Most of us know Kumbakonam is famous for Hindu temples (mostly Navagraha temples trips). I did too. Until we went to Kumbakonam Mahamaham festival, fell in love with this temple town immediately. So we came back the same year, not for just 1 or 2 days, we spent more than a week here in our 11-days long bike trip from Bangalore.
We rode bike everyday among rice fields, watched villager fishing for crabs in the rice fields, mesmerized at the beauty of the lilly ponds all over the town, watched sunset sitting in the Mahamaham tank after a cup of ginger tea from a famous tea shop.
Everyone knows Kumbakonam is famous for degree coffee. Also it is house for many good South Indian restaurants. Also we enjoyed good quality of snacks with ginger tea (must try) near to the Mahamaham tank.
Kumbakonam Famous Food Items
Also did you know Kumbakonam is also famous for “power looms” making coir mat and silk sarees. These silk sarees prices start from 2000 INR to 6000 INR and different from Kancheepuram silk sarees.
1. Kumbakonam is Famous for Degree Coffee
The temple town is also famous for its aromatic coffee, served usually in Bronze cups or a silver ones like this. Me and my hubby used to travel 10kms from centre town to “Only coffee” restaurant, where we liked to have our first cup coffee and breakfast. Although, their other branch is in main town Kumbakonam, we love to go quite far enjoying the scenery along the way.
#2 Kumbakonam Is Famous For Restaurants too, Not just coffee
Almost everyday we used to go “Only coffee” near Thirupuvanam for coffee and meals. We have fallen in love with the ambience, cleanliness and the friendly staffs. You will get all kinds of vegetarian breakfast food items with any sweet of the day. And for lunch, complete meals thali served in banana leaves. Awesome the experience was. If I am to go back to Kumbakonam, the best place I would choose to eat and hangout would be “only Coffee”.
Hotel Pandian is Non-Vegetarians’ delight. It is my favourite eat out place for non-veg and I felt totally home. I prefer eating dinner all day here, try out all their non-veg specialties.
#3. Kumbakonam is Famous For streets adorned With Rangolis
If you are a early riser like me, I am sure you would love morning sunrise in this calm colourful town. I don’t know what time the house ladies had to wake up to draw such beautiful art rangolis in front of their houses. Ah, What a sight. Even though I grew up in small town, I never had seen entire town bathed in colours. Definitely I am coming back for Ms/Mrs. Rangoli.
4. Kumbakonam is Famous for Green Skirts all over the town
I am a Nature lover, I have experienced vast lands, landscapes, wide scenery parks in my travel around India, outskirts of london, Scotland etc., But, Kumbakonam stole my heart with the endless rich agri land and lush green skirts as far as my eyes could see.
5. Kumbakonam town decorated with Lily Ponds and Rivers – Connecting People and culture
You may have seen many lakes and ponds where you live and travel. I am living in one such city, Bangalore, a city full of thousands of lakes. But, in Kumbakonam you could see thousands of lily ponds in and around the town. Beauty Untouched.
6. Not only MahaMaham Festival but Kumbakonam is also Famous for DivyaDesams, Padal Petra Stalams and Navagraha Temples
We have been to Mahamaham festival in Kumbakonam in the year 2017, in the month of March. It is famous festival celebrated every year, we were blessed to visit MahaKumbeswar temple at that time. Little did we know at that time that Kumbakonam is also a house for some 108 Divya Desam temples and Padal petra Sivan temples.
In our following 11 -day road trip to Kumbakonam, we made note of all the above mentioned temples including Navagraha temples – we visited all the temples in and around the town. No Kidding.
As much as I love nature, I am fond of temple architecture. That’s one of the reason we chose our long vacation in Kumbakonam, because its called “Temple Town”. In our 2 yrs of travel together, we have been to many famous temples, UNESCO Heritage Sites, Hoysala Architecture etc.,
Kumbakonam temples are breathtakingly beautiful.
Of all the temples I have visited, of all the temples I have marvelled in and around Kumbakonam, one temple holds very special place in my memory ie. Tirubuvanam. I am definitely re-visiting this place not only for this marvellous temple, but also to explore the famous handloom silk sarees.
7. Kumbakonam is Famous for Cheap Stay and Good transport to other cities
Hotel rates are very moderate even during peak season time, from my two time year end road trip (11 days long ) experience in the years 2017 and 2018. Also in the month of March 2017, during Mahamaham Festival, we stayed in Poppys SET Residency, which was by far the best compare to our December stay in various hotels. Well, you might find the bookings are full during the season time but the rates remain moderate.
Kumbakonam is the best choice for anyone planning for long vacation without hurting the pocket and take tour of other nearby cities. Rooms in cities like Trichy, Tanjore, Chidambaram are costlier with limited choices so it is best to travel from Kumbakonam.
Also, you have one of the best NH roads connecting from kumbakonam and there are plenty of TNPSC and private buses connecting places in and far around the center town Kumbakonam.
Anytime I am planning for a trip to any of these cities, I am coming back to stay only in Kumbakonam.
I suggest you to visit Kumbakonam by own vehicle instead of public transport, so you could see what I have fallen love with. Kumbakonam is the perfect getaway place for family vacation, Holy trip, nature loving couples and lovers, with many hangout places like UNESCO heritage sites, theaters, water dams, riverside lush green picnic spots, eat-outs and restaurants.
We enjoyed our ride to the forest watching mango farm and flowers plantation.
We stopped at forest check-post 8.5 km before forest waterfalls. We were asked to enter the name, vehicle name details in the check-post.
The entry fee for two-wheeler is 15/- INR, four-wheeler is 100/- INR. Also, we noticed that the security guard was screening vehicles for alcohols as it was strictly not allowed. If you are carrying any camera then 100/- INR to be paid, otherwise no fee for carrying any mobile phones.
After 5 km drive, we reached Siddeshwara Swamy temple, a forest temple for Lord Shiva and also a guardian of Talakona.
At this point, you could find lots of local food stalls (very dirty) offering to prepare veg and non-veg food fresh for tourists. I would not suggest taking any kind of service from these locals.
It is better to carry own snacks and food as there are no decent eat-outs from our experience.
And be polite with these locals when you are rejecting their service to make the whole experience pleasant.
(b) Checkpoint 2 – Sri Siddeshwara Swamy Temple (Pay entry fee for persons to enter waterfalls)
An ancient temple for Lord Shiva in the middle of the forest is one of the main reasons Talakona is crowded all the time.
Since it was the weekend, there was already a big group of people found to be actively preparing food to offer God. Soon they would take a dip in waterfalls before they start the rituals.
So it is better to avoid visiting Talakona on full moon day (pournami) and no moon day (amavasya), which are auspicious days for Lord Shiva.
Near to the temple, there is a dress change room facility available for the public. From this point, one can choose to go by walk or by own vehicle. There is no second entry fee for vehicles but for individual persons. They charge 10/- per head for adults and 5/- per head for kids.
We chose to go by bike and the road here to waterfalls parking was quite an adventurous one.
One can expect these roads to be very slippery and muddy in monsoon. So it is better to go by walk in the rainy season.
Entry for vehicles at this checkpoint opens only at 9.15 am and closes by 4 pm. In fact, whole forest entry closes by 4 pm.
(c) Parking area – near pond (Park vehicles here for trekking)
After a rough ride for about 2 km among the gigantic trees and teasing monkeys, we halted at forest waterfalls parking area. There is a beautiful man-made pond at this point for those who are not able to trek to the mountains.
I and Rajesh clicked some pics before we set to go for a trek for about 2 km to reach the top of the mountain. Trekking is not new to us, we have done 2 hrs trekking to various mountain tops in south India.
Since we were early on Sunday, there were only a few people trekking along with us. We parked our bike here and headed towards the pond to climb the mountain.
2. Monkeys atrocities in the hilltop of Talakona waterfalls
Even Though there were monkeys all along the trekking path, they seem to be minding their businesses.
Except for a group of rowdies near the hilltop, taking advantage of the visitors to waterfalls and their luggage bags.
We were attacked too.
We didn’t have any pole or stick in hand, we used our water bottle to shush them away but in vain.
On the way back from waterfalls, we brought wooden sticks for our safety. So keep your backpacks tightly closed and hold it close to your body.
And for safety, at least one member in your team should be carrying a stick to keep them at bay.
On the way back from the hilltop, same monkey rowdies attacked a female, sat on the top of the backpack and started pulling out some items.
There was a lot of screaming before we rushed to help them with the stick. Until we reached the parking area, we kept warning the visitors to be careful of these monkeys. Ah, what a trip!!
3. Slippery rocks on the highest point of the waterfalls
Except for the monkeys’ atrocities, it was a very pleasant trek in the forest to the mountain top.
As you climb up, the view gets much better with a fresh breeze. We stopped now and then to click some pics. Unlike other mountain waterfalls, here you have proper trails to support. But, in some places trails were broken and fallen off, could be due to rain and wind.
Everyone should experience this forest trekking to take the cold shower of untouched pure water with medicinal properties.
Yes, we did climb up to the mountain top.
Waterfalls with the enormous force and the rocks at this point are very slippery and dangerous.
The view is always better from the top.
4. Poor mobile network and worst food service in the Forest
There was no network available in the forest area and near the falls.
If you are planning to stay in the forest resort, it would not be a wise decision.
Also, we heard that there is also no electricity in the guesthouses.
Though we didn’t stay in the resort, we met a fellow companion staying in the guest house. He complained about the poor guest house service, no electricity, no power back up and no food service also.
There is just one maintenance person who brings food from the local stalls near the temple.
And looking at the stalls, definitely, it is not a good idea to order food from them. So it is better to plan as a short one day trip either from Tirupati or Chennai or Madanapalle.
Moreover, there is nothing much to see around here except for the temple and dense forest waterfalls. Until we reached the checkpoint 1, we had trouble with the poor network connectivity.
Note: If you are planning to stay in the Talakona forest resort, it is best to carry this small water kettle to make tea, coffee and even cook noodles. This kettle comes handy when you have kids in the trip, and when you don’t have access to nearby local stalls. From what I have heard, it is not advisable to eat in the local stalls.
5. Trek to Talakona is suitable for older adults (but not in monsoon)
Since it was summer, we had no issue climbing up the unpaved stone stairs. But in monsoon, it would get slippery and hard to climb with the poor rails for support.
In some places, the rails were broken and fallen off from the track. Otherwise, it is safe to climb the man-made stairs with the rails support.
Talakona is the perfect romantic and adventurous getaway for youngsters. And the best place to hang out with family.
Talakona is a must visit tourist place if you are planning a trip to Tirupati.
To my fellow travellers:
Be early, enjoy the beauty of forest waterfalls in silence. And cherish the moment.
Be brave, take a cold shower in the hilltop, and be proud because not everyone can make to the top.
Be sensitive, don’t pollute the forest and the environment.
Trekking essentials – Things necessary for Talakona Trekking
#1. Small Backpack – To fit in all the travel essentials.
Size – Sufficient to fit 1 pair clothes, snacks, flip flops (chappals) and water bottle
Polythene bag /waterproof bag – to keep the wet clothes. Keep extra bag if needed to keep shoes or sandals water free just before you go to play in the falls
Soaps and hand sanitizer
Extras – Walking stick (especially for elders and to ward away monkeys)
Where to buy the cheap and best backpack?
I bought this small backpack from Decathlon sports and fitness shop in Bangalore. You could buy the same in the store or on their website. It is very handy, comfortable and lightweight backpack which fits in all the above-said essentials. Best suited for a single person. If you are travelling with a partner or with kids, its best to buy each bag for individuals to avoid tired and pain.
Avoid carrying family size bags up the hills – makes it difficult to trek the hills.
#2. Water Bottle
Summer or winter, trekking uphill always make you go thirsty for water. It is one of the most essential things in any kind of travel and definitely, you cannot travel without them for trekking to Talakona. So grab a bottle or two, make sure you are well hydrated throughout the trip.
As I mentioned before, it is not safe to buy bottles in the forest area stalls – as you would have never heard of those aqua brands before – so pack your own bottle or buy good brands before you hit the talakona border. Buy these reusable water bottles of high quality to protect the nature from plastics dumping.
#3. Travel towel
Essential for trekking and most important when you have the plan to play in the waterfalls. No One can resist this Talakona waterfalls falling 280 feet from the top of the mountain, which is said to carry medicinal properties – so it is not a bad idea at all, is not? So travel towel is an essential item in your backpack along with your change clothes. (there are no change rooms immediately near the falls, so need to climb down near to the Shiva temple to access the change rooms)
#4. Camera Bag
Needless to say, you need to protect them from water as you cannot leave them in open while you are bathing.
Healthy and space-saving snacks like chocolate bars, peanuts burfi, mixed nuts etc., These snacks not only occupy less space, they keep you full for a longer time from going hungry.
#6. Flip Flops
To relax your feet after a long walk. I saw locals climbing the hill with just flipflops, you could try too if you think will be comfortable and to save some space in the bag. We usually prefer shoes, comfortable for the bike ride. So we carry a pair of slippers for relaxing wherever we travel.
#7. Multi-Purpose scarf
This is our mandatory gear for our bike ride, it will be useful for you too if you are riding anywhere long distance by bike. You can use it as a scarf on your head to wear the helmet or on your face to protect from the sun and pollution.
#8. Basic skin care essentials
Soap, hand sanitizer, moisturizer, pocket comb etc.,
We are regular bike riders, so we have an exclusive travel kit to keep all the skin care essentials and medicines. Since it is a one day trip, you can toss in those cosmetics inside the bag, instead of carrying a pouch.
FAQ about Talakona Forest Waterfalls:
1. Where is the Talakona waterfalls located?
The Talakona waterfall is the highest waterfall in the Andhra Pradesh state with a 270 feet (82 m)-fall. It is located in Nerabailu village of Chittoor district in Andhra. It is situated 250 km from Bangalore, 220 km from Chennai, 58 km from Tirupati, 105 km from Chittoor and 102 km from Madanapalle.
How to reach Talakona waterfalls?
After reaching the forest entry (from Forest check-post security gate) it is about approx. 5 km distance to reach Shiva temple and 7 km ride to reach the waterfalls parking area.
Public transport buses from Tirupati, Madanapalle, Chennai would stop at this check-post. Otherwise, all types of private vehicles are permitted up-to waterfalls parking area, which is the closest parking area to waterfalls.
But some would prefer to halt at Shiva temple, whichever is convenient for you. So, if you have taken public transport, it is exactly 8.5 km walk to the waterfalls.
Details about the nearest railway station, Bus station and cab facility to Talakona Forest and waterfalls?
There is no direct railway connectivity to Talakona falls, one has to stop and change buses from Chittoor or Tirupati railway station.
Bus facilities are available from both the bus stations but are very infrequent.
Early morning direct bus available from Tirupati, but it is quite a long journey. Also, local taxi services in Tirupati would cost 2500/ -INR to 4000/- INR, varies for the season. So it is better to arrange own transport.
Are there any options for Room bookings, Hotels and Resorts near Talakona Forest?
Like public transport, hotel room availability is also not very supportive for the tourists. From what I gathered, the forest guest house facility is very poor and maintenance is not up to the expectation.
Needless to say, the struggle for good food, as the area is dominated by local food stalls which are dirty and untidy.
So it is better to look for accommodation in Tirupati or Madanapalle.
Also keeping the unavailability of restaurants in mind, it is advised to pack food and snacks from home or the nearest city.
What are the Activities to do / things to do in and around Talakona waterfalls?
Usually, people visit Talakona after Temple darshan at Tirumala Tirupathi. Or like us, people would directly come to talakona for trekking. In our next visit to Madanapalle, we are planning to visit the Horsley Hills. So the activities you could do when you are in Talakona –
Visit Lord Siddeshwara temple and seek his blessings
Trekking to hilltop – wear comfortable clothes and shoes, keep your luggage zip locked, keep a stick to ward off monkeys
Cook food, recreation with family and friends (alcohol prohibited)
Connect to mother nature, experience the forest away from city life
Poor network connectivity, disconnect with social media, connect with family and friends
Play in the pond -There is a beautiful pond at the waterfalls parking area for those who are not able to trek to the hilltop
Locker room facilities, Dress change rooms and washroom facilities in Talakona Waterfalls?
There are no locker room facilities, it is better to pack very light luggage. And there are dress change and washroom available but not clean, as there is no maintenance person.
Entry Fee, Timing, alcohol consumption and Photography in Talakona falls?
As I mentioned above, there are two checkpoints for vehicles.
One is forest checkpost where they check vehicles, note down the registration number, entry time and the number of visitors. There they collect 15/- for two-wheelers, 100/- INR for four wheelers and 100/- for cameras. Here entry time is open from early morning, but it is not preferable to reach the forest before 8 am as there won’t be any visitors until 9 am.
In the second entry point, which is near Shiva temple, the entry fee to waterfalls is collected. Here they collect 10/- per person for adults, 5/- per person for kids. The gate opens only by 9.15 am, until then you can spend time around the temple.
When is the best season to visit Talakona falls?
Usually, the best time to visit Talakona forest is between November to January. As you see in pics, there was a good amount of water flow even in March. It is suggested to avoid trekking during rainy season as it gets more dangerous in slippery rocks.
No alcohols or any impolite behaviour are entertained in the forest and waterfalls area.
By 4 pm, forest entry closes for visitors.
How much time one can spend in Talakona Falls?
From 9.15 am to 4 pm, you could spend time at the mountain top, playing and bathing. You could spend little more extra time in the area near the Lord Shiva temple, where you could find local food stalls and tea shops (hardly 1 or 2 shops)
Hope you got all the information you are seeking. For more details, you could ask your questions in the comment box below.