Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Him: Hey. What's the plan for tomorrow? Me: Uh...Nothing! Him: Let's go on a trip. Are you in? Me: Uh (Again)... Count me in as of now.. (Recalling an old phrase, "Even if you have no choice, don't leave the attitude") So this is happening again! Roughly three months after our voyage to Parvathamalai, we are going on another trip. It was unplanned; otherwise, this wouldn't have happened, I believe. Most importantly, the destination was decided in unison, "Ubbalamadugu Waterfalls". Long intro short, Ubbalamadugu, a.k.a. "Tada falls" is located in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, bordering Tamil Nadu. This spot is very famous among the residents of Chennai, which is just around 100kms away. An excellent place for one-day trips and for those who want to extend, Sri Kalahasti, Tirupati, and Sriharikota are not so far away. It was March 1st week, and the sun already started to soar up in Chennai, touching 35+ frequently. Hence the most important question... Pani hoga udhar? (would there be water in the falls?). We got it confirmed from anonymous sources somehow and started packing our trekking gears. The most beautiful phase in any trip is the travelling part, I believe. The whole notion behind the voyage was an escape from the routine office life. So using public transport was never an option for us. When you have the luxury of getting a car at your fingertips (and when you have the people to share the cost :D), then why a tiring and time-specific public transport isn't it?. But for those who want to have a local experience, you have the options. Tada fall is well connected with Chennai by Train and Road. You can board a local train from Chennai Central to Tada railway station, which would take around 1.5hours. Then you need to take an auto/ taxi to cover the next 20kms to the destination. If you are a bus lover, you will get options from Koyambedu bus terminal to Varadaiahpalem village, the nearest to Tada, and then take an auto/ taxi as per your convenience (Sharpen your bargain skills before :/) So the day has arrived! We had booked an Ola outstation to pick us up right at 7.30 am. As we were already expecting, we left late by 30mins. Put the goggles, tied the laces, fastened the seat belts, and we set on our journey. The easiest way by road to reach Tada is taking NH-16 if you are starting from Chennai. To our dismal, nothing was interesting or worth taking the window seat on the way, unless for your comfort. The only time we stopped midway was for having breakfast, and you will get good restaurants too mid-way. But when you are travelling in a group of like-minded people, disappointment cannot take a seat. We chatted, taunted, played, sang, danced, and what not! A word of caution: Just be careful about the permit fee at the border. We had to pay Rs.2500 extra to the SUV driver for a single to and fro permit, and to date, we feel cheated. Sceneries changed drastically when the driver took a sharp left turn from the NH, to the Varadaiahpalem village. We crossed a bustling town, a calm village, and acres of green meadows. The sun was raging, the road was dusty, and fellow sapiens couldn't be seen except for the 'jacketed' ones on motorbikes. We reached the Tada entry point by 11 am, which would be open from 8 am to 4 pm. Quoting the security guards, "Alcohol cannot be taken inside. If you have brought anything, have it here itself and then enter". You get the logic, don't you?
An entry fee of Rs.30 per adult and extra for the vehicle should be paid. From the entry point, you need to travel another few kilometres to reach the parking spot. This route is very undulated and super-crazy. Make sure to get a vehicle with proper ground clearance. After a hip-wrecking ride, we reached the parking spot. Basic amenities like toilets and dressing rooms were available. We got prepared for the trek, SPF-40 was applied like oil all over the visible parts (Pretty immature things you would do when you are in the fun mood), put on the goggles and took the path leading to our right. Nahi Karna Tha!! That way was leading to the reservoir and the falls were on to our left. We walked and walked a long way on the dusty unpaved path before we realised we made a fool of ourselves. As my friend put, it was like walking through the Mexican scrublands bordering the USA (Influence of 'Narcos'). Hence if you don't have ample time to explore the unexplored, take a left from the parking area unless you want to end up dusty
The trek starts by crossing a small bridge over a transparent stream of water. It is picturesque and worth enough stopping for a few pics. Since it was a Sunday, many people were there for the trail. On the course of the trail, you will find many steps on your left leading to the stream, where you can spend some time chilling in the water. But these places are very downstream to the areas where tourists go for a dip, and so you can imagine the quality of water you will get here. We walked where the path led us and found a big artificial pool where hundreds of people were playing, swimming, and chilling. We conveniently avoided that crowd and continued our trail. To our dismay, the entry to the falls was closed that day. You can watch the falls from far, but cannot enter into the pool. Some said it had been closed for long due to security reasons. I don't vouch for any of these remarks as I don't know the truth. Why the heck would we trek a hard rocky terrain if we can't enjoy the destination. We started walking back to that large pool in disappointment when the Columbus in us tickled. There was a narrow, steep slope on to our left, which was hidden from the eyes of many. We went down the hill and what we saw was heaven! A brilliantly clear pool with fishes and small falls just large enough to accommodate the six of us. We were delighted and boasted our decision to drop the idea of trekking.
The water was super cold and refreshing. We were very fortunate to find this place soon as some other groups also came after us looking for a spot. So if you are coming here, look for this kind of spots instead of plunging into the crowded pool. We spent hours in the water. Endless talks, arguments, truth and dare to taunt each other and also fishing! Never wanted to leave that place as we have not experienced such refreshment for years. But the clock was ticking, it was already past 3 pm and we were hungry. Reluctantly, we got out of the water, changed wet clothes and started trekking back to the parking area. Yes! We went to a waterfall spot and didn't even mind seeing the falls and that makes this blog different. Overall, the Ubbalamadugu falls may not excite the voyager in you. I won't even dare to compare this trek with that of Parvathamalai. However, being said that, the place seems safe and is visited by many. This is a perfect weekend getaway for the Chennaites travelling in groups. Quoting Ibn Battuta, "TRAVELING – IT LEAVES YOU SPEECHLESS, THEN TURNS YOU INTO A STORYTELLER"