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Athirapally – The waterfall from the movies

They say nature is best artist. And no where is it more apparent than a walk down the slippery rocks covered with greenery all around. The only thing for campany being the mist generated from water hitting the rocks after an 80ft fall. Welcome to the highest waterfall of Kerala, Athirapally.

Table of Contents:
Athirapally at a Glance
  1. How to reach, Tickets & Timings
  2. Other attractions nearby

My journey to Athirapally
  1. Rubber plantations
  2. The First Look
  3. View from top
  4. View from up close

Athirapally at a glance:

Athirapally (also known as Athirapilly) is the  largest waterfall in Kerala. It is located in the Trissur district and is a major tourist attraction as it beautifully intertwines lush green forest cover and the sizzling white cascade of river Chalakuddy. It is particularly furious in monsoon and swells to epic levels, creating a massive run away blitz, that has earned itself the nick name of “Niagra of India”.

Athirapally in Monsoon (pic curtesy taxiinthrissur)

Apart from the beauty, the fact that the waterfall has featured in so many movies, has also catapulted it into a must visit for many. Some notable movies are Baahubali, Raavan, Pukar, Yaariyan, Dil se, Guru etc.

How to Reach, Tickets & Timings:

How to Reach:
The nearest big city is Kochi. It is 73 KM away and is well connected to the rest of the country via rail and air. From Kochi the best way to reach Athirapally is by using a hired cab (Rs. 1300 to Rs. 2000).
Other mode is to reach Chalakuddy Railway station by train and then take a taxi or bus to Athirapally.

Where to Stay:
Most people prefer staying at Kochi, which has lots of budget and premium lodging options, and go to Athirapally as a day trip.
Alternatively there are a few hotels and resorts in Athirapally as well, the most prominent among those being Rainforest Resort.

Tickets and Timings:
Vehicle Permit: Rs. 20 to Rs. 50 depending upon size. Permit is needed to enter the reserve forest where Athirapally is situated
Ticket: Indian – Rs. 30, Foreigner – Rs. 100
Best Time to visit: Late July to early September (receding Monsoon) is the best time to visit as it is then that the fall is in its full glory. However the fall is pretty all throughout the year.
Entry Time: 8AM to 6 PM

Other attractions nearby:

  • Vazhachal waterfall (5 KM)
  • Charpa Falls
  • Kundoormad Waterfall
  • Malayattur Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Abhayaranyam zoo
  • Peringalkuthu Dam
  • Kodanand Elephant Training Centre (10 km)

Trip bonus:

Do plan a romantic coffee date with your better half at Rainforest Resort’s coffee shop. The coffee costs around Rs. 150 a cup, with fall in the backdrop, it just is unmissable.


My Journey to Athirapally:

Athirapally was high on my Kerala bucket list, since the day I saw Raavan. The waterfall was so prominently featured in the movie, that it almost became a character in itself. White frothy, cascade followed by crystall clear water, along with a little bit of mist, was the image I had in my mind while I embarked upon my trip to the highest waterfall of Kerala.

It was an early morning drive from Kochi, which took us from the crammed bylanes of the city to the free flowing highways of the countryside. The beauty of Kerala was on full display as Farms, trees and small hills dotted the route, flanking the road on both sides.

Slowly the tree cover drew denser, vehicular traffic became sparse and the random villager riding a bicycle vanished. Joseph, our cabbie, was quick to mention that we had entered the Athirapally Forest, the wilderness that hid our destination in its lap.

Rubber all around:

Throughout, the road was in a great shape and was covered by trees on all sides. The early morning sunlight seeping through the small openings of the tree cover was creating a great camouflaged affect on the dark asphalt in front of us.

The road to Athirapally

Soon enough we had reached the forest department office. It is where we had to take pass for our vehicle and tickets for the fall. While waiting for the passes to be issued, I noticed something interesting.

I realized that some of the trees around the office had half cut coconut shell attached to them. On taking a closer look I could see a small cut on its bark, and sap seeping out, which was being collected into those shells. Intrigued, I asked the driver as to what tree was it, to which he quickly replied “rubber”.

Rubber trees with containers attached to collect Sap.

I had learnt in school that rubber is made from sap of rubber plant, but seeing one for real was such a fascinating thing. It is worth noting that Kerala is the largest producer of rubber in India and India as a whole is the 4th largest rubber producer in the world.

First Look that took my breath away:

My ears started to ring a little, as our car gained altitude. There were gentle bends and gradual climb, so the drive was pretty smooth as compared to other hilly drives I have had. The cab started slowing down, steadily moving towards the left side of thrmw road. Joseph pulled over, rolled his windows down, pointed towards his righy and exclaimed, “Athirappilly!”. I finally caught my first glimpse of the mighty waterfall.

Athirapally waterfall as seen from the road.

The first look itself was enough to take my breath away. Such an awe inspiring beauty. The white cascading water making its way to the bottom of the fall in a few gorgeous streams. The green trees, brown rocks and white frothy water, it had to be the best imagery of a waterfall. No wonder this fall has featured in so many movies, and like a veteran in the art, Athirapally gives a scintillating performance, every time.

The view was too good to not indulge in a photoshoot 😉

Entry to the fall:

After clicking a few pictures of the milky white water falling down from the rocks, we boarded our cab to get up close and personal with the fall. It took around 15 odd minutes and we reached the gates of Athirapally (Athirappilly, as it is known locally).

The gate of Athirapally.

Inside the gate a cobbled path welcomed us into the lap of nature. Trees all around, some had small flowers, while others were loaded with leaves of various shades of green. The path is made of stone, with concrete railings on one side, and uphill climb on the other. The path goes up and then down like a wave in the ocean, and to be honest its quite a trek.

As I walked higher and higher, the forest started to become quite, with just sounds of birds chirping overhead. Given the fact that it was a working day meant there were a very thin number of tourists besides us. This was certainly a welcome diversion from the usual commotion of tourist places of India.

I walked for around 15 minutes before I could hear the gigantic voice of the falls. It started to become more and more pronounced as I continued to trek forward. The whole path leading up to the fall is around 500 mtr, however its the meandering wave like serpentine road, that makes it a bit of a challenge.

View from the top:

I was standing on a forest clearing, all the trees behind me and scattered rocks in front. The river flowing past huge rocks, making its way towards the inevitable cliff, to drop down as the spellbinding beauty that is the Athirapally waterfall.

River Chalakudy, is an otherwise tranquil and gentle waterbody, however it turns turbulent at this point owing to this 80 ft. drop. Altough the flow of water was low in this season, still Athirapally was gushing with emmense force. I could only imagine the force in monsoons, when it is at the peak of its glory.

The top of the cliff also provided for great panoramic view of the valley below. To ensure safety, guard rails made of bamboo are setup at all places, which prevent people from venturing into dangerous parts the cliff in search of that elusive perfect selfie.

The view up close:

Getting to the bottom of the fall was the next thing on my mind. A signage near the forest clearing marked the route to the base of the fall. It was a slippery road, owing to the thundering spectacle close by, plumetting down, sprinkling water all around and creating a halo of mist and fog.

Once down at the base, I had to traverse through random rocky out cropping and shrubs. The sound of the fall guided me towards it, and I hiked like a man enchanted. Finally through a canopy of wood, I caught a glimpse of the mighty fall. The falls made a dramatic entrance like the hero of a classic Bollywood movie..

I got enthralled watching multiple plumes of milky water hitting the surface and forming a beautiful pool. It was enough to charm and de-stress the mind. Its very difficult and prohibited to actually go right under the fall. The pressure is too high and the risk of getting swept away far too real. I wasn’t sorry at all to stand and watch from the fringes. It was a view straight out of a painting. No wonder this waterfall has starred in so many movies.

After spending a few minutes marveling the splendid beauty, it was time for me to leave Athirapally. Like all good things, the wonderful moments passed and crystallized in my memory as I retraced my steps back. As I coninued my journey ahead, I have to acknowledge that waterfalls are an object of sublime beauty, they are precious gifts of nature, that must be experienced and admired.

One reply on “Athirapally – The waterfall from the movies”

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