Though Courtallam is witnessing an excellent season since the first week of June after a gap of a decade, the ill health of former Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi, among other factors, has hit the visitors’ ‘short stay’ at this place.
After the southwest monsoon actively set over Kerala in the first week of June, the entire stretch of Western Ghats is blessed with good rainfall to bring significant flow of water into major reservoirs in the district.
Courtallam, which would be bustling with seasonal activities for three months from June during this monsoon, is experiencing a good flow of water in all waterfalls. As the season began on a positive note, traders and those, who have contracted 700-odd houses in this spot to rent them to visitors for a short stay ranging from three to four days, believed that the season would bring them good fortune.
These contractors, who have taken on lease the houses with three to five bedrooms, charge Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 per bedroom per day. This tariff, like the flight ticket, would be increased during weekends as the demand goes up.
Though the tariff is heavy, almost all houses in and around Courtallam enjoyed heavy bookings this year. After mid-July every year or birth of the Tamil month ‘Aadi,’ members of various rganisations, caste outfits and political parties would organise meetings or camps at Courtallam for two to three days to rejuvenate their members by accommodating them in these rented houses possessing all facilities.
Even as the number of ‘short stay visitors’ was swelling and contractors were expecting bulk bookings during ‘Aadi,’ it nosedived in the wake of poor health of Mr. Karunanidhi.
“The season was moving to the crescendo. But everything changed suddenly and mass cancellation of bookings shocked all of us. We cannot blame tourists as they fear that any unfortunate development may topple their vacation. If you get stranded with your family without food and transport, what will you do? So, tourists come in the early hours, take bath in the waterfalls and leave in the evening without staying at Courtallam,” said Shenbhaga Rajan, one of the contractors.
On August 3, only 28 tourists were seen taking bath at the Old Courtallam Falls around 10 p.m. which would otherwise be overflowing with visitors and their vehicles along the narrow road for more than a kilometre.
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