Cinema has stamped its influence on our lives in so many million ways. Over 25 years ago, we visited a waterfall near Coimbatore, with our extended family. It was a little after the release of the blockbuster movie – Vaidehi Kaathirunthal, which had a song partly shot there. The falls was named Vaidehi Falls, in its honour. It wasn’t as imposing as the ‘Punnagai Mannan’ falls (Athirappally falls in Kerala) but had its own charm. The speciality was a small slope, where you could slide down along with the water. The falls was located a few kms away from the nearest village, Narasipuram, which was connected to the city by a solitary bus then. From there, we had to take a bullock cart on a muddy road to reach the foothills and then trek some more distance on foot. The typically unruly behaviour of a few drunken youth at the falls, ensured we never visited the place again. But what made the experience unforgettable was the glorious wind that started blowing on our way back and almost carried us to Narasipuram, eliminating the need to hire the bullock carts.
Last month, we visited that area again to see a farm land. No bullock cart, this time – we were on a car. But yet another journey for a few kms on another muddy road, made muddier by recent rains. Our new found friend egged us on, getting out of the car, and walking down to ensure we don’t drive into a watery pit. Our car followed him. When we got down, we could see fresh elephant droppings and footprints of wild boars on the wet soil. The farm was at the foothills, on the edge of the forest. Only a dry stream separated it from the forest. Not too far away, a ‘kumki’ elephant had been brought that day to counter the wild ones. We breathed in the fresh air from the Western Ghats all around us. The silence was constantly pierced by the songs of the many unknown birds. Our friend pointed towards a thin white line on the mountain, not too far from where we were.
“That is the Vaidehi Falls.”
Much has changed. No more solitary bus – it is well connected now. There is a metal road till the foothills. No bullocks. No carts. But the name-
Don’t know if the falls had another name but this name has come to stay.
[Of course,I could’ve just played the song without having so much to say.]