A trek to discover and explore Rainbow waterfalls

Mazhavil Waterfalls
Mazhavil Waterfalls. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

I first came to know about 'Rainbow Waterfall' in Malayinchi through one of my friends. He had shared some pictures of the waterfall and they were simply breathtaking. The decision was instantaneous – our next trek, organized by our group, HAI – Hiking Association of India, would be to this less explored destination in Idukki.

A squad of travel bugs, from various parts of Kerala, met at Ernakulam, from where we started off. A hamlet in Idukki with no trace of sophistication, Malayinchi, is 95 kms from Ernakulam, beyond Thodupuzha and Cheenikuzhi.

There were just a couple of houses on both sides of the untarred road that was just wide enough for a jeep to pass through. After a meal at a house about half a kilometer from Malayinchi, we set out. Food, we knew would be hard to come by. We packed enough water and food stuff and we were off. Two native guides accompanied us.

Half a kilometer on, we noticed a change in the foliage. We were entering a jungle. We were told that there are no dangerous animals in these woods, but we could not get over the fear factor. The journey was tough, as we had to clamber over rocks at many places. Often we had to lend a helping hand to each other to get over the rocky terrain.

A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls
A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

We could now hear the rustle of a river flowing somewhere nearby. We slowed down and walked towards the river. Finding a river in a forest is a very comforting experience. We rested here and it was time to swap stories and experiences. Did you know that if you get lost in a jungle, following the river or a stream downhill would be the easiest way to get out of it?

A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls
From the trek. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

At some steep spots, we had to recourse to ropes to get down. And you have to be very careful about where you put your next foot. For we spotted a lot of snakes on our way. As we walked on, we found thick climbers winding up the trees. These climbers, known as ‘Plash’ were storehouses of drinking water. A single climber, if cut open, could give enough water to quench one person’s thirst. I first came across these water-storing climbers during my trekking through the woods of Peechi. It was an amazing experience to drink from ‘plash’. When we left the spot, everyone of us had a piece of plash between our lips!

We trudged on for another three hours before we started hearing the roar of the waterfall. Most of the group were too tired to walk any further, but this sound spurred us on. And then, we saw the waterfall. It was enveloped on three sides by huge rocks. The only way to get to it was to wade through the flowing water. We decided to clamber down the rock by using ropes.

A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls
Exploring the waterfall. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

To see water cascading down two hundred feet, splashing on the rocks at the bottom and forming rainbows was just spectacular. And we had no doubts about why this waterfall got this name. We made our trip in summer, and hence, water was scarce. We were told that it was more spectacular during the rainy months.

We had a great time at the Rainbow waterfall. It was a thoroughly refreshing experience taking the bath in the extremely fresh crystal clear water. We felt rejuvenated and forgot all our tedious efforts to reach there.

A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls
At the waterfall. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

After spending an hour at the foot of the multicolored waterfall, we started our return trip. Trekking back was much easier, as the bath and the lunch had immensely invigorated us. On our way back the local guides who came with us showed us a small cave where some trekker had stayed over.

A trek to discover and explore the Rainbow Waterfalls
A refreshing bath. Photo: Madhu Thankappan

It was dusk when we reached the house where we had our breakfast. Back tea and boiled tapioca were waiting for us. The food tasted great, but the memories of the trek were sweeter. On our way back, we could not stop talking about the trek. Months, on they still remain in our minds.

(The author Madhu Thankappan likes to explore the unexplored and organises treks for HAI- Hiking Association of India. This article was published in Malayalam on his blog and is reproduced with the permission of the author)

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