Thursday, October 29, 2015

Elk Falls, Ooty

Elk Falls, Ooty
Elk Falls is situated close to the Uyillatti village at a distance of about 7 km from Kotagiri. Though this waterfall comes in full gush only in the rainy season it is worth visiting this place to get the view of the Echoing Valley of Kookal.

The Elk Falls are located in the Nilgiri district of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They can be placed below the Uyillatti village. A European house or Kannerimukku, constructed by British collector Sullivan is located near the falls. This house was built during the colonial times of the British in India, in the year 1819 and was the first British residence in Tamil Nadu. At present it can even be considered as a historical ancient monument! The two-storeyed house is now in a sad-state or ruins. A village in Kotagiri also provides accommodation facilities to the tourists in classical yet well maintained British cottages, of the pre-independent era.

The road passes through serenely laid out Badaga habitations. Though the water is fully only in the wet months, the site is always worth a visit. It commands towards the north, a spectacular view of the Echoing Valley of Kookal and a vista of exquisite surroundings.

A lofty falls with patter water which shower downstream gives the amazing scenario and surrounds with blossom green tea and coffee plantations. The finest time to visit would be the monsoon, during this time that the neighboring Kookal Valley blooms with mellow orange which said to be one of the yummy orange over the world.

Ubbalamadugu Falls (Tada Falls)

Ubbalamadugu Falls (Tada Falls)
Ubbalamadugu Falls (also called Tada Falls) is a waterfall located to the North of Sricity in the Chittoor district of India. It is coming under the Buchinaidu kandriga & Varadaiahpalem mandals. The falls are located 92 kilometers (50 mi) from Chennai and 45 kilometers (22 mi) from Srikalahasti. Tada falls also called as Ubbalamadugu Falls is in Tada sub-division of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh on the border of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Tada Falls is a popular tourist destination. The view of the verdant green surroundings amidst which the beautiful cascade tumbles down is a sheer delight. The best season to visit this place is from mid October to mid February when the rains are in full swing.
The falls are located in a forest called the Siddulaiah Kona. The relation to Lord Shiva ensures that the festival of Maha Shivrathri is a common time for people to visit.

As this water fall is located near a dense forest it is also a recommended destination for nature walks and bird watching and best sought after by trekking enthusiasts as one can trek down to the falls. Ubbalamadugu Falls forms a natural swimming pool at the base where trekkers can take a swim and rest. This place is also a preferred destination for a lot of families as there are numerous picnic spots near the falls. 

Kalki Oneness Temple and Pulicat Lake are other attractions that are located close to the Ubbalamadugu Falls and can be clubbed together for a visit. As this place is a tourist hotspot, buses, autos and taxis are available on a regular basis.
The terrain that surrounds the falls includes rocky hill formations and lush forests interspersed with a number of streams. The rugged beauty of the path that leads to the falls attracts trekking enthusiasts from all over the country. The path has a number of spots where trekkers relax and refresh themselves during the challenging ascend. The spectacular beauty of the waterfalls unfolds at the end of the 90 minute climb, giving trekkers a fitting reward and an experience to cherish.

At a distance of 29 km from Tada, 45 km from Srikalahasti, 85 km from Tirupati, 92 km from Chennai, 130 km from Nellore and 156 km from Chittoor, Tada falls or Ubbalamadugu Falls is situated in Varadaiahpalem mandal of Chittoor district. It is situated on the border of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
To reach the falls visitors have go through the Varadaiahpalem village, about 12 km from Tada falls. There is only 7 km rugged path and the remaining distance has to be trekked through. SUVs or vehicles with high ground clearance are best suited to reach the trekking starting point. Autos can also be hired from Varadaiahpalem village to the trekking starting point. There is a forest check post on the way where visitors need to pay Rs 50 per vehicle and Rs 50 for camera. There is limited guidance in the form of arrow marks and it is advisable to hire a villager as guide in Varadaiahpalem village. The total trek distance would be about 10 km both ways, which is somewhat difficult and advisable only for physically fit people.

As soon as you enter the forest you need to cross one small bridge. One can witness the crystal clear water throughout the journey. Initial trek for about 1.5 km is easy and there is a stream beside Shiva temple on the way to the falls. The path to the falls runs beside the stream. Visitors encounter the first tier of the falls which is a beautiful place amidst thick forest and rocky formations with a pool of water. The second tier of the falls is more beautiful amidst serene location, but it demands tough trek through steep boulders.

Last ATM point, snacks/ water purchasing shops are at Tada town. There are frequent buses and auto to Varadaiahpalem from Tada. 
Best season to visit Tada falls is post monsoon season that is from October to January.

This trek can't be done with children and elder persons.
Water Falls:
Ubbalamadugu Falls rise from a height of 100 meters and are located in the Kaambakam Forest, also known as Siddulaiah Kona. The waterfall is accessible at the point of origin and the entire scenery at this location is splendid. To reach the place of origin, you will have to climb many small hills. Along the way you will come across arrow marks that will lead you to the destination. After a trek of 4 to 5 kms you will get the first sight of a pool of water. By about 100 meters you can get a complete view of the waterfalls, which is a breathtaking sight.

Camping and Trekking:
Ubbalamadugu Falls and the surroundings are ideal for hiking, trekking and picnicking. While trekking to the waterfalls it is important to be very careful as the huge boulders are slippery due to the continuous flow of water.

The actual trek starts after you reach the base camp. The total trek distance would be about 10kms to and from with nearly 4kms in real rocky conditions. Once you reach the base camp which is nothing but a slightly larger open space on this gravel road. If you are in an SUV/bike, continue further till you reach a small stream of water. The depth is only around a foot. So you can cross it comfortably and then park the vehicle there. The distance between these two camps is just a furlong.
Trekkers have to cross a small stream after the starting point. A small word of caution: Don't get excited on seeing the water and get into it with your shoes on. It will become really tough to trek with wet soles.
Once you cross this small stream the walk continues till you reach a mud-path. Just follow this mud-path and you will first go up the hill and then down the hill. It is quite tricky to follow the path as in some places only rocks are seen and there is absolutely nothing to indicate a path.

Keep walking along the mud-path and you will cross another stream. Continue walking on the mud-path and around 30mins later you will reach a Siva Temple. This is the last place where you can sit comfortably and have food, if you haven't had any so far. If you don't reach the Siva temple within an hour and half of starting the trek, then you have lost your way. Use the time tested method of following the stream and proceed.
After this point there is no proper path and you have to rely on the direction shown people who are around the Siva Temple. You have to cross the stream and then look for a path. You will find a small clearing and this might help you on the way forward. From here on, the trek starts to become difficult. You encounter rocks and millipedes on those rocks on the way forward. (Remember to listen for the stream from this point on. This would be very helpful.)

Some of the rocks are pretty big and it would helpful if someone who is a good trekker is around. You have to climb nearly 10ft at times and some of the formations are also difficult. There are two falls, but only one can be found during peak summer before the rains have started.
The Day is incomplete without a Camera to click the Crystal clear Waters.
The ideal time to visit Tada is between August-December when the sun is a little less intense. The worst time is March-June.
Siddulaiah Temple:
There is a Siddulaiah Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is popular in this region. The temple is situated in the Ubbalamadugu village near Chittoor and Nellore. The location of this temple gives the name Siddulaiah Kona to this place. Situated close to Ubbalamadugu Waterfalls, this place is also frequented by tourists and pilgrims. During Maha Shivrathri, the temple is thronged by ardent devotees. 
Travel Tips:
First go to Tada which is on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. You can take NH-5 from Chennai and drive for about 92 kilometers to reach Tada. Just before you enter the town Tada, you hit the Kaalahasthi Road going west off NH-5. Take this road and go another 10 to 15 kilometers till you hit Varadaiah Palem. Ask any local for directions to Ubbalamadugu Falls. That is the actual name of the Falls. In fact the falls are nearer to Kaalahasthi than to Tada. However since the approach is from Tada, outsiders call it Tada Falls.
The road from Varadaiah Palem to Ubbalamadugu check post is fairly good. If you are traveling in anything other than an SUV or Motorbike, be very careful and drive slowly. Once you hit the check post, listen patiently to all the warnings from the ranger-watchman and pay 50 rupees per vehicle.
After this point, there is no proper road. All you see is an endless stretch of about two meters width comprising of small to medium sized rocks amidst dense vegetation. The locals call it a road. Again, if you are not in an SUV or a bike, the safest speed on this road is 5 kilometers per hour. Anything more than that is going to break your axle into two if not three.
Backpacks are a must. This is Godforsaken land. You won’t get anything. In fact you won’t see a human face after the first two kilometers. So pack your backpacks adequately. Do NOT carry a lot of water. Then it will be a additional burden for you as you have to carry all along the way. Tada falls water is definitely much better and clearer than the so called mineral water. It is best to carry a one-liter bottle of water in every backpack. You can fill it up all through the trek. There is a water stream running all along the trek path. The water is crystal clear.
Carry some medication Painkillers, Mosquito repellents, bandage, Dettol and a pair of scissors with some clean cloth.
From base camp till you reach the Siva Temple, Path will be good & after this you have to cross the water stream. Depth varies from 5 feet to 2 feet. Be careful while crossing this stream. There are lots of submerged boulders.
Once you cross this point, there is no such thing as a path. You need to trek on the rocks/boulders/logs/trees etc to go upstream towards the water falls. Some rocks are taller than five meters and some are steeper than you can imagine. A rope will come in handy in conquering these rocks. When you come to the stage where you are greeted with an almost formidable rock formation, do not get disheartened. This is the best place of Tada Falls. You can see a clear water stream and a small waterfall sandwiched between two boulders. Climb those boulders and sit under those falls.
Spend as much time as you can in this point. Then gather all your energy and climb that rock formation. Life is going to be easy once you conquer this formation. All you have to do next is to climb the hill at an angle of 60 degrees for one more kilometer and then climb down at the same angle for another kilometer. You will reach the Tada Falls. You need at least two hours to reach the Sivalayam. So make sure you reach this point before the sun sets.
Eat Outs:
Commercialization of this place hasn't begun as on date. So, it is still a nice spot for trekking without the usual buzz of people and shops surrounding you. There are small canteens and grocery stores at Tada, where you can buy snacks or water. Locally the falls is called "Ubbalamadugu falls". On the national highway there is Swathi restaurant (A/C) opposite to SBI ATM and next to TADA police station, were you can find south, north Indian and Chinese dishes.
Tada is a rapidly growing centre with good hotels and restaurants. Outdoor enthusiasts can stay at Sricity which offers tented camp with outdoor activities like kayaking, cycling etc.
AP Camping:
Opp: Mamanduru
By Personal Vehicle:
To reach Tada, Cross the Padi junction in Chennai and take the red hills route and join NH-5. Drive for about 60Kms and you will reach Tada town. Before you reach Tada you will cross the AP check post. If you are taking taxis, then you will have to shell out permit tax here (Rs.250 for Small cars) and it is pretty high for a Tata Sumo or Tempo Traveller. It might be cost effective to take 2 small cars compared to a Tata Sumo.
Once you reach Tada, take the left which is right next to the bridge and you will reach Varadaiah Palem. Ask the people for directions from here. You have to take a left turn to reach Tada falls and there are absolutely no indications at this point. You can reach this place from Kaalahasthi too.
By Bus:
SETC buses ply from Koyambedu, Chennai (bus no.114) which drop drops you at Varadaiah Palem (the last human settlement on the way to TADA falls). From Varadaiah Palem, Tada falls forest department check point is around 8 kms. Book an Auto from Varadaiah Palem to the Tada falls forest check point. It costs around 150-200 rupees depending upon your bargaining skills.
By Train:
Trains towards Sullurpeta from Chennai Central pass through Tada railway station. Frequency of the local train is good and almost one train every two hours and the last train from Tada to Chennai leaves at 8:30 pm.
By Air:
Nearest Domestic & International Airport is Chennai.
City Taxi (+918297282979) is another reliable taxi service at Tada.