Friday, October 22, 2010

Trekking in Tada Falls

lush green forests on the way towwards tada falls
The lush hills and cliffs of the Kambakkam district on the trail to Tada (Ubbalamadugu) Falls
roads towards tada
Our traffic companions on our weekend jaunt over the border to Andhra Pradesh. A normal fact of traffic in India, from dirt path to major highway, dodging individuals and stopping for herds of cows, goats, chickens, etc. is frequent. If you sound your horn they may look at you, but no guarantee they'll care or move
rough roads towards tada
The rough unpaved road access to Tada (Ubbalamadugu) Falls. High clearance (SUV) vehicles and motorcycles can make it, but loose rocks make motorcycling challenging. It is easier with a higher power bike.
With limited accommodation available nearby, the best locations to stay are at Srikalahasti or Varadaiahpalem town. Staying in the forest beyond sun set is not advised.
To reach the actual waterfall requires trekking. There is limited guidance, in the form of arrow marks, provided for the hike. It is accessible only by physically fit people. The picturess on the internet are just at the beginning of the path, and the last spot is the main falls and it’s just heavenly. It is not that easy to reach that place. So, ladies & children should better avoid this place.
tada falls in andhra
The first Tada falls and the final destination for most parties hiking in. Everyone took pleasure in dunking in the strong flow of the waterfall and swimming in the river. In rainy season November the river was full and had many inviting pools and holes to swim in. But also it meant it is impossible to hike in without going through the river at least to your waste so plan for your shoes/sandals to get wet. Most of the hiking groups are groups of 4-10 Indian men, heavily drinking whiskey and carrying on, but they are for the most part extremely friendly, jovial and enjoying their respite from the city. You can climb the short wall to the left (without gear) to reach a higher pond and waterfall and likely be the only ones there.
tourists in the tada falls
water stream in the way towards the second water falls of tadha
trekking in tada falls
The trek to Tada Falls crosses the clear river several times forcing you to wade across. But on a hot day, the water is wonderfully cool and the trail often shaded. This is the last river crossing where there is a distinct trail. Shortly after this, the canyon narrows and the trail disappears and makes a great place to stop for lunch and a swim in the deeper pool centre in the photo. Many groups, seduced by the cool and the water, don't make it any further. This crossing is just after a small Shiva temple and is less than an hours hike in, depending of course on how far along the rough road you got to and parked.
tada falls famous for its trekking
The harder to reach 2nd falls of Tada Falls, north of Chennai just visible around the corner. But to reach it in the rainy season here, you have to swim through this cool, deep canyon. Swimming up a hidden canyon, vines filtering sunlight and dripping water from far overhead, the water cool and clear was in a word: Fantastic! Unlike the lower set, we couldn't quite get under these falls as the current became too strong to swim that last few feet. Worth the climb to check out for sure. In the dry season this may look very different and be accessible differently, even perhaps enabling you to climb past these falls to the highest and most dramatic ones. But in the rainy season, it is clear that there was no way forward without a helicopter.

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