Athirapally - A Little Beyond the Mani Ratnam Effect

Having watched a few of film director Mani Ratnam's classics, I was convinced that there was one place that he truly loved - especially in God's Own Country.

Athirapally - A Little Beyond the Mani Ratnam Effect

Published: byGitanjali Diwakar,23 Nov, 2016

Places I explored :

Athirappilly Water Falls

Known for its lush green surroundings, Athirapally is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala. The Athirapally waterfalls has attracted thousands of people from across the world.

Curious to know more about the area, I decided to pester my parents to take my brother and me on a road trip to this scenic area.

The Athirapally Waterfalls

Thus, began a journey on fine morning in May. I set out at 7 am from Ernakulam after a rather sumptuous breakfast. Athirapally is situated in Kerala's Thrissur district. Interestingly, Thrissur is also the cultural capital of Kerala.

I must say, that the drive was unlike any other. As we drove along the banks of a river, it was obvious as to why many praise the natural vegetation of the Kerala. The roads were not as wide but they were well maintained. If you are a biker, these terrains are truly what one could consider as heavenly.

Upon reaching our destination, we decided to check in to the Plantation Valley guest house built on the banks of the Chalakudy river. The monsoons do add a unique charm to the place as well; enhancing the greenery around.

We decided to trek to the forests of the Sholayar range the following day. Here's a tip: If you wish to explore the forests of Kerala, especially in the monsoons, carry a bottle of salt. Leeches are bound to stay away.

These were wise words spoken by our guide before we had entered the forests. Athirapally's forests are home to a variety of wildlife - wild elephants, porcupines, the 'nadan kozhi,' the King Cobra and various other reptiles as well. The month of March is said to be the ideal season for wildlife enthusiasts to visit d these forests. However, despite visiting the area in May, we were fortunate to spot a few unique species of flora and fauna. You are bound to be greeted by the Malabar Squirrel, the Grey Hornbill as well a variety of frogs and spiders.

River flowing from the jungle

The trek led us to Athirapally's popular landmark - the waterfalls. Rushing down at a speed of approximately 1,836 cu ft/s, this waterfalls is also known as the 'Niagara falls of India.'  The Athirapally waterfalls has also witnessed several controversies surrounding the establishment of a hydroelectricity plant in the area.

It was truly amazing to walk through the forests; crossing tiny streams to finally reach our destination. As I stood before the waterfalls, I was nothing more than speechless. It was, as if, one of Mani Ratnam's movies had come alive. Here I got a chance to click a unique breed of frogs found in Athirapally and the Malabar Squirrel.

Unique breed of frogs found in Athirapally

After a long yet exciting trek, we decided to head back to the room, pack-up and were homeward bound. The trip had painted a rather vivid description in my mind - a picture so serene, peaceful and calm. It was then that I had taken an oath that I hope to fulfill. That is - to explore the forests until I truly understand the essence of perfection.

The Malabar squirrel

The trip at a glance:

Location: Athirapally, Thrissur district

How do you get there:  Athirapally is situated approximatately two hours from heart of Kochi City, Ernakulam district and about one and half hour's drive from the Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery. There are frequent bus services from Nedumbassery to Thrissur or your could even consider a board a train from Aluva to Thrissur. Upon reaching Thrissur you could take a bus to Athirapally. It would, however, be wiser if you travel by your own vehicle as Athirapally is quite far from Thrissur town.

Cost of accommodation:  A twin -shared a/c accommodation at the plantation guest house would cost you not more than Rs. 2500 + tax. You could even avail the dormitory facility which would cost you about Rs. 5000 + Tax. The dormitory consists of 10 beds.

Places to see around Athirapally:

Avid trekkers can explore the Sholayar range in its entirety. Those of you who are pious can explore some of the oldest temples of the state. This includes the famous Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple and the Koodalmanikyam Bharat Temple in Irinjalakuda. While the Guruvayoor Temple is about an hour north of Athirapally, the Koodalmanikyam temple is about 45 minutes south of Athirapally.

You could even explore the following areas:

  1. The Vazhachal forest gardens and waterfalls: Situated about five kilometers from Athirapally, the Vazhachal falls takes is home to yet another variety of exquisite flora and fauna
  2. Charpa falls - About 3.5 kilometers to the east of Athirappilly is the enchanting but lesser known Chapra falls which plunges on to the road during monsoon
  3. Malakapara tea gardens: These tea gardens are situated approximately 50 kilometres from Athirapally. The path, which is complemented with many hairpin bends takes you to the fascinating sculptured beauty of the place.
  4. Peringalkuthu and Sholayar Dams: These dams, situated 20 kilometres from Athirapally generate hydroelectricity power to the state. One must seek permission to enter these dams.
  5. Malayatoor Church: The Malayatoor Church is a popular pilgrimage site for many Christians, especially those belonging to Kerala. It was set-up by St . Thomas the Apostle sometime during the year 52 AD. This church has also been considered as one among the eight international shrines by the Vatican.


Jignesh Gohel23-nov-2016

I recently visited Athirapally waterfall but could not go for trekking due to limited time. I really enjoyed reading your experience and will definitely go on trek to interior area (does it require permission from forest department?) to click the different views of the waterfall.