BANGALORE: As the adage goes: You don’t see what is in your house when you are busy chasing the world. It came true in the case of Meenmutty falls. Situated in a village near Vaduvanchal, in Kerala, it was only a few kilometres — a twenty minute drive — from the family home. Stories spun from the grandmother’s pallu narrate instances where the forest has ‘swallowed people’ or how ‘tigers and elephants have attacked human intruders’ in the dense forests surrounding the falls.
This natural treasure is now on public display for nine months in a year but only the truly fit get to see all the three tiers of the falls. Meenmutty is the largest waterfall in Wayanad District, Kerala. The first tier begins as a gurgling stream conducting a conversation with a series of boulders. The actual falls are hidden deep within the rocks, with only the sound giving away the ferocity of the falls.
The view from the top is that of the valley and presents varying shades of green with the river (called by various names including karapuzha) shining like a lightning bolt. The river flows into the sea at Calicut and passes through some of the dense parts of the Western Ghat forests.
This section of stream flows from a private tea estate in Tamil Nadu into Kerala. Since, the trek leading up the first tier of falls is now banned due to the level of difficulty and the number of deaths due to accidents, the view can now be caught only from this private estate’s premises.
Most tourists are satisfied with trekking to the tier II of the falls, often called the main falls or Meenmutty Falls. From the junction is a jeep track that leads to a Kerala Forest Department outpost. It is compulsory to hire a guide and it is `300 for a group of ten people.
After a small trek through a coffee plantation, the forest trail begins. Though the tourism Department has reinforced the trail with ropes, makeshift bamboo railings, and sandbag steps, the rain makes it a
With every turn, steeple or climb, the view of the valley and the surroundings mountains do not cease to amaze the viewer.
After a two-kilometre trek, the roar of the falls can be heard. As the guide leads you down to the falls, the tantalising views of the falls and the smell of the mist invigorates the visitors and keeps them going. Since tourists can swim in the water here in summer, Meenmutty is very popular among the young. As the last climb is the most difficult, the trees there have been cleared and makeshift seats have been created for people to enjoy the view. The more adventurous ones climb down for a swim in the shallow part of the pool even as water and mist from the falls wafts around and wraps the tourists into the experience.
The third tier is not so popular as the trek is steep and difficult. At the end of the trek, the falls can be viewed only from a distance. As the tourists return to civilisation, enterprising locals offer bottles of butter milk to slake the thirst. But the micro droplets of water linger in your hair and the white, blue, brown and green images get printed in the mind’s eye.