Monday, April 29, 2024

10th Century Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple: Lesser Known Architectural Marvel of South India

Reflections of the gorgeous Kailasanathar Temple at Brahmadesam

It is one of the largest temples of its time with three gopurams and seven vimanas. The theme of this temple seems to be on size like the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur. It is home to a swayambhu lingam that is one of the three swayambhu lingams along the Gadananathi river (the other two being the Sivasailam temple and the Valiswara temple at Thiruvaliswaram). It is one of the shrines of the Vaippu sthalams sung by Tamil Saivite Nayanar Appar. It is considered as the oldest amongst the ‘Nava Kailayam” temples and it is also a Navagraha Sthalam of Surya Deva. It is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to do well in education. It was built by the Cholas and key additions were made by the Cheras, Pandyas, Hoysalas and Nayakas. Lord Brahma and his grandson Romasa Maharishi worshipped Lord Shiva here. I am talking about the 10th century Kailasanathar temple at Brahmadesam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

The Kailasanathar temple at Brahmadesam was originally built in the 10th century under the reign of Raja Raja Chola I. During the reign of Raja Raja Chola I, this village was donated for Vedic scholars for chanting the four Vedas and hence named as Chaturveda Mangalam or Brahmadhayam. The original temple, including the sanctum, ardhamandapa and mukhamandapa were built by the Cholas. The Pandya kings built a few more mandapas. The intricate wooden decors at the roof of the mandapa and the wooden doors at the entrance were carried out by the Chera kings. The seven storied Rajagopuram in the front, the five storied gopuram at the back and the compound wall were constructed by King Viswanatha Nayaka, who ruled from Tirunelveli. Hoysala kings also made some structural additions to this shrine. There is a vantage point (that is marked) inside the temple where all the gopurams and vimanas can be seen together. This is where you will be awed at the gargantuan size of this temple. No travel site or travel guide talks about this temple. This magnificent masterpiece is definitely one of the best temple destinations in South India.

Beautiful mandapam entrance at Brahmadesam temple similar to Airavateeswara Temple

The Kailasanathar temple is rich in sculptural wealth. It is home to five Shiva lingams with separate sanctum sanctorum in the temple. They are:

1) Kailasanathar

2) Badari Vaneswarar

3) Viswanathar with Visalakshi

Beautiful Natarajar Utsava Murthy at Brahmadesam Temple

4) Arunachaleswarar with Unnamalai

5) Sundareswarar with Meenakshi

Goddess Brihannayaki or Periya Nayaki is extremely beautiful. She is in a standing posture with a a lotus in her right hand. There is a unique sannadhi for Lord Gangalanathar standing seven feet tall where he has a Jata Mukuta (hair dressed like a crown) and big ear rings. He has four arms. He carries a drum (dhakka) in his left lower arm and he beats the drum with a stick (bana) with his lower right arm. His upper right arm is stretched downwards in the Kataka (crab) posture and his upper left arm has a kankala danda, a staff that carries the bone of the arms and legs of the slain person. The staff if resting on his left shoulder.

Natarajar statue at Kailasanathar Temple, Brahmadesam

Nandikeshwarar, Natarajar (Punuku Sabhapati), Athma Vyakya Dakshinamoorthy with the chin mudra facing his own self and Jwahara Deva are certain examples of the iconographic treasures of this temple. The Pradosha sabhai with Pradosha murthy, Ashta Dik Balakas with their respective vimanas, Siva Bhoothaganas and apsaras belong to a very rare specimen of deities. Chandikeshwari, Saraswati and Uchchistha Ganapati are seen in the prakara of goddess Brahannayaki’s shrine.

Gorgeous looking mandapam with many sculptures at Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

The Arudra mandapam is an example of architectural excellence. The entire area is full of wide pillars with sculptures. A unique feature of these pillars is that there are six pillars placed together to form a single pillar. The Dharma Nandi is an intricately carved monolith of large size. It stands seven feet tall and sports anklets and other jewellery. This nandi located at the entrance is the largest in the district of Tirunelveli and is surprisingly distinctive with its brilliant carvings. Balipeetha and dwajasthamba on carved platform are also of huge size. There is a beautiful bell with three chain links sculpted from a single stone is suspended from the roof. This is a special work of art in this temple. Another special work of art in this temple is an astonishing lion statue in the temple walls where a round stone is found in the mouth of the lion. This stone can be rotated freely, but cannot be removed from the mouth. Another testament of remarkable craftmanship in this temple.

Lord Gangalanathar shrine at Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

There are separate sannadhis for Vigneswara, Subramanya, Dharma Saastha, Bala Murugan, Surya, Chandra, Dakshinamoorthy, Navukkarasar, Appar and Sundarar. The Somavara mandapam is another masterpiece of sculptors of that age. It is full of pillars with many beautiful sculptures and carvings. Some important sculptures include Bheema, Purushamrigham, Arjuna, Karna, Vali, Sugreeva, Rati and Manmadan.

Stunning sculptures next to some steps at Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

A large and prominent temple pond invite the devotees from outside the temple tower. The devotees and connoisseurs of temple art and architecture will enter into the temple through the east facing massive seven tier Chola style rajagopuram (brick and wooden structure) profusely adorned with stucco images. The extremely tall wooden main doors at the Rajagopuram entrance with intricately carved panels let in the connoisseurs to the surreal world of gorgeous architecture and iconography.

Cycling to Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

There is an aesthetically designed long pillared mandapam called Tiruvadarai Mandapam between the rajagopuram and the main sanctum. This mandapam is supported by 10 square-based pillars and two non-figural cluster pillars carved with 12 lion brackets and 12 drop brackets. The pillar faces also contain bas reliefs. The roof of the pillared mandapam showcases the Kerala wooden roof architecture, but it is sculpted in stone. It has a shrine dedicated to the stone images of Natarajar and Sivagami. This hall has many beautiful sculptures and intricate carvings on the pillars that depict various gods, goddesses, seers, epic characters, mythological animals such as yazhis, elephants, dance, music, battle and even erotic.

The ranga mantapa at Kailasanathar Temple, Brahmadesam

This lesser known architectural marvel of South India should be a must-visit if you are a temple lover and if you wish to visit the great temples of South India. Lets appreciate the beauty of the Brahmadesam Kailasanathar temple and share our experiences with others. Hopefully, more people will visit this temple and the government will take action and stop neglecting this historical gem of a temple. This is one of Tirunelveli’s top tourist attractions and one of the best temples South India with more than 1000 years of heritage and stories. I cannot stop recommending this temple enough.

Big Nandi statue at Brahmadesam Shiva temple

Famous festivals of this temple:

Maha Shivaratri, Aarudra Dharshanam, Panguni Uthiram (when swamy comes out in a silver Vrishabha vahanam), Aippasi Uthiram (celebrating the marriage of Kailasanathar and Brihannayagi in a grand manner), Thiruvathirai and Makara Sankranti are the major annual festivals celebrated here. Every month, the two Pradosham days hold particular significance at this temple.

Stunning Yali sculptures at a mandapam in Kailasanathar Temple, Brahmadesam

How to reach there:

The nearest railway and bus station is Ambasamudram, located about 5 kms away. From Ambasamudram, take the road leading towards Ambai Arts College, Gowthamapuri and then into Brahmadesam village. Once you reach Brahmadesam, you can spot the temple gopuram, but it might be tough to find the road that leads to the main entrance. It is best to ask locals or check Google maps. After weaving through tiny lanes of Brahmadesam village agraharam, you will reach the main entrance of the Kailasanathar temple at Brahmadesam and the large temple pond next to it.

The nearest airport is Tuticorin, located about 80 kms away.

Inside Brahmadesam temple compound

Best season to visit:

The Kailasanathar temple at Brahmadesam is open all year round. However, it can get quite warm during the summer months between March and June. Even during the other months, it is best to visit the temple in the early hours of the morning or during the evening hours so that you can walk barefoot on the granite stone floor of the temple. The months from October to February are pleasant and offer lush views in the countryside surrounding the temple.

The large gopuram of Brahmadesam temple

Temple timings:

The temple is open every day of the year from 5:30 AM to 10:30 AM and from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM. Timings can get preponed during some months such as Margazhi (December 15 to January 15).

The massive ancient temple complex of Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

Where to stay:

The nearest place with decent hotels would be Ambasamudram. Hotel Ambai Grand is the best option here.

If you wish for luxury, I would recommend trying the hotels at Tirunelveli – GRT Regency, Jankiram and/or Aryas.

If you wish to stay in slightly cooler weather, you should try the resorts in and around Courtallam.

If you wish to stay amidst pristine nature, I would recommend that you stay at the forest rest houses in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

If you care for a true rustic experience, I would recommend that you stay at any of the home stays or guest houses in Kallidaikurichi village agraharam.

The large temple complex of Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

Where to eat:

You can find some basic snacks with tea/coffee in the village of Brahmadesam. For elaborate food options, I would recommend that you either head to Hotel Ramanas or Hotel Gowri Shankar at Ambasamudram. Both of them serve delicious vegetarian tiffin items and meals at reasonable prices.

Intricately carved wooden doors of Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Mannarkoil Rajagopalaswamy Temple: magnificent 10th century temple with an ashtanga vimana

2) 1000 year old Papanasanathar temple at Papanasam: Where you can wash all your sins away

3) Sivasailam temple: 1000 year old temple surrounded by the lush mountains of the Western Ghats

4) Sivasailam: One of the wettest places during the North East Monsoon in India

Entering the Brahmadesam temple

5) Kallidaikurichi: The village of the saaral season

6) Iruttu Kadai Halwa: Icon of Tirunelveli

7) Nellaiappar Temple: A 7th century cosmic dance wonder

8) Pattamadai Pai: GI tagged beautiful hand woven mats from a tiny Tamil Nadu village

9) Thamirabharani river delta: A motorcycle route full of rustic gorgeousness

10) 10th century Valisvara temple at Thiruvaliswaram: Hidden Chola gem in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu

11) Karaiyar Dam: Offbeat wildlife and nature holiday destination in India’s deep South

12) The hidden gem called Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Brahma statue at Kailasanathar Temple, Brahmadesam

13) Courtallam: The herbal bath holiday destination of Tamil Nadu

14) Tiruchendur Murugan Temple: Sea Shore Magic

15) Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam: A top scenic and rustic cycling route

16) Garuda Sevai from the agraharams of Kallidaikurichi

Chola style carvings at a mandapam in Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

17) The festival of Karthigai Deepam from a traditional Tamil Nadu village

18) Cycling through the backyards of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

19) 13th century Kasi Visvanathar temple at Tenkasi

20) Punalur Suspension Bridge: Historical gem of Kerala

Beautiful looking Yali at Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

21) Lesser known Kerala Mountain Railways: Treat for nature lovers

22) Thenmala Forest: Offbeat nature and wildlife getaway

23) Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Gorgeousness Overloaded

24) Aryankavu Saastha Temple: Ancient temple located in the sacred forests of the Western Ghats

Theppakolam and the Brahmadesam Kailasanathar Temple

25) Palaruvi Falls: Kerala’s herbal waterfall that drops like milk from the sky

26) Oothu: The quaint little hill station of Tamil Nadu

27) Kakkachi: The highest point inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

28) Festival of Thiruvathirai from a traditional Tamil Nadu village

Gadananathi River at Brahmadesam

29) Scenic Iron Bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Pristine nature overloaded

30) Manimuthar Falls: The herbal waterfall inside a tiger reserve

31) Vintage Pathimoonu Kannara Bridge: Colonial charm of the Indian Railways

32) Thenmala Dam: A monsoon pit stop

Gorgeous carvings on the gopurams of Brahmadesam temple

33) The exotic tropical fruits of Puliyarai

34) Kallidaikurichi Adi Varaha temple chariot festival: Grand cultural spectacle in rural Tamil Nadu

35) Kallidaikurichi Anaicut: Gorgeous picnic spot nestled in the lap of nature

36) Agastyar Falls: A gorgeous waterfall on the Thamirabhrani river

37) Manjolai: The offbeat hill station of Tamil Nadu

38) Kudrevetty: The remote and windy hill station of Tamil Nadu

39) Nalumukku: The wettest place of India during the North East Monsoon

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Gorgeousness Overloaded - A Photo Story

Mist envelopes the tea estates of Manjolai

Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is that hidden offbeat beauty of nature in the extreme south of India. It’s pristine ecosystem gives birth to many rivers, waterfalls, dams and canals. It is the catchment area for the Thamirabharani, Manimuthar and Kodayar rivers that are the lifeline of most of the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. It’s tropical evergreen and deciduous forests are a treat for the senses and are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that include elephants, tigers, sloth bears, gaurs, leopards, king cobra and so much more. This tiger reserve is also home to a British era tea estate whose lease gets over in the next three years. It is the wettest region of India during the North East Monsoon. As it has both east and west facing valleys, it receives copious rainfall from both the South West and the North East monsoons. This photo story aims at showing you the overloaded gorgeousness of this place, which is a far cry from our cities and even the plains down below the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). I hope you enjoy it. Do comment below in case you have any questions regarding this hidden destination.

Above photo: The Manjolai tea estate, managed by Bombah Burmah Trading company, was created during the British rule. In another 3 years, the original lease gets over and this place will become a part of the tiger reserve. Pretty soon, nature will take it into its fold. Till then, you can enjoy these misty views around the tea gardens.

Gorgeous ferns on the Kakkachi to Nalmukku route

Above photo: Ferns show the health of a ecosystem and at KMTR, you can see it everywhere. These gorgeous ferns can be seen adorning the forest road from Kakkachi to Nalumukku.

Karaiyar, Servalar and Manimuthar Dam views seen from Kudrevetty watch tower

Above photo: This is the windiest location inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. This place is called Kudrevetty and it is home to a watch tower that offers a beautiful views of the surrounding dense forests and the Karaiyar, Servalar and Manimuthar Dams down below. The forest guest house is also located close to this watch tower.

Beautiful nature at Irumbu Palam enroute to Nalmukku, Tamil Nadu

Above photo: This location happens to one of the most scenic pit stops on the route between Manjolai hill station and Kudrevetty. It is called Irumbu Palam or Iron bridge and is a favorite location for the elephants here as the love the bamboo forest in this area. The nature is as pristine as it can be here.

Manimuthar Falls, the lush green forest and the cloudy monsoon weather

Above photo: This is the Manimuthar Falls, the first pit stop once you cross the forest check post and begin your drive inside the forest. This herbal waterfall carries water all year round and is hugely popular with the locals. This is how it looks on a rainy day.

Kakkachi - the highest point in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Above photo: At close to 5000 feet above MSL, this is Kakkachi, the highest point inside Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. It is home to a British era golf course and a few man made lakes. Thankfully, today, there is a lot of wild nature here.

Nalmukku tea estate and the tea ladies

Above photo: One of the things that I love about this region are the ever smiling people. It is unfortunate that they have to relocate to the plains below once the lease gets over. Most of these people have been living and working here for decades. These ladies were seen picking tea leaves at the Nalumukku tea estate and they were kind enough to pose for me.

Totally untouched and pristine forest waterfall between Oothu and Kudrevetty

Above photo: Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is full of untouched, hidden and pristine gems. One such gem is this beautiful forest waterfall that flows through medicinal herbs and plants and whose water is deliciously sweet and cold. This waterfall is part of the catchment area of the Thamirabharani river and its water empty out into the Manimuthar dam.

Scenic route between Oothu and Kudrevetty, KMTR

Above photo: Most locals working at the tea estates stay at Manjolai and a few live at Nalumukku and Oothu. Beyond Oothu, there are hardly any people living and you can see that in the nature beyond Oothu as the forest has slowly started to reclaim its land. The road between Oothu and Kudrevetty is lush and dense and is a treat for very nature enthusiast.

Tea Estates and forests of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve at Manjolai

Above photo: The green rolling hills of the Western Ghats as seen from one of the viewpoints between Manjolai and Kakkachi. This view includes small houses, tea estates, forests, hills and more.

Manimuthar Falls - the stunning forest waterfall of Tamil Nadu

Above photo: Here is another shot of Manimuthar Falls, the stunning forest waterfall of Tamil Nadu. It is just 12 kms from Kallidaikurichi village and is my favorite route for a Sunday morning cycle ride.

The Gorgeous Iron Bridge of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Above photo: Here is another shot of the Iron Bridge of KMTR. These bamboo forests that you see on both sides of the forest road are loved by the elephants and hence it is one of the more dangerous zones to drive through especially during the early morning and late evening time. And more so during cloudy, misty and/or rainy days when elephants descend to this place in huge numbers.

Picturesque hill station of Manjolai in Tamil Nadu

Above photo: This is the picturesque hill station of Manjolai as seen from one of the view points between Manjolai and Kakkachi. It is one of the prettiest hill stations of Tamil Nadu. Many people refer to this offbeat hill station as ‘Poor Man’s Ooty’.

Tea estates, tropical forests and dense mist - All on the forest road between Oothu and Kudrevetty

Above photo: The route between Oothu and Kudrevetty is absolutely scenic. Here you can see tea estates, forests and dense mist as you make your way from Oothu to Kudrevetty via the forest road.

The picturesque hamlet of Oothu in Tamil Nadu

Above photo: This quaint little hill station of Tamil Nadu called Oothu is home to no more than twenty houses. Along with Nalumukku and Kakkachi, it is one of the wettest regions of India during the North East Monsoon. Time stands still here.

Mist covered Manjolai tea estates during the monsoon

Above photo: Monsoon in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is never short of stunning views. This is the view of the mist covered tea estates at Manjolai during the North East Monsoon. Nothing like a hot cup of tea/coffee in such gorgeous weather.

Crested Serpent Eagle at Misty Manjolai

Above photo: This is a crested serpent eagle perched on a tree somewhere between Manjolai and Kakkachi. It was very misty and there was a steady drizzle, but the crested serpent eagle seemed to be enjoying this weather.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Aryankavu Saastha Temple: Ancient temple located in the sacred forests of the Western Ghats

Aryankavu Saastha Temple surrounded by lush greenery

It is one of the five major temples dedicated to Lord Ayyappa in Kerala. It is set amidst lush greenery and beautiful mountains of the Western Ghats. The pristine Achankovil river flows right in front of the temple. I am talking about the Aryankavu Saastha temple that is located in the village of Aryankavu on the Shenkottai – Kollam highway.

Lord Parasurama set up five temples committed to goddess Kali on the beach front area and five Saastha temples on the mountain slopes for the well being of Kerala. Aryankavu Saastha temple is one of those temples. The name of the place comes from a mix of words Aryan (lord Ayyappa) and Kavu (holy forest). The Aryankavu Saastha temple, that is built about 35 feet below the road level, portrays Lord Ayyappa as a boy sitting on an elephant with his right leg hanging and his left leg tucked under him in an sitting position. This youthful Ayyappa sits in the middle of Devi (on the left) and Shiva (on the right) in the sanctum sanctorum. As in Sabarimala, the temple too has 18 steps to reach the shrine.

The temple is built in traditional architectural style of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu and it preserves several murals of deities. Devotees visit this temple to seek relief from Shani dosha and unmarried individuals pray to the lord to get married. They also seek redemption from diseases, poverty, snake bites, accidents and natural calamities. The Aryankavu Saastha temple is considered very important for the Saurasthtrian people.

According to legend, Swamy Ayyappan married Shri Pushkaladevi of the Saurashtra community in Aryankavu. The Thiru kalyanam festival is celebrated every Dhanu month (December 15 to January 15) to commemorate this divine wedding.

Devotees at the river behind the Aryankavu Saastha Temple, Kerala

Key Festivals celebrated here: Mandala kalam, Pandiyan Mudippu, Thiru Kalyanam, Kumbhabhishekam and Nirmalya Schochanam (every month).

Temple Timings: 5 AM to 12:30 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM

Nearest Railway Station and Bus Stop: Aryankavu

Nearest Airport: Thiruvanathapuram (about 88 kms away)

Other 4 major Saastha temples of Kerala are at: Achankoil, Kulathupuzha, Sabarimala and Kanthamala

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Palaruvi Falls: Kerala’s Herbal Waterfall that drops like milk from the sky

First Look of the gorgeous Palaruvi Falls

This water body flows through medicinal herbs and plants in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu and Kerala before plunging down from a height of 300 feet deep in the forests of Kerala. It offers a beautiful mix of adventure, rich forest experience, a herbal bath under a waterfall, a short uphill trek and lots of nature. I am talking about the gorgeous Palaruvi falls that is located inside the Thenmala forest of Kerala.

Located near the village of Aryankavu in the Kollam district of Kerala, Palaruvi Falls is formed deep inside the Thenmala forest where the Kallada river plunges from a height of 300 feet in a frothy stream of milk. The entrance to Palaruvi falls is right on the highway connecting Aryankavu with Kollam. When you travel from Aryankavu to Kollam, the entrance falls to your left, just a few kilometers from Aryankavu. A short distance ahead is the parking lot where you can buy the entrance tickets. Private vehicles are not allowed to the waterfall and all visitors have to compulsorily opt for the forest bus service that plys regularly between the parking lot and the waterfall entrance.    
Palaruvi Falls - a fabulous place for a herbal bath amidst pristine nature     
This forest bus journey lasting about 20 minutes takes you deep into the forest and where the road meanders along the Kallada river. As you enjoy the lush terrain and the beautiful trees while getting slightly irritated by the bumpy bus ride, you are dropped at the end of 20 minutes at the waterfall main entrance from where you need to hike uphill for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your stamina. There is a small cafe at this main entrance where you can find some food and beverages. Beyond this cafe, you will find anything to eat or drink and the route to the waterfall is completely plastic free, which means that you cannot discard any plastic items and sometimes the forest department might not allow you to carry any plastic items.

For the uphill trek, I would recommend that you make it right to the top with as few a stops as possible. This will be a great workout and you can enjoy the waterfall view from the top most view point while you allow your heart rate to come back to normal. After catching your breath on the top and after clicking umpteen pictures of the waterfalls and its surroundings, you can start making your descent and head to the bathing area. Here, you can rejuvenate yourself in the herbal waters of the waterfall and the pool below it. It is best to watch your step while bathing as the water current can be a bit strong at times and the rocks are usually slippery.
Herbal water of Palaruvi Falls - perfect for a waterfall holiday     
The cold waters of the waterfall and the mountain stream feel so good after the sweaty hike to the top most view point from the waterfall entrance and it is this moment that makes it totally worth it. The herbal bath along with the thundering roar of the waterfall and the lush forest views make it a stunning experience. Some hot banana fritters with a cup of hot coffee at the local cafe is a perfect way to end your trip to Palaruvi Falls.
The entrance to Palaruvi Falls - the hike begins here     
Palaruvi Falls is a perfect location for a waterfall holiday day trip near Trivandrum and Kollam in South Kerala. The herbal waterfall that drops like milk from the sky amidst dense greenery is a sight to behold and to bathe under it is a different experience altogether. I would recommend this gem of a waterfall to all those who like nature getaways.    
Visiting Hours:

8 AM to 6 PM

Entrance Fees

Per Adult – INR 25
Per Adult for Bus Ride – INR 30

Per Car for parking – INR 70
Picturesque Palaruvi Falls inside Thenmala Forest, Kerala     
Things to keep in mind while visiting Palaruvi Falls:

1) The entire Palaruvi Falls is strictly a ‘NO PLASTIC’ zone. Hence, do carry your food items and beverages in stainless steel or non plastic containers/bottles

2) The monkeys of Palaruvi are known to be rowdy when it comes to food items. Do not open your food or eat your food in front of them. Also, do not try to feed them as they are wild animals

3) Leeches can be found on the hike to Palaruvi Falls, especially during the wet season. Do exercise caution

4) After the cafe at the waterfall entrance, there is no food or water available anywhere. Do carry your snacks and water with you as you will need it

5) The waterfall area and the pool below it has a strong current. The rocks are also slippery. Do watch your step. There are forest guards to help you out in case you need any help

6) Do not use shampoo, soap or oil while bathing as this water source serves up as the drinking water for the people living down stream

7) The forest bus doesn’t leave till the bus is filled up. Do plan your itinerary accordingly   
Best season to visit:

Palaruvi falls usually has water from June through February. February to May is the dry season and there is hardly any water or just a faint trickle. It is best to avoid these three months. During days of heavy rainfall, the waterfall can contain copious amounts of water and at this time, bathing might be restricted. However, hikes to the waterfall and to the view points are usually allowed. It is best to check in with the Kerala Forest Department – Thenmala Ecotourism team about current ground conditions before you embark on your trip.
Beautiful landscape surrounding the Palaruvi Falls     
How to reach there:

The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram international airport, about 90 kms away.

The nearest railway station is Aryankavu, about 6 kms away. The nearest large railway stations are Kollam (84 kms), Shencottai (22 kms) and Trivandrum  (88 kms) away.

Buses plying on the Kollam – Shencottai route will drop you at the entrance to the Thenmala ecotourism office. From here, you will have to walk till the parking lot.  
Uphill hike that leads you to Palaruvi Falls in Kerala     
Where to stay:

There are a few basic accommodation options inside Thenmala forest. You can stay there if proximity is your main criteria.

If you wish to stay close to the Arabian Sea, look up hotels in Kollam, Varkala and/or Thiruvanathapuram. Luxury properties are also available at these locations.

If you wish to stay in rustic Tamil Nadu, I would recommend staying at the guest houses and resorts in and around Courtallam.

If you wish to stay in traditional Brahmin agraharams, I would recommend trying the homestays or guest houses at the villages of Shencottai, Alwarkurichi or Kallidaikurichi.
Palaruvi Falls tumbling down in many steps offering a variety of mini waterfalls to bathe under     
Where to eat:

There is a cafe at the waterfall entrance where they dish out basic snacks and beverages. If you wish to have meals, I think you should head to Aryankavu or any of the hotels on the highway.

For slightly more elaborate meals, you should try the restaurants at either Tenkasi, Punalur, Kollam or Thiruvanathapuram.

You can also stock up on fruits at the exotic tropical fruit shops of Puliyarai.    
Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Thenmala Dam: A monsoon pit stop

2) Vintage Pathimoonu Kannara Bridge: Colonial charm of the Indian Railways

3) Lesser Known Kerala Mountain Railways: Treat for Nature Lovers

4) Punalur Suspension Bridge: Historical gem of Kerala

5) 13th century Kasi Visvanathar Temple at Tenkasi

6) Kappil Beach: Sandy beauty hemmed in between the sea and the backwaters

7) Kollam: A coastal town known for its beaches, light houses, backwaters and riverine islands

8) Varkala Beach: That stunning  cliff beach of Kerala where you can wash all your sins away

9) Ponmudi: That offbeat hill station of Kerala with a 360 degree mountain panorama

10) Poovar Island: A romantic gem in Kerala

11) 1000 year old Papanasanathar Temple at Papanasam: Where you can wash all your sins away

12) Sivasailam Temple: 1000 year old temple surrounded by the lush mountains of the Western Ghats

13) The hidden gem called Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

14) Courtallam: The herbal bath holiday destination of Tamil Nadu

15) Oothu: The quaint little hill station of Tamil Nadu

16) Manimuthar Falls: The herbal waterfall inside a tiger reserve