Starting my first destination in India with the roaring Athirappilly falls….
This week, I take you to Athirappilly the famous waterfall in Kerala. Closer home, this is one destination that anyone can visit. No elaborate plans or preparations needed. Just fill up your fuel tank and take off to this beautiful destination….
This Niagara of South India will take your breath away for sure! A beautiful waterfall; the largest in Kerala, Athirappilly must be in every nature lover’s bucket list. Athirappilly falls is located on the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district of Kerala. The Chalakudy river is the fifth largest river in Kerala. The bountiful fall is seen mostly in the monsoon season or immediately after that. If there is a shortage of rainfall, the quantity of water flowing is reduced unlike in Niagara where the flow is constant by and large.
The Chalakudy river originates in the Anamalai ranges of the Western Ghats and after an initial smooth flow, cascades 80 feet below at Athirappilly creating this magnificent waterfall. Here, the river flows in between rocks and forms three plumes before it plummets down. The peculiarity of this waterfall is that the entire breadth of the river cascades down the rocky ledge.
There are two views of the falls. One from the top which is where we reach first. A trek down a mud road takes one to the lower part where there is a totally different view of the falls. The trek up after seeing the falls from below can be a little challenging.
Have a look….
The falls as seen just as one approaches it.
We drove down from Coimbatore on NH 544 Salem Kochi highway. The diversion to Athirappilly is clearly marked on the sign boards after Thrissur. Once we diverted to Athirappilly on the left, we reached a more picturesque environment. Winding roads, with thick forests on either side welcomed us. A couple of theme parks for children are also located on this road.
As we drove further down we crossed the deceptively calm Chalakudy river. We were fooled by this calmness as the same river roars with ferocity at Athirappilly falls a few kilometres away.
The deceptively calm Chalakudy river.
As we drove further down we reached Thumboormuzhi dam where there is a beautiful foot bridge across the river.
The beautiful foot bridge at Thumboormuzhi
A couple of bridges to cross and we were at the first view point of the falls. Here we saw the falls from a distance across a forested area.
The falls as seen from the first view point
A short drive further down and we were at the main entrance to the falls.
There is a ticket counter where we purchased tickets . The entrance and ticket counter are made of bamboo giving it a very natural feel and matching the surroundings.
The entrance to the falls
From there we walked for a few metres and reached a flat rocky area. We walked on the rocks carefully as it was slippery at places. At many places we had to skip over a small stream of water.
The flat rocky area just before the river tumbles down
After we walked in between the rocks for a few metres, we reached the actual point of the falls. Suddenly the flat rocky terrain is not there and all we can see is the river hurtling down a rocky precipice . When we went we saw the river flowing down as two or three branches. With incessant rain, this can be just one broad mass of water….I was told.
The point where the river plummets down
A rainbow at the site of the falls
There is another fascinating sight at the edge of the falls….a cute little hut (Watcher hut) which is believed to have withstood many a spate in the river.
The mighty hut!!
After enjoying the view of the mighty falls from above, we decided to trek to the bottom of the falls. A passage paved with stones with a bamboo fencing leads to the bottom of the falls. We followed the path and soon were at the bottom of the falls. The trek passes through some forested area and can be a challenge to the less agile.
The path leading to the bottom of the falls
The view from the bottom was awesome!! Here it was very windy and the roaring of the water added to the thrill. Have a look…
Looking at the falls from below….a different perspective
Get the feel of being at the base of the falls by clicking on the video above
At the base of the falls….An exhilarating moment indeed!
After all the trekking , we were tired and decided to take a short break. Had a coffee and some local snacks at one of the food stalls around constantly keeping a watch on the monkeys around.
Then we decided to visit Vazhachal falls which is about 5 kms upstream. The drive to Vazhachal was through some dense bamboo thickets along the road which added to the charm.
The bamboo lined road to Vazhachal
The entrance to Vazhachal is also beautifully done up in bamboo. The tickets for Athirappilly can be used at Vazhzchal too.
The entrance to Vazhachal falls
A herbal garden lies on the way from the entrance to the falls.
The Vazhachal falls is more flat . Take a look…..
At Vazhachal falls
We had decided to stay for a couple of days at Athirappilly and were put up at the Plantation Valley resort which was a beautiful resort on the banks of the Chalakudy river.
The beautiful Plantation Valley Resort
The Chalakudy river seen from the resort.
After a refreshing stay on the banks of the Chalakudy river and few more visits to the actual falls, we decided to drive back on a different route.
We drove back via Sholayar dam and Valparai to reach Pollachi and returned to Coimbatore. This route is very picturesque but sometimes you may encounter elephants here.
Foggy tea estates lined this route adding to the charm…
Foggy tea estates near Valparai
We had a bonus during this drive; a lone Nilgiri Tahr was resting by the roadside near Sholayar. Nilgiri Tahrs are mountain goats which are an endangered species and so finding one on the roadside was really a surprise!
A lone Nilgiri Tahr by the roadside
Enjoying the beauty of the tea gardens of Valparai, we reached Pollachi and from there on, it was back in to the hustle and bustle of the city.
It was a nice easy to do holiday….easily doable by anyone…so don’t put it off…just hit the road to Athirappilly!!!
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