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Hiking through the jungle to Meenmutty Waterfalls, Kallar

Last year, 2019, was quite a milestone year in my life. I was crossing into a new phase, age-wise (No, I am not telling you how old I am!). The year began on a good note. I got to visit Hampi in South India with a good friend. Then, I met with an accident and ended up with multiple stitches on my right foot, around the same spot where I had had a fractured bone couple of years before. After that, I had an eye infection that left me with a lot of swelling and pain. My life was a mess. But it was a milestone year. I wanted to do something special for myself. So, I decided to learn surfing. I don’t know how to swim, but I made up my mind I would learn surfing. I packed my bags and went to Kovalam, Kerala, close to where a close friend of mine lives, in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala.

Surfing lessons took a good 2-3 hours of my day, and a lot of energy too. But I also wanted to explore more during the rest of my time there. I decided to explore locations around Kovalam and Trivandrum. And that’s where I made the plan to visit Ponmudi. I read it is a beautiful location with pleasant weather and lovely hills. Along the way to Ponmudi from Kovalam, you could take a small detour and hike through the forest to the Meenmutty Waterfalls along the Kallar river. And I thought, why not?

There are Meenmutty waterfalls in Wayanad too. The waterfalls I am talking about are the same as those. The one I am talking about is like 45 km away from Trivandrum in the Trivandrum district, on the Kallar river, on way to Ponmudi hilltop.

The river Kallar flows through the region. ‘Kallu’ means ‘stone’ and ‘Aru’ means ‘river’, hence the name Kallar. The Kallar has large smooth boulders and small shiny pebbles all along its course here. The hike to the Meenmutty waterfalls goes straight through deep forests, parallel to the flowing river. It is one of the most famous forest trails in the area. The trail can be hard to traverse during the rainy season. I visited in November-end, and it was rainy and chilly then. There is a Tourist Facilitation Center run by the District Tourism Promotion Council to help the visitors hiking the trail.

Before beginning the hike, you can grab a cup of coffee with some snacks at the café. I would suggest you keep it light. The hike takes you up and down through the forest. Doing that can be challenging with a full stomach. Do not forget to carry plenty of water. The forest is humid, the hiking will make you sweat, and you don’t want to be dehydrated in the middle of the forest.

I began the hike in the morning hours, around 10 AM. I wanted to enjoy the hike before it got too hot and humid. Thankfully, the weather was very cool and pleasant that day. The hike would take about 1-1.5 hours. I began the hike in the morning hours, around 10 AM. I wanted to enjoy the hike before it got too hot and humid. Thankfully, the weather was very cool and pleasant that day. The hike would take about 1-1.5 hours.

You need to wear a pair of very, very good shoes for this hike. There are some slippery areas, some climbing to do, and a good pair of shoes is necessary. Besides, You could even wear long boots over the shoes. The forest is full of leeches who will latch on to you through your shoes, your socks, even your jeans. While hiking to Meenmutty waterfalls, I became a brunch for about 30 or so leeches and I had marks on my feet where they had bitten for me till months later, not to say the itching for the next few days. So, wear clothes that fully cover your body. Do not wear heels, flip flops, or any casual gear. Carry leech-repelling aids or sprays. And check for leeches from time to time, you won’t easily realize sometimes they have latched on to you.

The trail begins downstream at Kallar village. There is are washrooms at the starting point. There is also a clearing in the riverbank, from where you can take a dip in the river, or just sit on one of the boulders dipping your feet in the water and enjoy the peace & calm. The trail is flanked by gigantic trees with looping branches forming a dense canopy. The canopy is so thick that there are very few places where Sunlight can fully penetrate, and it causes beautiful shadow patterns on the stones and paths. You won’t hear any sounds along the trail except sounds of nature – birds chirping, breeze blowing through the trees, the river flowing beside the trail. The trail is marked out and has a supporting railing bordering it to prevent anyone from accidentally slipping down into the river. If you meet someone coming in the opposite direction, you might need to squeeze a bit in some places to be able to cross through.

There are multiple spots along the trail where you can take a break and catch your breath. Its a relatively easy trail, just about 2km or so long, but don’t rush it. You’re here to be one with nature, to leave the noisy city behind, there’s no need to rush. Take breaks, enjoy nature. Click pictures. Just don’t litter the place. Don’t play your loud music and put on your headphones. You can do that in your usual life any day, but when do you get to be amidst such untouched, undisturbed nature?

And did I say beware of the leeches? Please do. A friend had recommended that you can carry salt with you for this. Whenever you find a leech that’s bitten and stuck itself to you feasting on your delicious human blood, put some salt on it. He says, eventually the leech would blow up and fall off. I don’t have that kind of patience, there’s a foreign parasite that’s latched on to me and is feasting on my blood, I am already freaking out, I need to take it off right away. You can choose for yourself how you’d like to tackle it.

The Meenmutty Waterfalls are not as majestic as the Athirapilly waterfalls in Thrissur (aka Bahubali waterfalls). But this no competition. After the forest hike, Meenmutty waterfalls offer you a spectacular view, and will definitely bowl you over. There is a two-story viewing platform to see the waterfalls, click pictures, and unwind. Visitors are not allowed to go beyond this point and would need to see the cascading waterfalls from this safe distance.

My local guide told me that earlier visitors were allowed to go all the way up to the waterfalls. But, as it always happens, some miscreants did unspeakable acts, and now nobody can get close to the waterfalls beyond the viewing point. In a way, that’s good. Nature should be left untouched and undisturbed, so being further is good. And safe.

If you ever wanted to really understand the meaning of tranquil, Meenmutty falls is where you need to come and experience it. It is one of the best forest hikes I have ever done. It is easy and beautiful every step of the way. There are very few places that have made me feel so peaceful. Had I been living in Trivandrum or somewhere around the place, this would be where I would like to spend my Sunday mornings, having all the week’s stress and frustration ease out of every pore of my body, and breath in the peace and calm surroundings. So, if you’re in the area, make sure you check out this forest hike, it is not to be missed. Also, once you return, chill out by the river near the starting point. Please don’t litter the place, let everyone enjoy the beauty of nature.

How to reach Meenmutty Waterfalls, Kallar?

The nearest railway station and airport to Kallar is Trivandrum, which is well-connected to all major cities across India and also has an international air terminal. From Trivandrum, you can drive down or take a cab to Kallar. KSRTC also has regular buses plying to Kallar from Trivandrum and other parts of the state.

When to visit Meenmutty Waterfalls, Kallar?

The best time to visit Meenmutty waterfalls is after the rains have subsided. Avoid visiting during the monsoons. Mid-November to March is the best time to hike through the Meenmutty waterfalls.

If you have visited the Meenmutty waterfalls, tell me how your hike was in the comments. If you are planning to visit sometime soon and have any questions, drop in a line, I will be happy to help.

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