Away from the hustle and bustle of the busy traffic and pollution of the city life on a nice cloudy weekend, we zoomed away for an 80 kilometers ride from Chennai to enjoy nature. The place is on the border of Chennai and Andhra Pradesh called Tada. We were on the lookout for a waterfall near Chennai that could cool our souls and a hangout place that could give us some inner peace. We got a bonus by getting to know the surrounding areas like Pulicat Lake and Naglapuram famous for its dense forests and crystal clear water bodies. So if you are planning for a short one day holiday amidst the busy schedule, then these are the places to visit.
These places are quite unheard of if you are new to Chennai, as it falls on the National highway from Chennai to Kolkata (NH 16, previously NH 5). There are quite high chances that one could miss the place while driving on a beautiful four lane road on a traffic free weekend. We got a fair idea of the place by reading another blog ‘Tada Falls Trek’ by Mr. Manish Kumar Singh. Not great enthusiasts of trekking that we are, this blog injects desire to try out trekking with some breath-taking images. The Pulicat Lake is the second largest lagoon in India after the Chilika Lake.
When Should You Visit?
The ideal time to visit this place is between October and March where approximately 15,000 greater flamingos along with pelicans, kingfishers, herons and ducks visit this place. Otherwise, a short trip to this place would do justice just to appreciate the beauty of this lagoon and also for a boat ride. We also saw few exciting pictures on a blog by Mr Ashok.
Reflection of mountains on still waters
Things that one must do when visiting these places:
- Carry sufficient water and snacks, if you are opting for trekking in Naglapuram. This place is quite isolated, but a guide will accompany you. There are guides available at the cost of Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 – suggest you to take them and don’t forget to bargain 😉
- Even though there are only wild bears that could be seen in the forest, please do not try making unique sounds inside the forest only to be poached by them later.
- People with DSLRs, these are the places for you test your photography skills with some breath-taking sceneries. You would need to shell out Rs 25 for Camera apart from the entrance fee of Rs 25 to enter inside Tada forest.
- A proper pair of trekking shoes is a must. People visiting from the months of early July need to note that this area gets a lot of rain due to the dense forest that it is. So when you go for a trek, it is advisable to return back to the starting point by 4 PM.
- There is a hill top temple almost on top of the waterfall. This has a separate way of reaching it and would be ideal to visit if advised by your guide.
- Any place for trekking attracts a lot of insects, so it would be advisable to wear a full sleeved t-shirt and trousers that are comfortable during trekking.
- The water in the Pulicat Lake is very salty. So carrying extra pair of clothes for changing is advisable. Remember, Pulicat lake is not a fresh water lake, its a back water.
The Start of an exciting journey:
We started from Chennai by 8 ‘o’clock in the morning and reached Tada by 10 ‘o’ clock. These places are tough to travel on a weekday where there would be heavy traffic due to presence of several industries in the SEZs present here. Tada itself has one of the biggest SEZs named Sri City, which is a dream project of the Honourable Chief Minister Mr. Chandrababu Naidu. It houses all the top major manufacturing industries right from, Colgate-Palmolive, Isuzu, Mondelez , PepsiCo and many more. After reaching Tada, we were appropriately guided by the local people there to reach the base point of the forest.
We decided to start off with trekking as we knew that it wouldn’t be safe beyond a point in the evening to stay in this area. So we kept our plan to go to Pulicat Lake in the evening as we were told by the locals that this was not the season where we would find the migratory birds. But we still thought a dip in the lake and a ride on the boat would be a definite must.
Trek to the hill top:
So, the journey started by planning the trek. We decided to visit places that had more pools and trust me you get to see the beauty of nature when you see the crystal clear naturally formed pools with small fishes clearly visible. Even though there was enough rain to make the surface slippery for one to trek, this place still has a lot of humidity and saps the energy out of you. So the cold water of the pools was soothing to the body.
A Collage of our trip
At some places the path was very narrow that you would have to hold the branches of the tree and then cross it. There were really deep pits which had sharp stones or rocks, where one would have to be very careful while trekking. People come there in groups with their rucksacks and items like pot and stove to cook, eat and stay there for the night. The trek is totally 12 Kilometres, which is the two way path. We totally covered 3 pools. The waterfall wasn’t that particularly impressive probably due to the 3 months of summer or even the constant beating down of the sun in these places.
The guide was kind enough to get us three boxes of biryani and one can’t complain about the taste in the middle of a forest. It was around 1 PM in the afternoon and after all the swimming in the pool and the trekking all of us were hungry. We decided to give our tired legs a break and were having a conversation with other tourists who were cooking and eating without spreading the aroma to the wild animals in the forest! We then decided to come back to the base point and this time we were quick enough to come back partly due to the familiarity with the route and also some energy restored back in our legs. It was around 4.30 in the evening when we along with a group of other people reached the base point. We then rushed to make a quick visit to the Pulicat Lake.
Cooling heels at the Pulicat Lake:
It is a 27 Kilometers ride from Tada. The nearest railway station is the Sulurpeta railway station and also Sriharikota, the base point for all rocket launches by the ISRO, is also very close to this place. For all the History lovers, there is an ancient Dutch Fort which is almost more than 400 years old and also a Church built by them where only the ruins of it can be seen. We again decided to have a dip in the lake that connects the Bay of Bengal and the evening sea breeze was soothing after all the hard day’s work in trekking.
Journey back home:
While coming back from Tada, after all the walking has been done, if you feel that justice has to be done to your tummy, then you have got a restaurant named Swathi which is a 3 star restaurant where different varieties of food are available. If that is not your option then you have a Café Coffee Day near the Andhra Pradesh check post to have a cup of coffee and to recharge your brain.
As we drove back home, we realized that the silent and the dense atmosphere of the forest with the buzzing insects like the grasshoppers and crickets are forever a path for self-realization, only to make you fall in love with the place and come again.
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Reference: This article is contributed by Samuel, Madhav, Ragesh, Garima, Abhinav and Sudarshan, students of Institute For Financial Management Research (IFMR).