ROSHIN MARY GEORGE experiences a natural spa in the cool waters of Perunthenaruvi and returns refreshed
A fish pedicure is the least one would expect on a visit to Perunthenaruvi (the Great Honey Stream), one of the lesser known waterfalls in Kerala. The exotic locale, with the woods on the stream’s banks and rivulets formed by the cascading waters, is enough to indulge your senses. And it almost feels like a sophisticated spa when you dip your feet into the rivulet, tentatively at first, with the fish nibbling at your feet and tingling the soles!
Less than an hour’s drive (33 km) from the district headquarters of Pathanamthitta, Perunthenaruvi in Vechoochira near Ranni eventually flows into the Pampa river, where the faithful take a dip on their way to the Sabarimala temple.
The weather was mild when we reached the ‘perfect getaway’, making the early morning drive a pleasant experience. The winding roads get more and more rugged after Ranni. Each local resident we come across is eager to give directions, but the final leg is not as easy as their “go straight” and “just another kilometre” make it out to be; signboards are virtually non-existent.
The stream is below the road and the climb down rugged rocks is tricky. The dry weather is a better time to visit the waterfall than during the wet months of the South-West monsoon when the waterfall attains its full form and splendour, but flooding the area and making it inaccessible to the public.
We have not come prepared for the hot afternoon sun that made our picnic plans go a bit awry. There is no canopy of trees to provide shade, and we have to spread our mat on a frying pan of a rock. However the water is cool and the children forget the discomfort as they half immerse themselves in some of the safer looking pools. Fish rush in to nibble at their tender feet while the same service for my callused ones are less forthcoming.
The summer months can lead to a water deficit in this hilly region. A dam is coming up to cater to the thirst of two panchayats here. A hanging bridge and view towers are part of the Rs.1 crore ecotourism project envisioned for Perunthenaruvi by the State Tourism Department.
After a lunch of packed sandwiches we return to the waterplay. As the sun moves westward, there is a steady trickle of people, many of them youngsters who have come for a swim in the bigger pools of water. I move to less crowded spots to marvel at water-chiselled wells in the rocks.
Leaving the picnic paradise, we make the arduous climb up we leave the Perunthenaruvi — supposedly flowing honey owing to mineral-rich upstream water or from the numerous beehives in the path of the water.
Perunthenaruvi on the Western Ghats is 33 km from Pathanamthitta town, the district headquarters. Take the Vadasserikara-Ranni-Vechoochira route, and you reach in about 50 minutes by car. KSRTC operates buses at regular intervals to the place from Pathanamthitta and from Chenganoor, the nearest railway station.
Where to stay
Accommodation is available at budget hotels in Pathanamthitta and Ranni.