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Bengaluru to Kanjirakolly: Go with the flow

A waterfall and local lifethe perfect antidote to popular stops

The Alakapuri waterfall in Kanjirakolly. Photo: Fehmida Zakeer
The Alakapuri waterfall in Kanjirakolly. Photo: Fehmida Zakeer

Kerala has been the go-to tourist destination for years, earning a reputation of being one of the most gorgeous destinations in the country. Blessed with natural beauty, a trip to the state never disappoints. Especially when there is a waterfall in the plan.

“Quick, name five waterfalls in Kerala," I quizzed a friend as part of our pre-travel trivia game. The names Athirapally, Chalakudy and Thusharagiri tumbled out quickly and then she paused, struggling to come up with another name. Just as I expected. There are some waterfalls, not quite as majestic as the well-known ones, but enchanting nevertheless, hidden inside the dense forests of the Western Ghats. And our weekend plan was to visit one of them. An overnight bus ride to Kanjirakolly was the easiest way to reach from Bengaluru.

Located on the Kerala-Karnataka border, the relatively unexplored town sits deep in the Western Ghats, surrounded by rubber, teak and cashew plantations, with the occasional pineapple copse in between. Most common are the rubber plantations—rows of trees with grooves spiralling around their trunks, a black cup perched at the tail end to collect the sap.

At our home-run hotel, one of the few accommodation options, all rooms opened up to a view of unspoilt hillside playing host to Malabar grey hornbills, Nilgiri wood pigeons, bulbuls, flycatchers and blue-winged parakeets. Big and small butterflies fluttered in the air. After breakfast, we drove to the Alakapuri waterfall, the starting point of which looked like a village square. Stall fronts were laden with chips and biscuit packets and jeeps queued in the shade of trees, waiting to ferry visitors to the falls and the viewpoint beyond. We chose to walk.

Tickets were available at a gate from where a winding, moss-covered pathway snaked for about 400m to the waterfall. Wild shrubs grew with abandon along the uneven pathway. Soon, a glint of silver flashed through the trees, and the waterfall revealed itself. A series of steps led down to the base of the 300ft cascade that hangs like a sheet over a rocky escarpment.

After spending an hour there, we walked ahead for 2km to the Sasippara viewpoint that offers a sweeping glimpse of the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in adjoining Kodagu district below. The thick cover of the jungle seemed impervious to sunlight. No wonder this is one of the most celebrated evergreen forests in the country.

Back at the hotel, we contemplated the plan for the next day. The options were to find out more about the workings of a rubber plantation or drive 30km west to the Palakkayam Thattu viewpoint.

The next day, we ditched both ideas and, instead, strolled around Kanjirakolly town, stopping over at a shanty for a coffee and a meal. Delighted to see two more tourists, the owner served us puttu and kadala curry. He stood smiling as we crumbled the logs of steamed rice interspersed with generous layers of coconut and poured in the black chickpea curry that was spiced just right.

A refreshing antidote to the states’ popular spots, Kanjirakolly was just the kind of place we wanted to explore. Both Alakapuri and the no-frills town did not disappoint.

Weekend Vacations offers suggestions on getaways that allow for short breaks from metros. The author tweets from @FehmidaZakeer.

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