Of friends, waterfalls and a python: My trip to Thommankuthu

As the summer began to set in, I dreamt of taking long dips in cold body of water and enjoy the whispers of the cool breeze. To my surprise, my deepest desire had come true. Soon, I was all set for a trip to Thommankuthu’s Palangan Falls. The experience was one of a kind and was most memorable for I was accompanied by my favorite group of trekkers.

Where is it?

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Thommankuthu is situated in Idukki, a district in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is, approximately, a two-hour-long drive from the heart of Ernakulam city. You could even consider taking a state transport bus to Thodupuzha and resort to an alternative means of transport to the base of the trek.

The journey

We set to Thommankuthu at 6.45 am. At around 7.45 am, we had halted at a hotel en route to grab a quick bite before we continued our journey to the destination. We reached the destination by 9.30 am. Soon, we were headed towards one of the thickest deciduous forests in the state of Kerala. It could be noted that special permission has to be sought from the forest authorities before venturing into the ‘trekkers’ path. The waterfalls at Thommankuthu are quite popular. Then again, my trekking troupe and I were headed to the waterfalls with many challenges.

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The six-kilometre long trek felt more than a walk in the park. For those of you who aren’t accustomed to walking along rocky lands or even walking barefoot, this exercise is indeed a test of determination and endurance. We also spotted a few medicinal plants on our way. As the task grew more challenging at each phase, many members of the group resorted to using green bamboo sticks while passing through thick shrubs and slippery pathways.

Our friend – Python

After walking for two hours, crossing streams and various uneven paths, we had finally reached out destination – The Palangan Waterfall. Though not as tall as one would imagine it to be, the place was indeed paradise on earth. With the water gushing down from a height, through the fern on the stone structure, it was worth all the effort that we had undertaken.

It was not long before the team of trekkers and I had made up our minds to taking a dip in the cold yet fresh water in the surrounding area. A few minutes into the swimming session; we had encountered a most unusual sight. “Do you see that flower on the bark of the tree?” said one of the trekkers. Indeed, I spotted a most usual thing on a bark, that resembled a bird’s nest. It was not until we had a closer look, did we realize that the bird’s nest was a fine example of the camouflaged lifestyle. “A python,” I yelled. We were fortunate that the reptile was not disturbed in any manner and exercised caution. Lest it chose to treat itself to “human-crushed pudding”!

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The Python. Photo: Anuradha

Post the refreshing swimming session, lunch was served. We, then, heading back to our base. If you wondered which of the two ways were tougher, I would say that the trek back was tiresome.  Unlike most treks, where one could clearly define the terms ‘uphill’ and ‘downhill,’ this was what one could call – the ultimate way home! Relieved, we discarded the bamboo sticks and were glad to see even land again.

All in all, I would say that the trek is worth a shot!

Quick facts:

Best season: The summers might be a good time to explore the forests, for there are fewer leeches in the area. But the area around the waterfalls is likely to be dry. I recommend that you visit these areas between September and January.

Location: Idukki, Kerala state, India

Preferred group size: Not more than 20 in a group

Must-haves: Water, first-aid kit, glucose, oral rehydration solution (Carry a small backpack to store your wallet and mobile phones. You could even carry a battery charger. While DSLRs look fascinating, it is wiser to carry a small and lighter camera which could be stored in your backpack. In a nutshell – the lesser, the better)

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