During the last week of July 2012, the travel bug epidemic once again spread in our travel group. The only medicine was to hit the roads ! July meant active monsoons in Hyderabad, monsoons meant a visit to the waterfalls and for those living in Hyderabad, the one destination for waterfalls in the monsoon is Kuntala Waterfalls.
NH7 – a class apart
Kuntala Waterfalls is the highest waterfall in Andhra Pradesh at 147 feet and is located in Adilabad district. From Hyderabad, Kuntala Waterfalls is a 270 kms drive on NH 7. Closer to Kuntala Waterfalls is another waterfall called the Pochera Waterfalls, this part of Andhra Pradesh is covered with dense forests and the Godavari River and its tributaries flow through these forests and hills forming cascading waterfalls at intervals. The Kuntala and Pochera Waterfalls are formed by the Kadam River, a tributary of the Godavari.
At 5.30 AM on 1st September, 3 Figos were flagged off from Hyderabad via Medchal onto NH 7. A drive on NH 7 is like cruising in a dream, this highway part of the North-South corridor is one of the finest highways in India ! It was a perfect morning, a little chill merging into the warmth of a glorious sunrise.
The drive was interrupted by frequent stops for pictures because the sunrise was too lovely to be left alone ! Before the sun could even reach its position for the morning, we had reached Kamareddy, our 1st pit stop for breakfast. There is a Haritha Restaurant here, while traveling in AP, Haritha Restaurants, run by the AP Tourism are the safest bet for good food.
A leisurely breakfast of idly, vada and dosa warmed up our tummies, the vending machine made tea played spoilsport though. The chef told us we were too early for a good cup of tea !
From Kamareddy, the road to Kuntala takes you through Dichpally (famous for an ancient Rama Temple), bypassing Nizamabad, past Armoor (the place has some unique rock formations, which makes the hills look like a huge pile of boulders) and Nirmal and finally Neredikonda. The landscape changes from Armoor as one enters Adilabad district, there are dense jungles all around, even the highway passes through thick woods. Some of the scenes are unbelievable and they pass you by when you least expect it, too quick to even click pictures, especially when 120 km/hr is the minimum speed.
The blue sky dotted with white fluffy clouds, dark green forests, the grey and white road – the kind of stuff you drew in art classes back in school !
The fact that we covered 255 kms in about 3 hours, should serve as a testimony to the NH 7 ! From Neredikonda, the road to the Waterfalls deviates from the NH. While the deviation to Kuntala comes first, we went a little head to visit the Pochera Waterfalls. The distance between Pochera and Kuntala is around 17 kms and waterfalls are on opposite directions.
We reached Pochera Waterfalls by 9.30 AM, there were no other visitors that early in the day. Pochera Waterfalls are not very high but very charming and picturesque.
One can climb down close to the falls and sit on the rocks to enjoy the cool spray and listen to the gushing music of the falls. Since nobody was around, our group had the falls for ourselves and we loved every moment there.
After a marathon photo session, we climbed up a little further from where one can view the top of the falls.
The scenery around here was very pretty with the monsoon greenery being a feast for the eyes.
There is something to the merry, gushing sound of water that fills the mind with the tranquility it seeks, one finds that in abundance at Pochera Waterfalls.
After spending more than an hour at Pochera, we headed to Kuntala Waterfalls. As you descend the 400 odd steps leading to the foot of the waterfalls, you get a first glimpse of the Kadam River rushing down the slopes. There are two tiers to this waterfall. The first one is a small fall down the rocky slopes.
The river, then, gathers force and finally cascades down the cliff to form the Kuntala Falls.
One can view the entire waterfall only on reaching the foot of the falls and what a mesmerising beauty it is !
The Kuntala waterfalls gets its name from the mythological character Shakuntala, who is believed to have visited these falls !!
The beauty of this place is that one can walk in the river bed when the water flow is not very heavy, sit on the rocks under the shade of the trees and view the waterfall.
It is like sitting in a huge open-air theatre with NGC playing on the screen !
The flood water was muddy brown, the grass around was fresh green, blue sky, white clouds, black rocks – nature was showing off its multi-coloured beauty !
The flow of these falls depends on the release of water from the Kadam Reservoir. The uncertainty of the water release, especially in the rainy season makes Kuntala Waterfalls a slightly dangerous place if one ventured too far into the river or tried to climb on the slippery cliff at the source of the waterfalls. There have been many accidents around these falls because people tend to be too rash and adventurous, we ourselves saw a few people trying all kind of stunts up the cliff. You don’t lose anything by being a little humble before nature, do you?
We sat watching the falls for a very long time, had a small snack and as mid-day neared, it got very hot and a huge water body meant very sultry weather.
We then walked on the rocky river bank which goes very close to the foot of the falls, a few of us slipped on the mossy rocks on the way. The mist from the force of the falls raises so high that you can’t view the falls properly from there and one gets completely drenched by the spray. We tried our best to protect our cameras even as the photo enthusiast in us tried to click pictures through the spray. The results, obviously, were not so impressive.
When we decided to head back, reality hit us in the form of climbing 400 steep steps in the hot afternoon sun ! We had very little drinking water (though when we looked to our right, there was gallons and gallons and gallons of water rushing by) until we reached our cars and by the time we reached the top, we felt like warriors from a war ! There are a few stalls near the car parking area and we almost ransacked them for sodas, soft drinks and water !
Intoxicating lunch !
Kuntala does not have any hotels/eating joints nearby, the closest town is Nirmal, 40 kms away. It was 1.30 PM when we started from Kuntala Waterfalls, the idea was to stop at Nirmal for lunch. We reached Nirmal town around 2.30 PM and began looking for a restaurant. Nirmal is famous for woodden toys and Nirmal style of paintings. It is also an important town for trading and business. We discovered for all that Nirmal was, it was not a good place for food ! Every corner we turned there were bar and restaurants, the one normal restaurant we found was so over crowded that we could only hope to find a seat by dinner time !
Unable to find any other options at 3 PM, we went to the bar and restaurant to have lunch. It was most hilarious to sit in that bar that looked straight from the movies of 1970s and order vegetarian food (it being a Saturday, many in the group had vegetarian food). The place reeked of alcohol and everybody had red eyes through which they stared at us bewildered, wondering what 9 men and 3 women were doing in a bar and restaurant ordering rotis, dal and everything vegetarian! Even the waiter seemed demotivated to serve us, imagine working in a bar and restaurant and not serving drinks ! The glasses in which we were served water had alcohol brand names, one look at the names almost gave us a high ! This writer had to exercise immense self-control not to get carried away in wanting to taste the drinks – side effects of looking at people at the opposite table gulp down glass after glass of brandy.
The food was too good and easy on the pocket (some claim the bill was under charged). We quickly finished our lunch and stormed out of the restaurant for some fresh air. It was around 4.00 PM and we had lots of time on hand, so we decided to visit the Sriram Sagar Dam on the way back.
Sriram Sagar Project
Sriram Sagar Project, 56 kms from Nizamabad is a huge dam built on the Godavari River, it has 42 gates and even bigger than the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam. It is very close to the highway and can actually be seen from the road.
From the Dam, Godavari River looks like a sea. We had read that the sunset views from here were lovely but it was only 4.45 PM and a full 1 1/2 hours before sunset. Having decided to try and get back home early and not wait for the sunset we walked on the dam (vehicles are not allowed on the dam) and got some fantastic views of the river glittering under the sun.
As the sun hid behind the clouds, the sun rays streamed out of the clouds and lit up a small patch on the river, one part of the river was dark and the other bright under the sunlight, we could even see the rain from the clouds in the distance – it was magical !
As we started back from Sriram Sagar, rain clouds gathered overhead and half way through rain lashed down at us. It was amusing to be driving in the heavy rain one minute and leaving the rain behind the very next minute. When you are traveling at 120 km/hr, you cross the rain bearing clouds rather quickly.
Around 6 PM, the sun got ready to set behind thick, black clouds and gave us the most beautiful sunset view from the highway. We stopped our cars on the roadside and clicked pictures of the sun set. In our excitement, we even stood in the middle of the road to get a better view, the oncoming vehicles must have freaked out to find random photographers in their way, they flashed their headlights and honked to warn us !
Now it feels a little risky but at that moment, getting a great picture was all that mattered.
An hour later, we stopped at the Haritha Restaurant at Kamareddy again for a cup of coffee and pakoda, having learnt not to trust the tea there.
The rest of the journey was uneventful, we reached Medchal by 8.30 PM and disbanded to proceed home with a happy feeling of a trip well concluded.