Getting there
Tenkasi is well connected.  
By air: Trivandrum International Airport, about 122 km away, is the nearest 
By rail: connected to all major Tamil Nadu cities and towns 
By road: regular bus services ply, taxis and private cars are easily available. 

Accommodation: 
Hotel Tamil Nadu, Courtallam
Opp. to Parasakthi Women’s College
Courtallam- 627802
Contact. No. 91 9176995821

Hotel Tamil Nadu, Courtallam
Ramalayam
Courtallam- 627802
Contact. No. 91 9176995821

Courtallam Boat House
Ramalayam
Courtallam- 627802
Contact : 91 4633 283003

For booking: www.ttdconline.com
Tamil Nadu Tourism: www.tamilnadutourism.tn.gov.in
Social Media: @tntourismoffcl 

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