Kuntala Falls
Kuntala Falls

If you are looking for short day-trip ideas from Hyderabad, a good choice would be the Kuntala Falls in Adilabad district of Telangana. It can also become a weekend getaway if you visit nearby places like Nirmal, Dichpally and the forts around here.

Actually, the falls had not figured on the original itinerary of our trip last year. We had actually gone to visit Nirmal, the handicrafts town, where the famous eponymous toys are made. From there on our return journey, we were told that the waterfalls would make a good stopover especially since the recent rains had swollen the cascade.

At 147 ft, this is the highest waterfall in Telangana. The Kuntala Falls are around 45 km from Nirmal and around 240 km from Hyderabad. They are located in Sahyadri mountain range near Neredikonda village.
In fact, if you are taking public transport, you can reach Neredikonda village and hire private transport from here to the falls. 

It is a bumpy but motorable road and it will take about 10 minutes to reach the entry point. Once you get close, you disembark from the vehicle and walk along the path and around the rocks. There are steps you can take to reach the base of the falls. You will have to trek 408 steps down a tree-lined path to reach this base.

The forests here are inhabited by the Gonds, a tribe with a long history. Kunta means pond, both in the Gond dialect as well as in Telugu and Kuntalu is used for the plural form or a group of ponds, hence the name Kuntala. The falls are formed by the Kadam river.

The Kuntala Falls has been a popular picnic spot for a long time. In recent years, they have acquired more popularity thanks to the Telugu film Rani Rudrama Devi. The crew spent several days shooting at this spot.

The water cascades down through two steps and you can actually see two distinct waterfalls, adjacent to each other, after a heavy rainfall. The area was crowded with visitors when we reached. 

It was a Sunday and the weather was pleasant, which explained the tourist hordes. There was much shouting around—understandable given that it is hard to make yourself heard above the roar of the waters when you are so close to the cascade. The massive white sheets of water drenched us as we got close and the thundering cascade made for great photo-ops too.

The pictures were shot after we retread to a distance where no drops of water could reach us and the ground beneath us was also dry. Appropriate footwear is very important if you want to visit the falls. Also, picnicking and eating are permitted here but no alcohol. In recent years, there have been many deaths at this spot when tipsy visitors lost their balance, slipped on the rocks and got swept away by the waters. So keep your drinks for after the waterfalls visit.

Once we had done with the falls, we began our return journey. However, there was one more stop, which is highly recommended if you are visiting this area—the famous 14th-century temple, Dichpally Ramalayam, in Nizamabad district which was built by the Kakatiyas. It is a fairly long climb to reach the shrine—there are 105 steps—but it is very worth the climb. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Rama.

The temple is also important, archaeologically, because it has exquisite carvings and historical engravings. It is also sometimes called the Khajuraho of south India because of its erotic sculptures.

If you are here for a couple of days, you can check out the famous Nirmal paintings and the soft-wood toys of the same name, made in Nirmal town. 

Nirmal is home to four forts. They are all dated, we were told by the guide to around the 17th century and were built during the rule of Srinivas Rao. These are military forts and have suffered the ravages of time, but the ramparts are still intact for the most part and hence but worth a look if you have come this far. 

However, the structures inside are dilapidated and you will find ruins and bushy undergrowth everywhere. The Nirmal Fort aka Shyamgarh fort with the Bhairava Gutta is the best one among these and offers panoramic views of the surroundings and especially of the eponymous town. 

The Devarakonda temple here is worth a visit while there is an interestingly named well here—the Atta-Kodalla Bavi (or mother-in-law, daughter-in-law well) which people visit—and so did we—simply because we were intrigued by the name.