In the thick lush green rainforest of the Western Ghats is the spectacular waterfall of Athirapally. One fine afternoon, all of a sudden I got this thought of an outing, got on to the motorcycle and headed north east of Cochin to the Athirapally waterfalls. On the way I tried out an alternate route through a deviation just after Angamaly through the rubber and Palm plantations which comes under the plantation corporation of Kerala. It took me more than an hour through this route, with a lot of potholes and confusing deviations to different plantations estates. Always try the route through Chalakudy which has good roads and you reach faster. It was during the monsoon and miles before the waterfall, I could hear the roar of the gushing waters full of life and vibe. The environment was cool with the lush greenery and the thumps of the bullet gave me a feel of an impressive ride. You need to pay a nominal fee to get a pass at an initial check post for both Athirapally and Vazhachal waterfalls and this is on the way before you reach the first one. Athirapally is not too far once the forest range starts, even though it is still inside the forest range, you could find local villages and towns, you can even find a fuel station a few kilometers before the waterfalls. There are a few resorts operating mostly on the banks of the Chalakudy river.
Athirapally waterfalls come under the sholayar forest range en-route the Chalakudy Valparai road. The route to Valparai is through thick tropical rainforest, where I know people who have even spotted leopards. This forest is home to elephants, tigers, Sambar, varieties of hornbill and lot of endangered flora and fauna. if you are on a motorcycle, It is always better to have a good insurance coverage before you head for this adventurous route to Valparai via Athirapally, . It’s the same forest which even goes up to the Annamalai, Parambikulam and the Eravikulam in Munnar.
It is a plastic free zone, ironically you can find shops selling food in plastic covers and bags, at some areas of the parking, you can find the area flooded with plastic. Now that does not look good 🙁 The path to the waterfall is protected with a big gate and gives you a feel of getting into a park. A five minute walk and you are at the waterfalls. It is an open wide river flowing at high speed and diving from the 80 feet tall cliff. There is an area where you can go for a dip, protected with ropes and wire mesh. The views are awesome and there is a positive energy all around. The evening is a right time to get an awesome Photo shot from top of the waterfall with the backgrounds of the forests and the mountains. There is a steep pathway to the bottom of the waterfall filled with moist air, once are you are there – you get to know the intensity of the waterfall within closest of the closest proximity. It is just amazing – that is the feel you would have in your mind. 5:30 pm and it is wash out time and there are guards who remind you of the time to move out. The park needs to be closed and they need to go home!
On the way back, even though it was late and the ride through the forest is not recommended. I thought of paying a visit to the Rainforest. It is the only resort which has the best views of the waterfalls. I managed to click a few photographs. Santosh, the manager spared enough of his time to give me a show around of the property. I would say, a stay would be a life time experience, provided your stay is during the monsoons, especially if you are on your honeymoon. You can clearly see the waterfall from all the rooms, except for the base category which has a partial view. There is a tree house which has wooden steps to climb (no rope ladders). Rainforest offers water trekking – a trek from the resort to the waterfall, which takes around 45 minutes one way with guide Suresh and a forest Jeep safari towards the Valparai route, where you might get a chance to sight animals. The resort is expensive, but the ambience and the views are priceless, you actually see the waterfall from the bed. The restaurant is wide open and of course you can have a glance of the falls from there too.
All done and its time to be back home – its night ride on the bullet with the HID lamps on.
Written by Benjamin John