Within an hour’s drive from the city of Thrissur, there are two picturesque dams and their serene reservoir surroundings which make ideal destinations for cooling off the heat of the urban bustle. The Peechi Dam and the Chimmini Dam can be combined in a tour and it involves an exciting drive through a nondescript wooded area.
Peechi Dam needs no introduction to Keralites. It is a much sought after tourist destination. The turquoise blue water of the reservoir makes it a scenic spot, especially when viewed from the observation tower. The Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) near the Peechi Dam has a wildlife museum and an exhibition of various kinds of soils found in Kerala.
From Peechi Dam, the shortest route takes one through a network of country roads fringed by paddy fields and rubber estates. It is not frequented by many. In fact, one could easily get lost here. Not many people are encountered on these roads and one might need to take the assistance of Google maps etc. to find the way about.
One major crossroad on this way is at Pulikkanni from where a left turn takes us onto the road to Chimmini Dam. Palappilly, some two and half kilometres further up on this road to Chimmini, could be the last outpost where one can possibly have a decent meal. Hotel Sreenarayana, run by Asokettan (fondly called by everyone there) serves meals with excellent fish fry and buttermilk garnished by ginger and hot green chilli. Much of the surroundings after Palappilly are shrouded by rubber estates. The wild forests are not very far behind the line of sight. The rubber trees are cleared where elephants frequent. The hills thus made bald appear in the foreground along with the thicket of rubber trees about shedding their leaves. The river winding down from the Chimmini Dam play hide and seek from among the woods and hills as you drive along. Altogether they make the scenery appear like a landscape painting.
Chimmini itself is thickly wooded and is thus a lot cooler.
Chimmini Dam is the largest dam in Thrissur. Many streams reach the reservoir here. The Chimmini Dam and the reservoir share boundaries with Mangalam Dam and the catchment areas and the Parambikkulam Wildlife Reserve. Leopards and elephants are aplenty in the forest areas around the reservoir and tigers have been occasionally sighted.
Chimmini was part of a British Estate and was once called Echippara after the rocky outcrop at Pandimudi which shares boundary with Peechi. The Chimmini catchment area is spread over a 10 square kilometre area within an area of 85 square kilometre declared as a reserve forest in 1984. The dam was commissioned in 1996.
Chimmini is now famous for the coracle rides there. Lesser known places like Virakuthode and Choorathala are within the trekking range from Chimmini. Choorathala has an added attraction of a waterfall which unfortunately dries up in summer. At Anappore, another exotic-sounding location nearby, can only be accessed by boat. The place also boasts of the ‘Mynah Eco Retreat Camp’ which could be a surprise package in the tour. Peafowls and mountain squirrels are abundant in this area. Many nature clubs take advantage of the facilities offered by the Chimmini Reserve by touring the region just paying the food expenses. V Ajayakumar, the Assistant Wildlife Warden and Prasad, Secretary of the Ecotourism Committee can give all the guidelines for a planned tour. They would also know the details of the opening of the shutters of the dam. Opening of the shutters itself makes a spectacular sight. Not just the sight but the feel of the spray of water droplets on you as the shutters open could be an exhilarating experience. The coracle ride mentioned above is another experience one must strive to acquire in the reservoir.
Chimmini is a good place for a one day tour from Thrissur. The tour must be planned to make the return journey by early evening as the way down could be often frequented by herds of elephants.
For coordinating a trip to Chimmini/Peechi, call 8547603454.