Thodupuzha, Idukki, Kerala 685581, India
A series of ten waterfalls with natural pools at each of its bottom, set in the charming background of serene deep green forest.
Location of Thommankuthu Waterfalls
More about Thommankuthu Waterfalls
Thommankuthu Waterfall is not a single fall, but a series of waterfalls set in a 12 km hiking stretch on river Kaliyar. The falls are inside the forest with each having pools at its bottom which are good for a dive. There are ten falls in total, all located at a distance from each other.
The ten steps of the waterfalls are Thommankuth (0km), Ezhunilakuth (600m), Thenkuzhikuth (1.5km), Chekuthankuth (4km), Palunkankuth (5km), Kudachiyarkuth (6km), Muthikuth (6.5 km), Nakkayamkuth (8km), Thekkanthonikuth (10km) and Koovalamkuth (12km). These 10 falls make Thommankuthu one of the most beautiful as well adventurous waterfall of Kerala State.
While the first seven are accessible for all the visitors, the last three which are located very far from the entrance can be accessed only through a trek offered during the months between November and May. The 12 km trek covering the entire stretch of the falls can be done only with the help of the forest department and their trained guides.
Caves and viewpoints near Thommankuthu Waterfalls
In addition to the waterfalls, there are many caves and viewpoints in its vicinity which makes the hike even more adventurous. There are seven caves in total- Puappothu (0km) , Palunkan (3km), Muthimuth (5.5km), Makkal (12km), Adappan (14km), Manthikkanam (17km) and Narakkan (18km). And there are five viewpoints- Kurisumala (2km), Chanjapara (2.5km), Nellimudi (3km), Thoppimudi (5km) and Bheeman coat and chair (16km).
Some of these caves and viewpoints can be seen during a regular visit but many are accessible only during the long curated trek from the forest department.
Myths and believes surrounding Thommankuthu Waterfalls
A lot of interesting stories and myths circulate regarding the name of the waterfall. The most popular among them is that the name Thommankuthu came from a variation of the name of a tribal leader named ‘Thumman’ who was washed away in the waterfall. Thommankuthu means ‘rapids of thomman’.
Another story is connected to its discovery. It is believed that the falls were discovered by a hunter named Thommachen Kuruvinakunnel in the late 1920’s and they were given a short form of his name. He is also believed to have a role in the discovery of location of the Idukki Dam site. Idukki Dam is one of the largest arch dams in Asia.
There are lots of tribal communities in the vicinities of the falls, as well as many caves. A popular theory circulates that says that during pre-historic times, these caves hosted tribal settlements. It is also believed that the water flowing through the falls possess magical powers. The locals believe that the pools in the stream were once the bathing places of nymphs, hence the water flowing through has magical healing powers.
Hiking through the trails of Thommankuthu Waterfalls
Upon reaching the gates of the falls, most of the visitors might get disappointed as the first fall is very short in height. The real adventure begins when the hiking trail starts. The trail covered by fallen leaves and twigs at its sides goes through an area filled with giant black millipedes. Although they are harmless, they are huge with a length of about 10- 15 cm and a girth of 3 cm or so.
From the entry point of the falls, the long stretch of hike is through the beauty of lush green forest. Among the many falls at Thommankuthu, none of them are very tall. Each of the falls are between 5 to 10 meters in height. Majority of the hiking stretches are marked with railings that runs along the the banks of the river for easiness of climbing.
Around seven of the total ten waterfalls can be seen during the trail. Set amidst greenery and falling from the dark rocky faces. The water flowing through them is clear and cold most of the time. There are huge trees around as well - some bending so much that they look like they are falling, some with hanging roots that could carry weight of a few people easily. You can also find a watch tower made of bamboo for bird watching.
Upon covering almost 6 km, the trail closes and the rest of it can be done only in the summer with the help of guides. One of the tallest waterfalls in the series at a height of 30 meters sits on that portion of the trail. One of the caves in the trail is home to numerous bats as well.
Getting to Thommankuthu Waterfalls and best time to visit
Thommankuthu Waterfalls are situated in Idukki District of Kerala State in Southern India. The nearest small town is Karimannoor (10km) and nearest large town is at Thodupuzha (20km). The nearest major railway stations are in Aluva (68km) and Ernakulam (71km). From Aluva and Ernakulam there are direct buses to Thodupuzha. From Thodupuzha, there are buses to Karimannoor. From Karimanoor to the falls area, the road is narrow and you might have to either take a rikshaw/ taxi or hike 10km to the falls.
Although the falls are open throughout the year, the best time to visit will be from November to May when the long trek is open to visitors. During June to October, the place will be covered in thick greenery and the river will be flowing with the maximum amount of water it can carry. But it is also the period when leeches flourish.