Also known as ‘the Niagara Falls of India’, Athirappalli Waterfalls is one of the scenic waterfalls of India. Located around 90 km from Kochi, it is a popular picnic spot which attracts huge number of tourists and holiday goers.
Situated within dense forest, the waterfall on the Chalakudy River is about 80 ft high. Along with Charpa falls and the Vazhachal falls, the Athirappalli forms three scenic waterfalls in Thrissur district of Kerala.
Tourists also choose to visit the Charpa falls that is located just two km away. Although less known, the Charpa falls is not any less alluring, as it tumbles and plunges right onto the road during the monsoons. Another three km away lies the Vazhachal waterfalls. Situated amid dense forest and herb plantations, the scenic wonder of the place is sure to thrill your heart.
The forest around the waterfall is a haven for flora and fauna. Many endangered and endemic species are found in the forests of the Athirappalli-Vazhachal area. It is the only place in the Western Ghats where the endangered Hornbill can be found. The river is also known for its diversity, as it is home to 85 species of fresh water fishes.
The best time to visit Athirappalli Waterfall is during the monsoons. However, the waterfall remains active throughout the year. The waterfall is at the height of its glory during rains.
Athirappalli Waterfall has inspired many film makers, especially the legendary Mani Ratnam, to shoot parts of their film around the natural phenomenon. Some of the most popular Hindi films to have been shot at the locality are Guru, Dil Se and Raavan. It is mostly used as a location for several south Indian films.
Swimming is a popular indulgence at the Athirappalli waterfall and a police camp is also positioned in order to take prevent mishaps.
Environmentalists claim that Athirappalli is a one-of its-kind riparian ecosystem in Kerala. A riparian ecosystem is – an important transition area that connects water with land which hosts a wide array of plant and animal life.
Down to Earth magazine has affirmed the Vazhachal forest division as the second most bio-diverse area in the state of Kerala. The International Bird Association has declared it an ‘Important Bird Area” and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation have recommended that the area should be declared a sanctuary or a national park.
The waterfall has also been embroiled in a heated controversy. Local communities along the Chalakudy River joined hands to stop the construction of the hydroelectric dam upstream from the Athirappalli Waterfall. The proposed dam would have submerged more than 140 hectares of forest, dried up extensive riparian areas, destroyed Athirappalli Waterfall and many animals too.
There are many resorts next to Athirappalli waterfalls which offer excellent accommodations, some of which also offer views of the waterfall. Budget and mid-range hotels are also available at Athirappalli and Chalakudy.
Food options are limited other than the few stalls near the waterfall. There are several restaurants in the town of Chalakudy. Finding a pure vegetarian restaurant might be a problem. Kerala cuisine uses coconut and at times coconut oil too. Don’t forget to tell the chef in case you want to go light on both.
Athirappalli falls never dries out and can be visited throughout the year. The best time to visit Athirappalli Waterfalls is during the monsoons.