Sitting on the south-eastern edges of Andhra Pradesh, in the dense forests of Chittoor, lies the magnificent Talakona waterfalls. Located inside the Sri Venkateswara National Park near Tirupati, this perennial waterfall drops from a height of 270 feet and is the highest of the state. The Talakona waterfall is the highlight of the Tirumala mountain ranges and a pride of the Eastern Ghats. In fact, the name Talakona comes from the local translation which means ‘head of the hills’ and the waterfalls sitting atop the Seshachalam hills justifies its sobriquet.
This emerald nature resort with dense forests, waterfalls, and wildlife, is a heavenly respite for urban travelers and makes for a perfect weekend getaway.
How to reach
Talakona lies in the Nerabailu village of Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, with the closest town being Tirupati. If you are traveling from or around Chennai, you can rent an affordable and reliable car from Chennai and set out for Talakona via Tirupati Road. It takes about three to four hours to reach Tirupati and from there, it is another two hours till you reach the forests of the Seshachalam Hills.
Exploring Talakona and its surroundings
The waterfalls and its territory are popular among explorers, trekkers, nature lovers, and spiritualists. The lush green enclave is a treasure trove of exotic flora and fauna. Even the waters of Talakona Falls are rich in minerals and considered therapeutic. In 1989, the entire region was declared a ‘biosphere reserve’ in order to protect the bounties of nature. it is better to book a car rental service with a driver for a comfortable and hassle-free journey.
For the love of wildlife
The forests around the Talakona region host numerous rare and endangered species like the Slender Loris (a tree rodent), Indian giant squirrel, golden gecko, mouse deer, porcupine, Chital and Sambar deer, and occasionally, panthers. The vegetation is replete with sandalwood trees, endemic plants like red sanders, cycads (wild palm-like shrubs) rare species of mushrooms, and some medicinal plants. Deeper into the woods, you might spot rare wildflowers and exotic butterflies, making you want to capture them all on camera.
If you are seeking some adventure in the forests, opt for the long trek that leads to the top of the hills. You can also choose to hike through the woods for about 2 Km and reach the waterfalls. The gushing streams of the falls are always clear and cold, even in summers, making it a refreshing break for the tired trekkers. While locals believe that the source of the waterfalls can never be traced, you can still enjoy the view from the top of the cliff on the upper reaches. You can choose from multiple trek route options, each with their own level of difficulty and sightseeing.
For those looking for longer stays with friends or families, you can choose to camp in the greens. There are small log huts, dorms, and tents on offer for campers in designated areas of the forest.
Besides its natural beauty, Talakona is also considered a holy site, for the Siddheswara Swami Temple, located in the vicinity. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is said to be built 140 years ago and presently serves as a major pilgrimage site of the region. The otherwise serene forest gets swarmed with devotees during festivals like Shivratri. The mountains surrounding the temple are dotted with smaller caves, where they say, the ancient ascetics still meditate and are not to be disturbed. The base of the waterfalls that flow towards the temple has come to be a bathing ‘ghat’ for pilgrims and devotees.
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With such natural wonders and the gift of spiritual peace, the idyllic reserve of Talakona is fulfilling and enriching in every manner.
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