Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Talakona waterfalls near Tirupati AP

Back from a 36 hour trip to Talakona waterfalls, 50 kms from Tirupati, near Kodur in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh. Nice place-An ideal weekend destination from Chennai (220 kms) and Bangalore (300 kms). Two beautiful waterfalls, never ending forest for trekking and exploration, a community operated guest house and friendly locals make this a good place to spend couple of days-either relax amidst the nature or do a bit of adventure exploring the Sheshachalapuram range of Venkateswara reserve forest. This outing was also through CTC again like few of my recent treks and there were 28 of us in total, packed in one Santro, one Qualis (rented) and a Mahindra tourister (rented)- NO, not on self drive, I swear :)


We could have left on Saturday morning, but the trip was planned specially for those who work on Saturday, hence we started by Saturday evening. Starting from Tidel park and picking up people en-route, we finally left Koyambedu by 6.30 PM as against the targeted 5.30 PM. (This time all participants were on time, only vehicles came in late) Though it is just 220 kms from Chennai, the roads were bad (There’re more than one route to reach-I am not sure which one we took) and add to that we did a mistake of hiring a 16 seater Mahindra Tourister, which just couldn’t go at a decent speed on highways and moved at snail's pace, slowing the group further. (DO NOT RENT this vehicle for outstation travel-it comes cheaper than Force Traveler and takes more people, but is only suited for city rides and not highways) This, coupled with factors like having to stop for fuel, permits, taxes, confusion over the route etc made us reach our destination at an unearthly 2.30 AM,(8 hours for 220 kms or 27.5 kmph), outsmarting all provisions one might have kept for possible delays. But then, the forest department officials and guest house staff were very friendly. Even at that odd time, one forest department jeep escorted us to the guest house and the staff there quickly made provisions for extra beds etc, so that we could go to sleep without much delay. We saw the Tamil version of Telugu popular movie- Bommarillu on the way. Raja the deer at Talakona Guest House
This guest house is operated by local people (under the banner of their community and with guidance from Forest department) and rates are pretty cheap. The Loghut (A one bedroom, elevated structure-ref pics) costs around Rs 400 per day and the Dormitory costs Rs 1000 per day (Can comfortably accommodate a group of 10-15 people with extra beds). There’re only 2 LogHuts and 2 dorms available, so better plan in advance. (I saw one more forest guest house near the temple, but that was a normal building-nothing special in any way. Tirupati is the nearest town if you want more options). The guest house campus is very good- a water stream flows next to it-anytime one can go for a dip or a swim, they have a deer as a pet (named Raja), which is naturally reluctant to come close to strangers, but will come near and readily accept food if offered. There is a hanging bridge on which one can go for a walk anytime. Over crowded population of monkeys is something you need to watch out for. Protect your belongings from being snatched away by them. We didn't spot any sort of animals during the trek but there were several boards on the way with paintings of various animals and birds, with messages related to forest and wildlife conservation.


Breakfast was good and PuLiyogare was packed for lunch. They insisted that we buy water bottles from them, stating that “it was found recently that water on the hill is contaminated with some iron related substance”. We didn’t find merit in that statement and felt it is said purely to scare us and make us buy water from them. We anyway had good supply of drinking water with us. 9.30 or 10 AM in the morning was the time when we finally left the guest house for the trek. Trek was fairly easy, with well established trails. Since we as first times were not familiar with the terrain we commissioned 2 guides. At around 12 Noon we reached the first waterfalls (named Etikoppaka falls, the first image you see on top of this post), after a break at a small stream (which formed another waterfalls which we were going to see later in the day). The place is very scenic (see pic), but the lake is not that friendly for amateur swimmers-the water is either too shallow (near the shore) or suddenly too deep. But then it is good enough for a good refreshment.

After spending nearly 2 hours we started for a place 30 mins away where we would stop and have lunch. During this walk we spotted a camera man recording our walk. Our organizer enquired with a ‘director like looking’ person (Name-B.V.Ramana) on who are they and what they are doing. The conversation thus struck resulted eating up 30 minutes. We learnt that it was a local telugu devotional channel (Name: SV Bhakti Channel) owned by TTD (Tirupati Tirumala Devastanam) they were doing a documentary on Talakona and wanted to record few clippings of our organizer speaking about our experience in Talakona and all. It’s not every day that you get a chance to see yourself in a TV (never mind that channel is hitherto unheard of). I simply stood in the frame upon request along with my bag as they wanted more crowd, but others had gone far ahead and were in no mood to walk back all the way. [Related:
Watch me in an ETV Kannada program] The recording went on for couple of minute and was okayed in the first shot. The director didn’t have an email address to offer-not sure how he operates without one.


When we finally finished shooting, subsequent conversation and declared pack-up, rest of the team had finished their lunch and was waiting. Next on the agenda was to visit some British Bungalow somewhere uphill, but I understand we had to stop and start return journey, as it was beyond 3.30PM and our objective was to return to base by 1730 hours. On the return journey a villager asked for some fever tablet, as someone is having high fever. Hema had some paracetamol and we gave him two tablets. He enquired us on the dosage and returned with a thankful eye. Just see how difficult life in these places can be. One may have to walk for miles before you could meet another human being-let alone basic facilities and luxuries. Hope his family member who was suffering from fever recovered fully.

We walked down the hill though using steps and soon landed at another water fall- named Gunjana Falls, which is 3 times bigger than the earlier one and most popular of all Talakona falls. This water fall forms out of the stream we’d crossed in the morning uphill, which abruptly gushes out of the rocky mountain to fall a lengthy, powerful eye catching fall. Walkway have been constructed in the middle of this falls- people can walk in and take shower under the falls, water flows further down the vertical rock into a small lake (not as good as the one we saw earlier). Talakona falls are fairly popular as tourist places. There is a motor able road to take people near the water fall area and well built walk ways till the falls. The other waterfall we went in the morning needed several kms of walking in the woods, hence was relatively undisturbed. Many trees had several pieces of cloths tied to them. Some religious belief or customary I assume.

Finally by 5.50-6 PM the first batch was back in the guest house. Few of those who reached early didn’t have the room keys and had to wait for others to come. Few took their own time to get ready keeping everyone waiting till then, we took off by 7 PM. Return journey took equal amount of time , with a stop for dinner at Tirupati and we reached Chennai (Koyambedu) by about 2 AM. Per head expense was around Rs 810, which I feel is reasonable.



Second photo courtesy: Bala. Other photos by author
CTC, me & Google groups * Tada * Parvathamale, Nagala & Nagari * Yelagiri * Binsar, Uttarakhand * Wayanad, Kerala * Skandagiri Bangalore * Chandragiri Fort



July 2010 Update: Revisited this place last weekend. For contact details of the forest department guest house and driving directions, check this post

24 comments:

Mridula said...

That is a big group Shrinidhi, o who was driving the Mahindra Tourister? You surely are going places!

Kowshick and company...... said...

Good writeup eNidhi.....

Keep up your good job.....

Mohan said...

My roots point back to Chittor district. It is a nice place Shrinidhi. My granny used to tell me that the waterfall and the surrounding forests were abundant of medicinal values. Many people used to visit this place to get ayurvedic herbs. Also, I recall my granny saying that the people do walk through Talakona enroute to Tirumala God's darshan. However, that is a pedestrian path and need to walk with an experienced person to avoid missing through woods! Nice write up.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Mridula

Yes, it is a relatively strong head count. I belive CTC had much bigger numbers than that.

NO. I swear I was not driving that Tourister... :)

But FYI I have a coast to coast self drive expedition planned for this month end...

@ Kowshick
Thanks

@ Mohan
Thanks for that additional information. Yes we did spot many people walking barefoot towards Tirupati...

zoram said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aravind GJ said...

Very nice write-up. I was not aware of these falls. Need to visit some time.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Aravind. Do visit this place sometimes...

Sajeesh said...

Hi Shrinidhi, I am sajeesh here who was there along with u for talakona trek..Hope u remember me. This is a nice writeup about our trek. If I read this even after some time I will surely colect the reminiscences about the trek by reading this writeup...Keep up ur work...

Venks said...

Thank you Shrinidhi, your blog on the Talakona is very inspiring! I'm planning to visit Tirupati in Jan/Feb with my wife and our 1 year old son. We'd most likely rent a Tata Sumo. Wondering if I can enjoy any good waterfalls nearby... (as we have a baby we can't do much walking). I'd appreciate if you could suggest something. Thanks again.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Venks,

The second waterfall in Talakona- Gunjana, is accessible without much walk- vehicle goes very close- you'll have to walk final 500 meters or so...

Hope this helps. I am not much familiar with other falls (if any) near Tirupati. Sorry for that

Visky said...

Shrinidhi,
very nice review.. this helps a lot of ppl to visit places like these.. thanks for the write up! Good Job!
Vishal

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Vishal. Glad you found it useful

copyhead said...

hey, nice post. i'm planning to visit the lord and seek his blessings tomorrow. and i plan to trek it up through the alternate route (not the steps route - alipiri) called chandagiri. it's supposed to be tougher since its through the jungle, but much shorter. It's 6kms apparently, as apposed to 14.5kms steps route. Does the trail pass through this place? do you anyone who can guide me through the trail?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Copyhead,

Unfortunately I am not in a position to answer your question. I do not know. I went there only once. Sorry.

sreejith said...

Hi Shrinidhi,

We are a group of Guys from Chennai TCS. We are planning to go to Thalakona Waterfalls this month-end. Can you please get me the contact numbers of the Community Guest Housein Talakona so that we can book it in advance.

Regards,
Jithu

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Jithu,
I am sorry I missed to reply to the ad. Don't want to list their contact numbers in public as I don't have their permission to do so. Mail me at admin@enidhi.net, I'll pass on the contact (nearly an year old info-hope they are still valid)

May be you already visited it and returned. Tell us how was it

Anonymous said...

can u pls get me some contact details f pepl der????

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Pls try this no of Forest dept 08584- 243048 (its a 2 year old info.. Assume its still fine)

Tirupati Hotels said...

Hi Shrinidhi,

Nice information. Next month me and my family members are planning to go to tirupati and talakona waterfalls. Can u help me to how to reach talakona...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Reach Tirupati...

People will guide you further

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I drove to Talakona again last weekend. Here're some more info:

Directions:
From Tirupati, fool proof way is to head towards Bangalore, take right at Chandragiri Fort, enter Chandragiri town, take help of locals, they'll guide you to towards Talakona. Drive straight and follow signboards for turns.

Refer this post for contact details of guest house

http://www.enidhi.net/2010/07/talakona-forest-dept-guesthouse-contact.html

Marmaris Hotels said...

wow this trip seems to be fun, I dont even know where is Tirupati but seems like a good place to explore to wonders of nature, and even the nipa hut hotel seems nice and feel different. and finding a deer would be an added bonus!

Anonymous said...

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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